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War of the Daleks

Rating Votes
10
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9
0%
0
8
8%
1
7
33%
4
6
8%
1
5
17%
2
4
33%
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Average Rating
5.7
Votes
12
Writer:

Latest Community Reviews

From the Reviewer:
User Rating:
5
Plot Rating:
5
Acting Rating:
NR
Replay Rating:
NR
Effects Rating:
NR
Has Prerequisite(s):
Yes
Reviewed By: newt5996Review Date: 3/13/19 4:20 am
2 out of 2 found this review helpful.

War of the Daleks is one of those novels with a divisive reputation amongst Doctor Who fans. Half of the fanbase seems to hate it as a continuity fest, determined to retcon nearly every Dalek story into one timeline as well as the climax of “Remembrance of the Daleks”. The other half seem to think it’s a brilliant piece of Doctor Who fiction, finishing the 1980s arc of Doctor Who Dalek stories with aplomb. With a reputation such as this, perhaps it is not a surprise that my personal opinion on War of the Daleks is very middle of the road: John Peel does a lot of things right, and a lot of things wrong when it comes to this novel. Looking at his past work, there is no surprise that Peel was chosen for the first ever Dalek novel: he adapted “The Chase”, “Mission to the Unknown”, “The Daleks’ Master Plan”, “The Power of the Daleks”, and “The Evil of the Daleks” into Target novels and was friends with Dalek creator Terry Nation. Yes, his work for Virgin Publishing is a 50/50 split between good and bad, he only wrote two original novels so third time could be the charm to mix a metaphor.

The highlight of the novel is how Peel uses the Daleks to full effect: they have a formed caste system that makes an extreme sense and recontextualizes the grey Daleks of the classic series the easiest to defeat adding a level of tension to the novel. Daleks don’t just shout exterminate without actually doing anything in this novel, killing characters on sight. The plot concerning the Quetzal and the Thals are also highlights of the novel. Peel does an excellent job in touching on the idea of the Thals wishing to enhance themselves to be more like the Daleks in a bid to ending the fighting against the Daleks. Peel makes them have become a desperate race, sick of the war and plague the Daleks have caused throughout the cosmos. It’s an excellent plotline which creates an engaging moral dilemma for the first half of the novel. Sadly it gets wrapped up around the halfway point. This novel overall is structured quite like a television serial, in four parts with three chapters per part. The simple answer for why Peel did this is that he was adapting a script originally meant for television, with a few alterations to expand the scope and scale of the conflict. The second half of the novel shifts into what feels like a completely different story, one which I would call “The Trial of the Daleks”. It’s a plot like all the post “Genesis of the Daleks” stories bar “Remembrance of the Daleks” that gets overshadowed by the inclusion of the Daleks’ creator Davros. Davros is put on trial, unbeknownst to him, as defendant of the Dalek race which for some reason has decided that if found guilty they should undergo self-destruction. Some of the logic used by the Daleks and explanations given for the trial does not make sense, but that does not matter.

Yet, outside of these instances, there is quite a bit of War of the Daleks that just doesn’t work. First, the characterization of the Doctor and Sam Jones falls incredibly flat outside of the first chapter. The first chapter has the Doctor tearing apart portions of the TARDIS for repairs and in this scene we really get the sense on the aloofness and romantic nature of this incarnation of the Doctor, which disappears once they arrive on the Quetzal. They both revert into generic Doctor and companion characterizations, which is a massive step down from the portrayal in the previous novel. Peel attempts to give Sam a blasé attitude towards the Daleks, and pulls the joke that they don’t actually look threatening, but this really doesn’t work well because outside of this joke there isn’t any character to Sam. She also sees the destruction the Daleks cause firsthand and honestly she almost seems cocky when facing them. In the second half of the novel she also has absolutely nothing to do, with the Doctor taking center stage for the remainder of the book. Which doesn’t work because even when taking center stage, the Doctor doesn’t do much. There really isn’t any satisfactory resolution to this novel as the Daleks just sort of blow each other up really quickly. The final nail in the coffin for this novel so to speak is the retcon: the idea goes that in “Remembrance of the Daleks” the Daleks saw that the Doctor would use the Hand of Omega to blow up Skaro so they replaced it with a similar planet, Antalin, which in turn changes at least some of the motivation of every classic Doctor Who Dalek story. Now it’s nice to get an explanation for why Skaro exists, but the retcon is just too confusing and the plot almost stops for twenty pages or so to stop it. The opinions on this novel are incredibly conflicting, some of it’s great, some isn’t.
From the Reviewer:
User Rating:
4
Plot Rating:
NR
Acting Rating:
NR
Replay Rating:
NR
Effects Rating:
NR
Has Prerequisite(s):
Unsure
Reviewed By: XxDachshundxX Review Date: 2/14/19 10:35 pm
1 out of 1 found this review helpful.

I'm going to officially rename this novel:
War of the Genesis of the Destiny of the Resurrection of the Revelation of the Remembrance of the Daleks.

Continuity is a very fluid thing, especially in Doctor Who. For some, continuity is what binds the show and keeps it on track. For some, continuity greatly hinders what could be a great story.
I've learnt to accept that continuity doesn't matter, that it shouldn't make me angry. After all, Doctor Who is a show about time travel, paradoxes, alternative universes, so why should it matter?
It's probably a good thing that I accepted that before I read War of the Daleks because this novel takes continuity and puts it in a meatgrinder and then shoves it where the sun don't shine.

This is going to be a very interesting and potentially long review, so I'm going to approach this very simply as dot points.

Positives:
- I love how brutal and murderous the Daleks are. Remember, this is before the New Series when Daleks went all soft. Most characters die and it's great.
- The Doctor is alright and Sam didn't grate on me. But to be honest, they're written pretty blandly, but I've heard how annoying Sam can yet and I'm glad she wasn't in this book.
- Amazing metaphor of Davros being found on a garbage ship.
- Nice return for the Thals
- Secondary characters are written pretty good.
- Great descriptions.
- I know some hate the interludes, as they are pretty pointless, but they work with the story. I want for the Mechanoid section to be adapted into a full length story.
- I adore the cover.


Negatives:
- No atmosphere at all. Revelation and Remembrance have incredible atmospheres, yet this lacks any hint of one.
- The Daleks have really strange dialogue that makes it hard to imagine them say. I really had to concentrate on not making them humans in my head.
- Spider Daleks? Marine Daleks? Giant Daleks? Seriously?
- The plot is pretty good for the first two parts, but Part Four is literally they go to Skaro and then try to leave.
- The Daleks don't kill the Doctor or Sam, or even try.
- Davros is written in the most melodramatic way possible.
- The pacing is dreadful. It's literally 'and then this happened, and then this happened.' We get a really long intro (Part One, Two and Three) and then a short, rushed ending (Part Four). There's no body to this story.
- The whole plot revolves around the Dalek Prime and Davros having a fight about who controls the Daleks.
- Skaro is really bland. We get a few descriptions of metal towers, and that's it.
- As much as I love the Dalek action, it gets really boring, especially in Part Four. 'And then this Dalek killed this Dalek, and this Dalek killed this Dalek...'
- No editing. There are full stops in the middle of words, incorrect spelling (ccould is one notable example), apostrophes in strange places.
- The incredible amounts of Plan Bs and Cs and Ds. There's a Dalek ship in the TARDIS (which turns out to be the one in Power of the Daleks) and a lectern that turns into a Dalek.
- The fricking retcon. While the actual retcon doesn't bother me too much, it literally has no relevance to the story beyond Skaro existing. If this novel was an epic showing the Dalek plan, it would have been amazing, but literally its just referenced in a long infodump that doesn't even matter. It might have been better if it added to the Dalek stories of the past, but it severely detracts from them.

So yeah, as excited as I was to read this novel, I don't think it's very good at all. I wasn't disappointed because I had been warned, but yeah, don't read this if it doesn't sound appealing to you.

'Ex-ter-min-bloody-ate!'