‘The Depths of Despair’ (DSL) (Book)


Please feel free to comment on my review.

Blaska, the Dreadbringers and the Eternity Crystal with the Tenth Doctor

Will the friendship between the Doctor and Gisella last for very long?

After what I felt was a disappointment in ‘The Colour of Darkness’ in ‘The Darksmith Legacy’ book series, I was looking forward to the next one by Justin Richards. ‘The Depths of Despair’ was a big improvement and it featured a pretty tense base-under-siege type of story that I greatly enjoyed. 😀

In the story, the Doctor visits the planet Flydon Maxima, also called Despair. It’s a planet where it’s always flooding and there’s the melting of glaciers. The Doctor soon comes across a scientific base that has been monitoring the slow melting of the glaciers and they have some advanced equipment.

This equipment looks to be have been created by Varlos, the Darksmith who created the Eternity Crystal. The scientists are also led by Gisella, who appears to be a little girl but is actually a young woman. Soon the scientific base gets attacked by squid-like Blaska and the terrifying Dreadbringers!

This story is once again divided into 10 chapters and it features activity pages and TARDIS data banks containing information about certain aspects of the story, such as the Oceans of Flydon Maxima, the Darksmith Collective and Brother Varlos. Some of the activity pages, I’ve glanced through them now.

To be fair, they are good exercises for the kids such as which Blaska tentacle should the Doctor follow in order to get back to the TARDIS quickly enough as well as decoding a certain sequence of symbols to unlock a security system. I’m sure these books are good for kids to enjoy these exercises.

It’s intriguing how the Doctor attempts to try and find Brother Varlos, who may hold the answers on how to destroy the Eternity Crystal before the Darksmith Collective gets their hands on it. It was tense once a Blaska creature tried to pull down the TARDIS into the water before the Doctor saves it.

As well as Gisella, the other crew members aboard the scientific base are as follows. There’s Captain Strova, Private Lenk, Private Rodoff and Hank. As in ‘The Dust of Ages’, the Doctor seems to get on very well with the crew of the scientific base, despite a few hiccups concerning Gisella’s appearance.

It was intriguing to read about Gisella in the story. She could easily be annoyed for being thought of as a little girl instead of an older woman. The Doctor appreciates that and the two gradually get on. I didn’t think that Gisella would end up travelling with the Doctor in order to find her father Varlos. 😮

Oh yeah! By the end of the story, it’s revealed that Gisella happens to be Varlos’ daughter. The Doctor works out gradually that Gisella knows something about Varlos before the actual reveal. I didn’t realise it until we came to the final chapter. It was quite a surprise as I’m sure it was for many.

The Blaska are an intriguing set of monsters in that they’re ferocious squids who try to wreck apart the scientific base on Despair, which is presumably underwater. It gets revealed that the Blaska want their babies back in their eggs. It’s something the scientific crew were unaware of once they stole them.

It’s that classic ‘Devil in the Dark’ situation from ‘Star Trek’, isn’t it? Although that’s hampered by the Dreadbringers who were sent by the Darksmith Collective to get back the Eternity Crystal from the Doctor. It transpires that the Dreadbringers are hunting both for the Doctor and Gisella in the tale. 😐

Incidentally, Brother Krazon and High Minister Drakon do make an appearance in this book, although that’s from the last scene carried over from the previous book ‘The Colour of Darkness’. The last scene for ‘The Depths of Despair’ is repeated in the preview for the next book ‘The Vampire of Paris’.

It was fun to read the scenes where the Doctor, Gisella, Strova, Lenk, Rodoff and Hank are getting to and fro throughout the underwater base in order to escape from the deadly Dreadbringers and the deadly Blaska. The Doctor often has to use his sonic screwdriver to get them out of some tight spots.

In the scenes where the Doctor first arrives and meets the underwater crew led by Gisella, the Doctor uses his psychic paper to identify himself as an inspector when he arrives at the base. Justin Richards does like using the psychic paper and the sonic screwdriver for these children’s adventures.

Just in case you’d forgotten, Justin Richards is in overall charge of ‘The Darksmith Legacy’ book series. ‘The Depths of Despair’ is his second contribution to the series as a writer as the previous one was of course ‘The Dust of Ages’. He would contribute two more books after this one in the series. 🙂

The interaction that the Doctor has with people like Hank is often jovial. Though Hank does get sceptical at times. The Doctor often asks Hank, “Where’s your sense of optimism?” and Hank responds “It was sent home by my sense of realism.” Ah! That exchange of lines is such pure poetry! 😀

Like I said, the story concludes with the Doctor and Gisella going off to find Varlos in Paris on Earth in 1895 I believe, after saying a farewell to Captain Strova and the rest of Gisella’s crew. I wonder if Gisella will return to her crewmates once her adventures in time and space with the Doctor are over.

At the end of the book, there’s an excerpt from the fifth book in ‘The Darksmith Legacy’ series called ‘The Vampire of Paris’ to look forward to. Please bear in mind, the ‘Collected’ Party at the end of the book is out of date since October 2009 is over. A shame since I would have liked to have joined in! 😀

‘The Depths of Despair’ has been an enjoyable book to read. I enjoyed the base-under-siege aspects to the tale and how the Doctor interacted with Gisella and the rest to outrun the Blaska and the Dreadbringers. Interesting that Gisella’s now a companion with the Doctor in the TARDIS by the end.

‘The Depths of Despair’ (DSL) rating – 8/10

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