Doctor Who Book Review
Doctor Who and the Horns of Nimon
Written by Terrance Dicks
Reviewed by DJ Forrest
Published in 1980
Contradictory to the last review of a Classic Who story (The Green Death), I actually found the Fourth Doctor’s story The Horns of Nimon to be a lot easier to engage with. I found absolutely no faults with the style of writing and found myself smiling at the humour within. Although I must admit, there were a few small comedy elements in The Green Death that I’d forgotten about until now.
The scene is set from the first paragraph of the first chapter, when a once proud alien nation – the Skonnons, who are most feared across the Universe, are given a lifeline from the Nimon ‘god’ that offers them fresh new ships equipped to do battle across the Universe where they can be most feared again, but can only do so if they collect sacrifices from another planet (the Anethans) and give their young as an offering to the Nimon god along with a highly radioactive substance known as Hymetusite contained in lead caskets.
The Nimon who has the body of a human and the head of a giant bull with flaming red eyes and horns that can do the most terrible of deeds, appears to be the only one on the planet, and is shielded inside the Power Complex where he works.
There are men in robes who worship this so called God. Men such as Soldeed, who is given the role of being the only person allowed to speak with the Nimon, and who holds a staff that can kill others who have tried to go against him. Inside the Power complex are a series of corridors that lead off into a maze which all lead to the Nimon. They change at every point, so when the Doctor arrives and marks off certain corridors in order to find his way back, he ultimately can only go forward as all the markings have disappeared. A bit like Hogwarts I suppose with the ever changing staircases. A headache in itself!
The Doctor himself arrives on the Skonnos battle cruiser after discovering that they were awfully close to a black hole that had suddenly materialised on the Tardis scanners. Of course, the Doctor has the TARDIS console in several pieces as he begins to update the ship’s functions. Ideally, it’s like anyone who thinks they can strip down a car and then rebuild it only to find a few screws staring up at you at the end of the task. Hmmm!
Fear not however, K-9 to the rescue. K-9 I feel was far better in the classic series than he was in the NuWho series. He achieved a lot more I think. He fixed the Doctor’s errors that’s for sure. Only, when he’s lifted up onto a bench, he is a little redundant!!!
The Doctor also travelled with another companion, Romana. She was just as equipped at stripping down a TARDIS console and probably would have succeeded in doing so without dropping the shields and half electrocuting herself in the process.
I have two Terence Dicks Who novels and each of them have been a joy to read, and although The Horns of Nimon may travel to a new home, I’m keeping Genesis of the Daleks. It was a bloody good television story and it worked just as well in the novel format.
The Horns of Nimon is a short novel, same as the last one I reviewed. In less than a week (5 days), I was through the novel and still enjoying the journey as it played out in my head. I haven’t seen this in serial form on the television. I might watch it to see if it lived up to the novel.
Each Doctor Who story is different. Each Doctor is different. So far in my reading quest, I’ve read about the First Doctor, the Third and now the Fourth. Each time I pick up a novel, I’m finding little quirks in the text. Where you can imagine witnessing the Doctor saying or doing the thing that made you chuckle or smile. The Fourth Doctor isn’t short of wit and a great deal of confusion, but that’s the writing. I have so far enjoyed reading the Fourth Doctor adventures, and can only surmise that as the years rolled on, the Target Novel writers began to improve in their writing techniques.