(ISBN 0-426-20423-9)







 Betrushia'S jungles

 are in turmoil; A war

 is raging between ITS

 lizard-like natives. 

 But from the outer

 reaches of space, a

 far greater threat

 is approaching.


 With time running out,

 the Doctor AND BENNY

 must save the people

 of Betrushia from

 their own legacy

 before the wrath of

 St Anthony’s Fire is

 visited upon them all.


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St Anthony's Fire







First off, I should say that I’m a massive fan of Mark Gatiss, both in of and out of Doctor Who. Simply put, the man is a complete genius. Unfortunately though, St Anthony’s Fire is incessantly awful. Save for some eloquent prose and some scenes of gratuitous gore that Quentin Tarantino would be proud of, I’m sorry to say that there isn’t much to like here.


The war on Betrushia, a planet facing imminent destruction, is well-written but incredibly dull. Gatiss cleverly turns the whole Earth mammal / reptile thing on its head (“We’re not used to talking… er… creatures here”), having the lizard-like natives treat the Doctor and Benny as freaks – a little bit like the Earth Reptiles’ attitude towards humans, I suppose, only taken a little bit further.



In fairness to the writer though, both companions are given a decent outing here, despite the distinctly below par narrative. Benny has great fun trying to forge friendships with the lizards – she certainly never gives up! Ace, meanwhile, is left out of the main action, taking a hard-earned ‘holiday’ on Massatoris while the Doctor and Benny are treated like lab rats back on Betrushia. However, when she does finally show up – head shaved and all! – she is used wonderfully, Gatiss portraying her as a much more seasoned character, in keeping with her development since the end of the ‘alternative universe’ story arc.


Chapter 18:

Revenge of the Chaptermen.


I note that the passages about the Chapter of St Anthony are the ones which have generally drawn the most criticism over the years, but to be honest I enjoyed them more than I did the chapters about the war on Betrushia. Magna Yong and particularly the dwarf De Hooch are absolutely hilarious characters that you would expect to turn in up a League of Gentlemen sketch. Violent, sadistic, and evil to the core, the Chaptermen at least provide some black humour even if Gatiss’ damning indictment of religion falls flat. When the two fanatics turn on each other in the final chapter is one of my favourite moments in the novel… talk about gore!


Ultimately, St Anthony’s Fire is certainly not a novel that Id recommend, though having said that, I did buy my sister (another huge League of Gentlemen fan) a copy of it last Christmas, along with the infinitely superior Nightshade, just to make sure that I hadn’t judged this book unfairly. She couldn’t even finish it, which I feel speaks volumes. Sorry Mark.


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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