THIS STORY TAKES
PLACE BETWEEN THE
TV EPISODE "THE NEXT
DOCTOR" AND THE
NOVELLA "CODE OF
OFFICIAL BBC 'QUICK
RELEASED IN FEBRUARY
The TARDIS lands at
an academy for top
athletes, all hoping
to be chosen for the
Games. But is one of
them driven enough to
resort to murder?
The Doctor discovers
that the students
have been hushing up
Teaming up with a
young swimmer BY
THE NAME OF Emma,
the Doctor begins to
investigate — but he
doesn't expect to find
a squad of Sontarans
invading the academy!
Of all BBC Books’ releases designed to tie in with and promote the revived series,
I think that these Quick Reads put me most in mind of the Target books that I devoured in my youth, and so naturally it follows that I have something of a soft spot for them. Being priced at less than two quid each helps too, obviously.
The Quick Read tradition seems to be that a fashionable foe from a recent television story should return for a short and fast-paced adventure. 2006 saw Gareth Roberts bring back the Daleks (well, a Dalek), and then in 2007 and 2008 Target legend Terrance Dicks oversaw the return of the Cybermen and Judoon respectively. And this year, Jacqueline Rayner uses her 98 pages of large-point text to tell the story of The Sontaran Games - on the face of it, very much in line with the three foregoing releases in the series.
What sets The Sontaran Games apart from its pre-
decessors though is that there is much more to it than
meets the eye. With a Sontaran emblazoned on the
front cover and the word ‘Sontaran’ in the story’s title,
one could be forgiven for thinking that this story is going to be all about the warriors from
Sontar. Well, without wanting to give too much away, let’s just say that this novella features
another alien race too; one whose name has always gone hand in hand with the Sontarans’.
“And when I found out the Sontarans were looking for a shape-changer, that clinched it…”
Clues are littered throughout the book for any readers au fait with the highly regarded Tom Baker serial Horror of Fang Rock, but for those that are not – as I imagine will be the case for much of the target audience - then the reveal in the last ten pages or so of this one will come as a real (and very gratifying) surprise.
“You were helping me… I thought if I treated you kindly,
you might realise that my way is better. You might stop the killing.”
Furthermore, Rayner’s Doctor is portrayed and even developed very well here, particularly given that the author had very few words to play with when writing this one. His sympathy
for and kindness towards the murderer, even when he is fully aware of its crimes, show us
a side of the tenth Doctor that we seldom see. He even breaks his unwritten rule of giving
a baddie just one chance.
And so on balance, if you have two pounds to spare and forty-five minutes or so to kill, then you could do far worse than pick up a copy of this one. Astonishingly dark and twisting, The Sontaran Games may have been written with children and young adults in mind, but there is still plenty here to entertain the unprejudiced adult.
Copyright © E.G. Wolverson 2009
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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