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1920s Chicago and Vampires
This has been an engrossing and enjoyable ‘Doctor Who’ book to read!
In the autumn of 2015, I read this exciting ‘New Adventures’ vampires novel from ‘Doctor Who’ with the Seventh Doctor. ‘Blood Harvest’ is a direct sequel to ‘State of Decay’ from ‘The E-Space Trilogy’. This is also the sequel/prequel to ‘Goth Opera’, a ‘Missing Adventures’ novel with the Fifth Doctor.
‘Blood Harvest’ is by Terrance Dicks, who has written a number of ‘New Adventures’ novels for Virgin Publishing. This is his second novel for the range and was published in 1994. Terrance is well-known as script editor for the Jon Pertwee era of ‘Doctor Who’ and he wrote ‘State of Decay’ for TV in 1980.
This book has two plots concurring with each other. The first plot has the Doctor and Ace in 1920s Chicago and getting involved with bootlegging; gangsters and meeting the infamous Al Capone. The second plot has Benny dumped on the vampire planet within E-Space and meeting up with Romana.
I purchased this book from Amazon after I finished reading ‘Goth Opera’. It’s taken me a while to get round to reading this book, but I enjoyed reading it in the months of October and November in 2015. This book is longer than ‘Goth Opera’, since it contains 31 chapters with a prologue and an epilogue.
The prologue has a scene with the Fourth Doctor and K-9 during ‘Warriors’ Gate’ which was very exciting. I read ‘Goth Opera’ first before reading ‘Blood Harvest’, as it should be the other way round in reading order. But these books are pretty standalone and can be read in any order in my opinion.
‘Blood Harvest’ isn’t as good as ‘Goth Opera’, but Terrance writes a gripping adventure with the story shifting from the Doctor and Ace plot in Chicago, 1929 to the Benny and Romana plot in E-Space. The book goes from three chapters in Chicago plot; three chapters in E-Space and back to Chicago again.
Most of what Terrance writes in the E-Space plot is a re-hash of what he wrote in ‘State of Decay’. The Chicago plot is pretty detached from the E-Space plot but was unique and I enjoyed reading it. I must admit I didn’t understand what the connection was between those Chicago and E-Space plots.
It soon turns out that the Doctor is looking for a being called Agonal who feeds on agony and death. Elements of ‘Blood Harvest’ were, for me, introduced in ‘Goth Opera’. I heard about Agonal who was mentioned in that story and there was also Yarven and Ruath who were in ‘Goth Opera’ (more on this later).
‘Blood Harvest’ takes place during the ‘New Adventures’ of ‘Doctor Who’ with the Seventh Doctor; Ace and Benny. Ace left the Doctor in ‘Love and War’ before she re-joined him and Benny in the story called ‘Deceit’. It was an intriguing dynamic reading the Seventh Doctor, Ace and Benny in this.
The Seventh Doctor has been great in this book. Terrance blends and fits in Sylvester McCoy’s Doctor well into the 1920s of Chicago. The Doctor has a plan and works well when tackling Al Capone and the gangster mobs. He runs his bar called ‘Doc’s Place’ and gets to deal with Agonal and the vampires.
Ace is equally great in this book. She’s pretty no-nonsense and sharper by this point. She helps the Doctor out at his bar called ‘Doc’s Place’ and is ready for a fight when a gangster tries to have his way with her. She’s suspicious of PI Dekker at first, but she gets to like and forms a relationship with him.
Bernice Summerfield (Benny) has been a joy to read in this book. Benny was sent by the Doctor to the vampire planet in E-Space to do an ‘archaeological survey’. It turns out she was sent to help the villagers with the vampires on that planet. She gets to meet and work with Romana who’s also there.
Romana returns to ‘Doctor Who’, as this takes place after her freeing the Tharils from their enslavement in ‘Warriors’ Gate’. I’m surprised K-9 wasn’t with her. Romana meets Benny and they both work together to sort out these vampires and get into trouble when they start to rise up again.
The Doctor and Ace meet Tom Dekker who is a private investigator (PI) in 1920s Chicago. The Doctor met Dekker before in ‘Players’, although this is Dekker’s first meeting with the Doctor. Dekker helps to solve the mob fights in Chicago. He narrates most of the story and forms a relationship with Ace.
The story features the appearance of Al Capone, who was a powerful American gangster during the 1920s and 1930s. I didn’t realise Capone was a real historical figure after I finished reading the book. Capone is an interesting person who hires Dekker to investigate Doc’s Place and who the Doctor is.
There are characters from ‘State of Decay’ who make a return appearance in this story. There are the villagers Ivo, Kalmar and Tarak. There’s also the Three Who Rule vampires from ‘State of Decay’, Aukon; Camilla and Zargo. This was a shock and a surprise, since I thought they were already dead.
As I said before, Yarven appears in ‘Blood Harvest’ before he goes on to appear in ‘Goth Opera’. It was interesting reading Yarven’s journey in this adventure and to discover how it started and what he did before he escaped E-Space. It links the events that lead into the ‘Goth Opera’ story so nicely.
As well as being a sequel to ‘State of Decay’, this book is also a sort-of sequel to ‘The Five Doctors’, as we return to Gallifrey and revisit the Death Zone and the tomb in the Dark Tower. Rassilon makes a return in this novel within the Dark Tower and also Borusa which was quite a surprise for me in this.
At the story’s end, Romana stays on Gallifrey whilst the Doctor, Ace and Benny leave in the TARDIS. Romana soon runs into and meets Ruath (misspelt ‘Ruatha’ in the book). This is the same scene at the beginning of Chapter 6 from ‘Goth Opera’ as it leads directly into that story from ‘Blood Harvest’.
I’ve really enjoyed reading ‘Blood Harvest’ as a book and I can’t wait for Big Finish to adapt it into an audio drama. I really hope that Terrance Dicks will give the rights to Big Finish, so that they can make this as well as ‘Goth Opera’ into audio dramas which should make me happy indeed if this happened.
I can see the cast for the audio drama including Sylvester McCoy; Sophie Aldred and Lisa Bowerman with Lalla Ward. I could easily hear Sylvester; Sophie; Lisa and Lalla when I was reading this book. I hope Tom Baker will say ‘yes’ to making his cameo and that Clinton Greyn will reprise his role as Ivo.
‘Blood Harvest’ has been a gripping and an engaging book to read. It’s well-written by Terrance Dicks and it features two exciting plots with the Doctor and Ace in Chicago and Benny and Romana in E-Space. I hope this will be a Big Finish audio drama someday soon as it’ll be pretty exciting to listen to.
In the epilogue, Benny is worried when Yarven escapes from the TARDIS and that he must be stopped. But the Doctor reassures her that ‘it’s already done’ and that he ‘took care of it ages ago’…
‘Blood Harvest’ rating – 9/10
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