THE DOCTOR WHO RATINGS GUIDE: BY FANS, FOR FANS

The Time Warrior
Target novelisation
Doctor Who and the Time Warrior

Author Terrance Dicks
(and Robert Holmes, uncredited)
Cover image
Published 1978
ISBN 0 426 20023 3
First Edition Cover Roy Knipe

Back cover blurb: His spaceship crippled in an inter-stellar battle, the Sontaran warrior, Linx, is forced to crash-land on earth. He arrives in the Middle Ages, a time too primitive to provide the technology he needs to repair his ship. Allying himself with the local robber chief, Linx uses his powers to 'borrow' scientists and equipment from twentieth-century earth. Doctor Who tracks down the missing scientists and journeys into the past to save them. But can he defeat the ruthless Linx and his savage human allies before the course of human history is changed forever?


Reviews

There's more to it than the prologue and cover... by Tim Roll-Pickering 19/3/04

Okay hands up, who else thought that that is a photograph on the cover? I know I'm not alone. Roy Knipe produced some of the best ever covers for the Target novelisations and so it was a pity that the 1993 reprint (or more strictly a rejacketting of a previous printing) abandoned it in favour of a standard collage from Alister Pearson. But one day the Knipe cover will be seen again, I am sure of it...

This novelisation is famous for its prologue which was the first occasion that Robert Holmes attempted to novelise one of his own stories but he gave up very early on. This prologue gives a strong sense of the war that is going on and an insight into Linx's character, but as it based entirely upon events that don't feature in the television story it is very hard to judge Holmes' abilities as an actual noveliser here (although he did later write Doctor Who - The Two Doctors which provides more substantial material for making a judgement). That said it is certainly a well written piece and it comes as no surprise that the Missing Adventure Lords of the Storm contains a homage to it.

Much of the rest of the book feels like a strong effort by Terrance Dicks, conforming to the theory that his best novelisations are those of stories into which he had some input. Whilst onscreen the story has good ideas but comes together badly, here several matters have been tightened up. We get a brief comment on why the Doctor continues to work as UNIT's scientific advisor, whilst the character of Professor Rubeish comes across as less comical on paper. The middle ages setting to the story is hard to make fascinating but Dicks does his best by bringing to life the characters when he needs to but otherwise focusing attention upon those displaced in space and/or time, with the result that the whole tale feels more exciting. There is, however, a famous achronism in the book when Sarah is put to work peeling potatoes some centuries before they arrived in Britain but ths can be excused.

The real highlight of the book comes in Dicks' treatment of Sarah. For the first time in many years the Doctor lacks a travelling companion and Sarah discovers his world by accident after sneaking into the TARDIS. The result is several passages where she slowly comes to terms with the strange course of events as she first discovers the TARDIS is bigger on the inside than on the out, that it has moved and that she has gone back in time. Her initial distrust of the Doctor is played upon strongly, with the result that to her it seems he is the villain behind everything. The passages where she comes to terms with being in the past are also notable for the way it is almost idealised, especially in this passage onpage 56:

"...there was something about the air. She drew a deep breath. It was incredibly fresh and clean, as if it had never been contaminated by any kind of pollution."
It is little details like this that help to enhance the book, showing how this is a different world. Sarah's feminism is also enhanced, especially when she argues with a serving wench about women being slaves to men and there is little attempt to mock her views other than her forgetting that the other women literally areliving in the Middle Ages.

The story of Linx's attempts to repair his shuttlecraft and of his providing weapons for Irongron works well though the climax seems a little rushed and, unless I've missed something, Hal manages to hit Linx exactly in his vulnerable point without having been told where it is. But this is only a minor point and in general the book works well. 7/10