THIS STORY TAKES
PLACE BETWEEN THE
NOVELS "THE FALL OF
YQUATINE" AND "THE
OFFICIAL BBC 'EIGHTH
RELEASED IN APRIL
The Doctor, Fitz and
on the planet Eskon -
a strange world of
ice and fire. THERE
THE hideous slimers
are growing more
hostile, AND their
will stop at nothing
to exact revenge
against those TO
Having been won over in recent years by the likes of the superb Something Inside and the peerless Prisoner of the Daleks, I’d almost forgotten all about Trevor Baxendale’s early Doctor Who output and my lack of interest in it. The master of the middle of the road tie-in, Baxendale’s vast curriculum vitae boasts numerous classic series novels - none of them poor, but none of them especially appealing either.
And for the most part, Coldheart is the archetypical Baxendale tale. Set within the confines of what could quite easily have been a BBC studio and populated with a generic cast of two-dimensional plot-pushers, this book reads like a protracted novelisation of a classic Doctor Who serial. The prose is clear and precise, almost entirely devoid of feeling, but terrific at conveying the alien vista and the events that transpire there... especially the horrid ones.
Eskon itself, and in particularly its Baktan City, is well painted by the author. Most of its all-purpose elements do little to inspire, but a few little touches, such as the use of water as a currency, set it apart from the crowd just enough to make it quite memorable. Similarly, the Slimers could be any old band of seditious outcasts, but in covering them from head to toe
in – yep, you guessed it – slime, Baxendale imbues them with just enough individuality to be conspicuous. Of course, if the rest of this novel’s audience are anything like me, then they’ll find themselves subconsciously humming the Ghostbusters theme tune as they read, which regrettably does tend to lessen the Slimers’ impact just a tad.
Even Coldheart’s characterisation of the regulars isn’t bad. The Doctor is perhaps a little
too spirited than one would have expected, given recent events, but on the whole he’s the very quintessence of Paul McGann’s lively portrayal. Fitz too is captured accurately, if a little watery. Only the author’s portrayal of Compassion feels a little deficient, the living TARDIS snidely quipping her way through the adventure rather than furthering her unrivalled character journey.
In the end, Coldheart is a little bit more than just a cut and paste job, but only a little. One could skip straight from The Fall of Yquatine to The Space Age without ever missing a beat, and given the vast quantity of markedly better Who novels that are out there, then unless you’re a completist that’s the course I’d have to advocate.
Copyright © E.G. Wolverson 2010
E.G. Wolverson has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.
Unless otherwise stated, all images on this site are copyrighted to the BBC and are used solely for promotional purposes.
‘Doctor Who’ is copyright © by the BBC. No copyright infringement is intended.