THIS STORY TAKES
PLACE DURING THE
TV STORY "THE CURSE
DAVID A. McINTEE
OFFICIAL BBC 'PAST
RELEASED IN JANUARY
Robbery and murder
are on the increase in
Britain as disputes
gangs escalate into
open warfare on the
streets. The Master
linked to the chaos -
despite the fact he is
safely under lock and
called in when a
plane missing in
particle damage that
cannot possibly have
deepens, what little
light they can shed on
the matter leads the
Brigadier to believe
that with the Doctor
away, Earth's only
hope may lie with its
The Face of
“The Face of the Enemy” has a cover illustration that cannot fail to whet the appetite of any connoisseur of the third Doctor’s era. And as I am a tremendous fan of the third Doctor’s era (but not necessarily of the straight-laced third Doctor himself), this Doctor-free novel was bound to appeal to me in spates.
Essentially, David A McIntee’s novel is a bridge between his two ‘Master’ novels for the Virgin range, “The Dark Path” (which featured the second Doctor) and “First Frontier” (which featured the seventh), although this book is, in my view, clearly the pick of the three.
McIntee does a remarkable job of skilfully weaving so many established characters and so much continuity into just one book. As opposed to reading like a “Five Doctors”-esque
romp, “The Face of the Enemy” is an engrossing and deliberate tale, the plot culminating in
a wonderful twist that caught me completely by surprise.
However, above all else, the factor that makes this novel so convincing is just how well the characters are written. McIntee’s New Adventure “Sanctuary” is often lauded as his best, the main reason for this perhaps being the wonderful insight that the author gives into his characters’ innermost thoughts and feelings in that book. And whilst “The Face of the Enemy” is a much faster and more action-packed novel than “Sanctuary” was, I think that the journeys that the main characters go on here are every bit as thought provoking and every
bit as poignant as those depicted in “Sanctuary”. The obvious standouts are Ian Chesterton, the Brigadier, and the Master.
To look at Ian first, the early part of his novel paints an appealing but nonetheless predictable picture. After parting ways with the Doctor, Ian and Barbara married and had a son before they both eventually returned to teaching. The latter part of the novel, however, is where Ian really shines. Convinced that Barbara has been killed, McIntee shows us Ian’s dark side, which brings with it a vulnerability that the character never betrayed on television. Ian’s suicide attempt is without doubt one of the most harrowing things that I can ever recall reading about in Doctor Who literature.
Now this ties in delightfully with how McIntee depicts the Master in this book. The way in which the Master manipulates Ian following Barbara’s ‘death’ truly demonstrates just how
vile the renegade Time Lord is, yet at the same time it also reveals something about his
own character. There is an element of understanding there between the two men; the two characters connect in the most bizarrely fitting of ways. The scenes between Ian and the Master are simply sublime.
The Master’s brilliance is not limited to his scenes with Ian, though. The character enjoys some wonderfully written scenes all of his own, including one that sees him revelling in the chance to ‘get his hands dirty’, partaking in a shoot-out. I love how in this scene McIntee puts a new spin on the “I’m indestructible. The whole universe knows that” idea – inside the Master’s head, he honestly believes that ‘mere humans’ could not kill him. It is as if all his dealings with them are trivial; even his incarceration at their hands is only a fleeting and minor inconvenience - he almost seems to enjoy the novelty of it.
I also think it is fascinating to see how the Master views the Brigadier and UNIT. Although
the Master’s disdain for UNIT’s rank and file is clear throughout this novel, I was somewhat surprised to read about his growing, albeit begrudging respect for the Brigadier.
And as for the Brigadier, “The Face of the Enemy” beautifully expands upon the continuity laid down in recent novels. At this point in the Brigadier’s life, he is divorced from Fiona and dating Doris, and struggling to deal with the ramifications of both. The reasons that drove Fiona to end their marriage are still very much present, and as such the Brigadier is having second thoughts about whether he should proceed at all with the Doris relationship. And after seeing what grief does to Ian in this story, it is no surprise that by the end of the book is thinking about calling it off.
The book is also replete with some lovely little ‘fanwanky’ touches. Corporal Bell being compromised makes for some interesting reading, as does Surgeon-Lieutenant Harry Sullivan’s inaugural appearance (I love the line about Harry’s square jaw and innocence reminding Brigadier of the boat race, by the way!) and the surprising link to the season seven finalé.
On the whole, my only complaint about this one would be that it feels a little slow to start, but once it gets going it is really something. A UNIT story without the Doctor was a bold gimmick that deserved to work, and on the strength of this novel I sincerely hope that it is not the last of its kind.
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.
According to this novel’s blurb, these events take place between the television stories Day of the Daleks and The Sea Devils, which from the Doctor’s unique perspective equates to during The Curse of Peladon.
When is now? Authorial intent would place this story circa 1976, based on the “real world” rationale set out
in the author’s preamble. This is reconciled with Mawdryn Undead by bludgeoning that notoriously problematic adventure into a parallel universe. However, we take the view that this story is best placed in 1975. Please see the UNIT Dating Dossier for further information.
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