By DJ Forrest
Written by James Swallow
Stars 10th Doctor and Martha Jones
From the very first word of Chapter One, I read the novel, to myself, in the voice of Andrew Garfield, as he was in Daleks of Manhattan, when he played Frank. Why? Well, for the simple reason that Swallow had written the story in such a way that my own voice sounded, well, alien!
Peacemaker as the front cover would suggest is set in the ‘rootin’ tootin’ Wild West of America, with clapboard buildings, a saloon where music from a piano can be heard, and those ‘reach fer yer guns, ye varmint’ characters at every turn.
Redwater is a mining town, just getting over a smallpox epidemic, which was recently cured by Alvin Godlove, a passing pedlar of wares and potions that would cure all ails, and his travelling companion, a disgraced Pawnee by the name of Walking Crow.
Although, as you read through the story, it’s not the potions that healed the folk taken with the sickness. Kept hidden in a locked metal box in his wagon, lies an alien device, which becomes more apparent the further into the novel you go, and things begin to control Alvin Godlove.
When Martha and The Doctor arrive, a young boy called Nathan has just broken into the school house, alerting Miss Forrest, the school teacher, assuming it’s bandits come to steal whatever is available to steal in the building. When she finds Nathan, scared out of his wits from the nightmares he’s been having, the Doctor is concerned – because as the boy tells them of the iron machines and the guns that fire lightning bolts, both he and Martha know that what he’s seeing are things, a boy from the 1800s shouldn’t be seeing.
The Doctor’s suspicions that something alien is afoot, is validated when two longriders called Tangleleg and Kutter come looking for Alvin Godlove, and when the townsfolk lie about his whereabouts, they raze the buildings around them to the ground, killing the local sheriff, Nathan’s father, in the process.
It’s a race against time itself when Martha is mortally wounded, and the only one who can save her is Godlove. You do wonder if the Doctor will find him in time, but knowing only too well, that the fate of Godlove is at the hands of an alien device, you do wonder if Swallow can maintain the pace that has kept you on the edge of your car seat throughout your lunch break.
Of course, knowing that rarely any companion of the NuWho Doctor (10th) ever actually dies, it’s still pretty edge of the seat kind of story, wondering how The Doctor will achieve his goal when the odds are stacked against him.
I love this story, and it will be one I will be keeping on my shelf, and probably never parting with. It’s the first James Swallow novel I’ve read, so I’m unsure if he writes in the same style for all, or if he varies his narrative. I have to admit to liking Andrew Garfield and should this novel ever become an audio story, then who better to narrate it than good old Spiderman himself.