On the very edge of the galaxy lies Akoshemon: a dead world
of legendary evil. An excavation of the labyrinthine caves
within the planet's only moon awakens... something. Can this
be the same something that has drawn the Doctor, Tegan and
Nyssa to the moon...?
fans should have no difficulty working out where this novel
fits in with the rest of the Fifth Doctor's adventures. Baxendale
informs us on page 11 that this is Tegan's first day back
on board the TARDIS following her reunion with the crew in
Arc of Infinity. Throughout the book, the Australian
finds herself thinking about snakes, dreaming about them and
imagining them in the darkness of the lunar caves, thus paving
the way for the Mara's repossession of her in Snakedance.
both Nyssa and the Doctor fall foul of a different evil intelligence.
Peter Davison excelled at playing a usually strong character
who is seen to be dramatically weakened, both physically and
mentally, in Castrovalva, The Five Doctors and
The Caves of Androzani. The author captures a similarly
disconcerting degree of mental infirmity during the latter
part of the book.
is this the first time that Nyssa has fallen under an alien
influence. In fact, the Doctor Who novels have made
a habit of having the pure and innocent Trakenite become "possessed"
- by the vampire infection in Goth Opera, by the mind
of an Osiran in The Sands of Time and by anti-matter
in Zeta Major.
fear factor in this story is two-fold. As well as the ghostly
mental presence, there is a more tangible horror in the shape
of the Bloodhunter, a hideous creature that can drain all
the vital fluids from its victims. Add to this a sense of
claustrophobia inspired by the caves, which is accentuated
by the darkness and a coffin-like stasis chamber, in which
poor Tegan has to hide at one point.
grips the reader from the outset by alternating the timeframe
of his opening chapters between the moments just prior to
the TARDIS' arrival on the Akoshemon moon and the calamitous
moments just after.
the lunar explorers is a Vegan called Jaal. Presumably he
is a member of the same race as Vega Nexos, the mining engineer
who came to a sticky end in The Monster of Peladon.
However, whereas the practically minded Nexos poured scorn
upon Peladon superstitions, Vega Jaal's mind seems entirely
open to ghostly extreme possibilities. Still, the range of
human credulity can be just as diverse, and I suppose one
being's devout belief is another's primitive superstition.
in all this is a good, old-fashioned, scary Who story.
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