The Stones of Blood
Doctor Who and the Stones of Blood
|ISBN||0 426 20099 3|
|First Edition Cover||Andrew Skilleter|
|Back cover blurb: Chanting, hooded figures gather inside a ring of ancient stones, using rituals of blood sacrifice to awaken the sleeping evil of the Ogri. The Doctor and Romana go from the countryside of present day England to a deep-space cruiser trapped in hyperspace in their attempt to track down an alien criminal, and unravel the mystery of the Stones of Blood. Luckily they have the help of the faithful K9...|
A weak story adapted in a weak era by Tim Roll-Pickering 27/1/06
The cover is a clear attempt to produce a homage to the early Target covers by Chris Achilleos, but just doesn't come across at all well. The lower section feels too cluttered, whilst the Doctor's angle and expression are poorly captured. Tom Baker is one of the hardest of the Doctors to produce a likeness of at the best of times but to try such a strange experiment compounds the difference.
On television The Stones of Blood is one of the weakest stories of the Key to Time season, coming across as little more than a cheap filler set on Earth with a minimalistic cast. It is further convoluted by the heavy mystery in the early part of the story, before the action shifts to the Megara spaceship. This is not promising material for a 118 page novelisation and the result is little more than a turgid retread of the script, with few enhancements. However, as with many of Dicks' novelisations, the effects are tidied up with the Megara now portrayed as silver spheres (as originally planned) rather than flashly video effects. Dicks also provides a few odd asides describing the odd bit of a character's background, though declines to explain obscure bits such as the reference to "Doctor Cornish Fougous" - compilers of Doctor Who A to Zs of one form or another should note that this means an ancient cave and not some archeologist, despite what a doddering Professor Rumord may say in a moment of confusion. Elsewhere there are a few points which stress Romana's alienness as she struggles to understand Earth and the various terms used.
Reading Doctor Who and the Stones of Blood is an extremely simple task but it does not feel particularly rewarding and makes the reader wonder if it could have been adapted in a better way. And indeed one might want to speculate how this story might have been novelised in any other era of the series. From about 1982 onwards it's quite possible that David Fischer would have novelised it himself (although it seems that it was precisely because he didn't get to novelise either this story or The Androids of Tara that led to him and presumably other authors pushing to novelise their own scripts) and perhaps made the absurdity of the court scenes work whilst adding lots of background material explaining more about the Megara, Cessair of Diplos, the Ogri, De Vries or Professor Rumford. His later novelisation, Doctor Who and the Leisure Hive, is a good indication of how this can be done. Stretching anachronisms, a novelisation produced in the mid 1970s might have produced a more in depth effort from Terrance Dicks, rather than the standard routine work of much of his output from around 1980. One has to wonder if part of the reason for the Graham Williams era being so derided in subsequent years was the poor quality of the novelisations.
But instead the book is a product of the so-called "Bronze Age" of Target novelisations, the dark years of the series and as such does not shine. 2/10