-20506-5) RELEASED IN

 APRIL 1997.







 Barclow – an Earth-

 type planet on the

 fringes of space at an

 inestimably distant

 point in the future.

 Two factions have

 laid claim to it:

 humans from the

 nearby colony world

 of Metralubit, and a

 small group of

 Chelonian troopers.

 But in nearly two

 hundred years of

 conflict not one shot

 has been fired in

 anger, there are

 regular socials in

 the trenches, and the

 military commanders

 are the best of



 The Doctor, Romana

 and K-9, arriving in

 the midst of these

 bizarre hostilities,

 find there’s real

 trouble to come. A

 crucial election on

 Metralubit is

 looming, and K-9 is

 forced to begin a new

 career as a


 Meanwhile, Romana

 meets an old friend

 and the Doctor

 discovers that a

 sinister hidden force

 may be attempting to

 alter the war’s

 friendly nature.


 What are the plans of

 Galatea, leader of

 the beautiful but

 robotic Femdroids?

 Who is killing

 soldiers on both

 sides of the battle

 lines? And will K-9’s

 oratory save the



 Just what is going on?


 PREVIOUS                                                                                  NEXT


The Well-

Mannered War

APRIL 1997






Gareth Roberts’ Doctor Who novels have received wildly mixed reviews over the years from yours truly, but I am sincerely happy to say that Virgin’s final Missing Adventure steers the series towards quite an entertaining - and ultimately shockingly reverent - finale.


Firstly, I do not plan to waste many words applauding just how well the author brings the fourth Doctor, Romana and K-9 to life – I have said it all too often before. Suffice it to say

that as was the case with both “The Romance of Crime” and “The English Way of Death”, here Roberts effectively resurrects the very quintessence of these characters as well as the era of the television series from which they were plucked.


“Ah, the metal dog.

Did you enjoy your moment of elevation on Metralubit?

It amused me to bring out the superiority that

has always bubbled beneath that servile shell.”


That said, K-9 notoriously breaks character in this novel, though it should be noted that this

is actually part of the story and not necessarily a flaw in Roberts’ writing. Indeed, I could quite easily believe that above quotation came out of the mouth of the author rather than his principal villain. Roberts’ elation in writing K-9’s section of the plot here is unmistakable; whilst I am not the greatest fan in the world of K-9, I do have to admit to being surreptitiously enthralled by his campaign to become Prime Minister of Metralubit. To see him overwhelm his opponent with sheer logic and plain reason is absolutely uproarious at times. I might not always ‘get’ Roberts’ humour in his novels, but here it was appreciated most fully.


What I enjoyed most about “The Well-Mannered War” though was the ending. Yes, it feels every bit as tagged-on as Saruman taking over the Shire at the end of the Lord of the Rings but, in fairness, so does Sarah-Jane’s leaving the TARDIS at the end of “The Hand of Fear”. So does Susan’s departure at the end of “The Dalek Invasion of Earth”. It does not automatically follow that the ending here is in any way apocryphal; au contraire. These ‘tagged-on’ endings are often better than the bulk of the stories to which they find

themselves annexed (except the Lord of the Rings thing. That was rubbish).


“Together they pressed they button…”


When all is said and done, the Doctor and his companions discover that their deadliest enemy, the Black Guardian, has masterminded the series of events leading up to the

novel’s climax. He has set for them a trap so drawn-out and intricate that he has had to accurately predict each and every one of their actions over the course of the entire novel to leave them in a situation where they will have no option but to unleash eternal chaos upon

the universe. Of course, this plan all falls down when we learn that the Black Guardian has not allowed for the possibility that the Doctor might selflessly remove himself from time altogether. And so he does just that. And, to my utter surprise, the final Missing Adventure ended with the Doctor and Romana sharing a quick peck on the cheek and then fading out of time.


The last ten pages or so of this book are absolutely unputdownable and, arguably, constitute a much more definite ending to the Missing Adventures series than the New Adventures

had. There has always been a perceptively gaping chasm between “Shada” and “The Leisure Hive” and, whilst we are not privy to the circumstances surrounding the TARDIS’ return to time, “The Well-Mannered War” goes some way towards explaining the apparently massive space of time between these two stories, living up to the remit of the Missing Adventures right to the final page!


However, the above notwithstanding, it would be unfair of me not to point out that there were elements in this story that I was not as happy with. For starters, as one can quite easily gather from the title, “The Well-Mannered War” has much in common with Christopher Bulis’ very recent novel “A Device Of Death” - too much in common, too close together.



What is more, Roberts’ two antagonistic factions are in every respect dreary. I have never been much of a fan of his Chelonians, but here they are mere shadows of what they once were; almost goodies to the human baddies. The Femdroids, furthermore, feel like something torn straight out of Mike Myers’ Austin Powers movie. Slightly more menacing I will grant you, but not by all that much. And as for Menlove Stokes, his fate made no sense

to me whatsoever. In fact, I am that confounded by it that I am almost tempted to go back

and reread the last few chapters. The way I see it is he helped the Black Guardian to trap the Doctor, and as a result got everything that he ever wanted. That just cannot be right.


All in all, this novel is just about on par with both of Roberts’ aforesaid ‘season seventeen’ Missing Adventures, perhaps more an equal to “The Romance of Crime” than “The English Way of Death”. To use the Virgin editors’ own phrase, this is a novel that entertains more than it irritates, and whilst that is not the most convincing of testimonials, it is an entirely honest one. In truth, I doubt that “The Well-Mannered War” is a novel that I will ever revisit - save for trying to make sense of what happened to Stokes, that is – but I am sure that there are those out there that will absolutely lap this one up. And they had better make the most of it because, thanks to the BBC, the Virgin well has run dry.


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 Shada and The Leisure Hive. Within this gap, we have placed it after both the later novel Festival of Death and the later audio book The Pyralis Effect as the story culminates in the Doctor activating the TARDIS’ emergency cut-out and taking the ship out of time and space altogether. In our view, this not only makes for an emphatic end to the Graham Williams’ era of the series, but it also bleeds beautifully into the opening shots of The Leisure Hive, which feel as if they are set many years after the last televised story - after a number of comic strip capers, perhaps?


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