‘The Pictures of Emptiness’ (DSL) (Book)


Please feel free to comment on my review.

The Vacant and the Eternity Crystal with the Tenth Doctor

Here’s another exciting Tenth Doctor adventure in ‘The Darksmith Legacy’ book series!

I didn’t know what to expect when reading the eighth book in ‘The Darksmith Legacy’ series called ‘The Pictures of Emptiness’ by Jacqueline Rayner. I didn’t expect to find the Tenth Doctor be betrayed by his new companion Gisella and him having to go off on an adventure alone without her.

It was quite a shocking twist since I hoped that the rest of the book series would see the Tenth Doctor and Gisella having adventures to thwart the evilness of the Darksmith Collective. But as we’re coming to the end of ‘The Darksmith Legacy’ series, it’s all building up to a dramatic conclusion here.

Jacqueline Rayner has written a fair amount of ‘Doctor Who’ stories over the years, whether it’d be in books or in audio dramas. As I’ve said in another review, I find Jacqueline’s stories to be hit or miss at times. But I definitely enjoyed ‘The Pictures of Emptiness’, finding it to be rather fascinating. 🙂

The story begins with the Doctor on trial before the Shadow Proclamation, following the events of ‘The Planet of Oblivion’. The Eternity Crystal soon gets legally returned to Gisella, but it gets unveiled, in the proving of the point that she’s a living being and not a mere android, that she betrays him.

The Doctor is shocked, but he soon gets told by Gisella where the Darksmiths’ meeting with their clients for the Eternity Crystal is taking place once she accidentally reveals the coordinates. The Doctor soon heads off in his TARDIS as he ends up on the planet Earth in London where eyes and souls get stolen.

I did wonder if the story was going to be mostly focused on the Doctor being put on trial and I wondered if this would be a boring adventure at all. But to be fair, Jacqueline Rayner doesn’t waste time since she delivers an adventure where the Doctor tries to get ahead of the Darksmith Collective.

In the early part of the story, featuring the trial scenes with the Doctor, as well as Gisella, there are characters like Drakon who manages to reprogram Gisella in order to betray the Doctor. There’s also an adjudicator type character speaking on behalf of the Shadow Proclamation in conducting the trial.

It’s fascinating how the Shadow Proclamation becomes involved in the events of ‘The Darksmith Legacy’ series. In the time they’ve been in the series, both on TV and in other mediums, we don’t really know much about them. I imagine the Shadow Proclamation is not a very lenient organisation.

It’s also interesting to see the Doctor back to travelling alone again without a companion in this story after Gisella betrayed him. This book series of course takes place during the time the Tenth Doctor decided not to travel with anybody after the recent losses that he had with friends Rose and Donna.

Like previous ‘Darksmith Legacy’ stories before it, the story is divided into 10 chapters. Interspersed with the main fiction are three TARDIS data bank pages. They focus on information regarding Earth’s atmosphere, photography and vacuum. There are also two activity pages to check out during the book.

When on Earth in London, the Doctor solves a mystery before he gets to find where the Darksmiths are meeting up with their clients. He gets to meet people like Shelley Sayers, Jason Dungeon, Bill B. Brooks, Mae Harrison and Natasha who suffer losses of soul as well as losing parts of their antimony.

For example, a character like Jason Dungeon, who is a guitar-playing rock star, has lost his soul, being drained of emotion and void of personality. Bill Brooks, his agent, is concerned about his rock star and he enlists the Doctor’s help in order to find out what’s wrong with Jason in his current state.

The Doctor works his way around to solving the mystery, making a connection between a couple – Mae Harrison, who has her eyes stolen, and Des Martin, a photographer who happens to be Mae’s boyfriend and gets his soul stolen too. The revelations that the Doctor uncovers are very fascinating.

This all leads the Doctor to becoming an extra in a TV show and unveiling the villain. This happens to be a woman called Mitra Ashkanzai. Mitra happens to be an alien called a Vacant and she absorbs the personalities of people by using a camera when she poses as a photographer on the TV show set.

It was quite tense when the Doctor had to avoid looking into the eyes of Mitra when she wanted to absorb his soul during the adventure’s climax. The Doctor has help from a make-up girl called Megan, who could’ve potentially ended up being a companion if the book had gone in that direction.

In case you’re wondering, the TV show in question happens to be the fictional soap opera called ‘Market Square’. I’m surprised this wasn’t mentioned in other ‘Doctor Who’ stories like on TV. I wonder if ‘Market Square’ is a rip-off from ‘Eastenders’. It probably is. Could’ve been explored further!

The story concludes when the Doctor goes off to find the Darksmiths meeting up with their clients to hand over the Eternity Crystal to them. The Doctor is shocked to see who the actual villains of ‘The Darksmith Legacy’ series turn out to be. They happen to be the war-like Krashoks. What will occur?!

At the end of the book, there’s an excerpt from the ninth book in ‘The Darksmith Legacy’ series called ‘The Art of War’ 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. That is a shame. I would’ve liked to have joined in! 😀

Overall, ‘The Pictures of Emptiness’ has been an enjoyable book to read in ‘The Darksmith Legacy’ series. I’m curious about how the Doctor will stop the Krashoks from getting their hands on the Eternity Crystal. Will the Doctor be able to get his friend Gisella back? I do hope so! Gisella was nice.

‘The Pictures of Emptiness’ (DSL) rating – 8/10

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