In the past year, I have become unbelievably addicted to the widely popular British television show, Doctor Who. Generally, I don’t jump on bandwagons, but after hearing the name and the crazy sounding plot from multiple friends who have very similar interests to myself, I had to watch. From the first two minutes of Series One, starring Christopher Eccelston as the Ninth Doctor and Billie Piper as his companion, Rose, I was HOOKED. At one point, during Series Four, with David Tennant as Ten and Katherine Tate as Donna Noble, I even said Doctor Who was better than Harry Potter. Can you imagine? I think everyone in the room fainted. I almost fainted.
Anyway, since the 50th Anniversary Editions of the “best” books published for each Doctor was released, I’ve been reading them. Some of them are quite good, others, not so much. This one, Fear of the Dark, by Trevor Braxendale, is the first I’ve read since creating this blog, and it’s probably the best one that I have read so far.
It centers around the Fifth Doctor, played by Peter Davidson. The fact that Peter is David Tennant’s father-in-law, and the fact that David is my favorite Doctor, might be why I enjoyed getting to know Peter’s Doctor so much. I found so many parallels between Five and Ten that it was seemingly unbelievable.
But that’s neither here nor there. In Fear of the Dark, Braxendale offers a look into the dark side of the Doctor – the place that isn’t full of endless amounts of hope and wisdom. That’s what is so incredible about this book. Yes, there’s a wonderful plot, centered around the dark mystery of the planet Akoshemon and it’s moon, and a deadly figure represented as the Dark or Darkness, but there is also some amazing character development. We see the Doctor optimistic, then slightly broken. In the last part, we see his mind crippled – that mind we have come to know as indestructible has been breached – but the Doctor goes on fighting. In the end, the Doctor doesn’t save the day. Yes, the day is saved, but in a startling way; to Doctor Who fans, perhaps, in the wrong way. The Doctor’s assumptions about this new, alien enemy are correct, but his assumptions about human nature are wrong. And isn’t the Doctor supposed to be an expert on humans? Viewers of the show and readers of the books view him as such.
That’s the beauty of Trevor Braxendale’s Fear of the Dark. He is able to get inside the Doctor’s mind, find the Doctor’s vulnerability, and subsequently use that vulnerability to nearly destroy him, to the point of the Doctor nearly throwing in the towel while asking for a hundred deaths over and over and over again.