‘DREAMS OF EMPIRE’
Please feel free to comment on my review.
The Haddron Empire with the Second Doctor, Jamie and Victoria
This ‘Doctor Who’ book was pretty easy to get through for me!
After the disappointment of reading ‘Ten Little Aliens’ with the First Doctor, Ben and Polly, I hoped something could be rectified in the following book, ‘Dreams of Empire’ with the Second Doctor, Jamie and Victoria by Justin Richards. Thankfully it turned out to be better than I expected reading the book.
Yeah, I’m not claiming ‘Dreams of Empire’ is a 100% great ‘Doctor Who’ book, but overall I found it pretty compelling, interesting and easy to get into. ‘Dreams of Empire’ of course was chosen to be the book to represent the Second Doctor era when ‘Doctor Who’ celebrated its 50th anniversary in the year 2013.
The book was originally published in 1998 as one of the ‘Past Doctor Adventures’ by BBC Books. It was re-released in 2013 with a brand-new cover. I purchased the 2013 reprint, though I didn’t purchase it at the ‘Doctor Who Experience’ before it closed in 2017. I think I got it from WHSmith or Waterstones.
The story is divided into 16 chapters and thankfully they’re all pretty straight-forward as they should be. No ‘Choose Your Adventure’ style of chapter to make it frustrating to read as was the case in ‘Ten Little Aliens’. ‘Dreams of Empire’ is a decent adventure and it’s worthy to celebrate the Second Doctor.
The story is also divided into three sections in the book. There’s ‘Opening’, ‘Middle Game’ and ‘End Game’. This ties in to theme of chess featured throughout the story which I’ll get to later on. The sections could also make out this is a ‘Doctor Who’ tale divided into three episodes if made for the TV.
In the book, the Doctor and his companions Jamie and Victoria visit what seems to be a medieval castle within the Haddron Empire before it turns out to be a fortress or a prison. The Doctor, Jamie and Victoria find themselves at the heart of a mystery once someone gets murdered and robots attack.
There’s civil war within the Haddron Empire and someone is vying for ownership to become the emperor. As the Doctor, Jamie and Victoria learn more about what’s going on with the empire and its people, a certain game of chess is being played. Can the Doctor outwit his opponents in this situation?
It’s interesting how Justin Richards came up with his inspiration for this story, particularly in how he details it in the introduction for the 2013 reprint. Essentially he came up with the idea of what if the Roman Empire went off in a different direction to what it actually became in human history. Very neat.
I’m not an expert on the Roman Empire and it’s clear Justin Richards knows about this history subject more than I do. But I could definitely feel a sense of a Roman Empire atmosphere in this adventure despite it being set in an alien-like futuristic environment and taking place inside a castle-like fortress.
Justin Richards as a ‘Doctor Who’ writer can vary in terms of the quality of his work. Sometimes he’s very good; sometimes not so good. I think what he writes as a ‘Doctor Who’ writer is very decent, but I wouldn’t claim him to be one of my favourite authors. Sometimes his work can be hit or miss for me.
But in terms of this ‘Doctor Who’ adventure, I was very engaged with the story. I could even hear the Doctor, Jamie and Victoria’s voices when I was reading the adventure as he got the characters spot on. There’s even the atmosphere of a Second Doctor tale here especially with a base under siege plot.
Most of the story works in favour to represent the Second Doctor era especially for the 2013 reprint for the show’s 50th anniversary. There is the occasion where someone says ‘bastard’ which I think is inappropriate for the Second Doctor era, but it’s minor thing. It’s ‘The Invasion’ novelization again! 😀
I really like how Justin Richards writes for the Second Doctor in this adventure. It’s interesting from reading his introduction how he crafts the Second Doctor’s character from being crafty and manipulative whilst donning on his clownish exterior. Some say the Second Doctor’s hard to write for.
That can be true in a sense, but I was able to identify the Second Doctor well due to Justin Richards fleshing him out brilliantly. I loved his comedic moments especially when he’s with Jamie and Victoria earlier on in the TARDIS and I liked it when he works out what’s going on with the chess-game playing.
Oh yeah! Chess seems to be an integral part of the story apparently. Like Roman history, I’m not really an expert on the game. In fact, it’s interesting that chess features in this Second Doctor story where it could’ve suited well with the Seventh Doctor, especially with him being manipulative and pretty crafty.
I enjoyed reading this story with Jamie and Victoria being the Doctor’s companions. It’s interesting that when writers go for writing the Second Doctor era, they tend to go for the Doctor, Jamie and Zoe. Here is a rare occasion where Justin Richards writes for the Doctor, Jamie and Victoria. It’s refreshing!
In many ways, it’s a shame that the Second Doctor, Jamie and Victoria era doesn’t get to shine as much as the Second Doctor, Jamie and Zoe era does. It was interesting how Justin Richards writes for this TARDIS trio and he manages to flesh them out as characters when they play out roles in the adventure.
I enjoyed Jamie as a character in this adventure. He feels out of place when interacting with those of the Haddron Empire. He gets easily frustrated and wants to have some action due to being a Scottish Highlander. Jamie doesn’t trust Prion who turns out to be a robot and may attract Victoria’s attention.
Victoria was lovely to read as a character in the story. In many ways, Victoria can be a tricky character to write for especially when she’s well-known for being a screamer. She does do that unfortunately, but it was interesting how she reacts to things and gets to interact with Helena Trayx during the story.
I was intrigued when the Doctor, Jamie and Victoria got caught after finding one of the characters, Remas, dead in the story, before they seemed to be treated well by Consul Milton Trayx. Usually the main heroes are caught and accused for murder without being given the benefit of the doubt in a tale.
It seems Trayx knows something is wrong when he; his wife and soldiers of the Haddron Empire come to visit the castle-like fortress in the story. Trayx gradually relies upon the Doctor for help, especially when figuring out who’s trying to get at Hans Kesar, a former Consul General of the Haddron Republic.
The story features robots called the VETACS. They were created by the Haddron Empire to protect its citizens like Milton and Helena Trayx. They’re essentially the knights/soldiers similar to ones in the Roman Empire. It is very interesting how these VETAC robots had characters like VC5 and VL9 in them.
It was also quite a surprise to discover who the villain was as by the end of ‘Middle Game’ of the book, it turns out it was General Cruger. Cruger’s motivations are interesting as a villain especially when he wants to use Kesar for his own agenda and gain power to become the emperor of the Haddron Empire.
It was an equally nice surprise when it turned out that Hans Kesar…wasn’t Kesar at all when he removed the mask off from his face. He was actually Gerhart Rutger, who was presumed killed earlier on in the story during an explosion. I did not expect that surprise at all when I read the book here. 😀
As I indicated in the tagline, the book moves along at a pretty good pace. There wasn’t much to slow down the story and the chapters themselves were reasonably lengthy and easy to absorb. The action scenes especially in the battles between humans and VETAC robots was enjoyable to read in the book.
I would like there to be an audiobook reading of ‘Dreams of Empire’ someday. I’m sure it’ll be great to read the book again with Frazer Hines in the background. Hopefully I’ll be able to gain more of the story in reading it a second time, especially when it comes to hearing the audiobook in the background.
Overall, ‘Dreams of Empire’ has been a fulfilling and enjoyable ‘Doctor Who’ book to read with the Second Doctor, Jamie and Victoria. I’m glad this book was chosen to represent the Second Doctor era and Justin Richards does well with telling a tale that was easy to follow and had some nice twists in it.
This is also the first time I’ve read a Second Doctor adventure in book form, I believe! 😀
‘Dreams of Empire’ rating – 8/10
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