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The Tomb of Valdemar (Doctor Who (BBC)) Mass Market Paperback – February, 2000

4.0 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Series: Doctor Who (BBC)
  • Mass Market Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: BBC Pubns; paperback / softback edition (February 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0563555912
  • ISBN-13: 978-0563555919
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 4.5 x 7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,503,317 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A. KAPLAN on April 27, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I came to this novel with some mixed feelings. On the one hand, I'm a huge fan of the team of the Fourth Doctor, K9, and Romana (either one), and looked forward to reading a new adventure of theirs. On the other hand, so much of their charm is tied up in the performances, I wasn't sure how well Mr. Messingham would present them on the page. I've enjoyed his previous books, but would hardly describe his work as light and charming. Add to this the fact that his last book, The Face-Eater, was less than impressive (thanks to it being a rush job to fill an empty slot on the schedule) and Tomb of Valdemar was definitely not a sure thing.
Fortunately, this book ranks right up there with Zeta Major as one of Messingham's better Doctor Who novels. The story of the Doctor and Romana being sidetracked from their quest for the Key to Time (available on video from Amazon.com, of course) to stop a potentially even greater threat to the universe would fit right in with the TV episodes it is supposed to fit between. Long time fans will feel right at home reading about a crazed pseudo-magician/wizard tapping into forces that he doesn't understand in a mad quest for unlimited power. More contemporary fans should enjoy trying to figure out the politics of the society Messingham has created from the few hints he reveals here, and the postmodern comments he makes on storytelling in general, and Doctor Who storytelling in particular, by chosing to structure this as a story within a story.
Unfortunately, while the plot is fairly gripping, the characters are, for the most part, fairly thin. Messingham gives us a good sense of who most of them are, but I never felt like I truly understood most of their motivations, nor did I particularly care to find out.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
After reading others' reviews of Mr. Messingham's novel, I would have to agree with the way he portrayed Romana I's character in this, what would be her second adventure with the Doctor. I also feel that the relationship between these two characters was very accuratly displayed. Romana is the highly-educated yet inexperienced Time-Lord seen in the first Key To Time segment; meanwhile, the Doctor is still very annoyed at having been forced into this relationship with her. The novel does well at showing their relationship mature in a manner that was never displayed in the original series. The story itself is very fast-moving and told with an interesting 3rd person point-of-view. I have read that some people disagreed with Messingham's choice of narrator, claiming it takes away from the suspense. I have to disagree with this belief. The end of the book leaves you wondering if the narrator really is an older version of the novelist, or maybe even an older version of Romana. Of course, if the second is true, this defeats the current run of 8th Doctor books, which claims that Romana is currently the Time Lord president. But, in the world of Doctor Who, anything is possible. All in all, I found this a very enjoyable adventure. The only drawback, besides the confussion over just who is the narrator, is the obvious lack of K9. He needs to be here, too!
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
In new Doctor Who fiction is that the stories featuring the previous incarnations are placed between existing television serials, sometime seemingly inappropriately. This is certainly the case with any novel set during the Key to Time period, of which there have been so far three: 'The Shadow of Weng-Chiang', this book, and 'Heart of TARDIS'.
'Tomb of Valdemar' is set between 'The Ribos Operation' and 'The Pirate Planet', and takes advantage of the somewhat prickly nature of the relationship between the Doctor and Romana, only recently flung together by the White Guardian. This novel moves that relationship along so that the more relaxed dealings between the two travellers in later stories in the season makes more sense.
The novel also justifies its existence by claiming that the potential outcome of events told therein may be as significant as those forthcoming events that the assembly of the Key to Time are to prevent.
It also has an interesting storytelling device, not normally used in the range: that of a narrator who is involved in the events, retelling the story much later in life. This adds a different slant to the story, although it does remove any significant dramatic tension around the character who tells the story as you know she survives.
My main criticism would be that there are too many plot lines running in this book. Readers may find it useful to keep a score card to try to track who is doing what and their motivation!
Overall, I think the book's good points outweigh its bad, but Simon Messingham should think about simplifying his plotting in the future!
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
The Doctor and new companion Romana have only just found the first segment to the 'Key To Time' when they come across a situation that could destroy the whole universe. The Doctor is conflicted with what to do, continue gathering the segments of the Key to Time and avert a galactic disaster or stay and help prevent the rising of 'Valdemar' to prevent another galactic disaster.
Being placed after the first story of the Key To Time season, 'The Ribos Operation', see the Doctor and Romana's relationship at edge. The Doctor not wanting a companion and Romana innocent to the wonders and threats of the galaxy. The Doctor's grumbling conversations with himself regarding this fact are quite humourous and fits well with the televised period this story is set in. Romana is also excellently portrayed as the 'newbie' traveller. K-9 is put out of action, therefore hardly appears in the novel at all.
The story is narrated in a third person view, you will find it is a bit distracting at first but you will understand (well kind of) at the end of the novel why this was done - so keep at it.
The plot is also quite busy, with lots of things happening at once which again can become confusing with keeping up with the events. You might have to read over passages to work out what is going on.
Overall, it's a good story with great characterisation, but you may need to force yourself to continue reading it - it's worth it if you do.
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