The Fifth Doctor, Peri and Erimem find themselves caught up
in the unrest of the American Civil War. While the Doctor
manages to cope in his own inimitable way, Peri - an American
- and Erimem - a dark-skinned Egyptian - are deeply affected
by the horrors and hatred of this troubled time...
Like its contemporary in the BBC Books range of Doctor
Who novels, Empire of Death, this book makes good
use of the journal format. In fact, Iain McLaughlin tells
his tale entirely in the form of letters, diary entries and
published declarations. The result is a moving narrative that
offers the reader an intimate insight into the hearts and
mind of characters affected by the traumatic upheaval of the
civil war. In particular, we see the shocking transformation
of one particular combatant, from a jocular correspondent
to an abused husk of a man.
Nyssa in Empire of Death, Peri records an account of
her experiences. Like Nyssa, she is given cause to wonder
whether the Doctor feels the same degree of emotion as we
humans do, or whether he feels somehow aloof or distanced
from we lesser beings. She also paints a vivid impression
of the almost sisterly relationship she enjoys with her fellow
presence of Erimem continues the trend for cross-pollination
of concepts and characters across the various ranges of licensed
Who fiction. For the uninitiated, this ancient Egyptian
character was introduced in the Big Finish audio drama The
Eye of the Scorpion, also written by McLaughlin, and she
has accompanied the Doctor and Peri on several subsequent
adventures. The author handles the regal character well, which
is hardly surprising, since he created her. Those of you who
are unfamiliar with the relevant Big Finish releases need
fear not, for Peri's diary entries explain everything you
need to know about Erimem in an unobtrusive manner.
villain of the piece is rather over-the-top. The dangers faced
by Peri and Erimem would have been just as palpable without
such an extreme personification of race hatred and violence.
Nevertheless, this is an evocative and unpretentious tale
of bigotry and wartime adversity.