The Book of the Still exists throughout time, a tome that
can prove invaluable to stranded time travellers, who can
write a message within its pages in the hope of being rescued.
The Book currently resides in a museum on the planet Lebenswelt,
where various parties seek to steal it, others are imprisoned
having failed to steal it, and others still would kill to
prevent its secrets from ever being discovered. Meanwhile,
Fitz himself has been stolen...
Be warned: The Book of the Still is a complex novel.
The author has combined a huge variety of plot strands and
character motivations, not all of which seem to make much
sense until fairly late in the day. On at least two occasions,
we are deliberately misled and ultimately surprised by the
identity of a familiar character that a particular chapter
focuses on in an unusual way. The strange behaviours exhibited
by several characters are not explained until the closing
chapters - and I'm still not entirely convinced by the explanation
for some of the Eighth Doctor's odd antics.
are many enjoyable scenes, including some bitchiness between
Anji and another woman, Rhian Salmond, who accompanies the
Doctor through most of the narrative. The concept behind the
planet Lebenswelt is also an amusing and convincing one -
this is a world with a phenomenally wealthy population, but
it is also a decidedly grotty and grimy place, because none
of the populace will deign to sweep the streets or maintain
the sewers! All in all, though, it is hard to get to grips
with the first half of this book.
soon pick up after that point, however, when a fascinating,
sinister and truly revolting race of aliens arrives upon the
scene. Then the various plot elements and complex character
inter-relationships are flung together, often with dramatic
and/or tragic consequences. One scene in particular, which
takes place on a dance floor upon which virtually all of the
characters mingle but are then immediately dispersed, is ingeniously
engineered by Ebbs.
Book of the Still boasts a stunning (though mind-bending)
conclusion. It's just a pity that the reader's patience has
to be so sorely tested before being rewarded.
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