Doctor Who and the Crusaders
By DJ Forrest
Written by David Whitaker
For BBC Books
Published in 2011
You can be easily fooled into thinking that every book you read regarding the Doctor is going to be a great novel, but sometimes, as with any novel, there will always be one, or a few that you just know, reading into the first few pages, that you’re not going to find it as interesting as the last. I’m finding that with Doctor Who and the Crusaders.
What I realise with the old Who novels are that, given the television series was filmed live, and so the old tapes were recorded over, and over and over again, much of the old series was lost, and it was only in book form, that any of the fans were able to relive, or first hand, read of the First Doctor’s adventures in Time and Space. So for that, I suppose I shouldn’t criticise too harshly.
Except, I am finding this novel particularly difficult to read and not feel as if I should question Whitaker’s writing technique. Of course, I’m not a published writer, and what would I know about writing. The man wrote the story in the first instance, so he knows all of the characters, and of their history within the novel as he did in the actual serial back in the 1960s. So ideally, any comments I may have about his style of writing should therefore be kept to myself.
There is a significant difference between this novel and that of Bunker Soldiers. The difference in telling the story for starters. The Crusaders novel comes with illustrations which are fantastic and of the era, despite the novel having been published in 2011; there’s that old kind of Hardy Boys/Famous Five illustrations I remember as a kid.
It’s a history lesson again, this time telling of Richard the Lionheart fighting the Saracens, while King John lavished in the castle back in England, plotting his brother’s demise. I must admit at this point; all I can visualise of King John is the Disney caricatures from Robin Hood – is that a bad thing?
What is also frustrating about this novel is that, and I’m now three quarters of the way through the story, is the lack of any alien activity, unless you count that of the travellers with the Doctor. Only Ian seems to be doing anything heroic.
Perhaps this is just the history lesson told by the old man in the blue box, without much interfering, no waving of a sonic screwdriver and no memorable quotes to retell. I don’t know. I am just not finding anything exciting to tell you about the novel.
I’m going to keep reading it, as I promised myself to read every novel on my shelf – and that’s a considerably long shelf of books to work through. As for the First Doctor stories, I’m finding him extremely uninteresting, and if it weren’t for his companions doing most of the legwork and firing up the interest from the audience, this particular fan would have given up long ago.
Sorry can’t rate this novel as being something I’d recommend, unless of course, you were wishing to gain some insight into King Richard and his life in Egypt and his battles with Saracens.