THIS STORY TAKES
PLACE BETWEEN THE
HEART" AND "THE
OFFICIAL BBC HARDBACK
RELEASED IN APRIL
THE TARDIS LANDS THE
DOCTOR AND MARTHA
IN THE LAKE DISTRICT
IN 1909, WHERE A
SMALL VILLAGE HAS
BEEN TERRORISED BY A
GIANT, SCALY MONSTER.
The search is on for
the elusive 'Beast of
hunters from across
the country are
descending on the
fells. King Edward
VII himself joins
the search, with
a knighthood for
BUT THERE IS A MORE
SINISTER PRESENCE AT
WORK IN THE LAKES
THAN A MERE MONSTER
ON THE RAMPAGE, AND
THE DOCTOR IS SOON
EMBROILED IN THE
PLANS OF AN OLD AND
AS THE HUNTERS BECOME
THE HUNTED, A FRANTIC
BATTLE OF WITS BEGINS -
WITH THE FUTURE OF
THE ENTIRE WORLD AT
When I walked into my local bookshop last weekend I wasn’t at all surprised to
see that of the three Doctor Who novels currently in the chart, Stephen Cole’s Sting of the Zygons was in a far higher position than both Wooden Heart and The Last Dodo. It seems that it wasn’t just the regular readers of the range (children, teenagers, me…) that have been picking this one up - I’d imagine that a good few of the old guard have been leafing through this one and feeling a pang of nostalgia for the old Target days.
Now Sting of the Zygons isn’t brilliant, intense or moving. Indeed, it’s far from being the best Doctor Who book ever written, but then again it’s certainly not the worst. In fact, it is exactly what it purports to be: an exciting adventure featuring the tenth Doctor, Martha Jones and
the Zygons set in the Lake District just after the turn of the century.
And if I’m honest, this book actually exceeded my
expectations. I’d thought that Cole would simply re-
hash Terror of the Zygons (or “Doctor Who and the
Loch Ness Monster”, to Target readers!) in a new
setting with a different Doctor and companion. He
doesn’t. He very cleverly works into this story all the
key tenets that make the Zygons what they are, but he
presents them in a slightly different way. For example, Cole introduces a few new elements –
the Zygons dependency on lactic fluid, the malfunctioning Skarasens, and the Zygon mutiny
to name just a few. There is even one especially clever twist that I really didn’t see coming.
Let’s just say that one Zygon has camouflaged himself particularly well…
However, unlike the rather peripheral Macra in Gridlock,
the Zygons in this story are unmistakably Zygons, just like the ones that were seen on television back in 1975. For
the children reading this novel with no knowledge of the Tom Baker serial then I would think that this book would
have the same effect on them that Doctor Who and the
Loch Ness Monster had on many readers thirty years
ago. However, for fans of Doctor Who new and old,
Sting of the Zygons still has much that is new to offer.
Turning to the principal characters, Cole writes very well
for Martha Jones. Sting of the Zygons is a strong story
for her; too strong, perhaps, when measured against her appearances on television so far - she certainly has quite
a bit more gumption here. That said, I suppose that this book is set later on in the current season and so I would
imagine that how Martha is portrayed here is more in line
with how we will see her character behave later down the line.
The Doctor, as ever, is captured flawlessly. The author has even thrown in a few Series 3-isms like “Allons-y” and “never waste time on a hug”, the latter really summing up the tenth Doctor’s current emotional state.
On a final note, I must apologise if this review isn’t quite as technical as the one on the BBC website written by the children of Millbrook Combined School - “[Cole] used ellipsis to keep you guessing” etc – all I really can say is that Sting of the Zygons is a fun and a nostalgic novel; infinitely better than Cole’s recent catastrophe, The Art of Destruction. Thankfully that disaster seems to have been the exception rather than the rule so far as his Doctor Who novels go…
Copyright © E.G. Wolverson 2007
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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