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Doctor Who Novellas: Blood and Hope

by Iain McLaughlin

(Telos Publishing, £25.00, 89 pages, deluxe signed, limited edition hardback, also available as standard edition hardback priced £10.00, published February 2004.)

Review by Russell Cook

The penultimate Telos Novella is set in the American Civil War. Events are described in a series of letters and archive extracts detailing the events at the beginning of the conflict before moving swiftly on to the last few weeks of this so bloody of battles. This fifth Doctor and Peri story has the added bonus of the Big Finish companion Erimem, so Doctor Who crosses its own canon barriers as the adventure unfolds.

Families were divided during the war, people had their own agendas, and racism was at its height, but Erimem, an Egyptian by descent, is not turned away from a guest house when money is offered. Iain Mclaughlin writes these scenes well, focussing on Peri having to treat her friend as a slave. It strengthens their friendship rather than diminishing it as the diary extracts reveal.

All the characters are depicted well and all go through life-changing experiences as the effects of the war feed on their personalities for good and bad. From Paul at the start; madly in love with Abby, his fight left him with nothing, his life force drained until he is given a helping hand by The Doctor; through to the thoroughly unlikeable Colonel Jubal Eustace. The Colonel doesn't have a redeeming feature: he epitomizes what is wrong with this war, any war, a man who wants power and control, the power to kill. His madness is frightening, and eventually pushes Peri too far.

The Fifth Doctor fits beautifully into this story, his natural compassion and easygoing nature are pushed to the limit, and we see a hint of The Doctor's dark side. He is totally in control despite wrestling with his desire to tell President Lincoln the tragic events that will occur in just a few short days...

A powerful, emotional story of the human condition, this tale gives an insight into war and its effects. Iain Mclaughlin should be congratulated. One to make you think: pass this book onto a friend.

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