The Forgotten Son by Andy Frankham-Allen

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In the aftermath of the Great Intelligence’s invasion of the London Underground, Staff Sergeant Arnold’s corpse has vanished and Colonel Lethbridge-Stewart’s mother is also missing. All the clues lead back to his childhood village of Bledoe.

It seems like an opportune time for a series of standalone Lethbridge-Stewart stories. With the re-discovery of his debut appearance in The Web of Fear eighteen months ago, and what is likely to be the character’s final appearance in last year’s Death in Heaven, his profile with the younger generation of fans is probably as high as possible.

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The character Alastair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart was created for the story The Web of Fear by writers Mervyn Haisman and Henry Lincoln. They retained the rights to the character and were paid for his appearance in all the subsequent stories he appeared in. Arguably they only really named the character, he’s not yet what he would become in that first outing. There have been previous attempts to flesh out a home life for the character that is only hinted at on screen, most notably in Gary Russell’s Scales of Injustice. In The Forgotten Son, a plot point is made of this lack of backstory, with Lethbridge-Stewart being unable to remember a large chunk of his past. It mirrors the Brigadier’s life after his UNIT career: in The Mawdryn Undead we learn that he has once again forgotten the unusual events to which he has borne witness.

Although obvious from the book cover that the Great Intelligence and the Yeti are back in this story, Frankham-Allen weaves a mystery around both the returning and new characters, and how they are involved in the Intelligence’s machinations. Lethbridge-Stewart is a compelling main character, and the author has created an interesting supporting cast of Bledoe natives.

Although they do not have the rights to anything not created by Haisman and Lincoln, this opening salvo in a new battle between the Colonel and the Great Intelligence cleaves surprisingly close to the continuity of both factions that has been established in the two most recent series of Doctor Who. Where it diverges from the parent series is in the more unscientific idea of reincarnation; but this is perhaps apt for a character most closely associated with Barry Lett’s Buddhism-influenced era of the show.

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Order The Forgotten Son by Andy Frankham-Allen:

Lethbridge-Stewart: The Forgotten Son

Order The Web of Fear on DVD:

Doctor Who – The Web of Fear [DVD]

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