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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…

Alasdair Shaw

8 thoughts on “Reviewed: Doctor Who – Battlefield by Marc Platt

  1. I’m with you all the way, Alasdair. Battlefield is also one of my favorite serials, and I love when the Target books add to the stories to give us more essential background, like the Merlin (Ginger!) scene here or the original crash of the Starliner in Full Circle. Truly one of the best of the Target range.

  2. Battlefield is the weakest story in season 26 by a very long way. Admittedly that’s by default since by being “Not Perfect” it immediately fails to live up the rest of the season, which was perfect in every conceivable way. I do like this story a lot though with Merlin, the Brig, Morgaine, the Brig, magic, the Brig, Seven & Ace and the Brig…

    1. I like that Battlefield isn’t perfect. It gives us a nice, easy opening to the season, so then we can marvel at the mind-boggling awesomeness of the next three stories.
      Perhaps BF should do an Unbound with the Merlin Doctor one day? I’d be up for that. 🙂

      1. Who would you get to play him? (Bare in mind it’d rule them out of becoming an actual onscreen Doctor.)

        1. Well I don’t really know my ginger Brit actors all that well, but since we’re talking alternate anyway, how about Mark Gatiss?. Although considering he’s already done Sam Kisgart as The Master in Unbound, perhaps it would be too confusing? But then again, would being ginger or not matter on audio?

          1. Mark Strickson was blonde I understand. That didn’t stop Turlough being ginger.

          2. True. Just get a good actor and Photoshop the cover image to make them ginge! 😛

  3. One thing i’ve always thought that the new series of Doctor Who was/is lacking was a Target style novelisation of the episodes. I always loved the little extras and the new take on what i’d seen on screen.

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Reviewed: Doctor Who – Battlefield by Marc Platt

by Alasdair Shaw time to read: 2 min
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