WRITTEN BY

JUSTIN RICHARDS

 

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BBC PAPERBACK (ISBN 0-563-40598-8) RELEASED IN AUGUST 1998;

 

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OR OFFICIAL BBC 50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION PAPERBACK (ISBN 978-1849905244) / E-BOOK RELEASED IN MARCH 2013.

 

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BLURB

on a barren Asteroid, the once-mighty Haddron Empire is on the brink of collapse, torn apart by civil war. The one man who might have saved it languishes in prison, his enemies planning his death and his friends plotting his escape. The Doctor arrives as the last act of this deadly drama is being played out Ė and with both terrifying killers and cunning traitors to defeat, the future hangs in the balance.

 

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 Dreams of Empire

AUGUST 1998

 

 

                                                       

 

 

Whilst Dreams of Empireís advocates may wax lyrical about author Justin Richardsí marvellous characterisation and subtle subtext, its detractors fervently attack his gaudy depiction of the TARDIS crew, predictable plot twists and dumbed-down chess metaphors. Having now read the book myself, I find myself leaning towards agreeing with the latter group - albeit with one or two important caveats.

 

The first is that I donít find Richardsí depiction of this particular TARDIS crew embroidered in any way; his second Doctor in particular is instantly recognisable. Yes, amidst these pages heís often to be found running aimlessly from pillar to post spouting, ďOh my giddy aunt!Ē or any number of other Patrick Troughton aphorisms, but isnít that what Troughtonís Doctor did? Itís one thing to say that nobody can successfully capture the second Doctor in print, but quite another to lambaste a largely faithful depiction that doesnít happen to fit with how one might have romanticised Troughtonís portrayal since the event.

 

 

Jamie and Victoria, similarly, are captured accurately on the page by Richards, though whether this is for better or for worse really depends on the individual reader. In my view, Jamie is one of the most memorable and distinctive of all the Doctorís companions, and so here - as ever - itís a delight to read about him heroically stumbling through an adventure. Victoria, conversely, I had very little time for on television, and so the same applies to Richardsí depiction of her character. Fair dues, he could have tried to take her somewhere new and do something interesting with her, but when you are working within a tight net and have to put all the toys back in the box afterwards, you are limited as to what you can accomplish. As it turned out, the most that Richards could do was to focus on some of Victoriaís concerns about the sort of life that she has unwittingly found herself leading, nicely foreshadowing the events of Fury from the Deep.

 

Narratively, however, Dreams of Empire disappoints. The chess theme is perhaps a little too obvious for most adult readerís tastes, particularly when compared to a seminal serial like The Curse of Fenric, which handles the imagery much more thoughtfully. Moreover, whilst a robotic army of VETACs trying to free the deposed Emperor of the Haddron Empire from his internment had something in the way of potential, ultimately the supporting cast of characters were just not compelling enough to really draw me into Richardsí deftly-crafted web of political intrigue. Of them all, only the burned mask-wearing Hans Kesar stood out for me, and that was only because of his patent similarly to a certain Sith that I could mention (and, if I were to be kind, because of one beautifully-written mirror scene). This is probably one of the main reasons why views on this book have been so discordant - itís not that Dreams of Empire is a poor novel by any means; itís just that unless the reader is able to engage with the vast array of supporting characters right away, then Richardsí plot is going to wash completely over them.

 

And so in all, I donít think that Dreams of Empire is quite as bad as some would have you believe, but on the other hand itís also far from being the diamond-studded gem that Richardsí eager acolytes opine that it is. A prolific author Richards may be, but Dreams of Empire is the perfect example of why this isnít necessarily a good thing.

 

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 novelís blurb places it between the television serials The Ice Warriors and The Enemy of the World. Within this gap, we have placed it prior to the novel Combat Rock, which was released later.

 

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