Both Sabbath and the Eighth Doctor arrive in Victorian England,
having detected temporal instabilities. But whereas the Doctor
is content to investigate a miraculous magician and a medium
with a split personality, Sabbath and his murderous sidekick
are prepared to take more extreme measures...
Rose's second Eighth Doctor novel is ever-so-slightly less
offbeat than last year's occasionally just-plain-weird The
City of the Dead, but it is no less enjoyable for that.
Indeed, the book's late 19th-century setting made it all the
more accessible for me.
no mistake, though, this is still a distinctly stylistic and
stylish work. The author vividly describes all of the most
evocative aspects of the era, including theatrical magic acts
a la The Talons of Weng-Chiang, the marvellous sights
and sounds that await Anji and Fitz within the Crystal Palace,
as well as the less savoury freak shows and opium dens. As
in The City of the Dead, though to a lesser degree,
the plot involves a magician whose act is not entirely illusory.
What makes this novel all the more exhilarating for a long-term
reader of this series is the heavy involvement of Sabbath.
This marks the character's biggest and best role since his
debut in Lawrence Miles' The Adventuress of Henrietta Street.
Rose captures the duality of Sabbath perfectly. He is analogous
to the Doctor - as Time's new champion in a universe without
the governance of the Time Lords - yet he and the Doctor are
opposed to each other over fundamental principals. Sabbath
can be suave and sophisticated, and yet the Doctor regards
his notions about Time as being dangerously crude. Several
gripping confrontations and barbed comments take place between
these two characters. Hopefully this will not be the last
time that these two adversaries run into each other - there
are still some unanswered questions surrounding Sabbath, including
the nature of his mysterious "associates" in Anachrophobia.
is a story that concerns various degrees of connection and
separation: the connections and divisions that exist between
the Doctor and Sabbath; the multiple mindsets of a split personality;
and the torment of a man splintered into eight separate bodies,
each of which possesses the same identity.
is more magic from Lloyd Rose.
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