When the Doctor and Leela arrive on a planet where murder
has been legalised and televised lethal combat is commonplace,
Leela is challenged to a duel. How long can she survive when
not to kill is an offence punishable by death...?
a moment there, I thought Mr Boucher had penned a novel about
the wrong BBC Saturday night institution! In fact, his Match
of the Day deals not with football (that's soccer, for
our American readers) but with ruthless gladiatorial fights
to the death. There is the occasional footie reference, though:
for example, when evidence is presented in the form of an
action replay as the Doctor and Leela are put on trial for
not killing somebody.
ever, the author's depiction of the uneasy relationship between
the often impatient Fourth Doctor and the intelligent but
uneducated Leela is almost flawless. This is hardly surprising,
since he created Leela and it was for this particular TARDIS
team that he wrote his three Doctor Who television
scripts. I particularly enjoyed the Doctor's comments about
what constitutes a waste of time and Leela's musings on the
magical properties of money (which does indeed seem to miraculously
generate itself out of a promise to pay).
The book's cover might lead you to expect the robot dog K-9
to appear as well, since the Doctor seems to be blowing on
his whistle, but he doesn't.
didn't like Boucher's first two novels, Last Man Running
and Corpse Marker, very much at all, but fortunately
his prose style continues to improve, and I found this at
least as readable as his last book, Psi-ence
However, as was the case with Psi-ence, there is rather
too much technobabble during the TARDIS scenes. The author
is also still too sparing with his use of punctuation, and
- unforgivably - repeatedly omits the apostrophe from "let's"
(short for "let us").
the featured sport of television's Match of the Day,
this isn't a game of two halves. It's more like a game of
three thirds. The first third works the best, featuring the
appealing character of duellist's agent Jerro Fanson, who
is reminiscent of Oliver Reed's character in Gladiator.
The plot goes off the rails slightly during the middle bit
of the book as, instead of acting on a promise to track down
Fanson's missing client Keefer, the Doctor tries to set up
his own team of non-lethal fighters. Even the Doctor has doubts
about this course of action. Happily, though, the various
plotlines are successfully brought together in the last third.
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