A strange series of violent events surround the tour of an unnamed band through England. UNIT investigate, first in the form of the Doctor and Jo and later, as the scale of events escalates, the troops are called in. But what is happening on the surface is nowhere near the full story...This book is not what I would normally expect from a Third Doctor, as it contains a large proportion of violence and a relative small amount of the Doctor (I can't imagine Jon Pertwee would except such a relatively small role!).Set in England in the 70s, with the punk rock revolution occurring, the story is one that is essentially a horror novel with Doctor Who characters involved, but the most pivotal roles go to characters who are introduced in this book.It is a good enough book, quite readable, but the relatively passive roles that the regulars play is not likely to draw the regular Doctor Who reader in if the story doesn't suit.
An alien force has arrived on Earth, drawn by our planet's natural lines of power. It feeds on anger and unrest, and to this end employs a punk rock band to tour across England's countryside, inciting hatred and violence in the guise of hideous and literal class warfare. RAGS isn't much of a DOCTOR WHO adventure. The characters from the show (Jo Grant, The Brigadier, and the men of UNIT) barely make an appearance until the final third of the book, and the Doctor himself least of all. Furthermore, his characterization did not evoke the third Doctor - or any Doctor - for me. He does and says very little, and at those times seems out of character.The story itself is very slow and the situations remain pretty constant from start to finish with little progression in between. If I hadn't been counting the pages, I'd have been surprised I was two hundred pages in when I was. On the plus side, the author does take time to develop his supporting cast into more than just the usual throwaways. But their back stories never quite gain relevance in regard to the main plot. Capped off with an unsatisfying finale, this isn't an adventure I would particularly recommend.
A band of punk rockers and their filthy cattle truck has started a convoy across the South west of England gathering loyal followers in their wake of destruction and murder everywhere they play. With Jo having succumbed to the malevolent pull of hatred from the band and the Doctor lost in some limbo void, it looks like its up to UNIT to solve the problem the way the Brigadier likes to, with all guns ablazing.You'll find that RAGs is a very different style of Doctor Who, written with a huge amount of horror elements along with very visual violent scenes. This horror element fits in perfectly with the time it is set in, the English countryside atmosphere helping make the tone perfect and feels like it is a JAMES HERBERT novel.You'll also notice that the Doctor, although he does play a big part in the finale, isn't really around much throughout the novel. He is either procrastinating about whether to do something proactive about this convoy or he is lost in some mind controlled void. Although the author does recognise this in the book, it does seem the Doctor was only a background character. Although the mind trip does involve some of the Doctor's subconscious doubts about himself, which are always good. This book could have easily been written without being placed in the Doctor Who universe at all.Characterisation is excellent for the Doctor, Jo and all the regulars of UNIT with Mike Yates shining through again as he tends to with novelisations he is in (as opposed to the sorry git he is portrayed on TV.)Overall, this is a good British horror book that just happens to involve the Doctor. RECOMMENDED!!
The punk ethos enters the Doctor Who universe for the first time since Paul Cornell's _No Future_, where its main function was to sweep the reader up with easy slogans and an unironic sense that conformity to the anti-standard is more noble than conformity to the standard. _Rags_ is the antithesis of that type of easy analysis and comes across as one of the strongest Doctor Who books ever because of it.This is an ugly book. There are many extremely uncomfortable moments in the narrative, stemming from both depictions of violence to some wholly unsettling imagery. The magnitude of the threat and the way it seems to effortless sideline the Doctor, Jo, and the Brigadier will give you chills. There are passages where you will have to stop reading and close your eyes against the creeping horror that lurks throughout the book. The heart of the story is raw, brutal anarchy wrapped in every evil foible of the human psyche, and when the final resolution comes you will feel relief but you may not be reassured.Some will argue that the Doctor doesn't have an active enough role in this novel. Personally, I think the Doctor's role was exactly right. I don't think any Doctor whould have a center-stage role in a story like this, but more importantly the final resolution is completely incumbent upon the Doctor's presence. I shudder to think what would have happened had the Doctor not been there at the end.If you like horror novels, you have absolutely no excuse for not reading this book. It's fantastic.