BBC Books
The Banquo Legacy

Authors Andy Lane and Justin Richards Cover image
ISBN 0 563 53808 2
Published 2000

Synopsis: 1898, the age of advancement, of electricity and technology. Scientist Richard Harries prepares to push the boundaries of science still further into the science of the mind. The full story of Banquo Manor can now be told... and witnessed by German scientists Doctor Friedlander and Herr Kreiner.


A Review by Martin Wicks 3/6/00

As someone who got into Doctor Who quite recently, after reading a few Orman/Blum and Lawrence Miles books, and who has no nostalgia for the TV series because I never saw it, my status as a 'Doctor Who fan' is purely based on how good the 8DAs are. After Coldheart and The Space Age, which I found pretty tedious, and reading about how all the 'future war' stuff is going to be written out soon, I was starting to think, "Well, I think I'll give it a rest for a while - I'm too old to be into this kind of stuff anyway".

But somehow, I found my body curving off the street and into Waterstones' doorway this morning, and there was The Banquo Legacy piled up on the table and before I knew it it was 6pm and I'd just come back to reality from what is definately the best 8DA since Shadows. Maybe even better.

Basically, it's a mystery story. There's an isolated country house, a cast of outwardly upright middle class characters, all with shady secrets, and a bumbling detective. If you read carefully you can follow the clues and figure out what's going on before the Doctor does (particularly if you are familiar with the conventions of whodunnits, which the authors follow to a T).

Well, actually, it's more of a horror story. There's a mad scientist, eldrich tomes, rats in the walls and terror from beyond the grave. And everybody dies. Well, okay, not everybody. But don't assume certain characters will survive, just because they seem important . . .

Okay, really, its an Arc story. Somebody has finally tracked the Doctor down, and it looks like it's curtains for everyone (except Fitz, whose not worth the trouble). I think the end of this story leads straight into The Ancester Cell. So if you're following the Arc don't miss this one.

Apart from the first dozen pages, which are just confusing, the entire story is told from the perspective of two of the minor (?) characters, John Hopkinson, a solicitor who has been invited to Banquo Manor to witness a new experiment concerning electricity and the brain, and Inspector Ian Stratford of Scotland Yard, who is visiting Banquo Manor in order to question a potential witness to a murder in London. This device gives the book a real turn of the century feel to it. John Hopkinson's account, in particular, reads like a Lovecraft pastiche, and was written by someone who really knows their late Nineteenth Century (Andy Lane I suspect). Inspector Stratford's account is more modern in style, but it doesn't clash with the other half of the book, it complements it perfectly. My only gripe with the book is that Compassion is rather sidelined - again. IMO the only logical way to go with Compassion is to have the Doctor fall in love with her - she is his Tardis after all, and contains the 'personality' of his beloved Type 40. But I guess Vanessa Bishop wouldn't approve. Fitz is adorably gauche, as ever, and the Doctor is right at home in 1898.

Definitely a book to buy, read and keep. 8/10.

A Review by Finn Clark 11/6/00

Very odd. There's a very nice Doctor Who story here, exciting and action-packed in all the best ways with bags of drama and emotion. Unfortunately two-thirds of the book has passed before it begins.

This book warrants two reviews. I'll start with the first 180 pages.

The Banquo Legacy (acts one and two) doesn't feel like Doctor Who, with the regulars being kept as minor characters when they're present at all. Admittedly they liven up the scenes they're in, especially Comedy Fitz, but this isn't their book. This is the story of the two narrators, John Hopkinson and Inspector Ian Stratford. I wouldn't normally mind this, but unfortunately I can't tell what that story wants to be.

The form is very Victorian, with alternating first-person chapters that reminded me of Wilkie Collins or even Bram Stoker's Dracula. However it's not a melodrama. The narrators are rather bland, a problem that isn't helped by the Victorian setting. Stiff upper lips and rigid self-control aren't a help in trying to differentiate protagonists. Maybe it's just me, but I couldn't help thinking that The Banquo Legacy would have been more enjoyable if set in the bawdy, boozy and boisterous eighteenth century. Admittedly it would have been a stretch with the tech level and a few of the characters' motivations, but it could have worked. Victorian steampunk has been done; personally I'd now like to see one in Regency times.

I suppose if it's anything, it's a murder mystery. Viewed in that light, it's rather clever. The characterisation is more than acceptable by Agatha Christie standards and we're given all the clues. Unfortunately the reader has been given bigger things to worry about than the little local problems of Banquo Manor. The TARDIS crew are busy with arc-related troubles and the first dozen pages span almost two centuries. I didn't initially realise where my attention was meant to be focused. This was a problem. It took a while to make myself plough through these 180 pages, well-written though they are.

(As an aside, Lane and Richards are unlucky to have been released alongside Heart of TARDIS and its own OTT Victorian pastiche, though Dave Stone's version could never have sustained a complete novel. The prose style would have got in the way of the story. The Banquo Legacy's quieter style at least lets the story proceed unimpeded, but I couldn't help comparing the two.)

But once Act Three begins, the genre switches to full-blooded Who. At last! This is all great stuff and reads like a dream. From page 180 onwards it all flew by. At last the Doctor takes control and we get to see the greater significance of earlier events, not to mention lots of reassuring danger to life and limb. The two narrators, Hopkinson and Stratford, reveal hidden depths and become actually interesting. There's some really creepy stuff in the epilogue. And the tie-ins with the 8DA arc are lovely and for once more than just character-based.

I also liked the Macbeth tie-ins. I particularly appreciated the Doctor's quote at the end as it's been too long since he recited Shakespeare.

So overall, a bit of an oddity. Much of the book feels rather inconsequential, but the last third is very readable indeed. And even without that, it would still be better than average for an 8DA.

A Review by Sean Gaffney 9/7/00

Another day, another fill-time-until-Ancestor-Cell Who novel. And a last-minute replacement, too. Would it still hold up? Well, it holds up wonderfully as a novel. And as a murder mystery in the Maigret-ish style, it's first-rate. It's only when it feels the need to be Doctor Who that things go a bit pear-shaped...

If Justin and Andy were trying to pretend this wasn't an original novel of Andy's quickly rushed into production with the Doctor and company added, they didn't do it very well. The joints show all over the book, and every time Gallifrey is mentioned or Romana's name gets dropped, you almost wince. Luckily, there's the rest of the book, as I said.

PLOT: Let's ignore the whole "Gallifrey's agent has caught up with the Doctor/Compassion dying" Gallifrey/Compassion arc. It's not a large part of the book, and doesn't mesh very well. The rest, the murder mystery and gothic horror, is a treat, with suspicions jumping from person to person, the Doctor managing to avoid being arrested by simply virtue of being dead, and oodles of repressed Victorian passions. It's only towards the end, when the whole thing feels a need to become action-driven, that it loses interest.

THE DOCTOR: Surprisingly, very well written. Manages to avoid being silly or embarrassing through the entire book, yet still shows the boundless enthusiasm and need to be a hero of classic McGann. Very nice.

FITZ: Also well done, even if he spends much of the book in a pout. His pathetic attempts to appear as a German forensics expert are amusing rather than irritating, and his genuine emotion at the Doctor's supposed death is quite touching.

COMPASSION: Interesting way to work her into the book without adding to the female cast. Obviously she doesn't really get a lot of room to grow here, and her 'appearances' seem to be confined to the occasional cool aloofness of early Compassion. Didn't quite work like the authors wanted, but a valiant effort.

OTHERS: Hopkinson and Stratford co-narrate this book, and they are perhaps its best part. With such a character-driven book as this, it's absolutely necessary to have good, sympathetic, strong reader identification. These two fulfill it wonderfully, with totally different styles of writing and reaction, yet drawn to the same woman. The others fulfill nice Victorian mystery roles, except for Simpson, who was a tad incredibly obvious, especially for a Justin book.

VILLAIN: Creepy, over-the-top, and overblown. Wonderful, too. Every Who book needs a touch of Soldeed now and again. Oh, and Richard was good too. Odd that we grew to know the rotting corpse better than the man.

STYLE: As I mentioned above, it's a sort of dual-first-person narration between the two protagonists, except for brief prologue and epilogues. Makes sense considering the rushed need for the book and the co-authorship. And it works quite nicely, as I said, though the fact that neither narrator is in the Doctor's party makes the Gallifrey plot read even more out of place.

OVERALL: The first, oh, 2/3 of this book is absolutely riveting, a wonderful Had-I-But-Known gothic mystery romance horror novel. The ending then falls apart a bit, with lots and lots of running back and forth, and tacking on Gallifrey just to tie into the books around it. Still recommended.


Superb stuff by Robert Smith? 27/7/00

The first third of this book is a bit odd. Not too much seems to happen, the Doctor doesn't show up for 75 pages and it all feels rather disjointed. Things come together in the middle third and we get a rollercoaster ride of mystery, nail-biting suspense and twists galore. Things go off on an unexpected tangent in the last third. Yes, that would be Justin Richards' name on the cover, all right.

The Banquo Legacy also marks the return of Andy Lane to the Doctor Who fold. I for one am very grateful. Andy has produced some absolute gems in the past, but more importantly, he's never produced anything that was less than enjoyable. He was an author who always knew how to churn out a solid page-turner that kept the reader's interest. That's exactly the sort of thing we can never have too much of.

The two styles take a bit of getting used to, but they dovetail nicely once the pace picks up. Their fascination with Susan is a bit slow to develop, but the end result (which is rather cleverly hidden) is thoroughly satisfying. The report of the interrogation from both perspectives is fascinating and tells us a great deal about both the main characters.

That's right, Hopkinson and Stratford are the stars of this book. The rest of the characters support them ably, with notable mention going to Sergeant Baker, who comes across far better than he should. The two narrators tell us a great deal about themselves... which is quite a feat, since it would be extremely tempting to use one narrator to tell us about the other (and vice versa), yet that's avoided with some very nice writing.

Interesting things are done with Compassion (yet again), as she ends up interfaced with Susan. This helps enormously to add depth and interest to Susan, who would otherwise be a good-looking cypher. Having the object of everyone's affection be part beautiful femme fatale and part type 102 TARDIS is the sort of thing that probably only pops up in Doctor Who books, but somehow works.

It's a bit of a shame that when she does reappear, the major way we identify her is with the overuse of the word "Obviously". I realise that this is how other authors have dealt with her as well, but there are also some very nice touches here, demonstrating that these authors don't have to rely on the cliches.

The Doctor vanishes for some time, to great effect and he's very convincing when he does reappear. He feels quite naturally Doctorish, which is giving me great hope for The Burning. Fitz has the most presence of the regulars, but he remains firmly in the companion role, only this time to the narrators. His reaction to the Doctor's apparent death feels just right to me.

The Time Lord agent works rather well, especially for his hardly being in it at all either (at least explicitly). The clues to his identity are so perfect that I actually guessed his identity precisely three paragraphs before he mentioned Rassilon. I don't know how you manage it, Justin, but you have my undying admiration for this feat.

The murder mystery style of the book works far, far better than Yet Another Horror Novel, as I thought we'd be getting. The clues are very nicely presented and the plot twists and turns sublimely. The search through the house, with chapters lasting less than a page, is astonishingly gripping stuff.

Linking the book in with events from a hundred years previously works very well. There's no explanation given for the reason Banquo Manor looks wrong or out of place from certain angles. (it might be the Artron energy, it might be the fact that the Time Lord agent's TARDIS is part of it... although the latter shouldn't be a problem with a fully functioning chameleon circuit).

There's also a couple of nice red herrings. Pamela's blood-drinking leads us to suspect that she might be more otherworldly than she is. When it gets revealed that she escaped and was never found, I thought for sure that she'd show up in the present day. Furthermore, we get more than one hint that there's something very odd going on with Beryl. She's mentioned in connection with the previous murder and Baker says she's not as innocent as she appears. Add to that her somewhat odd behaviour and I thought for sure she was Pamela... which she might well have been, except that she gets killed part way through. I love the way this engages me to work with the story and have my expectations undermined. Great stuff.

My only major nitpick is that I can't figure out why Harries took the agent's eyes, instead of killing him. This seems very contrived, as though the authors desperately needed him blind, but forgot to provide us with any sort of justification. The rats are a neat idea, but it needs another edit to make it work (or I missed something).

The final confrontation goes on just a bit too long, but is otherwise satisfying enough. I'm not quite sure whether Catherine and Richard had planned to fry Richard's body all along (although as we get at least three suspects in his death', with no single answer given, I suspect we're meant to be a bit confused on this point).

However, the epilogue more than makes up for this... as does the part of the epilogue at the beginning of the book, which is an absolute must re-read, shedding a great deal of light on the situation in retrospect. It's a sign of mature and confident writing that can pull that off, IMO.

All in all, The Banquo Legacy is very good indeed. This book is so good it feels like a PDA. It's a sneaky arc book, it tells an involving and gripping story and it segues nicely into The Ancestor Cell. If even half the books under Justin's editorship are of this quality, I'll be a very happy reader indeed.

The Bank-Who Legacy by Richard Salter 26/10/00

Glorious is the superlative of choice when it comes to describing The Banquo Legacy. It was Andy Lane's name on this book that made it a must buy on my list, and he's on superb form, as is Justin, which is a pleasant surprise for me as someone who read Theatre Of War and then (unfairly I know, and more by accident than design) didn't pick up another Richards book until now.

Oh but this is good. For the first half I was worried this was going to be rather dull, but thankfully what I was reading was character establishment, so that when things pick up mid way through and rush us through twist and turns to a highly satisfying ending, we actually care what happens to the characters along the way.

McGann's Doctor is handled effortlessly, without going overboard to make it obviously him. I suppose Davison could have worked in the role without too much tinkering, but we know this is McGann and at no point does it jar. Fitz is entertaining too, and while Compassion doesn't get as much to do she keeps the arc chugging along nicely in the background. Since I've not been following the arc (the last book I read was Shadows of Avalon), this was a relief to me. I could still enjoy the story without knowing everything that had gone before.

This story belongs to the two narrators, Stratford and Hopkinson. Both are involving and feel real. They counterpoint each other nicely, especially when the same scene is described from both points of view. Their accounts give the story a very human element, and bring a palpable sense of mystery and intrigue to the proceedings.

If I had to criticise, I'd say that there are too many characters to keep track of to start with, which gets confusing, and it is slow to get going. Also, I was a little bothered by Hopkinson's big revelation having such a small impact on how others perceived him. It would have been nice if he could have shown some regret regarding how his actions had a more serious effect than intended, then other characters' opinion of him would be more believable. It works, just about, because Stratford is not one of these "Justice must be served at all costs" types of inspectors, which is quite refreshing.

But these points are minor. The Banquo Legacy is a wonderful whodunnit/horror yarn, and a very comfortable fit into the ranks of classic Doctor Who.


Totally Brilliant by Richard Radcliffe 5/2/01

I am a complete sucker for stories set in the 1890’s. The 8th Doctor fits in so well into this time - a time for inventors, eccentrics, strange experiments. And so I bought and read The Banquo Legacy>, my first 8th Doctor book for a year (since the enjoyable The Taint).

This contained it all. A dark, stately home, complete with secret passages, rooms galore and a Cellar. Strange experiments are taking place concerning Electricity, an assortment of personalities descend upon Banquo Manor. The Doctor, Fitz and Compassion are amongst them. Inspector Stratford wants to find out more about the strange goings-on. John Hopkinson, a solicitor, has his own reasons for being there. The Wallaces and their scientist friend Harries welcome them.

The story is written from the perspective of Hopkinson and Stratford. Did Lane and Richard take 1 personality each? However they did it, it is superbly written and always involving. The entries are written like a dairy with each man alternating his prose throughout the whole book. This works extremely well - never moreso than when the story reaches a climax.

From its macabre cover, to the personal reminisces of Stratford and Hopkinson - this is gothic Dr Who at its very best. Lane and Richards have taken all the aspects of gothic Who and grafted it into a story rich in interest and excitement.

Classic Who. 10/10

A Review by John Seavey 28/8/01

In short: YOW. Very nice; to quote The Discontinuity Guide, "Doctor Who often works best when it is pretending to be something other than a family SF show," and The Banquo Legacy pretends to be a gothic mystery in the best tradition of 'Dr. Jekyll and Mister Hyde'. Crisp plotting, elegant style, and great characterization makes this a breeze to read.

First, I'd just like to say that it's nice to see some of the threads of Shadows of Avalon finally followed up on; the Time Lords are finally trying to hunt down the Doctor and Compassion, something I was eagerly awaiting. Simpson, the Time Lord agent, is developed in an understated manner; I didn't realize who he was until Stratford found the pieces of "metal" in his TARDIS-pantry. Even then, I didn't realize until it was spelled out that the rats were his eyes; instead, I assumed that they were Harries' eyes, linked to him by the thought transference experiment, and that it was Harries' who was reading the diaries.

And the diaries, by way of a side note, were an excellent touch, and part of the stylistic experimentation I've come to love about the line (and sadly lament the lack of in the later parts of the Cole era); I can't imagine any other tie-in series pulling this kind of stunt, and I also loved the way the authors made the narrators come to life. This is the same kind of trick that Bulis tried to do in Imperial Moon, but Richards and Lane work it so much better.

The characterization of the regulars is solid; you can feel, even through the lens of Stratford and Hopkinson, the points where Compassion slips away into Susan's mind, and Fitz shines through like the writer-proof young chappie he is. The Doctor is solid and heroic, a welcome change from some of the other EDA's, even if I thought the "bundle of sticks wearing his coat" explanation was a bit weak. I solidly recommend this, and hope that I'm going to get more books just like it.

Up next, The Ancestor Cell, the love-it-or-hate-it end to the arc... I'm a bit worried. The last time I really enjoyed the concluding novel in an arc was No Future, so here's hoping this breaks the curse.

A Review by Andrew McCaffrey 1/11/01

Banquo Legacy is fantastic. It's dripping with atmosphere, it has a cracking plot, and it feels miles away from being "just another runaround". This is such a relief after so many forgettable books (there's been so many of them before this, that I can't even remember when the last memorable book was) to have something that's just flat-out good.

The book is split into two memoirs. One is written by a solicitor who is being paid to be an impartial witness to a scientific experiment. The other is written by a police inspector who is called to the scene after everything goes fatally wrong. Set in the 19th Century, the story feels very much at home in the culture of the original mad scientists and the stories of the intellectuals of the time. The real authors of the book, Andy Lane and Justin Richards, set the stage wonderfully, with every detail fitting perfectly into the Victorian mystery novel that they've created.

There are some wonderful themes running through this book; the most satisfying and well executed would be the reflections upon seeing an objective reality from two differing, subjective standpoints. This is most obvious in the narrative, as the overall story is told from the point of view of two different people. This leads to a handful of overlapping scenes where certain details and events are described twice with slight differences in their recollection; it's an effect that's pulled off very nicely. This theme also extends into the experiment that they are observing, which is based upon the placing of thoughts and experiences from one mind directly into another. It crops up in one or two other places (most notable the sections involving Compassion) and is quite rewarding to the reader once one figures out what is going on.

The only real problems with this book are that the authors were so skillful at creating a late 19th Century atmosphere that the references to Time Lords, TARDISes and other anachronisms seem very much out of place. Perhaps there would have been a better way to incorporate these elements into the story without their metaphorical seams showing. Despite these minor details, this is quite an enjoyable book and comes as a breath of fresh air. Don't skip this one.

A Review by Brett Walther 12/6/03

The Banquo Legacy is a masterpiece.

Amidst the drudgery of my recent dollar store EDA finds, from Dominion to The Taint to The Face-Eater, The Banquo Legacy is a brilliant surprise, the first truly excellent Eighth Doctor Adventure I've read so far.

It starts off as a somewhat cozy murder-mystery--even Fitz makes a precious remark about how events resemble the board game Clue, but becomes so much more as a number of highly involving subplots are thrown into the mix. The first-person accounts of the situation add great flavour to the proceedings, and allow for a very human take on some inhuman events -- very welcome in a range that has occasionally been stale and suffered from a lack of well-drawn characters with whom the reader can empathize.

The villains of the piece are absolutely terrifying. This is a tremendous achievement by Lane and Richards, considering the fact that the monster is really just another zombie. I've read Steve Emmerson's Casualties of War, which of course involves a small army of zombies, but those aren't nearly as frightening as the solitary zombie at work in this book. The creature positively exudes a relentless and mindless evil. The deaths are horrific and gruesome, and the violence -- far from being gratuitous -- assists in the building of an almost unbearable tension that makes this book truly un-putdownable.

There's also a Time Lord agent trapped in the house with the creature -- but is the Time Lord also the murderer? Or just another victim? There are a number of clues dropped throughout the narrative as to the identity of the agent, but they're beautifully subtle so as to make you feel extremely clever if you work things out before the Doctor. The "unmasking" scene is superbly written, and the identity of the agent provides a highly satisfying opening and closing device for the retelling of the events at Banquo Manor.

The bulk of the story is concerned with a fight for survival that is unparalleled in Doctor Who. Chase scenes go on forever, but Lane and Richards have crafted such genuinely believable characters and such a frightening monster that you barely notice. The overall pace, in fact, never lets up, aided by the regular flip-flopping of the first-person narrator from Scotland Yard Inspector Stratford to lawyer John Hopkinson.

It's also easy to disregard the relatively small role that the three regulars play in the development of the plot. The Doctor appears to be dead for a significant portion of the book, while Compassion and Fitz are also highly sidelined -- but the shocking thing is that this has absolutely no detriment to the story as a Doctor Who adventure. As it has often been remarked, The Banquo Legacy proves that Doctor Who is truly a series that can be taken in any direction and succeed.

It's also a testament to the writing skill of Lane and Richards that even though I'd never read any of the other books in the Compassion Arc, I didn't enjoy The Banquo Legacy any less. Story arcs can be rather intimidating at times, but The Banquo Legacy shows how to do it right, by managing to be fully comprehensible and enjoyable to an occasional EDA reader while still contributing to an ongoing saga.

A magnificent story, magnificently told.


A Review by Joe Ford 2/4/04

One of the best Doctor Who books I am ever likely to read, this is exactly the sort of atmospheric tale that I have come to delight in since Richards took over as editor. It is full of his trademarks, the twists, the humour, the clever ideas and with the added bonus of the contribution of top New Adventures writer Andy Lane they manage to produce something very special indeed. It is easily the best book produced under Cole's editorship, miles better than the celebrated stuff, Alien Bodies, Seeing I, Interference... because it never falters in quality, there is little to critisize and there is a wonderful twist in genre, From Dusk till Dawn style, halfway through that ensures this is extremely memorable. Lots of people make the mistake of suggesting this is a horror book, a simple error to make considering the impact the last third has but for the first two thirds this is nothing of the sort. Until the stomach churning twist when Richard Harries' rises from the dead to kill the rest of the characters, the book is clearly an Agatha Christie style murder mystery albeit one that is far more atmospheric than many of Christie's work, concentrating on the setting and the characters rather than the intricacies of the plot and the dialogue.

First person narration is now becoming so common in Doctor Who we are getting to a stage where it is not special and we can split the effective attempts from the less successful ones. Who Killed Kennedy, Adventuress of Henrietta Street, The Turing Test, Eye of Heaven, Empire of Death, Blue Box, Tomb of Valdemar... given my extensive praise of all of these books you can understand that I enjoy the variety, just as I love to dip into Patricia Cornwell's Kay Scarpetta novels for a first person take on the mystery genre. Especially in Doctor Who, first person novels seem to contain the best characters simply because we share the journey with them so intimately.

So full praise to Lane and Richards (surely every fiction Doctor Who fan's wet dream collaboration) who manage to pull of the most successful and gripping take on the first person yet, managing to give a fulsome account of the events taking place in Banquo Manor by splitting the story between two very different narrators. This allows the book to avoid the setback of many FP novels with its limited storytelling, when you are telling the story from one point of view you cannot leave that character but with two running concurrently you can split the story up and see the same tale from two distinct points of view. What is especially wonderful about this technique is that you can see both sides to the same scene, one interrogation scene in the middle of the book is seen from both characters POV and it is startling to see how differently they both see it. Even better, we get to experience Hopkinson's and Stratford's view of each other as well as their internal thoughts which rounds them both off with a lot of depth.

John Hopkinson's sections were written by Justin Richards and initially I found myself sympathising with his character. At a first glance he is the one with the least to worry about, surrounded by friends, his presence requested, falling in love with the sensuous Susan Seymour... his blunt by engaging account of events was quite a delight to read. After the murder of Harries I was closer to John, especially when Stratford was treating him with such firm suspicion.

Stratford it took me longer to warm to despite his sections being the more distinctive. Andy Lane has such a gorgeous writing voice, even when he's relaying surroundings and events through other characters he is still eloquent and extremely vivid. I loved the 'city' attitude Stratford started the story with, a serious cop with a chip on his shoulder, he comes to the house with no delusions that anyone could be the killer and sets about tearing through the suspects with ruthless efficiency.

I still cannot believe I was duped. That Richards managed to get away with the twist that Hopkinson killed Harries whilst telling the story through his eyes! That my friends takes a lot of skill to pull off and even more to make it genuinely surprising. When you look back at how bloody terrified Hopkinson was during his interrogation scenes it all makes perfect sense.

What surprises me more than anything is how little the Doctor is involved with proceedings. This may be a factor in the tale's reputation, this and the experimental nature of the writing gives the novel a very fresh feel, almost as if this isn't a Doctor Who book at all but a 'proper' piece of fiction (although I am not a dispensed to distinguish the two as others are). Robert Smith? says above that the Doctor feels very right when he is involved and I would go along with that, I can well believe that he would jump on the fortuitous accident of his mistaken death to snoop about and solve some mysteries without anybody knowing. Plus he is great in the last third as the zombie lurches from room to room, violent, witty and heroic... he feels like a right Victorian gent, a portent of his upcoming character wipe in one books time. I really love the bit where he has all the suspects together and says, "Haven't you figured it out yet!... I was screaming "No! Bloody well tell me!"

The imagery in this book is absolutely delicious. The pages are soaked with ambience, the two strongest writers for both ranges (NA and EDA) combining to write a book filled with memorable sights. I love books that use snowy locations, inhospitable yet beautiful landscapes that add to atmosphere greatly. With the added bonus of being set in the fascinating Victorian era in a creepy old house, this is a book that never fails to scare the pants of me. Some of the more grotesque material is horrifically dramatic, Harries clawing out Simpson's eyes, the experiment going wrong and burning the flesh from Harries, the rats nestling in the eyes of the skull... gloriously disturbing in the best of page turning of ways. Simple scenes, Harries bloodied face seen through a cracked pane of glass, the bedroom door exploding to reveal Harries corpse staring through (you almost expect him to scream "Here's Johnny!"), the gun exploding in Catherine's hands as she waits outside the study, get stuck in your mind long after you've turned the last page.

Compassion is a much under valued companion in my book, at least the writers tried to do some interesting things with her which is more than you can say about her predecessor (Interference! Pah!). My mate thinks turning Compassion into a TARDIS was the worst mistake ever made in Doctor Who, that it made a right mockery of the series but I would like to think that this is the view of a traditionalist (sorry Matt) fan, one who himself admits Doctor Who has to stick to a formula. I come in from the other angle, Doctor Who has a limitless formula and there are always boundaries to be pushed, Compassion was an attempt to do something genuinely bold with a companion and I for one think that the Doctor and Fitz actually travelling around in their fellow companion a brilliant and imaginative idea, albeit one that did not have enough to time to explore completely. It's as clever and original an idea as the TARDIS was back in 1963. What with the drama of fitting the Randomiser (The Fall of Yquatine) and her transformation into Susan Seymour here, there were some rather clever things done with Compassion.

This story marks the end of her time in the series as the Time Lords grow ever closer to discovering where the Doctor and co are and stealing Compassion as a prototype for a new breed of TARDIS. Without sounding defeatist about the arc, this is without a shadow of a doubt the best story, less cluttered than Interference, less obvious than Shadows of Avalon and better quality than The Ancestor Cell. The simple premise... a Time Lord agent amongst the characters in the house... makes for a compelling read to try and discover who it is. I had it figured about a third through but it still makes for a cool twist especially when you realise how long the agent has been hanging around for them to arrive and why he was willing to make such a sacrifice. It is all cleverly foreshadowed (along with some major twists) in the prologue and makes for a stunning final scene.

It is a shame that there weren't more stories told with THIS much conviction at the time but the simple truth of the matter is that The Banquo Legacy manages to convince you that a man gets up from his deathbed and starts killing people. Horribly macabre and utterly chilling, there are lots of detailed and disgusting descriptions as the corpse is stripped of flesh, bone and limbs during its rampage through the house. What truly impresses is the double shock twist about Catherine Harries, especially the second. In a moment of pure Doctor Who ham she reveals she deliberately controlled the mutilated body all along! You can almost here the cliffhanging music!

It's a hell of a novel with some of the most detailed characters, settings and events. It is the best kind of arc book because it pushes the running story along in a dramatic fashion and yet tells a damn good story in its own right. In terms of scares, of polished writing and of keeping you turning the pages this is about as perfect as Doctor Who in print comes.

Snap it up before the copies dry up.

A Review by Phil Ince 2/11/04

Having seen this book highly recommended in a number of places, I came to it with high hopes despite finding the 2 subsequent Justin Richards' books - The Burning and Sometime Never... - truly dire. I'd assumed - where only hope was appropriate - that having two typists on the job might mean both a dilution of any respective shortcomings and perhaps an enhancement of each's strengths. I have been really astonished therefore to find this co-written book near enough indistinguishable from the turgid, awkward, semi-literate droolings which Richards essayed after it.

Though read out of sequence, for the third JR/8DA in a row I find a Richards book substantially occupied by a slow chase - here by a corpse, in The Burning by a fiery corpse, in Sometime Never... by a skeleton. As in Sometime Never... and as is repeated in this book, the chase occurs at the pace of chilled treacle.

It may be that The Banquo Legacy has other intentions than to fill its pages with type, but what these are escapes me; of entertainment there is precious little; of characterisation, little more; event? - almost none at all. This is a baffling, dismal book which perhaps attempts - through a pair of 1st person narrators, neither of which is a 'regular' - to make unfamiliar characters yield a fresh perspective. It doesn't really succeed. The two men - a police inspector and one of his suspects - are really no more throughly differentiated than the pages of paper they appear on. Different? Literally, yes. But distinct? Not in the least. For example, both describe the hair and eye colour, the cloth and cut of other characters' clothes. To have one of these young/middle-aged, Victorian men do this would have been stretching it but might suggest a certain aesthetic sense. This sensitivity therefore might have been developed as a means of distinction. But because both demonstrate the same sensibility and style of observation, the purpose is loudly obscure.

There is an effective sequence of subsequent chapters where the two men give their accounts of one another during the Inspector's interview of his suspect. The policeman interpets the manner and behaviour he observes as aloof where the man he is questioning is actually terrified and - equally - interpets his inquisitor as having the upper hand. Neither before or after these passages is anything substantial or more than utilitarianly purposeful made of the alternating accounts and perspective. But credit where it's due.

I'd site The Banquo Legacy as a pretty dumb book which tries to combine the adventure spirit of DW with the horror elements of Hammer and George Romero where the two things have only once been successfully combined by Roberts Banks Stewart and Robert Holmes in Seeds of Doom and in the concise medium of visual TV. Lane and Richards have not repeated the Roberts' success at The Double.

Its sluggishness (whilst predictable) is nevertheless inexcusable given the bulk of its derivation and The Banquo Legacy is fundamentally tremendously derivative. It slices out the key terrestrial elements of Pyramids of Mars - Lawrence Scarman's walking corpse re-animated by another, the mummies' chase sequence and the poacher's hut to comprise most of the second half of the book. But that's another story...

Vastly over-rated - sluggish, repetitive and far from self-explanatory (why does the super-human corpse revive and why is it superhuman?).

Approach with caution.


A Review by Steve White 24/11/16

The Banquo Legacy is an odd Doctor Who novel, as it feels like the Doctor and his companions have been tacked on, yet it is a fully riveting read. Apparently it was a last minute replacement, which explains this, but I do worry Justin Richards is going to tarnish his reputation by writing these rushed novels.

The novel is written from two third-party perspectives. One is solicitor John Hopkinson, and the other is Police Inspector Ian Stratford. Whereas the idea sounds bad in theory, it actually works really well in practice, and you don't miss the TARDIS crew's input at all.

Storywise, things start going a little bit pear-shaped, but only because of the Compassion arc. The main plot revolves around shady experiments at Banquo Manor, a quintessential spooky manor house in the 19th century. This bit is very well done, very atmospheric with a few twists and turns to keep you guessing. The issue comes with forcing the Time Lords into the novel, which, to be fair, is kept to a minimum. Compassion is immediately "written out" by merging her with another character, which feels a bit wrong but does succeed in allowing the main story the breathing room it needs. There is also a Time Lord agent at the Manor, but it's only ever hinted at until the very end, and the suspense does oddly work.

The characters are done really well, although you could argue there are too many of them. The confined setting makes keeping up with the characters fairly easy though, as does the lack of multiple plot threads. As the story is told via the third-party characters, the characterization is as they would see them, which is a nice touch. The Doctor is well-portrayed, undoubtedly the Eighth with his youthful exuberance and mannerisms. Compassion, as previously touched upon, is essentially absent throughout, but the bits when she is herself are just generic Compassion. Fitz offers the usual comic relief and is also done well. The two narrators, Hopkinson and Stratford, are the run-of-the-mill solicitor/police-inspector stereotypes, but seeing things through their eyes lets you warm to them when otherwise you would just write them off. Both the Harries are well done and offer a slightly different look on the mad scientist trope. It's a nice twist when Richard dies but then still remains the villain as a corpse. The rest of the house are all a bit of background noise, to be honest, but in the setting you need this sort of character.

In short, The Banquo Legacy is a great Doctor Who novel but suffers ever so slightly from its placement in the Compassion arc. Had this been a Doctor and Fitz duo novel without the Time Lord threat, then it would easily be one of the best books of the range. As it stands though, it's still a must read and very enjoyable.