Target Novel review
Doctor Who and the Zarbi
Written by Bill Strutton
Reviewed by DJ Forrest
Finally, I’m actually reading a Target novel, that reads like a novel. Yes. Yes. Yes!
The instant I picked up the novel about the travels of the First Doctor with Barbara, Ian and Vicki, I wondered if it would be like all the other novels, bar Terrance Dicks, that would read as if the writer was explaining everything that happened in the television series rather than telling a story. The story of the Zarbi is one series I never watched. The First Doctor being a character I never really liked. I found him too pompous I suppose at the time. But reading the stories involving the First Doctor, you realise that, he’s an old, old man who has travelling companions who aren’t his kin, having said goodbye to his granddaughter Susan and takes with him many people from all over history and time, so I suppose, he’s like the grumpy old grandfather, his mind like a vast ocean of knowledge that he finds it equally frustrating to have people travelling with him who don’t carry the same level of knowledge, which for him, would save having to explain over and over.
From reading the novels I’ve found a real liking for the character Ian. Headstrong maybe, but he does like to get involved and do his bit. He is very gallant in his approach to rescue the damsel in distress, and on two occasions (of the books I’ve read) he’s gone off in search of Barbara, so I’m suspecting that he harbours feelings for her.
Ian is very much a have a go hero, and he’s also known for pitching in when there’s work to do, and in this story he’s with a pygmy group of Menoptera’s searching for a way into the Web centre. The Menoptera’s are winged creatures with human voices who are fighting to reclaim their planet Vortis, taken from them many many generations ago. The pygmy Menoptera’s are creatures sadly without wings as they live beneath the ground.
The Zarbi are ant like creatures who are dominated by a voice in the web centre, which I’m still curious to reach that chapter to find out who or what that may be.
It’s an extremely detailed novel, and the chapters are extremely long, so there’s no chance of me completing a chapter during a lunch break, even though I have tried.
One annoying factor in the story is the name of the Doctor. In all other stories he’s been referred to as ‘the Doctor’ but in this story, he’s known as ‘Doctor Who.’ And the ship is known as Tardis, as its name rather than ‘the TARDIS’. So that did take a bit of getting used to, and often I’d alter the name Doctor Who to read as ‘the Doctor’. But all in all, Doctor Who and the Zarbi has been a really exciting novel to read and if you ever happen upon it in a bookshop or online and fancy an adventure story on the planet Vortis, then go for it.