When the TARDIS materializes in China in 1865, the Doctor and his companions arrive in a land plagued by foreign occupation and a shadowy threat. Mistaken for the commander of the local garrison of British troops, Ian is attacked by the patrons of a local restaurant. As he recovers from his injuries, the Doctor, Barbara, and Vicki discover that an unknown group has infiltrated the Black Flag militia and is using the organization to their own mysterious ends. With their forces seizing various locations and their men ordered to kill scholars and teachers, the Doctor begins to suspect that the threat before him may not be of this world — and is one that knows more about him than he does about it.
David McIntee's book is an interesting entry in the Past Doctor Adventures series. Focused on the First Doctor and one of his teams of companions, it evokes nicely the sort of slow-developing (for better and for worse) history-centric adventure that was common to the series at that time. McIntee's characterization of the crew is particularly strong, despite (or perhaps because of) the fact that the locals the encounter are featured more prominently in the narrative. What makes the book stand out, though, is McIntee's subtle employment of an antagonist from later in the televised series, one whom a subsequent regeneration of the Doctor defeated hundreds of years prior to the events in his book. It's a neat twist, and one that manages to avoid any of the logic-twisting issues that so often come up in time travel stories premised on such a scenario. The book cemented for me McIntee's status as my favorite author of Doctor Who novels, and I plan on reading all of his other contributions to the franchise as soon as I can get my hands on them.