19 June 2017: The Eaters of Light review added.
11 June 2017: Empress Of Mars review added.
6 June 2017: Extremis/Pyramid At The End Of The World/Lie Of The Land review added.
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BELTEMPEST by Jim Mortimore
What a disappointment.
The first Who novel we ever read was Mortimore's Eye of Heaven, and it blew us away. We were expecting tawdry TV tie-in, and instead we got literature. The franchise, we concluded, was alive and kicking. So we picked up Beltempest with great anticipation. Probably that didn't help, but the fact remains that the book's a resounding failure.
One of the major problems here is that Mortimore's reach exceeds his grasp. He tries to cram an epic spanning multiple worlds into less than 250 pages, but no matter how much he pushes and squeezes, it just won't fit. Mortimore tries to make us care about billions, with the result that we care about nobody. Big problem.
We quite liked the immortality cult (although what is it with Who writers and Eldr*d? Taking "Eldrad must live" a bit too seriously, isn't it?), but the whole heavy-handed religious theme left us stone cold. The portentious style didn't win us over, either. And the constant repetition of the green eggs and ham theme made us want to throw the book out the window.
Even more annoying than that, though, is Beltempest's godawful characterisation. The Doctor is basically just some moron, and as for Sam... argh! We normally like Sam more than most fans do, but here she's totally strangleworthy. When she isn't blundering totally unnecessarily into trouble, she's deliberately turning her back on stuff that can help her. Fantastically annoying. And those ghastly saccharin scenes with the kid Danny, which are supposed to Personalise the Carnage And Make Us See Sam's Depths of Compassion, made us vomit. If we want to be manipulated, we'll go to the chiropractor.
One of the most irritating books we've ever read.