THIS STORY TAKES
PLACE BETWEEN THE
NOVELS "JUST WAR"
OFFICIAL VIRGIN 'NEW
RELEASED IN FEBRUARY
Creed is an ordinary
guy - as ordinary as
you can be when you
ARE a secret agent.
his family is another
His youngest child
seems able to read
his mind. His oldest
boy, ricky, possesses
a stranger and more
others ARE interested
in his ‘gifted’ children
- sinister forces who
see them as resources
to be exploited.
Around the world,
the Doctor HAS PUT
HIS companions in
place, ready to act
when the time COMES.
friends and enemies
are gathering for a
that will shape the
future of the globe -
and the evolution of
The final book of Andrew Cartmel’s New Adventures trilogy is another splendid example of a powerful and modern Doctor Who story. Warchild may not be quite as brutal
or quite as compelling as Warlock, but even so it’s still one hell of a novel.
The greatest strength of Warchild is that it’s just so engrossing; Cartmel’s characters are
so real and so captivating that you don’t want to put the book down, even when little is going on to progress the narrative. Take Creed, for instance. In Warlock he was portrayed as a relatively young and reckless action hero; not a saint by any means – he very deliberately broke up a marriage – but a gloriously sympathetic and relatable character nonetheless. In Warchild, however, he’s every bit as remarkable, but he’s also changed. Creed is a family man. Older. Wiser. More seasoned. He even has a son – Ricky McIlveen, the eponymous warchild.
Ricky is a strange kid to say the least. The biological child of Vincent and Justine, Ricky
at first appears to have inherited his natural father’s abnormal abilities. He has an inherent charisma about him; he’s an ‘alpha male’ – but he doesn’t want to be. Warchild explores the effect that such alpha males have in both humanity and in the animal kingdom. Personally, I found it much more interesting to read about Ricky’s uncanny influence over his peers and his misadventures at school with Wolf Leemark, Pangbourne, Amy and the suspiciously familiar Buddhist monk than it was to read about Creed, Roz, and Redmond driving round London in an armoured van slaughtering armies of feral dogs led by Jack ‘the White King’
– a man stuck in a dog’s body. That said, you have to admire an author who has the gall to write the second book in a trilogy on the subject of animal rights, only to write the third about the necessity of butchering wild animals!
Apart from the main characters
of Warchild, I was enchanted by
lots of Cartmel’s lovely – albeit
slightly cynical – touches. Lovely
scenes that see Roz and Benny
casually sipping champagne as
their aircraft loses altitude and
panic engulfs their fellow airline
passengers. Some of it is almost
soapy - particularly the Justine /
Creed / Amy domestics - but rather than detract from the story these elements only add to the richness of it. There are superb supporting characters like Jessica, the air stewardess who loses her fiancé, and Stanmer, Creed’s arsehole colleague - at times it’s easy to forget you‘re reading a Doctor Who novel. If anything, Warchild is more relatable than Warhead or Warlock despite being set further into the future because it focuses so much on the human element rather than ‘cyberpunk’. Some may construe that as a criticism, but they shouldn’t. This novel expands the canvas rather than betrays it.
The only real downside to Warchild is that its heroes are largely absent. Admittedly this was the case with both of Cartmel’s previous Doctor Who novels, but not to this degree. Even the Doctor’s companions have very little to do in this novel; Benny barely makes an appearance after the first few chapters, and Chris’s role is very small indeed. The Doctor himself appears only right at the death, and even there he plays a much less significant role than one would expect in setting things right. But maybe that’s the point of this book. Maybe the Doctor is just the nexus that things happen around. Maybe he’s the alpha male...
On the whole, Warchild is an intense novel that I would heartily recommend to anyone, even non-Who fans. Especially non-Who fans, in fact. Cartmel’s whole New Adventures trilogy is a phenomenal piece of work: vicious and spiky, terrifying, and, in the end, perhaps even a little profound.
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.
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