It is December 1648. Although victorious over the Cavaliers in the Civil War, the Roundheads are struggling to retain power. Plans are afoot to spirit King Charles from his prison, and the Doctor and his companions become embroiled in the intrigue...


Ben finds himself press-ganged and on board a mysterious ship to Amsterdam. Polly is an unwitting accomplice in the plot to rescue the King, and the Doctor and Jamie find themselves arrested and imprisoned in the Tower of London under suspicion of conspiracy.


Can the Doctor and Jamie escape, manage to find Ben and Polly and still ensure that history remains on its proper course?





The Roundheads







After loving Nightshade and loathing St Anthony’s Fire, the last thing that I expected from Mark Gatiss’s third Doctor Who novel was mediocrity – but that’s exactly what I got.


Gatiss’s plot is perhaps his least ambitious to date, with the whole novel simply revolving around the fact that the Doctor and his companions have inadvertently altered history and therefore have a duty to put things right. Whilst in theory such a premise could have lent itself to some spellbinding drama, in practice The Roundheads just plods along at a steady pace towards its predictable conclusion. I thoroughly enjoyed the opening few chapters of the novel as well as the last eighty pages or so, but unfortunately what lies between is largely unremarkable.



The majority of Gatiss’s supporting characters fall flat. The likes of Christopher Whyte - with whom Polly finds herself enamoured - has all the charm of a malignant vegetable, and sadly even Gatiss’s depiction of the notorious Oliver Cromwell is remarkably dreary and vapid. In fairness, the one-legged, no-nosed swashbuckling Captain Sal Winter does add a fair bit of League of Gentlemen-style colour, but sadly one supporting character can’t sustain a novel.


Fortunately Gatiss does imbue both the Doctor and Jamie with the essence of the actors that portrayed them; it’s particularly nice to see the second Doctor portrayed so well in prose. The comic scenes where Jamie has to pose as a soothsayer - the “McCrimmon of Culloden” - well and truly evoke the feel of Patrick Troughton’s early days.


Nevertheless, whilst almost anything would have been preferable to the inflammatory St Anthony’s Fire, such a lamentably mediocre effort almost makes me wish that The Roundheads would’ve been another awful, but at least distinctive, misstep. Gatiss has proven that he’s capable of producing much better than the likes of this standard fodder – and here’s hoping that he will.


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 Macra Terror and The Faceless Ones. Within this gap, we have placed it prior to the audio book Resistance, which was released later.


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