Dreams of Empire by Justin Richards

The Doctor, Jamie and Victoria arrive on the Santespri, a prison in space holding the would-be emporer of the Haddron Republic, Kesar. Also visiting is Kesar’s oldest friend, and vanquisher, Trayx.

Justin Richards captures the Second Doctor very well, especially the great relationship he has with Jamie. When the travellers first arrive at Santespri there’s a fair amount of the clownish behaviour one associates with his TV characterisation. The Doctor and Jamie are ‘on the run’ having landed the TARDIS quite near a dead body. What works beautifully in this story is that the Doctor is quickly dismissed as the suspected murderer because of his Chaplinesque idiom. One wonders how the same set of circumstances would played out with the successor, a much more convincing assassin with his more authoritative attitude and Venusian aikido.

As ever, of course the Doctor’s fierce intelligence shines through, and those moments of intensity that Troughton could bring to bear when needed are also captired. There’s a wonderful between our hero and Trayx:

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This Doctor acts quite childishly because he sees the humans around him as children. When he becomes serious and focused, because something worthy of his vast intellect has come along, he’s a force to reckoned with. It’s a trait we see shared with the Fourth and Eleventh Doctors.

Jamie and Victoria are the most childlike of companions too, so his persona is very much in keeping with them. Always written as emotionally and sexually naive, here Jamie experiences some jealousy when Victoria talks to another male character, and a shyly stunned reaction to Victoria donning a figure-hugging outfit. This is in keeping with how we saw him on TV.

There is a standout scene with the Haddron Republic’s interrogator questioning a prisoner, the deft reveal afterwards of which makes the hairs on the back of the reader’s neck stand up.

Like the TV story Curse of Fenric, chess plays a crucial part in this story, the sections of the book are named for chess terms and the inhabitants of Santespri are rather preoccupied with the game. Here it is used to great effect to reveal character traits, and a major plot point turns on it.

Ultimately this is an exciting story, faithful to the regular characters with a mystery and twist that keep things interesting throughout.

Not read Dreams of Empire yet? Buy it now from Amazon:

Doctor Who: Dreams of Empire: 50th Anniversary Edition

On Kindle:

Doctor Who: Dreams of Empire: 50th Anniversary Edition

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