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The John Peel Dalek novels of the EDAs are infamous, almost considered as bad as The Eight Doctors and Hell Bent. For a long time, I was so intrigued by these novels, either for the infamy or the amazing covers. I had to know everything about them, why they were considered so bad, why they were hated, why there's even a society for collecting as many copies of these novels for an annual bonfire (I'm not joking).
So when I saw them both on eBay cheaply, I snapped them up immediately.
When approaching any story of any medium, you have to work out what the story is about for you to enjoy it. We all do it subconsciously when we experience different stories and it helps us to understand and enjoy stories.
But with this novel, I had absolutely no idea what the author was trying to do. Is it a novel about the aftermath of the Dalek invasion (Feudalism Domain vs Domain scenario) or is it about the Daleks reappearing on Earth and people having to deal with it? Unfortunately, it's neither and both.
The first hundred pages introduces us to a society similar to mediaeval times where Lords owned land and people lived on it in factions. I really like this idea, but it is not developed well. We then get a waterloo-esque battle between Lord Haldoran's men and Lord London's men. Lord Haldoran has a council of men that are really bland characters.
Something I should mention is that the Master is in this novel as well, influencing events.
The Doctor arrives in the middle of a forest and meets Knight Donna, and then the plot stops as they have tea and crumpets. He then wanders around trying to figure out what is happening while we get info dumps everywhere.
Susan's here, and she's great. Struggling with her domestic life and marriage, we see some real emotions and it's heartbreaking. Unfortunately, the main crux of the book was her being reunited with the Doctor, but she only sees him for about a minute in a scene in which her husband David is killed and the Doctor is shot. I wanted for a scene at the end in which they have a nice long conversation, but it never comes.
The Master, who is Delgado, is written well, but his plan is a bit contrived. His fate is done well here, but Epilogue 1 ruins it.
The Daleks appear a hundred pages in and they don't do much. They appear, begin killing, and then are killed by the Doctor very simply within another hundred pages. They don't really do much and to be honest, don't need to be here. This novel could have just been about the aftermath of the invasion.
This novel also features some really horrible violence, including heads exploding, bullets ripping through people and so forth.
I suppose its not all terrible though. I think the Daleks have some great action. The plot unfolds nicely. The Doctor, Susan and the Master are written well. I really like Donna. The ending is beautiful. And the cover is just amazing.
It's still better than 90% of the Daleks stories from the New Series.