The Power of Kroll
Target novelisation
Doctor Who and the Power of Kroll

Author Terrance Dicks Cover image
Published 1980
ISBN 0 426 20101 9
First Edition Cover Andrew Skilleter

Back cover blurb: The huge, octopus-like Kroll lived deep in the swamps of the humid, steamy planet. To the native swamp-warriors, Kroll was an angry, mythical god. To the money-grabbing alien technicians, Kroll was a threat to a profit-making scheme. In their search for another segment of the Key to Time, the Doctor and Romana have to face the suspicion of the Lagoon dwellers, the stupidity of the technicians and, finally, the power of Kroll...


A little less Bakered by Tim Roll-Pickering 7/2/06

As he looked at the gaping muzzle of the blaster and at the mad eyes above it, the Doctor realised that at last he'd made one joke too many.
There are numerous stories about how Tom Baker stamped his mark on the series so completely in the late 1970s, often exagerrating heavily the character of the Doctor beyond what was written in the scripts and being a complete nightmare for directors. Some have even wondered what the series would have been like if the directors had had less control, perhaps under the 1960s conditions of almost continuous recording of an episode in one go. Others have been grateful that advances in editing have saved people from this. But one has to wonder just how far and at what point the scripts created the Doctor of this period.

Most of the novelisations from this time are heavily based on the camera scripts, sometimes to the point of being little more than prose renditions, so it is interesting to note the amount of humour present in the book version of Doctor Who and the Power of Kroll. Here the humour is still present, such as the Doctor babbling about windows and Dame Nelly Melba whilst being stretched on a rack, or reminding a gun-toting Thawn that he's neglected to say "Don't make any sudden moves" (which Thawn automatically repeats) but overall the impression given is of a more subdued and focused Doctor than onscreen. The Power of Kroll is the script that Robert Holmes was least happy with (even down to rehashing elements such as the gun running, the setting up of one side against the other by an ambitious man or the lone rampaging monster in The Caves of Androzani) and even in book form it's hard to escape from the story's trappings as a tale of fanatics not realising the reality of the situation around them in a setting that parodies colonialism. Dicks tries hard, particularly by giving little additions such as the Swampies' desperation that leads them to follow Ranquin's fanaticism when all their other certainties are smashed aside, but in other places the characters remain a cipher, particularly Ranquin himself whose devotion to his faith in Kroll, even to the point where he does not run just before he is eaten, is not explored as well as it might be.

An isolated outpost on a moon does not lend itself to a grand cast or setting, but Dicks does at least succeed in keeping the story moving. However it is hard to avoid some of the story's failings, particularly the ending which comes as close to "waving a magic wand" as almost anything seen in the entire series. But compared to some of the other novelisations from this period this book does not leave the reader feeling totally empty at the end and it does manage to pack in some good moments, such as Kroll's thoughts as it attacks the refinery. 5/10