‘ENGINES OF WAR’
Please feel free to comment on my review.
War Changes Everyone…Even the Doctor
It’s time to take a look at the War Doctor’s single ‘Doctor Who’ adventure in book form…so far. 😀
At the time of this review, I’m writing a brand-new ‘Doctor Who’ story for my ‘Zorbius’ series featuring John Hurt’s War Doctor. Before and during that time, I read/heard the ‘Doctor Who’ adventure ‘Engines of War’ featuring John Hurt’s War Doctor pitted against Time Lords and Daleks. 🙂
I’ve made it no secret that I’m not really a fan of the War Doctor as a concept. I like John Hurt’s performances as the War Doctor both in ‘The Day of the Doctor’ and the Big Finish audios. I suppose the fan inside of me wanted Paul McGann’s Eighth Doctor to be the one that fought in the Time War.
I wanted Paul McGann to regenerate into Christopher Eccleston instead of Paul McGann regenerating into John Hurt before regenerating into Christopher Eccleston. Lately, Russell T. Davies might’ve changed that with Eight regenerating into Nine after all in ‘Doctor Who and the Time War’.
It does contradict things with established ‘Doctor Who’ continuity – whether ‘Doctor Who and the Time War’ exists in a parallel universe or not. This isn’t the only thing RTD’s mucked up. I’m unhappy with Nyssa and Tegan being a couple in ‘Farewell, Sarah Jane’. That contradicts Big Finish continuity.
But I digress here. Whilst I’m not a fan of the War Doctor as a concept, I am at least impressed by the writing for the War Doctor as a character, both in prose form and how John Hurt has performed it in his portrayal of him. I’m willing to be open-minded and it has grown on me over the years since.
So it’s only fair that I share my thoughts on my reading/listening experience for ‘Engines of Wars’ by George Mann. This was before the Big Finish audios of the War Doctor happened. ‘Engines of War’ was published in July 2014, eight months after ‘The Day of the Doctor’ was transmitted on BBC TV. 🙂
I purchased the paperback edition of ‘Engines of War’ in 2015 as well as the 7-CD audiobook read by Nicholas Briggs. It was while I was on holiday with my parents in Chester that year in August. It’s taken me a while to read/hear it, but as I write a War Doctor story, this is the best time to check it out.
‘Engines of War’ takes place of course during the Time War between the Time Lords and the Daleks and before the events of ‘The Day of the Doctor’. This is the story that leads into ‘The Day of the Doctor’ where the War Doctor’s famous words of “No More” are echoed at the book’s conclusion. 🙂
According to my paperback edition, ‘Engines of War’ happens to be ‘The Sunday Times Bestseller’. So I can assume a lot of copies were sold at the time of the book’s release in 2014. George Mann is no stranger to ‘Doctor Who’ as he has written short stories like ‘Rise and Fall’ as well as some books.
The book is divided into three episodes. There’s ‘Part One’ called ‘Moldox’; ‘Part Two’ called ‘Gallifrey’ and ‘Part Three’ called ‘Into the Eye’. The story itself is divided into 24 chapters with an acknowledgements page at the end. I found ‘Parts Two and Three’ more interesting than ‘Part One’.
In the story, the Great Time War has lasted for a very long time. The War Doctor understandably has become sick of it. He soon ends up on the planet Moldox where he meets a Dalek Hunter called Cinder. She’s a red-haired girl who initially distrusts the Doctor before she ends up as his companion.
This is interesting as Cinder is a one-off companion that could’ve easily ended up being another Cass from ‘The Night of the Doctor’ that despised the Doctor being a Time Lord. But thankfully that’s not the case as Cinder becomes one of those action women that actually learns to trust the Doctor here.
It’s also interesting to point out that Cinder is a lesbian character since she recollects a love she once had that happens to be a woman. I know that’s like been done before with other companions in other mediums like comics and such, but this is before Bill Potts became introduced as a gay companion.
Anyway, the War Doctor and Cinder discover the Daleks have developed a deadly and terrible weapon that can destroy time and space and it’s connected to the Tantalus Eye for power. The Doctor and Cinder soon head for Gallifrey to report this to the Time Lords, but it’s a really bad move.
Now I said I found ‘Parts Two and Three’ were more interesting than ‘Part One’ of the story. That’s because it took me a while to get into the story with it being on Moldox and that, despite there being Daleks featured on the planet. Maybe if I re-read/re-heard the story again, I’d think differently.
But the reason why I find ‘Parts Two and Three’ interesting is…because of the Time Lords and how they respond to the Daleks’ terrible weapon crisis. This is where we find out why the Doctor found his people, the Time Lords, so heartless, callous and changed because of the Time War being fought.
It was mentioned and implicated in ‘The End of Time’ when the Tenth Doctor what happened to the Time Lords who were changed by the war, but we get to see the full extent of that. The Time Lords are willing to commit genocide…and destroy Moldox’s people in order to destroy the Daleks forever!
This of course makes the War Doctor very angry. He pleads with the Time Lords to find another way and not use the Tear of Isha instead of the Moment to destroy the Daleks along with Moldox with it. But the Time Lords, led by Rassilon himself of course, refuse to hear the Doctor’s pleas in this matter.
George Mann goes way out to make the Time Lords the villains just as much the Daleks are villains. It was fascinating to read/hear how the Time Lords are willing to go to such extremes to destroy the Daleks in their Time War regardless of other peoples’ lives. It’s why the War Doctor despises them so much.
Just to talk about the audiobook for a bit, Nicholas Briggs does a great job reading the story and doing voices for the War Doctor and the Daleks in it. It was interesting to hear Nick Briggs voice for John Hurt’s War Doctor, matching his voice to how he sounded in ‘The Day of the Doctor’, which was good.
Granted I have heard Nick Briggs voice the War Doctor before in ‘The Day of the Doctor’ novelization/audiobook and he has worked with John Hurt in the Big Finish audios of course. This was the first time though where I got to hear Nick Briggs perform a War Doctor story full-on in audio.
And yes, like I mentioned before, Rassilon appears in this story. I believe this is the Timothy Dalton interpretation of the character with the powered-up gauntlet hand and such. I can’t be certain and I’m not sure if Nick Briggs makes it sound like Timothy Dalton, but I’m willing to go with it for the time being here.
The story also has the War Doctor following Rassilon to visit the Death Zone where he has kept Borusa encased in a possibility engine within the Dark Tower and in the Tomb of Rassilon. It was very fascinating to return to the Death Zone like this having seen it once before in ‘The Five Doctors’ story.
It was also fascinating to find Borusa back in this story and being literally tortured by Rassilon to become his possibility engine. I assume this is like the Philip Latham version of Borusa from ‘The Five Doctors’, but I’m not sure. Borusa undergoes multiple regenerations as he’s in the possibility engine.
There are also Time Lord characters who are quite nasty to Cinder when she’s on Gallifrey. There’s Karlax who mind-probes her for information whilst the War Doctor’s in the Death Zone with Rassilon and Borusa. There’s also the Castellan who helps out (not the Paul Jerricho Castellan, I don’t think 😀 )
To be fair, the Castellan character in this story is more accommodating and sympathetic compared to Karlax who’s pretty nasty and has a mean relationship with the Doctor. He helps the Doctor and Cinder escape from Gallifrey after they’ve been kept prisoner and not to interfere with Rassilon’s plans.
I like the relationship between the War Doctor and Cinder in this story. The War Doctor refuses to be called ‘Doctor’ again, but he softens to Cinder being his companion in the story as the two get along. It’s such a shame when the story ends so tragically as the Doctor isn’t able to save Cinder by the end.
The Daleks can be pretty intimidating, especially the Eternity Circle of Daleks featured in the story. Nick Briggs voices well for the Daleks in anything audio related whether it’d be for the BBC or Big Finish. The Predator Dalek that the War Doctor and Cinder confront in the story can be quite calculating.
It’s saddening when Cinder gets shot by Karlax at the end of the story once he’s in the TARDIS in order to save the Doctor. The Doctor is angry with Karlax that he actually leaves him behind for the Daleks to exterminate him. The Doctor’s battle-hardened manner comes to the fore in this instance.
Unfortunately, the Doctor isn’t able to save Cinder and she sadly dies. The Doctor becomes determined to use Borusa as the possibility engines to find a way to bring Cinder back to life. Eventually, he knows he has to let Cinder go and stop the Daleks and the Time Lords once and for all.
The story concludes with the Doctor back on Moldox and finding everybody safe and sound for the moment. But the Doctor comes to the decision that enough is enough and he declares the words “No more.” Presumably after that, he is going back to Gallifrey to steal the Moment from the vaults.
Anyway, ‘Engines of War’ has been a good War Doctor adventure to read and listen to. It was interesting to discover more of the War Doctor’s character in this book/audio and gain some inspiration on writing my own War Doctor story. It’s also fascinating he had a companion in Cinder. 🙂
The depiction of the Time Lords and the Daleks in the Time War is how I imagined it from watching the TV series and George Mann writes well for the characters featured in it. It took me a while to get into the story at first, but by the time I got into ‘Part Two’, I was invested in the story and characters.
‘Engines of War’ rating – 8/10
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