Doctor Who: COMBAT MAGICKS Review - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

Home Top Ad

Post Top Ad

Doctor Who: COMBAT MAGICKS Review

Chris Morley completes the trilogy, with the third Thirteenth Doctor New Series Adventure novel Combat Magicks.

Ancient Rome and indeed its Empire has long proven itself a fertile stomping ground for Doctor Who - in light of which it makes sense to finish breaking in the Thirteenth incarnation, in novel form at least, with a return to familiar turf. Only here in Steve Cole's Combat Magicks the men Amy Pond called “hot Italians” are reaching the end of their rope battling the massed hordes of Atilla the Hun - the Gaul of 451AD torn asunder as blood & thunder rule the day under the watchful eye of the Tenctrama, playing the two sides off against one another for their own ends and literally feeding off carnage & death.

Not that the dead stay that way on either side! And as a fixed point in time it seems there's not much anyone can do to change that. Little wonder then the Tenctrama consider it fair game especially with such able players, the Time Lord & her “fam” forcibly separated in the skirmish. The Doctor & Yaz find themselves conscripted to the Hun as “witches”, Atilla taking particular interest in the capabilities of the sonic screwdriver. Graham, meanwhile, is taken to the Romans and forced to become a military medic of sorts. Helped by a pot of healing gel from Sexy's medicine cupboard!

What then of Ryan? He's carted off by the Legion of Smoke, whose formation in the fifth century served to keep certain items of supernatural/extraterrestrial hue out of the reaches of your ordinary Roman. Now under the leadership of Magister Militum, or “Master of Soldiers” Flavius Aetius, they've work to do. They also have records of the previous visits of a certain blue box to their neck of the woods dating back to the reign of the Emperor Nero....

Then of course there's Pompeii. Inevitably the Doctor can't help but mention her last face, the grey haired old Scottish one. The purpose of which had been to serve to hold him to account, taken from Lobus Caecilius who had beforehand purchased the stolen TARDIS as a nice bit of modern art to show off to Lucius Petrus Dextrus, he of the stone right hand.

Author Steve Cole may well have done a little bit more digging into the tenure of the first of the Broadchurch Doctors in the plotting of the Tenctrama, into the bargain. Where else, after all, did we find witchlike beings drawing energy in a bid to energise themselves for a return to former glories? Not of course that there's any to be found in the business of death, a lesson heeded well by the Thijarians, demons of the Punjab in renouncing their former ways to venerate the dead by remembering them. A sentiment in short supply during the Battle of the Catalaunian Plains as played out here. Save for the alien influence, which has been shoehorned into the historical narratives of the New-Who years. Black Orchid seemingly held up as the template for all such endeavours from the Russell T Davies years onwards, and indeed here within the pages of Combat Magicks, the sixty-fifth BBC New Series Adventures novel.

Although overused, the pseudo-historical aspect works better within the pages of Combat Magicks than anything our newest showrunner has yet to deliver! Consider perhaps the best example of Chris Chibnall's meddling in Malorie Blackman's Rosa. What could & should have been the story of one woman's stand against racism of an all too appallingly Earthly nature scores a massive own goal by again ticking the “alien involved” box. Ho hum. At least Vinay Patel's writerly trip back to the Partition of India subverts expectations a little by having those not of this world turn out to be a great deal more merciful than those tearing their land & indeed themselves apart! Rounding off Series 11, at least from the perspective of the annals of history, then, we move on to the Bilehurst Crag witch trials and a “celebrity historical” appearance of a regal nature from King James I in Joy Wilkinson's The Witchfinders. Arriving just in time to both take part in & influence the direction of the persecution and trials of the women of this little corner of Lancashire - standing in for Pendlebury, no doubt - accused of dabbling with dark forces, he eventually nearly finds himself used as a new host for, oh wait, another alien at the behest of someone who's spent the whole time accusing other people but actually turns out to be, err, alien. The cause of which may put those with overactive imaginations off going to Glastonbury, Reading or Leeds any time soon!

While we know little yet of the overall makeup of Series Twelve, the rumoured return of the Cybermen alongside Mary Shelley does little to suggest much will change in the sense of Who's depiction of the past. But the plot thickens with similar such gossip surrounding a wartime effort featuring one Noor Inayat Khan, Second World War radio operator, British Muslim heroine & eventual prisoner of the Nazis. Maybe, just maybe, Chibnall can just this once resist the temptation to tinker? We can but hope...

No comments:

Post a Comment

Post Top Ad