THIS STORY TAKES
BETWEEN THE NOVELS
"BLOOD HEAT", AND IS
OFFICIAL VIRGIN 'NEW
RELEASED IN AUGUST
The TARDIS has died.
Stranded in early
London, Bernice can
only stand BY and
watch as it slowly
In the East End a
series of grisly
murders has been
committed. Is the
work of the ghostly
Springheel Jack, or
as Bernice suspects,
something EVEN more
These events are
The Doctor knows
how. But the Doctor
has gone away.
Having not got on well with Nigel Robinson’s Timewyrm: Apocalypse, it was with
a great degree of trepidation that I approached his second New Adventure, the astonishingly brilliant and inventive Birthright.
Birthright is a novel almost entirely about Bernice Summerfield – a refreshing change, it has to be said, after the heavy storyline involving Ace’s departure from and return to the TARDIS. The first half of the novel documents Benny’s wonderfully evocative exploits whilst trapped in 1909 London. Manipulated by events set in motion by the absent Doctor (who’s off travelling through time and space in a jade pagoda!), Benny finds herself investigating the apparent “death” of the TARDIS and a series of horrific murders. With the help of a Russian detective, Popov, she uncovers the plot of a sinister secret society, the New Dawn, who are helping an insectoid race from the future to escape their dying world and colonise the Earth.
These first one hundred pages or so are certainly the most enjoyable of the book. Robinson creates the lively world of 1909 in vibrant detail, and allows us to experience it through the eyes of someone even further removed from the period than we ourselves are, allowing us
to appreciate it in a whole new light.
However, even in his absence,
the Doctor makes his presence
felt. After a brace of adventures
that have seen him swept up in
events rather than orchestrating
them, Birthright sees him back
to dextrously pulling the strings
of friends and acquaintances
stretching back and forth across
time. For instance, the Doctor arranges for Benny to stay in a house which Margaret Waterfield, Victoria’s auntie, looks after. He also gives her access to a cool quarter of a million in a bank account held which has Victoria, Susan, Sarah-Jane, Melanie, and Bernice listed as signatories. We then see him save Barbara Wright’s grandfather from being blamed for a murder he didn’t commit, interfere in the life of a street urchin who it’s heavily implied is Ben Jackson’s father, and that’s before we even get to the mysterious and marooned time traveller sat at the heart of the plot, who Robinson suggests is K’Anpo – the Doctor’s old mentor from Gallifrey, last seen in Planet of the Spiders.
The second half of the book is slightly weaker, I feel, but very enjoyable nonetheless. Ace’s section of the story on Antykhon marks the novel’s low point, but once she arrives in 1909 London and the plot starts coming together the finale proves to be very satisfying indeed -
I was totally blown away by one particular plot twist.
Ultimately, Birthright is a petite little novel that explores Benny’s character so deeply that
you don’t really miss the Doctor, especially as evidence of his machinations are littered throughout. I enjoyed reading it so much that I read the whole book cover to cover in one sitting - the first New Adventure to hold that particular distinction. I can’t think of any higher praise…
Copyright © E.G. Wolverson 2006
E.G. Wolverson has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.
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