the trail of what appears to be a time-travelling knight,
Honoré and Emily are plunged into the middle of the First
Crusade in Turkey, 1098. As the siege of Antioch draws to
a close, death haunts the already blood-soaked streets, and
the Fendahl - a creature that feeds on life itself - is summoned.
Honoré and Emily face angels and demons in a battle to survive
their latest adventure...
synopsis on the back of the book (which is reproduced in a
slightly abbreviated form above) gives away the fact that
the eponymous alien menace from the 1977 Doctor Who
serial Image of the Fendahl puts in an appearance -
which is a bit of shame, because the creature's name is not
revealed until about three-quarters of the way into the story.
Still, I can understand Telos' desire to make a selling point
of the guest appearance by a Who monster in a series
that was itself spun off from the publisher's now defunct
Doctor Who novellas. The prospect certainly excited
me. Curiously, though, no credit is afforded to the Fendahl's
creator, Chris Boucher.
it turns out, the Fendahl doesn't really merit such billing,
because a far more memorable aspect of this novella is its
setting. Whereas the previous book, Peculiar
Lives, sent Honoré farther forwards in time
than he had ever gone before, Deus Le Volt sends the
time-travellers farther back into history than they have ever
ventured. Honoré and Emily feel like fish out of water, and,
in the great Doctor Who tradition, suffer distrust
and hostility from the crusading knights they encounter in
1098. Indeed, the situation is exacerbated by the colour of
Honoré's skin. Jon de Burgh Miller succeeds in creating a
real sense of threat to the lives of the protagonists.
fans might also notice further possible allusions to their
favourite television show. For instance, when the Christians
suspect the mysterious and gruesome deaths of being "the Devil's
work", I was reminded of The Masque of Mandragora,
in which a similarly erroneous judgement was made. And the
angel that is referred to in the synopsis brings to mind Clarence,
an angelic member of the powerful People in several New
Adventures novels, including Twilight of the Gods,
in which Miller (with co-author Mark Clapham) killed the character
develops well in this story, in terms of both her character
and the powers she possesses. She proves to be courageous
and resilient in the face of a paternalistic culture. With
the series drawing towards its close, there are strong hints
that her forgotten past might not remain hidden for much longer...
Le Volt is not what I would call a riveting read, but
it is sufficient for me to retain my faith in this series.