THIS STORY TAKES
PLACE BETWEEN THE TV
STORIES "THE MACRA
TERROR" AND "THE
PAPERBACK (ISBN 0-
IN NOVEMBER 1997.
It is December 1648
AND the Roundheads
are struggling to
retain power. Plans
are afoot to spirit
King Charles from his
prison, and the
Doctor SOON becomeS
embroiled in the
After thoroughly enjoying Nightshade and utterly loathing St Anthony’s Fire,
the last thing that I expected from Mark Gatiss’ third Doctor Who novel was to be mildly entertained. Indeed, The Roundheads is neither good enough to enable me to actively recommend it to others, nor is it bad enough to warrant a slating. In fact, I feel nothing but indifference towards it.
Gatiss’ plot is perhaps his least ambitious to date, with the whole novel simply revolving around the fact that the Doctor and his companions have inadvertently altered history and therefore have a duty to put things right. Whilst in theory such a premise could have lent itself to some spellbinding drama, in practice The Roundheads just plods along at a steady pace towards its entirely predictable conclusion. I thoroughly enjoyed the opening few chapters of the novel as well as the last eighty pages or so, but unfortunately what lies between is middling to say the least.
The majority of Gatiss’ supporting characters fall completely flat. The likes of Christopher Whyte - with whom Polly finds herself enamoured - has all the charm of a malignant vegetable, and sadly even Gatiss’ depiction of the notorious Oliver Cromwell is remarkably dreary and vapid. In fairness, the one-legged no-nosed swashbuckling Captain Sal Winter does add a fair bit of colour, but sadly one supporting character cannot sustain a novel no matter how extraordinary.
For me, Ben’s adventures on the high seas with Captain Winter were the novel’s high point, though admittedly Gatiss does imbue both the Doctor and Jamie with the essence of the actors that portrayed them; it’s particularly nice to see the second Doctor portrayed so well
in prose. The comic scenes where Jamie has to pose as a soothsayer - the “McCrimmon
of Culloden” - well and truly evoke the feel of the early Patrick Troughton era.
On the whole though, Gatiss has proven that he is capable of producing much better than the likes of The Roundheads, and whilst anything would have been preferable to St Anthony’s Fire, this novel still manages to feel mediocre.
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.
This novel’s blurb places it between the television serials The Macra Terror and The Faceless Ones. Within this gap, we have placed it prior to the audio book Resistance, which was released later.
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