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|By:||David Turner, Buckinghamshire, UK , United Kingdom|
|Date:||Sunday 22 January 2017|
|Rating: || 9|
Birthright may be very short but it is a thrilling and exciting adventure. Although the first half is a lot better.
|By:||David Layton, Los Angeles, United States|
|Date:||Friday 11 August 2023|
|Rating: || 3|
I am completely baffled by the generally positive reception given to Birthright. To me, this is a pretty awful novel on many levels, and the more I think about it, the worse it gets. The story is that The Doctor tricks Benny and Ace and strands each in different time zones without telling them that he is going to do this, why he is going to do this, or what they are supposed to do. Then, we get a Benny story set in London 1909 involving secret societies and mysterious insect invaders appearing out of nowhere and carving up women. Next, we get an Ace story of her in the far future placing herself as the leader of some humanoid "mammals" that are beset by some intelligent insects using the mammals for food. The insects are being helped by a mysterious know-it-all who is probably a far-future incarnation of The Doctor. He calls himself Muldwych. Then, the two halves collide together, two stranded TARDIS shells become one, sort of, there is battle, dead bodies all over the place, the TARDIS crew reunited, and the companions just accept what The Doctor has done to them.
So, here are the things that are so wrong about this book. First, the only idea Robinson seems to have for the character of The Doctor is "manipulative." He has no other meaningful characteristics. The only idea he has for Benny is "sarcastic." The only idea he has for Ace is "violent." Thus, none of the TARDIS trio is remotely likeable. The Doctor manipulates the whole thing from behind the scenes, appears at the last minute, and justifies nothing that he has done, absolutely nothing. He even turns his back on Benny when she tries to talk to him about it. What a jerk! Ace, early in the novel, watches The Doctor trick Benny and says nothing about it. Later in the novel, she herself tricks and lies to Benny for no good reason that I can fathom, by placing sedatives into a cup of tea. What a jerk! And who the hell carries around sedatives solely for the purpose of spiking cups of tea? Benny spends her time moaning about being manipulated and generally annoying on purpose nearly everyone she meets. What a jerk! With both of these characters, it is even worse. Ace shoots a bank guard and "hopes" that she set the gun on stun. And that is the last she thinks about it. She has no remorse or second thoughts about possibly killing a man who was only doing his job. Benny, late in the novel, is glad that some annoying guy she didn't like is among the many dead. That is right, she is happy that someone who is merely annoying is dead. Are these really our heroes? Even Turlough would not have sunk so low in morality.
The next bad thing about the book is the clunky writing. There is line after line of telling rather than showing. Villains rant and rave in their heads: All power will be mine! and similar ridiculous things. The story works along the plot by convenience model: something shows up or happens because it needs to. Many elements simply appear and then are discarded. This is especially true of characters. They appear, do useful things, and then when no longer needed they vanish. Robinson spends quite a bit of ink trying to get the reader interested in Popov and Charlie and many others. What happens to them after the main plot is over? We don't know and Robinson doesn't seem to care.
And then there is the huge amount of fan-candy thrown in, the many, many needless references to characters and stories from the Doctor Who TV show in a plot that would get along without any of them.
So, it should be pretty clear that I do not like this book.