Reviewed By: adamelijah
Review Date: 7/31/15 10:28 am
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The Time War was always at the background of the first Seven Series of New Who with the Doctor occasionally mentioning that he had to destroy his own people along with the Daleks to end the War. Yet, details were always a bit sketchy, with the most we ever learned was through, "The End of Time," with the Tenth Doctor desperate to stop the return of Rasillon and telling the Master of how bad the Time War was with Skaro Degradations and the Nightmare Child and Rasillon's plan to end all physical existence in the Universe. In "Name of the Doctor," we learned there was a different version of the Doctor who fought in the Time War and in "Day of the Doctor" we saw him cry, "No more!" and prepare to use the Moment to wipe both sides out. "Engines of War" is the War Doctor's story and what drove him to use the Moment.a
The War Doctor crashes on the Planet Moldox where he encounters Cinder, a young woman whose family has been killed by the Daleks and whose young life has been spent destroying as many as possible. The Doctor discovers a Dalek super weapon which the Daleks plan to use to destroy Gallifrey and he and Cinder go and warn the Time Lords. However, Rassilon's plan for dealing with it will wipe out life on twelve planets. Thus, it's up to the Doctor to stop both the Time Lords and the Daleks.
Putting aside that this is Doctor Who, Engines of War is just an incredibly well-crafted and well-written tale from Start to finish. It's combination of political intrigue, action, and personal drama is well-crafted and fully engaging.
Engines of War shows the Time War in all its horror. Innocent people are caught in a crossfire between the two sides with Cinder and the people of Moldox representing thousands of other planets caught in the struggle. The horrific new Dalek creations of mutants are revolting. Yet, the Time Lords are little better as Rassilon has strapped what remains of the Doctor's old mentor Borousa (who betrayed him to the Five Doctors) to a "possibility engine" which attempts to give the Time Lords an edge. The Time Lord Karlax is sadistic and malevolent and represents the decline of all the Time Lords in the midst of this lengthy war.
At the same time, the book reveals insights into the War Doctor and Mann writes a character that while he no longer claims the name of the Doctor, he still very much is that man. This Doctor still has his eccentric moments. He also strikes up a very warm relationship with Cinder. There's very little this Doctor does that wouldn't have been in character for mother incarnations of the Doctor. Only his attempt to throttle Karlax in the High Council chamber stands out and the Third Doctor might have tried that.
Nicholas Briggs commented in the extras for, "Dark Eyes" that a story about the Time War would be pretty boring but then added that statement might come back to haunt him. So of course, he ends up narrating the novel about the Time War and doing an amazing job. Briggs is legendary for his Dalek voices but is a very strong actor. It's hard to imagine that John Hurt would have done any better, particularly with all the other voices. Briggs brings every character to life and showcases the range of his vocal talent. BBC audiobooks didn't spare any expense with its sound effects and it really does build this epic feel.
There's very little to criticize with this book. I will say that the Chapter with Jocelyn Harris, a Governor of a province who appears in one chapter and is killed, is kind of pointless. Also, some of the basic ideas of the War Doctor from the TV show seem to have not really been followed through. The War Doctor explains that he's no longer called the Doctor once. And thereafter, everyone in the book calls him the Doctor and he makes no attempt to correct him. It does seem like the Doctor would have come up with another name during the War if he wasn't going by the Doctor. Also, it's not really believable that the Doctor would not have weapons on the TARDIS during the Time War. And if he didn't, it's a bit of a stretch to imagine an unarmed Type 40 into battle along with Battle TARDISes against Dalek fleets. It seemed like there was discomfort with having the Doctor use weapons even if this incarnation was supposed to be a "warrior."
Still, despite these minor flaws, this is an essential audiobook that does the Time War justice.