Review: Doctor Who: Engines of War by George Mann

Engines of WarSeries: New Series Adventures Specials #4
Published by: BBC Books
ISBN: 1849908486
ISBN 13: 9781849908481
Published: August 2014
Pages: 312
Format reviewed: eVersion from NetGalley
Site: Author Site
Goodreads: Book Page
Stars: Three out of Five

‘Engines of War’ by George Mann is the fourth in the ‘Doctor Who: New Series Adventures’ run. Perhaps. Doctor Who books always confuse me slightly and I tend to read them out of order – thankfully, as it’s all time travel, it doesn’t really matter!

This one features John Hurt – the War Doctor, also known as The Renegade. Considered by some as the Ninth Doctor, considered by others as simply the War Doctor/the Renegade (you can tell which side I’m on), we have here the Doctor that the other Doctors shun. This is the man Eighth Doctor became. (Eighth Doctor as in, Paul McGann – if you haven’t listened to the Big Finish audio series that starts with ‘Blood of the Daleks’ and ends with ‘To the Death’, then get right on that this instant.)

Aside from my ramblings, this is the man Eighth Doctor became as he decided to put his romantic side aside, and join the war. This novel leads up to what we see in ‘The Day of the Doctor’, where he has decided to detonate ‘The Moment’ exactly where he stayed when he was very young. As always, something threatens to erase Gallifrey from history. Here we get to see the Doctor in a way that others may view him and all Timelords – arrogant and self involved. The Doctor collects a companion (kind of) who knows all about Daleks and Timelords, which is always fun when we can skip all the natural human responses of ‘You’re an alien!’

A lot of things tie into one in this novel, and that is what Mann has managed to pull off exceptionally well – how this novel ties into what we’ve already seen in the show. Characterisation is a little tricky thanks to how little we’ve seen of the War Doctor, but the daleks fell a little flat. Cinder (the ‘companion’) fell a little flat for me also, but it takes a lot for a companion to win my heart these days after so much Big Finish, who capture companions so damn well.

All in all, this is quite a decent book tie-in – one of the better ones out there. (I’ve also quite enjoyed Apollo 23 by Justin Richards and The Forgotten Army by Brian Minchin. I’ll certainly be keeping an eye out for other things Mann does in the future.

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