Warriors' Gate
Target novelisation
Doctor Who and Warriors' Gate

Author John Lydecker Cover image
Published 1982
ISBN 0 426 20146 9
First Edition Cover Andrew Skilleter

Back cover blurb: The Doctor and his companions are trapped in an E-Space universe, struggling to find the co-ordinates which will break the deadlock and take them back into Normal Space. When all else fails, the Doctor suggests programming the TARDIS on the toss of a coin. Before he realises what is happening, this is just what Adric has done... When the TARDIS arrives at its destination, according to the console read-outs the craft is nowhere - and nowhere is exactly what it looks like...


The Way Out... by Andrew Feryok 18/9/07

"Zero co-ordinates. Ponder on that."
- The Doctor to Romana before he brashly walks out to investigate the void of white nothing-ness outside the ship. Page 35
I've always found this a very strange Doctor Who story. Even after watching it several times, I've only managed to decipher some of its strange and wonderous concepts. If ever JNT had a poster child for his new vision of a concept-driven and visually appealing show, then this would be it! I approached this story with some trepidation. It was mostly my desire to read the entire E-Space trilogy that kept me going than actually enjoying the story, which is usually how I end up watching this story on television as well. That is not to say that it is a bad story, but one that is not easy to grasp and doesn't feel entirely satisfying as a result. Although the book sports a cool and inspiring cover, the prose story itself lacks a lot of the cool visual concepts that made the story so exciting to watch. Reading descriptions of the void and the incongruous shapes that sit there just doesn't have the same impact as seeing them on the screen. It would actually be interesting to give this book to someone who had never seen the episode since I often found myself relying on visual cues from the episode to get me through some of the book's more vague and outlandish sections.

Those familiar with the original episode will find that author John Lydecker has made quite a few changes to the book. Whether they are improvements is hard to tell on my part since they did very little to help clarify what was going on. The book begins with a lengthy prologue in which a bounty hunter shoots down the slave ship as it is trying to sneak past a blockade set up to catch slavers. The prologue is a bit confusing since it is not quite clear what is going on and what it has to do with the story we are all familiar with. It serves to do two other things: it clearly puts the crew of the slaver ship in the moral wrong since even their own society is revealed to have outlawed them (something never distinguished in the original episode) and it also shortens the amount of time in which the slavers are in the void since the story as we know it proceeds almost entirely from their arrival, whereas the original story hinted that they may have been there for weeks or months.

The focus of the book is very much on Romana. Her character is given center stage and takes up most of the book. In fact, 3/4 of the book is almost entirely made up of the events of episode one and two, while three and four are rushed through in a massive streak at the end of the book. The events themselves are also reordered so that Romana's storyline is presented almost entirely in order with few breaks, hence her tendency to appear more in center stage. The Doctor's participation in the story shrinks considerably after he exits the TARDIS. Even his trip into the strange timeless world of the Tharils beyond the mirrors is far, far shorter. Instead, much of the material that was previously given to the Doctor in this world is now given to Romana who makes a journey with a different Tharil. The Doctor is also presented as being far less confident than he was in the original story, especially at the banquet sequence. Tom Baker originally played it with the Doctor seeming to condemn the Tharils from his high horse, whereas in the book, the Doctor is much less confident when making his arguments and nearly takes them back when the Tharils almost turn on him! The Doctor's fight with the Gundans has even been amended. Much of the humor (such as his pretending to be a Gundan) has been taken out and it now takes place in an armory in the basement of the ruined castle.

Probably the biggest change of all is the ending of the book. This is one of those stories where the limitations of the television episode are allowed to be set free and create something that you could only imagine with the limitless budget of your mind's eye. When the ship destroys itself with the backblast, the mini-universe of the void collapses creating a massive whirlpool which begins sucking everything in. It is at this time that the ghosts of the Tharils make their escape and Adric is forced to dematerialize without the Doctor and Romana. The Doctor and Romana are returned to the ship by Biroc via his ability to phase in and out of reality. Thus the whole rush to reach the TARDIS before the backblast hits is abandoned and thankfully this also means that Romana's rushed leaving scene is dropped in favor of a much more satisfying farewell aboard the TARDIS in which Romana's decision to leave is seen to be much more thought-out than a last minute decision. Also, K9's departure is also given a nice new twist. He is damaged from exposure by the time winds when Biroc first enters the TARDIS at the beginning of the story, and is never quite the same throughout the episode. K9 is shown to be barely holding on to life throughout the story and finally dies at the end. The only way he can be restored is by going through the mirror gateways with the Tharils, but, since inorganic life cannot hold change when crossing back and forth in the mirrors, K9 will never be able to leave the Tharil universe. Thus, it makes much more sense for Romana to take him rather than having the Doctor hurriedly shove him in her arms as he did in the television story.

Overall, this wasn't a bad story! I might have given the impression that I didn't like it very much, but I found the concepts intriguing if a little "out there". But then, all the best sci-fi is a little "out there". It is clear that when this book was written, young children were no longer the targets since much of this story must have gone over their heads and is clearly aimed at an older audience (although it still went over my head). It is not going to get a full 10/10 rating from me since I find myself returning to this story, both on TV and in book form only when I am watching/reading the E-Space trilogy as a whole. But it will definitely give you something to think about and imagine the infinite possibilities of the universe that we have yet to explore. If there are any major complaints, it is the fact that there are NO CHAPTER BREAKS! It feels like reading a massive run-on sentence since I kept waiting for the end of chapter cliffhangers! Nevertheless, Great stuff! 9/10

PS: Lydecker has also added a bit in which the Doctor's hand is exposed to the time winds and he spends much of the early part of the story in much pain since its been aged nearly to death. Fortunately, it is restored when he passes through the Tharil mirror for the first time.