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Excellent historical fiction

By:Cam Cobb, Canada
Date:Saturday 5 October 2002
Rating:   8

The Good: Excellent historical fiction with a very unlikley combo ... It's the 4th Doctor with Nyssa before he actually met her!
The Bad: When the Doctor and Nyssa are seperated, Nyssa's scenes become somewhat padded.
The Ugly: The sanitation conditions in 1278 Oxford!

A mixed bag

By:Trevor Smith, Nottingham, United Kingdom
Date:Monday 18 April 2011
Rating:   7

This has a really good beginning, explaining how Nyssa meets the fourth Doctor, and this sets up the story really nicely. Pity then that the story sags a lot in the middle & Nyssa feels irrelevant to the rest of the story until the gripping ending.
A lengthy explanation plus historical notes from the author after the story are a nice bonus

Name of the Rose Who Style

By:David Layton, Los Angeles, United States
Date:Saturday 27 February 2016
Rating:   6

I have mixed feelings about this book. On the one hand, I do not like all the extra stuff that is thrown in; on the other hand, I like all the things this book could have been. The main story involves Doctor 4 investigating a murder in a Franciscan monastery in Oxford. The murder involves Doctor Mirabilis, Roger Bacon. This part of the novel works very well. It is similar to "Name of the Rose" in that the murder involves books and the clash between the unbending Medieval view of the cosmos and a potentially new understanding. Intrigue, local politics, and fear all play their parts in driving this plot. Darvill-Evans has done his history homework, so that life in Medieval Oxford is realistic. I simply do not understand why Darvill-Evans could not have been content with that. Instead, he piles on numerous irrelevancies. The most baffling of these is having an older Nyssa (maybe in her early 30s) meeting Doctor 4 from before they meet in "Keeper of Traken." Why? This device serves no purpose to the story and builds needless complications. And the only out that Darvill-Evans comes up with for this is that the Doctor is just going to remember to forget the next time he meets Nyssa? Surely, a writer as intelligent as Darvill-Evans is, given the evidence of his postscript about historical fiction, would recognize how unsatisfactory that resolution is to this little complication. Why not have the novel be Doctor 5 and Nyssa if he really wants Nyssa in the story? That gets us to problem number two, which is that if he is so keen on using Nyssa, why does he not use her? Instead, she gets sidetracked into a hideaway in a castle converted into a garden, and spends almost the whole of her time in the novel saying "leave me alone." There is a whole side plot with a knight who falls madly in love with her, but only reminds her of the death and terror she has faced, causing panic attacks. Why? What purpose to the story does this serve? Apparently very little given how easily the murderer kills the knight and that Nyssa's only involvement in the main plot is to be threatened by the murderer and stab him instead. This PTSD Nyssa is frustrating because there is no clear rationale for her condition and for this secondary story. The third problem is that to get the Doctor and Nyssa to Oxford 1278, Darvill-Evans creates a flimsy contrivance that something is going wrong with timelines surrounding Roger Bacon's role in history. Surely, if one has a TARDIS one does not need this excuse to have the Doctor arrive at whatever setting one wants. Nothing in the plot actually relates to this time line foul up, no one messing with time machines, nothing of the kind that would warrant placing it in the story. The fourth problem is that there seems to be some sort of stranded alien bit involving Brother Thomas. Why? Unknown. The Doctor never discovers the stranded aliens not even that they exist, and they are not really needed for Darvill-Evans to explain Thomas's behavior. In short, had Darvill-Evans just stuck to his main plot idea and used straightforward means to get the characters there, this would have been a cracking novel. As it is, the novel has too many distracting side bits.

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