Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Doctor Who and the Crusaders (Book Review)

I'm still reading the classic novelizations and I'm up to Doctor Who and the Crusaders, the novelization of the Hartnell story, The Crusade, a story which is partially missing. This is the last of the original three pre-Target novelizations which also included Doctor Who in an Exciting Adventure with the Daleks (later renamed to Doctor Who and the Daleks) and Doctor Who and the Zarbi.

Since I read Doctor Who and the Daleks before I started this blog, I didn't do a proper book review on it, but I commented a bit on it in my post about the Peter Cushing movie Dr. Who and the Daleks. Looking back at that blog post, I noticed that I didn't actually link to my Google+ post about the novel where I had a few additional notes on it.

I fairly recently watched the serial The Crusade, so I was able to compare it somewhat with the novelization Doctor Who and the Crusaders. This novelization was written by David Whitaker who also wrote the novelization Doctor Who and the Daleks and they share many similarities. Both were intended to be standalone novels before they realized there would be a whole series of novelizations. They also both had a romantic interest between Ian and Barbara. While Doctor Who and the Daleks is completely standalone and even offers another origin story for how Ian and Barbara started travelling with the Doctor, Doctor Who and the Crusaders at least acknowledges the rest of the series and mentions several other televised adventures both in the prologue and also when Barbara is talking to Saladin (as she does in the serial). Interestingly enough, this serial takes place immediately after The Web Planet, and the novelizations were released in the same order as the serials, which is rare for the Doctor Who novelizations.

Compared to the serial on which it was based, the story is essentially the same, but many of the events are rearranged: for instance, Ian doesn't get staked out in the sand until much later in the story. There are also a number of events which occur differently in the book and in the serial: for instance, Ian never meets Saladin in the serial. The book is also much more philosophical: there is a whole discussion in the prologue about how the Doctor can change history on some planets, but not on Earth (they're really referring to our version of recorded history). Ian also has a discussion with Saladin about Christianity versus Islam versus Buddhism, etc. Some of the events in the book are probably more graphic than what would have been allowed on TV: Barbara actually gets whipped (to the point of needing salve on her wounds) in the book while she's in El Akir's harem.

This book is one of several that have been reprinted recently by BBC Books. In these, they add a celebrity introduction and a section called Between the Lines which compares and contrasts the serial with the book. These make interesting reading as well. Although the celebrity introduction in this one was not as good as the one in Doctor Who and the Daleks: the author admits he's never read any of the novelizations.

In all, an enjoyable book. These three pre-Target novelizations were reprinted as the first of Target's line of novelizations in 1973, after which they started producing new novelizations in 1974 which continued until 1994 and novelized almost all of the original stories. A dozen of these have been reprinted by BBC Books recently (6 last year and 6 this year), and I believe they have plans to reprint more. I certainly hope so as I'm enjoying them and buying them all as ebooks.

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