A nameless city on a primitive, rain-sodden planet. The ruling Knights of Kuabris strive to keep order as hideous creatures emerge from the sewers to attack the populace. It seems that there might be some truth in the prophecies after all.


While Jamie languishes in the castle dungeons, the Doctor is forced to lead an expedition beneath the city to search for the fabled Menagerie of Ukkazaal. Meanwhile Zoe has been sold as a slave to a travelling freak show - and one of the exhibits in coming to life.







The Menagerie

MAY 1995






Knights! Castles! Homunculi! A medieval society developing on the ruins of a more advanced one. Martin Day’s debut presents textbook Doctor Who fodder for the most part, yet the tone of the piece is completely at odds with Patrick Troughton’s televised stories, Day audaciously inflicting the attitude of The New Adventures on an era that has, until now, remained inviolate. There is very nearly an blatant sex scene early on, and Jamie (who is normally content to either just give ladies the eye, or threaten to put them over his knee for a spanking) spends three days doing you-know-what with Kaquaan, a bald prostitute. Such aspects certainly make for a refreshing read, but I think that many will find they sit ill in Troughton tale.


As well as explicitly expounding upon Jamie’s fondness for the fairer sex, Day also explores Zoe’s character in more depth, albeit with less controversy, showing us a little of what goes on behind that smug-little-know-all exterior as The Menagerie forces humiliation after humiliation upon her. This is one of the novel’s greatest strengths, as the Wheel’s wandering genius is forced to look at herself anew having been sold into slavery and then press-ganged into a freak show. The Doctor himself is hard to gauge though as the many nuances of Troughton’s performance are lost in prose. Day has no trouble presenting the second Doctor’s essence, but his portrayal is all but devoid of finesse.


© Virgin 1995. No copyright infringement is intended.The most maddening thing about this book though is that it presents a flood of magnificent ideas, but nothing is paid off satisfactorily in the narrative. For instance, Day spends most of the book over-exposing three of his planet’s four races in order to build up a sense of mystery around the fourth, the Mecrim, only for the underground monsters to turn out to be far less interesting than the creatures that they share their world with – they’re little more than savage, ravenous beasts. Similarly, presenting a world where science is forbidden is a wonderfully rich setting for a monochrome Who adventure, but how this extraordinary society evolved is only touched upon briefly. The fascinating experiments of Dr Jenn Alforge that open the book are quick to fade from memory, only for the odd ‘memorandum’ from her to conveniently surface when the need for exposition comes calling. Such matters typify the novel’s many problems – magnificent ideas, thrilling build-up, disappointing payoff.


And so when it’s good, The Menagerie is very good. The trouble is that when it’s bad, it’s absolutely terrible, and I’m afraid that there’s a lot more bad than good to be found within its pages. This is one that might appeal to devotees of The Missing Adventures’ sister series, but I think that even they will find it more frustrating than rewarding.


Copyright © E.G. Wolverson 2006


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