The Timewyrm Series
A Story Arc
|Synopsis: The virus-like Timewyrm, who can possess the minds of living beings clashes with the Doctor throughout past, present and future history.|
A Review by Trina Short 22/11/01
I finished Revelation a few days ago. I wrote this in my brain last night, but I'm sure I'll forget all the important bits now.
Genesys: Not a bad start to the whole series. I especially like the use of Mythological characters made real. The characterization of the Doctor was pricklier than I liked and Ace's nude scene just wasn't needed one bit. Still, Ishtar is a memorable villain.
Exodus: I'm still amazed by how much I enjoy this novel. It's Terry's best, IMO (though I've not read Catastrophea or Endgame yet). Now that the entire run in completed, it's still my second favorite of the run. That's pretty impressive for the second novel of a 100+ book series. It's of an epic nature like The War Games, but still something you could visualize the TV series doing. That's not a bad thing, either. I really haven't any complaints about this story - even though the whole "Germans win WWII" thing has been done to death. Oh wait, this is the first occurrence of it in Whodom. ;-)
Apocalypse: I hate that word. I always stumble while typing it. But what of the book? *sigh* Still not very memorable. I did like Raphael and think it would have been a neat twist if he'd've become a companion. Alas, this is the start of the trend where Ace falls in love with any cute bloke in a novel. (Well, I guess it won't be a trend yet as this theme gets put aside for now.) One of the shortest DW books and still one of the lowest rated ones for me. (Nigel makes up for it with Birthright, thankfully.)
Revelation: A real headf*ck this one. This book, although far from being a favorite of mine, was probably crucial to the series. This is the book that showed what the NAs were capable of becoming. The BBC could never have done this novel with DW's budget - not even if they used the whole season. The first three books, I think, could have been filmed.
The trouble I have with it is that the angst, which was very important to this story, kept getting drug back again and again by future authors. But I felt at the end that both the Doc and Ace had exorcised most of their demons. So that's nothing against Paul, but just that future authors decided that should be a theme to address again. And again. (Perhaps upon rereading I won't feel this way - but I'd be surprised. Heck, the Professor and Ace audios picked up on this heavily and ruined a few stories with it.)
The vision of Doc7, the planner, is very strong in this book - especially at the end where he and Ace clear up the loose ends. I wonder if having that was good for the book series? Yeah, he did some of that in the series, but just as often he was flying by the seat of his pants.
There were times I had trouble keeping up with the thought processes in the book, but that wasn't a bad thing. This isn't a book to be rushed through. Whereas the first 3 books were quick romps with the Doc and Ace, this one took more out of the reader. And that was a good precedent to have. Alas, the book that follows is another headf*ck and this is why I've paused in reading the NAs and am rereading Wyrd Sisters instead. I'll get to the Giant Slug and his Bicycle shortly, though.
The Wyrmery by Joe Briggs-Ritchie 16/3/19
We tend to think of the Timewyrm series as one half bad and one half excellent, with conventional wisdom holding that Genesys and Apocalypse are bad and that Exodus and Revelation are excellent. But is it really quite so straightforward as this? Well, it depends on who you ask, but in my opinion, no, it isn't quite so cut and dried as this. Whilst I will concede that Genesys is decidedly average at best and that Apocalypse is little better, they are both considerably more readable than Revelation, which I find to be overrated. Exodus is easily the pinnacle of the series and, indeed, one of the finest Doctor Who novels ever written, in any range. As a series it is far more consistent than the Cat's Cradle Trilogy, which is not really a sequence of interlinked novels in the traditional sense - though, having said that, the Timewyrm itself takes a gradually decreasing role over the course of the first three stories before coming back with Revelation.
Genesys is a relatively uninspiring start to the New Adventures. The two things that it has going for it more than anything else are Ishtar and the fact that it is a quick, easy read. The characterisation of the Doctor and Ace is questionable at best. There's a stilted awkwardness to them that is out of place and certainly doesn't follow on from Sophie and Sylvester's performances in Season 26. None of the other characters are memorable, with the exception of Gilgamesh, who is memorable for all the wrong reasons. Ishtar, however, proves to be a menacing and worthy opponent for the Doctor, and John Peel imbues her with a genuine sense of menace. Her motivations are stock-villain material, but she remains an interesting creation. Genesys is hardly in the style of the New Adventures as they would come to be, but, as the very first novel of a new era of Doctor Who, it's an acceptable if not exactly scintillating beginning.
Exodus is by far the high point of the series. Doctor Who meets the Nazis seems like a fairly obvious set up, though it never actually happened on the television series until Silver Nemesis, and even that doesn't really count because they were neo-Nazis rather than actual Nazis. The Timewyrm features much less this time around, making herself known via Hitler's occasional tantrums and then putting in an appearance right at the end. It doesn't really matter, as the story plays out far more as a sort of sequel to The War Games, with the Ishtar occasionally coming out of the cupboard just to remind us that the book still has the word 'Timewyrm' on the cover. It's an excellent story for the regulars and particularly the Doctor. This is a story that I would have loved to have seen on screen just for McCoy's performance alone. He infiltrates Nazi society simply on the basis that, in a world ruled by authority figures, all one has to do is shout, shout and shout some more in order to get what one wants. It's an approach that works a treat and, once again, the Seventh Doctor comes across as an incredibly powerful figure, utterly magnetic and thoroughly engaging. I haven't read all of Terrance Dicks' novels, but it's going to be seriously difficult for him to top this one.
Apocalypse is something of a let down after Exodus. Hell, even as a standalone novel, it would have been a bit disappointing, but coming straight after Exodus, it only serves to highlight its weaknesses. The basic plot is fairly sound, but the execution leaves quite a lot to be desired. Running around is given greater priority than decent characterisation, the result being that, a week after finishing it, I think I would have struggled to remember any of the characters' names. You could remove the Timewyrm completely from this novel, and it would make no difference, making as she does a brief cameo at the end after being absent for the entirety of the story. Consequently, you could remove Apocalypse from the Timewyrm series altogether, and it would make no difference whatsoever to the sequence as a whole. There's the makings of a decent science-fiction story in here struggling to get out, but they're buried under too much second-rate filler to ever really take flight. Part of the problem is that the NAs are still finding their feet at this point, and consequently it's hard to escape the feeling that the writers and editorial staff don't really know which direction they're supposed to be going in and what the series is actually capable of when it puts in the effort. It's not as bad as it's often made out to be, and it's a more enjoyable read than Genesys, with a mercifully short page count, but, even so, this isn't something anyone is going to be writing home about in a hurry.
Revelation is a novel that I can't help but feel like I am expected to gush over to the same extent as Exodus, if not more so. Certainly, nine tenths of fandom seem to find it worthy of such high praise. Unfortunately, I just can't warm to it. This is where the New Adventures really start to take root, and all the hallmarks of the series - complex plots, heavy-going prose, lots of angst, dark tone, a more abstract approach to storytelling and a general overall departure from traditional Doctor Who - are present here. In this regard, there is no denying the importance of Revelation, it's one of the bedrocks upon which the entire series was built; with Time's Crucible and Warhead next in the schedule, that approach continued in earnest. But, unfortunately, Revelation just leaves me cold. The setting, the characters, the plot... None of it really does very much for me. The Timewyrm returns in earnest and proves itself a worthy adversary, and we get an in-depth exploration of both the Doctor and Ace. Yes it's deep, important and very influential, but, in all honesty, I would much rather read the flimsiest, most traditional and by-the-numbers Doctor Who story if it was enjoyable rather than something that is groundbreaking and important but ultimately leaves you unsatisfied. I actually preferred Apocalypse to Revelation, and if I had to choose one of them to read again, I would choose Apocalypse every time. It might be insubstantial and mediocre, but at least it isn't a slog to get through.
The Timewyrm Series starts on fairly shaky ground, but, by the time it reaches its conclusion, it has developed recognisably into the style of the New Adventures. It's amazing how much of that development actually happens in Revelation, even if I'm not that keen on it. It isn't the most consistent sequence of books, in terms of maintaining its story arc, as the Timewyrm herself has a significantly reduced role in Exodus and disappears almost entirely in Apocalypse. Nor is it the most consistent series in terms of quality; when it's good, it's outstanding, but Genesys is too busy trying to find its feet and Revelation is too much of a 'love it or hate it' affair. But, for the most part, it's entertaining reading and worthy of recommendation.