- Series: Dr. Who Series
- Mass Market Paperback: 288 pages
- Publisher: Bbc Pubns (August 1, 1999)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0563555785
- ISBN-13: 978-0563555780
- Product Dimensions: 4.8 x 0.8 x 7.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 7 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,715,027 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Divided Loyalties (Dr. Who Series) Mass Market Paperback – August 1, 1999
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To most, the entity known as the Celestial Toymaker is an abstract pan-universal force, whose powers, origins and intentions are unknown. To a select few the Toymaker is a god, a being to be worshipped, without whom there would be no existence. But to others, the Toymaker is the embodiment of evil, a force to be thwarted at every possible juncture. Aeons past, the Time Lords of Gallifrey tried to comprehend the Toymaker, and the role this force played in the cosmos. To one group of young Time Lords centuries later, understanding the Toymaker represented a goal, a mission.
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In his afterword Gary Russell explains that, among other things, one of his goals for this novel was to explain why the Celestial Toymaker had a different personality between his first appearance and his later would-be appearance in the untelevised story "The Nightmare Fair". Think about that. He feels a need to explain a change from a story that literally no one has ever seen (it comes from the cancelled season of the show, though in all fairness a novel and an audio play do exist of it). Here's an idea, how about we not bring back any characters at all?
Still, we won't hold it against him because he does give it a game try. In this instance we have the Fifth Doctor and his band of merry companions winding up on a world where everyone seems to be dreaming. An Earth crew is monitoring the planet from overhead and wind up getting involved with them, but it quickly becomes clear that something sinister is going on. Something toyishly sinister.
The early sections of the book, where the Toymaker is literally doing anything he wants (including cheating) are effective, depicting exactly what our team is up against. Unfortunately for us, we've got the team of Tegan, Nyssa and Adric in full soap opera mode, where their problems become projected against the larger tableau. Thus, Tegan just wants to go home, Nyssa wants her home (and father) to exist again, and Adric just wishes for the old fun Doctor to come back. And wonder why nobody likes him.
All the various degrees of interpersonal moping tend to bog the book down a bit. Russell seems to have a particular problem with Adric, making him almost unbearably whiny and smug, and constantly wishing for the girls to be gone so he and the Doctor can have fun adventures alone together again. It gets so bad you want a Cyberman spaceship to come and smash into him several episodes too early, just so he can shut up. Everyone else just seems to work the same themes, which only gets worse as the Toymaker begins to play their loyalties against the Doctor, sowing distrust and strife. With toys.
If this all sounds a little thin, it is. The original "Celestial Toymaker" was no great shakes (seeing what it actually looked like took it down a few notches) but the Toymaker was an interesting character. The problem is that he's a bit of a one-trick pony . . . he plays games with people and cheats, or at least rigs the game, until the Doctor comes along and turns the tables. Russell tries to one-up matters by making him one of the Great Old Ones, which pretty much wholesale co-opts HP Lovecraft concepts, and a Guardian of dreams. Like Morpheus from "Sandman", only without the cool hair.
None of this really disguises the fact that the story is fairly standard, a series of obstacles that kill time until the final confrontation. Perhaps knowing that, Russell inserted a decently long section right into the middle of the book where a pre-TV show First Doctor, still on Gallifrey, winds up running into the Toymaker and loses a friend to him. While this section winds up being integral to the point, as storytelling it seems to exist more as a "spot the continuity" reference, postulating that the Doctor was close friends with every Time Lord that has ever appeared on the show and then turned evil. On the plus side, it borrows Marc Platt's concepts from "Lungbarrow" although they don't seem to work as well when stripped of their Gothic mystery. But it has the usual problem with Gallifrey stories in that the more we see of early Time Lords, the more it just looks like a rather dull costume drama featuring people with weird names. And I'm on two minds whether we should see a prior encounter between the Doctor and the Toymaker . . . while it's certainly hinted at in the original episode, it seems best to leave it as a piece of mythology that the show never needed to explain.
That said, we're left with a rather standard adventure that takes a detour in the middle for an interlude before rocketing back to get the story finished. It's nice to see the Toymaker again but the fact is, we didn't really need a story explaining why he got meaner and while I won't say that means we didn't need this story, it certainly doesn't make a resounding case for it's existence.
Featuring the return of the classic William Hartnell foe, the Celestial Toymaker, and the crowded TARDIS of the Fifth Doctor, Adric, Nyssa and Tegan, this book is written in three parts (or rounds, as it puts them). The first and third feature the TARDIS crew, but the middle round is an all-star visit to Gallifrey's past to discover exactly how the Doctor and the Toymaker first came to be in conflict. So many Time Lords you'll need a score card to keep track!
Aside from this visit to Gallifrey's past, the other great feature of the book is the characterisation of the Doctor's companions. For instance, we are treated fairly early on to Tegan's impressions of the Doctor, Nyssa and Adric, and complimentary is not a word that springs to mind. As the book progresses, discord is sewn amongst the four friends with potentially disastrous results.
So, here we have a book which not only deals with the "present", but has its eyes fixed firmly on the past as well as the "future" - in the form of the unmade but novelised Sixth Doctor story 'The Nightmare Fair'. If Doctor Who's continuity gives you a headache or makes you nauseous, leave this one to those (like me) who enjoy it.