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markk

markk

Reading progress update: I've read 41 out of 283 pages.

Doctor Who: Byzantium! - Keith Topping

I'm about a fifth of the way into this book, and I'm definitely conflicted about it. So far it looks like the author is going for a purely historical adventure of the type that was common in the First Doctor era, which makes for a nice change of pace. Setting it in Roman-controlled Byzantium in 65 CE is also a plus, as the conflict of groups in the eastern empire at that time provides for interesting dramatic possibilities.

 

Yet Keith Topping approaches it in a way that creates a real continuity issue: after the TARDIS crew rescued Vicki from the planet Dido they went immediately to Rome in 64 CE the transition between the episodes excluded any other possibility. What makes this problematic is a scene early in the novel in which the TARDIS crew is talking as though they have never before visited the Roman empire, much less the capital itself. It's difficult to believe that Topping was unaware of the serial (if he wasn't, he had no business writing a Doctor Who novel) and perhaps he will address it later in the novel. But then he has a scene involving some Zealots in which he writes this:

'The Roman scum will never annihilate the tribes of Israel,' Basellas noted, and turned to the others in his group for comments.

'Matthew speaks the truth,' said Yewhe in a harsh and angry voice. 'What have the Romans ever done for us?'

'Let us not travel down that road again,' a tired Ephraim said.

Inserting a less-than-clever Life of Brian reference into a Doctor Who novel doesn't exactly give me confidence that Topping is taking his task seriously.