WRITTEN BY

CHRISTOPHER BULIS

 

RECOMMENDED 

PURCHASE

BBC PAPERBACK

(ISBN 0-563- 55579-3) RELEASED IN SEPTEMBER 1999.

 

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The Doctor and his companions land in the city of Arkhaven, the last bastion of civilisation on a doomed world.

 

The inhabitants of the city are pinning all their hopes on a final desperate gamble for survival. Behind the scenes there are jealous factions at work, secretly contesting for the chance to shape the destiny of a new world. Beneath its ordered surface, Arkhaven is a city of secrets and mysteries where outward appearances can be deceptive.

 

Is the thing they call the 'Creeper' really at large in Arkhaven's eerie outer zone - and is it beast or machine? What is the hidden force at work that has acted so strangely upon Susan?

 

With Barbara lost and the countdown to doomsday drawing to a climax, the Doctor must discover the true nature of the final enemy - or is that enemy simply fear itself?

 

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City At World's End

SEPTEMBER 1999

 

 

                                                       

 

 

When I pick up a book with Christopher Bulisís name on the spine, I genuinely donít know what to expect. The likes of Shadowmind, State of Change and especially The Eye of the Giant were relentlessly entertaining adventures; clangers such as Twilight of the Gods and, more recently, The Ultimate Treasure, on the other hand, held me in a state of almost assiduous tedium as I dutifully ploughed through their seemingly torturous page counts. City at Worldís End, Iím pleased to report, firmly falls into the former category.

 

In effect, this novel is the quintessential first Doctor story, only with the volume turned up to eleven. Bulisís plot follows the blueprint of a William Hartnell-era historical quite closely: the TARDIS arrives, our heroes are cut off from it and each other, and subsequently spend the prose equivalent of six episodes trying to find each other so that they can make good their escape. This time though, the historical event isnít one plucked from the pages of our own history, but from the future of another world: it is the destruction of Arkhaven, the last bastion of civilisation on an already-doomed world. As such, rather than rely on the subtleties of its supporting characters, City at Worldís End batters the reader with a tirade of stunning and action-packed set-pieces that, to his credit, Bulis does a masterful job of pulling off in print.

 

Whatís more, the narrative is heaving with some astonishing twists and turns that left me well and truly staggered. I wonít say too much as to do so would utterly ruin the book for those that have yet to read it, but I will say that the climax in particular is outstandingly brave and comes as quite a painful jolt; particularly given how comprehensively Arkhaven is depicted.

 

 

For me though, the most arresting aspect of this book is the authorís magnificent portrayal of the original TARDIS team. All four members of the crew are flawlessly depicted, although the Doctor and Ian each stand out more than the girls. For the preponderance of the novel, the duo is every bit the embodiment of their televised selves, yet on occasion Bulis throws in some delicate, discordant moments of development: their mutual grief and anger at the apparent loss of Susan and Barbara is subtle, yet powerful at the same time.

 

In summary then, fans of the Hartnell era canít go far wrong with this one. Bulisís supporting characters may lack a little soul, but his depiction of a world on the brink of oblivion is both beautiful and harrowing in equal measure; his action sequences are breathtaking; and, best of all, his handling of the regulars is little short of sublime.

 

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 Reign of Terror and Planet of Giants. Within this gap, we have placed it directly prior to Planet of Giants as its conclusion apparently sets up the ďdimensional instabilityĒ that shrinks the TARDIS in that story.

 

When Susan is medically examined in this story, it is noted that she has two hearts. This is potentially at odds with what would be established in The Man in the Velvet Mask (an earlier release, set later), i.e. that Gallifreyans are loomed with one heart, and that their second is grown upon their first regeneration.

 

As we donít like the idea that Susan might have regenerated before the Doctor, we speculate that as she was the last child to be born on Gallifrey prior to the Pythiaís curse, she was born with two hearts (as, we assume, must have been the norm for all Gallifreyans prior to the curse).

 

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