A strange invitation brings the Doctor, Steven and Vicki to Venice in the year of our Lord 1609: a place of politics and poison, science and superstition, telescopes and terror. Galileo Galilei is there demonstrating his new invention to the Doge, and William Shakespeare is working as a spy for King James I. And there are other visitors too: inhuman ones that lurk in the shadows, watching - and killing.


Vicki is abducted to a flying island. Steven is accused of murder and challenged to a duel. The Doctor, meanwhile, finds himself at the centre of what looks like an attempted invasion. But who are the invaders? And why can’t they proceed without his help?


The Empire of Glass







Over the course of the last couple of years Andy Lane has established himself as one of my favourite Doctor Who novelists. Somewhat remarkably, I’ve found that he’s able to tell both futuristic space operas and meticulously researched pseudo-historical stories with the same level of skill. Just look at All-Consuming Fire and Original Sin – two of the very best novels in the whole Virgin catalogue, yet poles apart. The Empire of Glass, however, was nothing like I‘d expected it to be.


It’s far from being a bad novel – if anything, it’s bundles of fun. I think old William Hartnell serials the likes of The Reign of Terror and The Romans, as opposed to the more serious historicals like The Aztecs and The Massacre, must have influenced Lane as The Empire of Glass is a book that has its tongue firmly planted in its cheek throughout. William Shakespeare, Christopher Marlowe, Galileo Galilei, even Irving Braxiatel. Real or fictional, human or Time Lord, this novel is packed to bursting with larger than life characters.


However, in marked contrast to his previous novels, Lane’s plot is actually rather thin. The basic idea is interesting enough – Braxiatel holding a big galactic disarmament conference above Venice in 1609 – but things tend to move along not only at a snail’s pace, but also rather predictably.


It says a lot about the book that the parts which interested me the most were those that related to the larger mythology rather than the stand-alone story. Here we learn that the first Doctor that we see in The Three Doctors was lifted out of time by the Time Lords between The Time Meddler and Galaxy 4, and that after giving counsel to his future selves in that serial he had a few minutes to spare; got chatting with fellow Gallifreyan Braxiatel; and ended up being invited to chair his conference. Oh, and then he got his memory wiped and forgot all about it. The writer has clearly had great fun playing about with the show’s continuity, but he has done it in a way that if, for example, you were reading this book as part of the Hartnell era, then it would still make sense as Lane gives away no secrets about the Time Lords, who at that time were yet to be named in the series - they are only referred to as the Doctor and Braxiatel’s people. Furthermore, even the events of The Three Doctors are not alluded to directly; it is only when one is familiar with later events that these little touches make sense in the larger context.



© Virgin 1995. No copyright infringement is intended.Braxiatel himself is interesting to read about here, particularly when he spars verbally with the cantankerous old Doctor. However, it is in his handling of Steven and Vicki that Lane truly excels. With Vicki, he explores her thoughts and feelings about her father’s death and her life on Dido, none of which was even touched upon on television. And as for Steven, Lane goes one further. Not content to merely explore the long-term effects that have grown out of his lonely incarceration on Mechanus, the author goes into great detail as to the specifics of the war that Steven fought against the Krayt which led to his fateful crash-landing there. He also turns Steven gay. Yep; you read it right - Steven and Marlowe come close to getting it on. I wonder what Peter Purves would have said about that, hmm?


And so despite lacking the wow factor of earlier Lane efforts, The Empire of Glass is rather a nice little novel. It’s an atmospheric and light-hearted romp - nothing more, nothing less – and should be enjoyed exactly as such.


Copyright © E.G. Wolverson 2006


E.G. Wolverson has asserted his right under the Copyright, Design

 and Patents Act 1988, to be identified as the author of this work.



This novel’s blurb places it between the television serials The Time Meddler and Galaxy 4. The text makes it explicit that for the first Doctor, the events of The Three Doctors have just happened. This being the case, we have placed this story between the first Doctor’s involvement in The Three Doctors and the Big Finish audio book The Suffering, which leads directly into Galaxy 4.


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