The Roots of Evil by Philip Reeve

The Fourth Doctor’s entry in the Puffin ebook sees him teamed with Leela and landing the TARDIS aboard an enormous tree in space, The Heligan Structure. But the tree has an old score to settle with the Doctor.

The world created in is story is very good, the entire story taking place on an enormous tree floating in space. It’s like a twisted take on Enid Blyton’s Faraway Tree. These trees are normally used to generate oxygen for terra-forming, but this one has been adapted for habitation. The way of life and materials the citizens have is well-worked out, and their culture has grown up around stories of the evil Doctor. As so often happens in Doctor Who, myths and legends turn out to be true, but in this instance their menace turns out to be our intrepid hero. It’s a theme that echoes ideas from recent TV stories; that the Doctor’s reputation has grown bigger than he can control, and it isn’t always the positive acclaim that he deserves.

Naturally, this makes it even more difficult for the Doctor and Leela to gain the trust of their new acquaintances. In many ways its odd that Leela doesn’t mention that she grew up in a very similar situation to these people; in a society convinced the Doctor is evil, even down to both the Sevateem and the Heligan folk having a handy carving of him for reference. But then, the Doctor’s scepticism that he would ever wear a bow tie ignores that he did so in his two most recent incarnations. It’s quite interesting how the more progressive people just pay lip-service to the anti-Doctor rituals, like renouncing the Devil and all his works at a christening, while others literally believe the legends because they have a vested interest for their own power base and influence. A gentle analogy that adds to the depth of the tale.

As with previous stories in this series, The Roots of Evil is a good story, with a great characterisation of the Doctor, but which sits uneasily in the continuity of the era it’s set. The ideas behind the characters names are hilarious.

Buy The Roots of Evil from Amazon:

Doctor Who: The Roots of Evil: Fourth Doctor: 50th Anniversary (Doctor Who Digital)

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