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This Master was the best

By:Michael Baxter, Coalville, Leicestershire, UK
Date:Sunday 21 April 2002
Rating:   7

I’ve just read this book, or rather booklet, for the first time, and was most pleasantly surprised, given the lack of depth in some of the short novelisations, at its success in conveying the sinister atmosphere created by the interim – dare I even say best – version of the Master. I have never really cared for this somewhat over-used character, even when played by Roger Delgado, but the wizened and malevolent creature described here by Terrance Dicks is genuinely frightening, in the best possible sense. A pity that this walking cadaver was later transformed into the tedious Anthony Ainley interpretation on television. I have never been much struck on the Time Lords, or even the concept of them, much preferring the mysterious old wanderer with a virtually unknown past portrayed by William Hartnell, but again Terrance Dicks makes both Castellan Spandrell and fussy little Co-ordinator Engin as likeable and believable a pair of characters on the printed page as they were on screen. Quite an achievement, the whole thing, considering the slimness of the volume and the rapidity with which Dicks must have been obliged to produce it. Even the fourth Doctor didn’t come across as a buffoon stuffing jelly babies in this one. No, I never liked him much – blasphemy, I quite realise.

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