The Dalek Invasion of Earth
The Deadly Assassin
Sam is Missing
Legacy of the Daleks
Sam is Missing Part Two
|ISBN||0 563 40574 0|
Synopsis: Thirty years after the Dalek Invasion of Earth, the
tribal groups of England begin working on a dangerous plan. The Doctor's
search for Sam reunites him with some old enemies, but an even older
Light and Zippy by Robert Smith? 13/8/98
As the book that promised no continuity, this sure has a lot of it! However, the really surprising thing about this book is just how light and fluffy and easy to read it is. John Peel's prose seems to be light years ahead of the awful War of the Daleks, so this is the BBC Books' equivalent of a popcorn action flick: nothing too deep, but it isn't pretending to have those sorts of aspirations.
Characterisation is definitely on the light side. Most of the supporting cast are almost completely forgettable or caricatures. Haldoran is so over the top one wonders if the shock twist is that he's actually not a bad guy. But this is a Peel novel, so characters who are apparently OTT stay that way. David Campbell is also appallingly underwritten and unlike the minor supporting cast, the book really suffers from this. There's absolutely no sense of character to him, nothing that makes us want to care in any way, because he simply lurks in the background until he has to spout a few lines and then goes back to being there but having no presence.
Donna is the only original supporting character who has any depth and she's actually quite fun, in a shallow sort of way. As the substitute companion character, she works really well. Estro is also quite good, but I think that's mainly because of who he really is, giving Peel more of a character to latch onto. He's not quite right, but he's a refreshing version of a character we've never really seen properly in novel form. It's a pity there wasn't more of an effort to keep his identity secret, though; it's given away completely within his first few pages!
The same can't be said for the Doctor, unfortunately. He's not quite as blatantly the third Doctor as in War, but he's no McGann either. There are superficial similarities, but even some of these feel wrong. In fact, I think this book would have worked far, far better as a solo third (or perhaps fourth) Doctor book. The situation at the beginning which gets the Doctor into the action is awfully contrived and the explanation for why the Doctor is 'out of sequence' is hilarious. It's worse, because there has never, ever been such a rule, but the Doctor turns to Donna and stage whispers the entire exposition for absolutely no reason at all. This is the only spot in the book where it might have been useful to have an established companion, but as no such in-sequence rule was ever stated, I'm not sure why this wasn't dropped altogether.
Speaking of the contrivance, Susan is an interesting character in this book. There are hints about the Pythia's curse, but the idea that she and David had adopted children works very well (although the scene in which she thinks about dressing up in lingerie for David is beyond belief). Estro not knowing that Susan was the Doctor's granddaughter is also quite intriguing. And I really like her 'final' fate in the book. In fact that whole final section with Susan and Estro reads very well, despite the overload of continuity.
Unfortunately, the Daleks are dead boring. In fact, they're so useless that I think the book would have been better without them, concentrating on the aftermath of the invasion without having the Daleks return yet again. The first half of the book is the more interesting, with the political struggles, but when the Daleks reappear it's all so tedious. "Their stubby metal guns spat death..." Ho hum.
I did like the links back to Longest Day at the beginning, though. I think the linking of an obviously ongoing series like the Eighth Doctor line is a wonderful thing and really encourages readers to pick up the whole line, not just a few books here and there.
In summary, despite a number of problems, I did quite enjoy this book. It's a zippy read and most of the problems didn't bother me too much at the time. There's nothing particularly noteworthy or thought provoking here, but the book isn't pretending to be anything other than an exciting action adventure. And I think it succeeds on those terms. However, I have the sneaking suspicion that the one reason I really liked it was because it was so utterly refreshing to see Sam absent from the entire book...
Good news and bad news by Michael Hickerson 19/8/98
The good news is that John Peel's latest Doctor Who offering didn't have me wanting to throw the book against the wall and scream in frustration as War of the Daleks did. The bad news is that the storytelling in Legacy of the Daleks isn't much of an improvement over his previous efforts.
Once again, part of the problem is that Peel has some interesting ideas, very few of which are given the time to develop the deserve. Set thirty years after the end of Dalek Invasion of Earth, the story does hold your attention for the first half as you see how Earth has recovered from the Dalek's invasion. The political powers represented in the book, while cliched at times, are at least interesting enough to make you want to keep reading. It's just about halfway through when the "surprise" villain reveals who they are and the Daleks show up that it all goes out the window. I haven't seen the Daleks this unnecessarily used since they were inserted into Day of the Daleks at the last minute. All they do is remain in their control center, plotting the overthrow of humanity and exterminating anything that moves or threatens their plans. And it's just not that interesting to hear the Black Dalek plotting or spouting off cliched lines about Dalek supremecy.
As for the "surprise" villain, it's obvious ten pages into the novel who it is.
Once again, Peel's biggest error is not giving the eight Doctor any personality. Unlike War, which was the eighth Doctor playing the fifth, the Doctor here has no distinguishing characterisitics to make the reader care about him. He spends a lot of time wondering what might have happened to Sam and plotting the overthrow of the Daleks. However, he's not even a blip on the radar screen in terms of the type of charcter depth we see in any of Jon Blum and Kate Orman's or Gary Russell's novels.
And while I will give Legacy credit that it doesn't try to undo ten years of established continuity, I will admit Peel does go a bit too far in trying to tidy up some loose ends in the series history. The Doctor's reunion with Susan (which a major portion of the book builds up to) is anti-climatic, and the first epilogue is a bit of stretch.
Along the way, you get cliched charaters and the virtual non-presence of not only your leading character but also the advertised villains. Legacy of the Daleks isn't the worst Doctor Who novel I've read, but it's not one of the best either. And that's the worst news of all: after waiting all this time for the return of the Daleks, their first two appearances in the fiction range are such a grave disappointment.
A Review by Finn Clark 25/2/99
As a story, it's okay. It's got political maneuverings (yawn). It's got the old villain and the Daleks (yippee). There's a rather dull high-tech MacGuffin that will let the villain dominate all of space and time (though it didn't seem to do the Daleks much good later, in Evil of the Daleks). There's lots of running around and getting captured. Oh, and lots of people get killed...
As for the whole Susan-isn't-aging thing... Dave Owen's right. It makes a travesty of the ending of Dalek Invasion of Earth. John Peel deserves credit for facing up to the issue and not trying to dodge it or sweep it under the carpet, but, as I argued above, it's not even necessary. Susan could be anything up to seven-eighths human (assuming that adoption doesn't break the blood ties anywhere between her and her grandfather, as in Eric Saward's Radio Times short story).
Moving on to the (few) original bits of this story... The post-invasion setting is said to be a straight rip-off of Nation's The Survivors, but I wouldn't know about that. I'd have preferred to see something a little less generic, perhaps using the rich history of London, or of Britain in general. At the moment, it's set in anywhere-land, after some kind of apocalypse that probably involved Daleks somehow, with a predictable political system and a predictable tech level. Quirkiness is in short supply.
The characterisation is... okay. It's better than War of the Daleks, anyway. John Peel has made the Doctor more like Paul McGann. Susan doesn't come over very well; she's far more intelligent and capable than in The Witch Hunters, but far less evocatively drawn. In fact, very little in this book is evocative. Emotions are left unstirred, even when the Daleks are (aw, you guessed!) resurrected. The tin tyrants don't really do very much. They wake up, potter about in their mine and eventually get killed. That's about it, really. Again, something more interesting could have been put there.
In summary, it's better written than the utterly cardboard and speechifying War of the Daleks, but it's less interesting too. The stakes seem lower, with much of the book being given over to petty political squabbles between Bloodthirsty Warlord Number One and Bloodthirsty Warlord Number Two. Oh, and one tends to lose track of who's who, since the chief baddie's eight lieutenants are introduced in a bunch on pages 40-41, after which the poor readers are on their own. ("This is Barlow, who's young; next to him is Tomlin, who's fat, then there's O'Hanley, who's an accountant...") I suggest photocopying those pages as handy reference for the following chapters, since John Peel doesn't give you any help from then on.
It's fanwank. War of the Daleks was fanwank ("let's retcon everything since Genesis!") I hear on the grapevine that John Peel has just had a Daleks-versus-Cybermen proposal rejected, which seems pretty fanwanky too. I can't believe that Virgin would have accepted any of these proposals. However, Legacy of the Daleks isn't actually a bad book, unlike the hugely flawed War. It's just rather formulaic. A rethink or two, making an attempt to go for something other than the obvious, might even have raised it to something rather good.
DALEKS CANNOT BE DEFEATED.... by Daniel Coggins 8/7/99
Well, this book is better than War of the Daleks. It's the first Dalek story for.....ooh, ages, not to feature Davros. Also sadly missing is Sam Jones, still MIA following the events of Dullest Day, oops, I mean Longest Day. The book itself works brilliantly. Set on Earth, England, about thirty years after the Dalek Invasion, Legacy does the same for the Daleks as War did for the Doctor- gives them a back seat role. They appear in the middle of the novel in possibly their best cliffhanger moment, and then do nowt but robotise people, get blown up by grenade launchers and EX-TER-MIN-ATE the odd soldier. So what's in the rest of the novel then? I hear you cry. Fear not, for we get given captivating power - struggle between Lord London, who rules London, and Lord Haldoran, who rules something else. As humans do best they are in the middle of all out war, and Haldoran has an advisor called Estro. A brilliant incidental character called Donna is very important, but this becomes clearer in the later part of the book. I could hint, but that would make it too easy. However, the Doctor's character may be a bit off line. He's TOO curious. Ah, well. Not a great book, but not a poor one either. Somewhere around 'Very Good', I'd say.
A Review by Tom Wilton 7/5/00
I didn't want to read it. I put it off as long as I could. But I'm a sad, fanboy completist and couldn't hold of the temptation. All I kept telling myself as I opened it was that it couldn't be as bad as War of the Daleks. Could it?
Well, actually, no. But then, that's not saying a lot. I mean, a tooth extraction without anaesthesia probably wouldn't be as bad as John Peel's previous novel. This time we're on Earth a few years after The Dalek Invasion of Earth has been repelled. I have an admission to make: I'm not a huge fan of the early Dalek stories (give me Rememberance over The Chase anyday) and so revisiting the scene of a sixties Dalek tale was already setting the alarms going.
The story does have a very sixties sort of feel to it. The men are the force of power in the country. And these men are angry. And they have guns. This is the extent of their characterisation. The implication is that whilst the men sort out Britain's troubles, the women stay at home and have children to restore the decimated population. In fact, the only women we see having power are both incapable of having children: Donna and Susan (yes, it is that Susan) and this seems to be the sole reason why the menfolk tolerate their antics. Do we really need sixties viewpoints filtered through fiction of the nineties. There is the possible argument that the author was attempting to recreate the feel of show when this setting was first used, but surely that is the domain of the PDAs?
The Daleks are actually a bit of a no show for most of the novel and when they do turn up there only seems to be about four of them stuck down a hole somewhere in the middle of Berkshire. That's it, really. The main plot (if such a term can be used) concerns the political machinations of the Lords ruling the fractured nation, and the influence of an alien interloper amongst them.
Let's face it, as soon as Estro opens his mouth you know it's the Master. Why does the Doctor's arch-enemy, his Moriarty, always have such rubbish plans? You thought that trying to mess up the Magna Carta was pathetic? Well now he's being a bit naughty in an already weakened country. It all seems so beneath him.
The return of Susan is just horrible. She's still got the body of a sixteen year old and having to pretend to be older than she is by wearing prosthetics. There has been reference to the First Doctor having once been a young man, and so many have assumed that in their first bodies Time Lords age naturally (the television series would also suggest they only have one heart in their first body) until they regenerate. This makes much more sense than what we are presented with in Legacy. I mean, when have we ever seen a Time Lord who was in the body of a teenager on Gallifrey? It's this sort of lazy thinking that infuriates the reader.
There is also some messy continuity stuff going on in the book. Not satisfied with redefining the events of Remembrance in War of the Daleks, John Peel now tries to give us a prequel to The Deadly Assassin. The whole excuse of Time Lords rarely meeting out of sequence and this being a rare occasion is pretty lame, and goes against everything we ever saw on television.
There's no prizes for guessing that I'm not John Peel's biggest fan and again I find it difficult to find any positive comments to make about this. I guess I like Donna a bit, filling in for the absent Sam, but not all that much.
Some other thoughts:
A Review by Andrew McCaffrey 7/9/01
Legacy of the Daleks is a better written book than War of the Daleks. The Daleks appear to be much more of a threat, the Doctor acts with greater intelligence, and the continuity references are slightly less annoying and confusing. Unfortunately, it's still not a very good book.
The beginning of the story has a lot going for it. Set thirty years after the end of the Dalek invasion, we see Earth gradually putting itself back together after years of occupation, death camps and war. There's a strange mix of technologies and customs as modern tools and weapons are used alongside cultural throwbacks from centuries ago. England has again become a land of bickering Lords; knights roam the countryside doing good deeds. Of course, since this is the 22nd Century, the knights are armed with futuristic weapons and machine guns in addition to their more traditional accompaniments. There is some interesting development at the start where we see some of the power struggles that are going on as the factions of surviving humans battle it out for dominance. Resources are scarce. The production and selling of energy is a major factor in how much power and influence one has. So far, so good.
It's the moment in which the Daleks first appear that the story starts falling apart for me. Up until this point the book had the potential for a lot of interesting political and military maneuvering as the different Lords vie for control. But once the Daleks show up, that goes out the window and all we are left with are some long, pointless battle-sequences and Daleks issuing reports to each other. The interest that had been built up surrounding the remaining humans and their plight is quashed and we're left with extended battles and overblown scheming from shallow villains.
As in War the characterizations are extremely poor. The Doctor appears more like the eighth than in War, but he has frequent lapses into his third and fourth personas. The secondary characters are almost universally poor. These aren't people - they're vessels for the plot (what there is of it) who have no reason for existing other than to say things that drive the story forward. There's no consistency about them either; they say or do whatever is needed of them at the time regardless of how much it jars with their previously established character. At no point did I feel that I was reading about human beings.
The poor characterizations would not have been as inexcusable had there been an absorbing plot going on around them. Unfortunately, this book is pretty much a complete runaround with very little in it to inspire interest. The Doctor and company run around, get locked up, escape, get threatened by men with guns, escape again, run around, etc. There is not much substance here.
All in all, it would probably be better to skip this book. Although it takes place in the middle of the Sam Is Missing story-arc, the related threads are only at the beginning and end of the book. You won't miss anything important or entertaining if you decide to read something else.
It's Grim Up North in New London by Marcus Salisbury 11/9/02
John Peel has written another new Dalek novel, and like the last one it has a nice cover. Unlike the last one, the cosmically awful War of the Daleks, there are nice things to be said about by no means all of the words within that cover.
We'll start with the plot. Plausibly, it is revealed that the Dalek blitzkrieg on Earth in the 22nd century has had some bad effects on the planet. The future society drawn here bears some relation to (ie completely rips off) that Terry Nation SF kitchen sink drama, The Survivors, but by and large Peel sets this up well. Considering that his brief is also to reintroduce (a) Susan, (b) the "Delgado Master" (c) the Daleks, Peel does fairly well with the local colour. Future England is run-down, collapsing into feudalism, and there are feral slythers on the loose, hunting kittens and small children in the apparent belief that Ann Geddes cards are advertisements for fast food outlets.
Any major continuity lapses between the future Earth drawn in Legacy and the carefully-crafted future history created over years in the Virgin NAs are, I^Òm sure, the unintended consequence of a metaphorical bull in a china shop. The schematically-detailed timeline outlined from Warhead onward is thrown overboard. For little real effect.
Legacy's future history does append itself neatly to The Dalek Invasion of Earth, however. Various self-appointed "Lords" are contending for supremacy amid the post-apocalyptic ruins, and the main conflict occurs, as one might expect, over power supplies. Equally plausibly, there is Dalek technology scattered around the countryside, and, this being the UK, the government solution is to employ civil servants (such as Susan) to catalogue potentially lethal sites and place BEWARE OF THE DALEK signs on their front gates. The nastiest Lord of all is ably assisted by a "mysterious adviser" named Estro, whose identity is plain as the goatee on his face. This Lord also has various other nasty assistants, whose various psychoses are outlined early in the piece and then forgotten.
Enter the Doctor, still in search of Sam.
The Eighth Doctor's character is still oscillating between that of the Jon Pertwee Doctor and Voltaire's Candide at this point in the 8DAs. Unlike War of the Daleks, where he all-but reversed the polarity of whatever neutron flow happened to be available, the Doctor has a few flashes of his own personality here. Like adopting a cat at the end, and getting gratuitously shot. There's a long way to go yet to The Burning.
Susan is laughable: disguising herself in a fat suit a la Mike Myers' Fat Bastard to give the impression of ageing, for instance. She spends most of the book captured, by Daleks and the Delgado Master, and emerges at the end to watch the Doctor get shot, and to participate in a truly contrived set of continuity setups. There are, mercifully, no signs of weak ankles and no threats of smacked bottoms, but what a wasted opportunity nonetheless.
I nearly made it to the end of Legacy without groaning, and then... we get a Truly Gratuitous Peel Continuity Reference. Not content to bring back the Delgado Master for no readily apparent reason, we have to read on while Peel crams the whole "Tersurus incident" from The Deadly Assassin into a few flat pages. He's really out to snatch the Continuity Nazi mantle from Terrance Dicks here: we make it from the "death" of the Delgado Master to the troubled life of Chancellor Goth to the Deadly Assassin teaser in a couple of paragraphs, and remain profoundly unmoved in the process. The big question is Why Bother? Legacy of the Daleks is (like Blood Harvest in the Virgin range) one of those books where the author kills the story with the obscene device of turning Act 5 into one long flashback. All that's missing is Borusa, and I'm sure it's only because he was cut in the editing.
Legacy would have been better as a PDA... maybe even as the final showdown between the Third (or Fourth?) Doctor and the Delgado Master. On those terms, it would have been a damn fine piece of escapism. As an 8DA, it simply doesn't suit the developing context of the franchise. It's better than War of the Daleks of course, but the general ingredients that made the earlier book such a treasure of bad storytelling are present in Legacy, albeit in a minimised form. These include desperate reliance on continuity in place of actual plot, resurrection of profoundly uninteresting characters and zero development of potentially good ones, and the JN-T era assumption that anybody reading this text will have surely seen the entire series.
Fortunately, counter-productive devices such as this are largely missing from the 8DAs these days. The series has developed quite a way from its occasionally slipshod beginnings, and the dreaded continuity crutches have been cast aside, or left to the PDAs where they are more appropriate. Like War of the Daleks this book saddens me with its cavalier treatment of characters and scenarios that really should be let alone. As I said, it's a fine piece of escapism, but ultimately a very hollow one.
A Review by Terrence Keenan 9/3/03
John Peel's two BBC original Dalek novels have taken a bashing over the years, a nice way of saying that people have wanted Peel skinned alive and fed to rabid poodles.
I liked War of the Daleks. Cheesy as it was, the action scenes rocked and the retcon was, in its own way, brilliant.
What about Legacy?
The premise is okay. The post- Dalek Invasion England is well thought out; harkening back to the numerous fiefdoms that must have existed in the middle ages. Politics is front and center here, with a whole herd of wannabe Machiavellis jockeying for position in the two largest domains, London and Haldoran.
On the Craig Hinton Fanwank scale, Legacy scores well below Quantum Archangel and, but above most Who novels. You have a sequel to The Dalek Invasion of Earth, Susan, David Campbell, the pepperpots, and The Big Roger Delgado version of the Master running through Legacy. And it worked, mostly. The ideas held together, the characters thought out, and feeling magnanimous, I let it go.... until the end, where Peel tries to link in The Deadly Assassin in a most unsubtle way and tosses in a cameo part for a key character in The Invasion of Time. Peel did a similar thing in War, linking that book with The Power of the Daleks, but it was a throw-away line, so I let it go. This end of novel tie in lasted through a part of the last chapter and a whole epilogue. Arrggghhh!!!
Characterization? Think Target novel, all around. The Doctor in this one is more the 8th Doc than the Peter Davison clone that showed up in War. No Sam, so we have Donna, Lord London's daughter who is a cross between Leela and Tegan IMHO. Susan is actually the best of the bunch: curious, intelligent, mature, and desperately in love with David. She gets a good exit.
Another Target Novel tie in comes with the prose. It's the Uncle Terrance Dicks Sparse School of Writing, complete with every chapter ending in a cliffhanger. Brought back some warm and fuzzy feelings.
The Verdict? Okay. We're not talking Loz Miles genius fiction here. But, if you want a nice way to kill an afternoon and not be completely bored, then give Legacy a shot, although I would skip the first epilogue if you have low tolerance for obnoxious continuity references. A fast read is always better than a slow one.
Less Is More... Entertaining by Peter Niemeyer 6/2/04
Much has been said about the pitfalls of Legacy, so I won't try to rehash them here too much. I agree with virtually all of them. The warlords tend to be nameless. The backstory surrounding Donna felt tacked on. David Campbell is given virtually nothing to do. The Master's presence is obvious. The fanwank is, well, fanwank. The list goes on and on. So, I'd rather talk about what I wish this book could have been.
See, the funny thing is that Legacy starts out as a good book. I rather enjoyed the first 100 pages. Why? Because the book was focused on Britain recovering from the Dalek invasion. There was a slyther, some Dalek artifacts lying around that nobody wanted to touch, a question of how the world would be rebuilt, and the memory of the Daleks. And that was enough to keep things interesting.
I like the idea of somebody getting access to a small number of Dalek weapons. It was an idea that could have been explored much more. Wouldn't some of the warloads and/or soldiers - the older ones - refuse to use them? Even though they represented superior arms technology, they were also Dalek weapons, and that alone would be reason enough for some people to want nothing to do with them. And what about the technology for turning people into Robomen? What if someone had come across that and was using it to make fearless soldiers. But where were the bodies coming from in an Earth so desparate to rebuild its population. Wouldn't some people try to rescue and uncondition their former loved ones, not realizing they were already dead?
I also like the idea of Susan dealing with the ramifications of living on Earth. Okay, there's mixed reactions to the whole "she's not aging" issue, which I personally wasn't bothered by. But regardless of what she looks like, she still has to come to terms with the fact that she'll outlive everyone she knows, and she has no way of leaving the planet, at least in the forseeable future. I think the reader deserves a more involved conversation between the Doctor and Susan, and I found the solution to her problem rather unsatisfying. (Oh joy... another renegade timelord with a TARDIS.) How refreshing it would have been for Peel to come up with an original solution. Maybe David gets killed by the recently discovered Dalek technology and she makes it her mission to deactivate every artefact across the entire planet (and that would take a few lifetimes). Maybe she makes contact with some other alien race and decides to wander the universe on her own without a TARDIS. Maybe she developers her telepathic powers enough to the point where she can explore the universe without leaving Earth. Any of these ideas would have been, in my mind, a more honest conclusion to the "Susan dilemma" than what happened.
The book didn't really need the Daleks. Their appearance was what stopped the fun. And there really wasn't anything for them to do that they haven't done in one of the televised shows. If there's nothing new for the Daleks to do, then just don't use them.
The book didn't really need the Master either. He provides the Dalek weapons to Haldoran, but the story could have had any human come across the weapons while still retaining plausability. The whole transmuter business added nothing of weight to the story.
So, my big disappointment was in John Peel's seeming inability to realize where the interesting idea was and stick with it. We've had tons of Dalek stories, tons of Master stories, and tons of returning companion stories. None of these things will inherently make a story better, and if you don't find something original to do with it, it will make the story worse. Legacy ends up being a bit too self-indulgent for my tastes. And it's so frustrating when someone comes so close to getting it right, and then just makes a royal bollocks of it all.
Tosh! by Joe Ford 11/10/05
After being confused at how so many people could find such an undemanding and shallow action adventure like War of the Daleks so offensive I am now boggling at how so many people can be so kind about this load of tripe. Legacy of the Daleks lacks the scale, the ambition and the imagery of War of the Daleks and is by far the inferior of Peel's two attempts to bring glory to the Daleks.
This has to be the least inspiring look at a post-apocalyptic Earth ever (oh yeah, apocalypses are common in Doctor Who... get with the programme!). Domains fighting over who supplies the power (that's electrical power, not "bwahaha I have the power" power), knights on horseback who parade the Kingdom seeking out wrongdoers and factions squabbling amongst themselves rather than rebuilding their once proud Empire. I just could not leap over this massive hurdle the book threw up, the whole atmosphere of the book is all wrong, it should be a deadly, dangerous place the Daleks left after their invasion but instead it's lazy politics and really dull traps (there's a few Slythers roaming about... ooh scary!). None of the characters have a chance of sounding convincing in this dull environment despite Peel's attempts. Go and look at Reckless Engineering for a genuinely scary post-apocalyptic Earth, it might not be a perfect Doctor Who book but it at least it has cannibalistic children trying to eat you and a convincing social structure. There were a million possibilities to explore the aftermath of the Dalek attack but this book takes the easiest way out, setting the book thirty years later, losing most of the population and making those in charge strut about like ego-ridden fools. It's rubbish and I hate reading rubbish. There should be famine troubles and frightening psychological issues (especially xenophobia). Anything but what we get.
The join-the-dots continuity this book revels in might have worked with a sane mind behind the typewriter but Peel always goes too far. He wants his book to feature an older Susan, Delgado's Master, the Daleks, Rodan, Goth, Robomen... the last time I shook my head with disbelief at such a blatant lack of originality was with The Eight Doctors so that might give you an idea of the novel's quality. Legacy so obviously wants to become a re-run of The Dalek Invasion of Earth it hurts. When the metal meanies started exterminating everybody, Robomen were running about and the action shifted to a mine shaft I thought I had accidentally picked up Terrance Dicks' novelisation of Invasion Earth until I realised how inferior Peel's prose was. It's hardly the most innovative inspiration for a story anyway.
Another in a long list of ideas fudged in Legacy is the return of Susan, another potentially fascinating concept. Why doesn't she meet up with her grandfather properly? What is the point of keeping them apart throughout the entire novel? I was so disappointed; I thought they would have a jolly good chinwag about their problems (now there would be a chat you wouldn't want to miss, the Doctor upset about losing Sam and Susan devastated at being left behind by her grandfather... it would certainly be more interesting than the tosh we have to endure) but the second they are brought together they are flung apart as quickly. The first chapter suggested a character study of Susan, her hurt at watching her husband grow old whilst she remains youthful, but this is forgotten as soon as chapter two begins and she spends the rest of the book wandering around some Dalek corridors! Why waste an opportunity like this?
Talking of wasted opportunities, let's talk about the Master. I cannot believe that Peel attempted to conceal his presence for 130 odd pages when it is blatantly obvious from his first line who he is. A sharply dressed geezer with a satanic beard, who enjoys playing about with people's lives as though he is a kid in a playground. Who else could that be? This is the second time Peel had a chance to explore the mind of one Doctor Who's great supervillains and the second time he botched the job. Without Roger Delgado to make his ooze cool, the Master reads like a walking cliche with horrific Dr Evil-style dialogue cheese. And if any villain in the annals of Doctor Who's history could do with a little bit of background story and tightening up his very flabby motivations it was the bearded wonder. The story wastes page space with the Master rubbing his hands together a lot, whispering things in peoples ears to influence events and goading the Doctor but never actually doing anything of consequence. And the book has to hit us with one more continuity shock doesn't it? So we get the explanation of why the Master looks so emaciated in The Deadly Assassin, which is given such a horrifically inept answer that I wonder why they bothered. Where the hell is the editor of this range and has she ever seen Doctor Who? Did she think this would actually satisfy the fans? Even Virgin would have rejected this and they published some crap in their time!
We get a spanking new companion in the shape of Donna who should have been wasted sooner. What a useless character! She is a war knight of London (what?) who is the ex-wife of her father's enemy (what?) who was raped and abused by her ex-lover and dismissed by her daddy (what and what?). Her dialogue is painful (three of my favourites were: "You murdering, festering little scumbag!", "A good day to you gentle folk!" and "Did anyone ever tell you you're a heartless, cold-blooded bastard?") and the more time I spent with her, the more I wanted Sam back, which I suppose would validate the experiment of having her go missing but couldn't they have achieved that without introducing such a one-dimensional, melodramatic wench? Thank God she shoots Haldoran's head off, I couldn't stand another second of their soap operatics. Unfortunately the second her ex-lover is dead she starts flirting with another! Will these women never learn...? When I compare this to some of the stuff coming out these days I have to weep at the amateurishness of it all. Did they want these early EDAs to fail?
A typical example of how illogical and badly thought-out this is, there is an explanation given as to why the Doctor and the Master (and other various villains who keep popping up in his lives) keep meeting in the right chronology (you know, Davros meets the fourth Doctor, then continues their story together with the fifth, and then the sixth, etc, etc). Apparently you have to meet each other in linear progression in your time streams; it's an actual law. How on Earth can you maintain that when you travel through all time and space? What do you do if you happen to meet an earlier version of somebody? Disappear as quickly as you can a try again until you meet him at a point after the last the time you met him in his life I suppose! Actually if we have to take this crud as written you could write a hilarious book out of it! The Doctor continually popping through time thinking he has finally met up with the villain in their future but botching it each time! It would certainly be more entertaining than this. Gosh, I'm harsh, aren't I?
I want to discuss the covers for a second. You see Black Sheep come in for quite a lot of criticism for their (apparently) uninspiring covers but this is the tenth eighth Doctor book and only one of them to this point is actually underwheming (The Bodysnatchers). Compare this to some of childish scribblings that adorned the NAs and this is high art! Legacy of the Daleks has a shocking, striking cover (it's just a shame the contents could not live up to the wrapping... sounds like Christmas all over again!). And some of the books coming up almost beg you to read them; the covers are so good (Seeing I and The Janus Conjunction especially).
As for Legacy of the Daleks, don't waste your time. This is every bit as bad as the reputation of those early EDAs (which is the only one so far, most of the other anti-classics has turned out to be surprisingly underrated) and contains some of the most childish, embarrassing writing in any Doctor Who book.
Imagine it is the plague and AVOID!
A Review by Brian May 20/6/06
What's the best thing about Legacy of the Daleks? Well, it's better than War of the Daleks - which isn't saying much. By no means take this as a ringing endorsement of an amazingly brilliant piece of work. On the contrary...
But as it stands John Peel's second BBC and original Dalek novel does has some positive features:
Now onto the Master. He's back, in his Roger Delgado body, encountering the eighth Doctor. Hmmmmmm, not sure what to think. For another point in Peel's favour, I must admit I liked the way he was written. His dialogue, mannerisms etc are all accurately faithful to the memory of Delgado. I didn't like much else about him though. He doesn't really have to be in the story. But for argument;s sake, let's assume he is. There are still problems: like Major Kreer in David A. McIntee's First Frontier, Estro is an interesting character in his own right, potentially. So why go ahead and give away his identity on p.13 - the first chapter - for Pete's sake? Substituting a small "m" in the word master isn't very subtle, you know! Gradual revelation is much better; there are plenty of clues, and sad-act fan readers like us enjoy unmasking by attrition. Even the use of the TCE on p.87 is acceptable: we know more of the character and it's a decent way into the story. On p.141 the Doctor explains to Donna the discrepancy in the time streams caused by meeting the earlier Master. Why does he tell her this? As she states, she doesn't have a clue what he's talking about. This is a perfectly reasonable place to have the Doctor reason it out by thinking to himself, rather than explaining something to the reader via a companion/substitute. This isn't television John, we don't need that sort of explanation anymore! There's such a thing as internal monologue!
But overall the writing is a mix of the simplistic and the plain awkward. There's too much exposition and unnecessary explanations. Why do Daleks need to report to the Black Dalek in person simply to stress its importance (p.154)? It happens this way on television for purposes of visual reference and narrative. We don't need "staging revisionism"! There's pure triteness as well. An awful speech from the Doctor (p.199); Susan thinks of the Master: "It was almost impossible to believe his self-centredness" (p.193) - while she's at it, why doesn't she just think "How utterly evil!"?? (with apologies to Bonnie Langford!). Peel obviously didn't own a thesaurus, leading to some irritating word repetition in the space of a few lines: "process(ed)" on p.199 and "ground" on p.220 being glaring examples.
The novel is filled with so many of those infuriating, criss-crossing, beyond-television encounters a continuity obsessed author sprains their wrist fantasising about - with the final sections on Tersurus verging on the unbelievable. Peel is in fanboy heaven, describing events that don't need it; the Master's disfiguration and Goth's discovery of him, both of which feel better as recorded, albeit unseen events in Who history. And did we really need Rodan included as well? Spare me!
Legacy of the Daleks has potential; some of it is realised, but most is wasted in a fan-obsessed free-for-all that's dominated by boring characters, boring story and a prevailing air of sadism and nastiness that's just unpleasant. As I said, it's better than War of the Daleks, but that book was doomed from the start. With this in mind, if Legacy has such potential, surely that means it should be judged more harshly? After some thought, I concluded no; I'd rather read this again than War. Which, of course, is not saying much at all... 3/10