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Good in Places, Awful in Others

By:David Layton, Los Angeles, United States
Date:Sunday 5 November 2017
Rating:   6

Many readers really dislike this book. I was not quite that put off by it. The book is basically in three parts. Part 1 is the set up, where Doctor 5 and his first crew get caught up in a situation involving a planet being guarded by a space station on which no one in the crew really cares. Russell spends quite a bit of time getting into characters' heads, showing us what he thinks the TARDIS crew really think of each other, and most of it is not nice. The Celestial Toymaker is hanging about, but his exact relationship to what else is happening is somewhat elusive. At this point, the novel is fairly straightforward Doctor Who fair with a few of Russell's typical revisionist tendencies. Part 2 is a long flashback to the Doctor's time at the academy on Gallifrey, meant to explain how he became familiar with the Toymaker who shows up in The Celestial Toymaker first Doctor episode. The Gallifrey sequence is probably the weakest part of the novel, mostly because here Russell lets loose his penchant for feeding red meat to the fans. Thus, we find out that pretty much all of the various rogue Time Lords the Doctor later encounters - The Master, The Rani, The Meddling Monk, Drax, and so on - not only went to the same school (no surprise there as we have only ever heard of one academy on Gallifrey), but were all part of the same collection of misfits who hung out together and got into trouble together. They were all friends of some kind. This is really wholly unnecessary other than to save Russell the trouble of having to invent new characters. All of this slowly leads up to The Doctor's first encounter with The Toymaker. Part 3 returns the reader to the "present" and a showdown between The Doctor and The Toymaker. So, the novel is really dragged down by Russell's desire to throw into his story as many Doctor Who references as he can, not just to prior Doctor Who TV episodes, but also to prior Doctor Who novels and to his own Doctor Who novels and dramas. Had Russell bypassed all of that and stuck to the story, "Divided Loyalties" would have been a much better book than it is.



Divided opinions

By:Trevor Smith, Nottingham, United Kingdom
Date:Sunday 29 March 2015
Rating:   7

Blimey this is a marmite book. People seem to either really hate it or really like it, so being a contrary sod I'll say it was an okay sort of book.
I suppose your opinion of this book is coloured by how much you like continuity and refernces to old storys. Me ? Love them, to a degree and this book has enough to satisfy my inner fan wank.
The story it's self is okay. I think Gary Russell captures the 5th Doctor & this particular TARDIS tea very well indeed.
The story it's self has some good ideas, particularly the way the Toymaker plays with the companions in security's.
My biggest dissapointment was after building up to the end it ended very suddenly and unsatisfactory.
All In all an ok sort of book.



The worse thing since..

By:Tarquin Summerbutts, Paris, France
Date:Wednesday 18 January 2012
Rating:   1

EVERYTHING! Dreadful, dreadful, dreadful fanw@nk EVER. Don't try and buy thus unless you're a completist...



Tripe

By:Matt Saunders, Buckinghamshire, United Kingdom
Date:Wednesday 18 January 2012
Rating:   5

Tripe



In defence

By:justin w richards , swansea, wales
Date:Monday 16 October 2006
Rating:   9

Now i must say that this book was not that bad, after all Gary Russell has created the right mood, the Doctor, Tegan, Nyssa and Adric's characterisation are spot on.
The Doctor's vulnerability and repressed anger. Tegan the opposite, Nyssa boring and singular (really nothing new there then)and Adric who cares. I suppose theres a few bad points but others have already pointed them out my only greivance is the "deca" why is magnus aka War chief in there. In the War games he and the Doctor clearly dont know each other which makes his apperance seem like hes there to add another name to the list of renegades. Over all a good read drags a bit just befor the climax but very good, and Michael Gough seems to be in every word said by the toy maker.



Mostly stupid

By:Siskoid, Moncton, NB
Date:Friday 14 October 2005
Rating:   3

Divided Loyalties (bad title) has one thing going for it, and that's the flashback sequences to the Doctor's academy days. These act as a reasonable prequel to The Celestial Toymaker, though they are sludged up by heavy continuity. It took me a while to match the students with the various rogues they became, and it's more than a little fortuitous that they were all in the same class.

But apart from that, the best I can say about the book is that it breezes by quite fast. It's unintentionally funny at times, but that depends on how funny you think Adric's body odor problems are. Lots of Adric bashing, and much of it juvenile.

I'm not a big fan of the original Toymaker episode because I just don't like stories told in set pieces (not a big fan of the 5 Docs either, for example). The novel is also built this way, with the companions getting theirs, but also a bunch of "original" characters getting trapped by the Toymaker. These chapters are quite boring, and worse, these people don't really have an impact on the story later on!

Overall: Some good ideas here and there, but buried in a miasma of winks to continuity and humor at the expense of the characters.



Um, well.....

By:AKB, LouKy
Date:Thursday 19 May 2005
Rating:   5

I'm not totally sure how I feel about this book. Peter Davison was/is my favorite Doctor, followed closely by Jon Pertwee, but I'm just not sure I can get behind this book.

The thing that constantly irritated me was the fact that Gary Russell doesn't seem to like Peter Davison. Everytime he narrates from Adric's perspective, he makes some reference to how Tom Baker was better, or the "real" Doctor, or some other such nonsense. I wasn't sure if he was trying to portray that as Adric's perspective, or if it was his own opinion, but it came across as his own feelings, and this is not the forum for voicing those opinions.

Also, having never seen a William Hartnell episode, and disliking long flashback sequences in writing in the first place, I was utterly bored with the entire flashback sequence. Readig it was more like a chore than fun, and I constantly wanted to get back to MY Doctor, the reason I got this book and started reading it: Peter Davison.

Overall, I suppose I didn't especially like it, but I didn't hate it either... but not what I am looking for from Who fiction.



Mostly forgettable

By:Paul, Wakefield
Date:Tuesday 8 February 2005
Rating:   2

I thought this was one of worst Who books I've read - just couldn't get into it at all. The problem I think was that the companions seemed out of caracter from the TV versions and I think this is an important element of writing good PDA's.



Divided Stories

By:Stephen Carlin, Bangor, Northern Ireland
Date:Wednesday 28 April 2004
Rating:   4

Gary Russell seems to have embarked on a mission to fill in gaps in Dr Who. This particular book seeks to fill in the gaps between The Celestial Toymaker and The Nightmare Fair with a little nod towards a Doctor Who magazine story. In line with Russell's obsession with continuity it also connects to the Missing Adventure The Dark Path (albeit in using the Master's name).

As to the book itself - it comes in three sections. The first section details the Doctor's arrival on the space station orbiting the planet of Dymok and subsequent journey to the planet into what he soon realises is a trap. At various points some characters have encounters with the Celestial Toymaker - gamblers who unfortunately end up as his toys and the Doctor's companions who are shown the possibility that the Doctor is not so benign after all. While the storytelling has improved over some of Russell's previous works, there is a simplistic ideaology at work here.

The second section tells the early story of the Doctor and his academy friends (who include The Master, The Rani, the War Chief and The Meddling Monk). It is quite good, especially when the the young Doctor challenges the tenets of Time Lord society suggesting that change is an important value too. I genuinely liked that particular part.

Unfortunately, from this point on the book goes down hill. The Doctor and two friends borrow a TARDIS and end up in the Toymaker's domain. This is poorly executed and the consequent battle that follows in the third and final section is an utter mess. There is not well thought out strategy - one particular battle involves a chess game with people playing the pieces. The game begins and ends within a few paragraphs and seems to serve no purpose. The battle between the Doctor and the Toymaker doesn't end with a whimper...it just whimpers from one step to the next. The whimsical ending, which paves the way for The Nightmare Fair just made me cringe. The manner in which the Doctor's companions are shown visions to break their faith in him work to an extent but the subsequent manner in which they choose to stand by the Doctor lacks the character development hinted at in this book. Its just not thought through well enough. Potentially a good book but ultimately disappointing.



Chill guys!

By:Holly Carver, England
Date:Sunday 2 February 2003
Rating:   9

OK, just to get things straight, it's true I'm no die-hard Dr Who fan, true I haven't seen every ep there is or bought any collectable items off e-bay for £1000 or anything but I am a MAJOR fifth doctor obsessive, I guess being 15 and a girl when I first saw Peter Davison acting as him probably had something to do with it.

Anyway, having been collecting for the past 3 odd years anything Peter/Dr Who related, including all the eps and BBC books, I'd like to think I have quite a good grasp on the character and his companions and to be perfectly honest I really don't see why so many people have such a major problem with this book. It captures Peter's whole innocent-and-tourtured-by-any-type-of-immoral-action act and his whole dependence on his friends is very clear (everyone has seen Castrovalva right?). Plus I thought the idea of the Toymaker trying to turn the Doc's companions against him was quite a good one, considering the fifth Doctor is the one who was likely to be hurt most by such an action. The back story was also interesting and it was fun seeing a time when the Doctor and the Master were friends.

What is the huge problem everyone has with this story? it can't just be Adric (who I also happen to like by the way, but that's a different story altogether). This book has a lot going for it and the Toymaker, who is as I gather one of the more highly regarded villains (and certainly is by me, which makes me constantly devistated that the original William Hartnall ep is unavailable!), is handled brilliantly. Conceptions of Gary Russell seem to be constantly based on this one novel, and while that is a slightly unfair way to judge an author I am inclinded to feel that if that is the ways things must be then, far from viewing him negatively because of it, Gary should be praised for his achievements and I for one (and it really does seem the only one!) look forward quite eagerly to any knew project I know Gary to be involved in.

Give this book a break guys, true it has quite a bit of continuity in but if you're a Dr Who fan why should it bother you? we understand it all and that's the important thing right? To be fair, I wouldn't think of recomending this book to anyone who wasn't a long term fan, but I do think this book has been grossly overcriticised and hope this review (small as it is) will be able to somehow stand out in it's defense.



Could have been much better

By:Cam Cobb, Canada
Date:Saturday 5 October 2002
Rating:   7

The Good: I liked the background information and scenes showing a young Doctor and Master.
The Bad: The companion sub-plots ... This story would have been much better if the Doctor were facing the Celestial Toymaker on his own.
The Ugly: The average rating of this book. A "3" is not a very good report card indeed!



Yuck!

By:Adrian Sherlock, Melbourne, Australia
Date:Tuesday 4 June 2002
Rating:   1

Let me make this clear. Season 19 is my all time favorite. I loved the Fifth Doctor, loved the characters, loved the era, loved the whole feel of it, much better than that boring Tom Baker/Gothic horror thing. I even liked Adric, after a fashion and felt great pity for him when he died. But this book, set in season 19, feels like it was written by someone who hated the season and the characters of that era and wanted to spend 280 odd pages insulting and belittling them. Reading this book was like watching a season 19 episode scripted by Gary Russell with Gary sitting on the sofa next to you yelling out derisive comments everytime a character did or said something stupid (and all the time you know it's his fault coz he wrote the script) You can hear him saying "oops, that egotistical Adric jerk's just realised he's stopped being the centre of attention" and "this Doctor's not as good as the old one, Tom was the REAL Doctor!" I wanted to throw this book out the window or set fire to it and hunt down Garry Russell and torture him for what he'd done to my beloved Dr. Who! Now he'd producing for Big Finish. Well, he tells us writing for radio/audio takes special skill. I listened to Mutant Phase and saw no special skill in that either. In fact, it had visuals like "just a blur" and a guy in a pitch black room who can't see a thing saying "you look like a Thal, same blonde hair". And the Doctor gets caught in a time paradox that was never caused in the first place to need resolving. It's just careless writing, bad, sloppy writing coupled with too much damn cynicism. Garry Russell is in a very powerful position and I hope he will treat my beloved Fifth Doctor with more care and less cynicism in the future.




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