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Festival of Death

By Jonathan Morris

Book review by Paul Scoones

After a long spell with the same old familiar names on the book covers, two books by first-time authors come along in the same month (the other being Steve Emmerson's Casualties of War), and both books are outstanding!

Jonathan Morris has been described by some reviewers as the next Gareth Roberts — and with good reason. As with Roberts' best-loved novels, The Festival of Death is set during Season Seventeen and captures the ‘Tom and Lalla Show’ at its best. Morris has probably watched Nightmare of Eden, City of Death and Creature from the Pit until he's worn holes in his tapes, because the characterisations of the Fourth Doctor, Romana and K9 are spot-on, and the environs of the story seem to conjure to mind recycled Horns of Nimon sets.

Even the novel's central concept is absurd enough to have come from the pen of the season's script editor, Douglas Adams. The Doctor arrives at the beginning of the story, only to discover that everyone knows him and he's already been there and solved the problem — trouble is, from his point of view this hasn't happened yet. So he leaves and travels back to an earlier point in time. It's been done before, notably in The Sands of Time, but the twist is this time that the Doctor and Romana find that they haven't gone back far enough, that people still recognise them, and so have to keep going further back in time! Then there's the added complication that in solving the crisis, the Doctor discovers that he died!

I'm looking forward to Morris's next novel. I'm especially intrigued to discover whether this talented new Who writer can equally successfully evoke the feel of another era of the series' history. [5/5]

This item appeared in TSV 61 (December 2000).

Index nodes: Festival of Death