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Doctor Who: Dark Horizons by JT Colgan

01/08/2012. Contributed by Sue Davies

Buy Doctor Who: Dark Horizons in the USA - or Buy Doctor Who: Dark Horizons in the UK

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pub: Audio Go/BBC. 6 CDs 445 minute story. Price: CD: 14.39 (UK), Download: 9.49 (UK). ISBN: 978-144589-799-8) reader: Neve McIntosh .

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The Doctor alone in the TARDIS fancies a bit of company, perhaps a game of chess. Lewis will one day be famous for its chess set carved in the 15th century and residing for anyone to admire, in the British Museum, London. He resolves to see it just after it was found under a sand dune in the remote Scottish Island.

A Viking Princess is being taken, very reluctantly to her wedding across the sea. To say Princess Freidas is unhappy would be an understatement and has been secured below decks by Captain Heinric. When the boat is surrounded by a ring of fire that burns up some of the crew members, Freidas takes it as a sign from the Gods that she will be rescued, if not she will rescue herself.

The Doctor's timely arrival and his rescue plan convince Freidas of his deity, but as the fire takes hold of the sea, the Doctor must seek out a deeper reason for it.

The villagers on the shore welcome the beneficence of the gods who sent them cooked turtles from the sea but they start to realise the fiery water is filled with menace. Denied access to it, they will soon start to starve in the long winter ahead.

They have no reason to welcome either the Vikings or the Doctor, just extra mouths to fill but something about the Doctor makes the villagers more likely to accept those who would have previously pillaged the island. The Doctor's holiday becomes a fight for survival not only for the Doctor but possibly the whole human race before it's even got really started.

It's hard to judge the pacing when listening to the audio of a novel, as you rarely get the chance to listen to it without distractions. 'Dark Horizons' does draw you in, offering pathos, humour, romance, despair and joy in much the same way the television series does.

This is a good adventure but it's not just about that. It does the whole BBC thing, it's entertaining and educational. It has a bit of science and history without being heavy handed. It also offers lots of light and shade, high and low points. It's about a boy holding his father's hand, a community pulling together, facing extinction. It's about love, loyalty and that solemn, beautifully carved chess set. It seems to be well thought out and nicely finished. It left me well satisfied with not only the conclusion but how it got there.

I loved the presentation by Neve McIntosh (played Madam Vastra, Silurian warrior in BBC Doctor Who, Season 6). Colgan's text seems to get the tone of the Eleventh Doctor right and Neve's skill lies with making us think we are right in there alongside the Doctor. I was prepared for adventure and the scary aliens. I was even prepared for bark tea. I was not prepared to get to the end of the book with a lump in my throat.

Sue Davies

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This book has 35 votes in the sci-fi charts

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