-20479-4) RELEASED IN

 AUGUST 1996.





 The search for the

 fourth segment of the

 Key to Time brings the

 TARDIS to 1930s

 Shanghai: a dark and

 shadowy world,

 driven by conflict

 and threatened by the

 expansion of the

 Japanese Empire.

 Meanwhile, the

 savage Tongs pursue

 their own mysterious

 agenda in the city’s

 illegal clubs and

 opium dens.


 Manipulated by an

 elusive foe, the

 Doctor is obliged to

 follow the Dragon

 Path – the side-effect

 of a disastrous

 experiment in the far



 But would two

 segments of the Key be

 on the same planet? Is

 the Black Guardian

 behind the dark

 schemes of the

 beautiful Hsien-Ko?

 And who is the small

 child that always

 accompanies her?


 PREVIOUS                                                                                  NEXT




The Shadow of








The back cover of this novel has author David A McIntee portentously proclaim that “no-one in their right mind would even suggest a sequel” to “The Talons of Weng-Chiang”, a serial that more often than not tops fans’  favourite story polls. And I can certainly see where he is coming from - “The Talons of Weng-Chiang” was, much like fan favourites “City of Death” and “The Caves of Androzani”, a one-off in every sense. It was an atmospheric and enthralling tale packed full of vibrant characters, the majority of which bought the bullet over the course of the six episodes (save for two notable exceptions, of course).


However, in his ‘Bumph’ McIntee makes it clear that he wanted this novel to take “a different path to the original”; rather than “Friday The 13th Part whatever” he was aiming for something more the calibre of Aliens or, to use my own example, The Empire Strikes Back. And herein lies the rub – “The Shadow of Weng-Chiang” is about as much of a sequel to Robert Holmes’ acclaimed 1977 masterpiece as “The Scales of Injustice” was a sequel to “Doctor Who and the Silurians”; far less so in fact. Presumably McIntee entitled this book ‘The Shadow of…’ for precisely this reason – Weng-Chiang, Magnus Greel, or whatever you want to call him has no part whatsoever to play in the proceedings here. This story focuses on the legacy of pain and torment stemming from Greel’s actions back in Victorian London. Simply put, it is a story about revenge.


The only character / element that really survives from the original television story is the iniquitous Mr Sin – the Peking Homunculus. Now this little dude is truly terrifying; he is just horrible, even in print. In fact, here McIntee explores his viciousness much more graphically than Holmes ever could back in 1977. Some of this is just… nasty. Messy, even.


The story is set in 1930s Shanghai which, as anyone who has ever read one of McIntee’s novels will attest, is brought to life with a surfeit of historical detail. Ironically though, this level of detail is possibly the book’s greatest downfall as what would otherwise have been a rollicking yarn is, in my opinion at least, overburdened with expressive prose. Still, many

fans I am sure will lap this stuff up.


Before setting out for revenge, first dig two graves

                                                                                                                  - Chinese proverb


The plot itself mainly focuses on H’sien-Ko, the daughter of Li H’sen Chang from the

original. H’sien-Ko wants to resurrect Greel so that she can keep him alive in a state of eternal torture as atonement for the way that he manipulated and eventually discarded her father. The prologue opens with the proverb quoted above and throughout the novel it is

clear that McIntee is attempting to make this proverb ring true. In some ways, “The Shadow of Weng-Chiang” is quite the tragedy as H’sien-Ko’s entire life had been destroyed before it ever really begun. She was always going to grow up to avenge her father – there was never going to be any other life for her. McIntee really hammers this home by dangling the carrot of Kwok before her – a man whom she falls deeply in love with – but he is not enough to sway her from her course. She truly believes that Greel should be brought back to life and her father avenged; her life simply cannot extend to anything beyond that. She even somewhat naïvely thinks that once the Doctor realises what her motives are that he will help her, but of course the Doctor would never condemn Greel to such a fate – hell, he would not even wish such a fate on the Master.


Turning to the regular characters, I have to concede that at first I was stunned as to the placement of this story. Sandwiched between “The Stones of Blood” and “The Androids of Tara” – slap-bang in the middle of ‘the Key to Time’ season – does not seem like the most appropriate setting for what it essentially a one-off story, but astonishingly it works superbly. When you think about it, it actually makes a lot of sense. The Doctor and Romana did not

just go bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang; got the key – they must have hit a few brick walls along the way, false leads and such like. Well, “The Shadow of Weng-Chiang” is exactly that – a false lead; a side step. The true beauty of it, of course, is that such a placement allowed McIntee to write for Mary Tamm’s Romana. I know that by and large Lalla Ward’s Romana is rated far more highly by fans, but I for one utterly loved Tamm’s portrayal. Here McIntee has fabulously captured that haughty, hyper-intelligent but impossibly green young Romana (or ‘Romy’…). I really hope that other Doctor Who authors follow his lead and use this really quite offbeat pairing again.


So if you are prepared to pick up this book without any false expectations, then you are in for quite a treat. It is nothing groundbreakingly extraordinary, but “The Shadow of Weng-Chiang” does exactly what it says on the tin – it is a sequel that takes a very different path to the original; a variation on a theme, and a bloody decent one at that.


Copyright © E.G. Wolverson 2006


E.G. Wolverson has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.



This novel’s blurb places it between the television serials The Stones of Blood and The Androids of Tara. Within this gap, we have placed it prior to the fourth Doctor’s role in Heart of TARDIS, which was released later.


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