Reviewed: Doctor Who – Battlefield by Marc Platt

I love Battlefield. Always have. Fair chance I always will.

It was my first experience with crossovers, the ancient knights of Camelot crossing paths with the Doctor. It may not be fashionable to admit it, but I still enjoy watching the original serial whenever the chance presents itself.

The novelisation was an absolute delight as well. It was one of a handful of Targets that my Primary Shool library kept and I devoured it along side The Arc of Infinity and The Face of Evil.

But my fondness for serial and novel are not what drew me to volunteer to review this when the opportunity presented itself. Those of you that have read my previous works here and back at K Towers can probably work out what caused me to snatch a preview copy up.

Merlin.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves, which is utterly in keeping with the nature of Battlefield.

It’s not unusual for the Target novelisations to fill in some of the blanks from the serial, but this particular one goes above and beyond and we’re nearly a quarter of the way into it before anything recognisable from the serial presents itself. The prologue is a particular delight and actually serves as an epilogue of sorts as well, as it presents us with a future (and ginger) version of the Doctor who answers to the name of Merlin. It nicely sets the tone for a suitably ‘timey wimey’ series of events that quite frankly wouldn’t be out of place in New Who.

Battlefield

The opening chapters set a wonderfully atmospheric tone and hint at Gallifreyan influence in some of the artifacts from Arthur’s time, all done without spelling everything out. So much time is spent setting the tone of what came before that there is a furious change of pace once events catch up with the televised version.

But don’t get me wrong, the change of pace brings with it an urgency that the serial didn’t quite manage to pull off and the fight scenes benefit enormously from it.

There’s also an aspect of the New Adventures to be found here, with the Seventh Doctor railing against the idea that he will one day become Merlin and shows him dealing with the ramifications of this revelation. It’s done in a much darker way than we’re used to in the Target range and mirrors the arc in the New Adventures where the Doctor fears becoming the Valeyard. It’s just wonderful to read.

I only have two complaints regarding this reprint, the first being to reiterate my fellow reviewers’ complaints about the lack of introduction. The second is that the whole thing finishes all too abruptly. Granted, the serial finished much the same way, but I was left slightly disappointed, especially given the love that went into the opening of the book. Personally another 50 pages in the same style would have very welcome.

But these are minor quibbles and I still thoroughly enjoyed revisiting Battlefield.

Although given my interest in alternate Doctors what really thrilled me was the canonisation of the Merlin version of the Doctor, appearing as he does in a 21st century BBC sanctioned product.

It brings the New Adventures that wee bit closer…