Stephen Baxter: Doctor Who – The Wheel of Ice

Part two of this Book-Week is a book that our local library added when I asked them about it, back when I „hid“ my papers for the Back Wolf Day 2013. It’s one of many Doctor Who novels out there and the first I read so far.

What is it about?

3 of 5 stars

The TARDIS catches a signal that is not supposed to come from the rings of Saturn. Stubborn as she is, she leaves The Doctor, Jamie and Zoe no choice but to investigate.
Strange sightings of Blue Dolls and sabotages meanwhile busy the inhabitants of the make-shift houses within the Wheel of Ice.
Unwelcome at first the time travellers have to team up with the locals to end this predicament.

The reading experience

As I said before was reading this book quite uncomfortable.
To quote myself:

What bugs me most about reading this book is, however, its layout. It’s a Hardcover version and therefore quite large as it is. Still, the pages have a lot of space around what is written in a rather large font, thus creating rather short pages.
So you have this giant book, with little content to actually read on one page.
This feels especially weird when you’re sitting in the bus and to everyone else it looks like you’re reading a children’s book…

It also had a quite interesting chapter outline.
Between the main chapters there were Intermezzo that told stories that had only been mentioned in the main story line. I’m not sure if I encountered something like this before, but it was quite interesting.

The characters

With each more adventure I share with this TARDIS trio I like them more.
The Second Doctor is more of a father/mentor figure towards them and the other characters. He leads them to make the discoveries on their own and follows new leads with a childlike enthusiasm, but is still serious if need be.
Zoe’s tendency to arrogance showed quite a bit in this story, but it is the understandable kind, someone of great intelligence has towards people who just don’t get them. It is toned down a bit when she opens herself to care for her friends and the people of the ring.
In contrast to her is Jamie quite, well, dumb. His knowledge and wisdom is nowhere near hers or The Doctors. Yet, he proves time and again that his compassion is the key to getting the people on their side. And even a simple mind can come to the right conclusions. 😉
The other characters were less defined. We barely know anything about the council members and their reasons for participating – other than this-and-this organisation send me. The most we know and learn about are the the Laws with the siblings Phee and Sam being quite essential to the plot.
In a way they are portrayed as normal teenager, yet, different. The reasoning why the children do what they do is still understandable. At some points I thought the language of the children to be too colloquial, then again, I read the German version and the original could have been different.
The main antagonist Florian Hart was something entirely different. I liked the nod they made to the serial The Seeds of Death with claiming that the company that built the T-Mats used, belonged to her father and the Doctors interference resulted in her life choices. On the other hand have I never before encountered a woman named Florian, so this had me highly confused every time I read it. She was all in all not a very likeable character and a bit over the top, but to some extent still believable.
Also interesting was the way Baxter described the semi-sentient/robot-like beings MMAC, Arkive and the Blue Doll First and their thinkings and actions in the Intermezzo.

General Opinion

Like most Doctor Who stories didn’t this get into too much details either and many things about the background’s and going ons are left untold. As someone used to read about the different worlds in Fantasy novels, was this one of the down points. I understand the lack of information in the TV series, but in a book there is a bit more time to spent on background information (Like how they came up with the ranks and so forth).
Still, it was a nice adventure with what might become one of my favourite TARDIS teams.

Stuff I’d like to add

I’m not sure if I’ll manage to get my hands on another Doctor Who novel, but I wouldn’t mind reading another one.
© For the cover belongs to its rightful owner

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