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Review — Shadow of Weng-Chiang

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Publish Date:

Andrew Deans was a confused old sod and double-booked this review for Sonic Screwdriver #97. Here it is, published at last!

With the Missing Adventures trying to copy, er, emulate, er, draw every last bloody bit from the TV series, it was inevitable that we’d see a return from everyone’s favourite 51st century war criminal. Except, of course, that the title to this book is somewhat deceptive: the whole story is about the possible return of Mr Greel. This is no bad thing — it allows a proper development of the story and its characters, rather than trotting out the old villian to repeat all his lines (or, in this case, just to rasp noisily).

Instead, we have the mysteriously preserved Hsien-Ko, who has her own very personal reasons for wanting the return — or, more accurately, the diversion in time — of the Butcher of Brisbane (snigger). She’s hardly the swaggering villian of tradition, being more misguided than megalomanicial. We also get to see the story from her point of view, and her longing to settle down to a normal type of life with her lover and second-in-command, Kwok. Nonetheless, her ruthlessness and rather special ability of being able to "jump" from place to place make her quite a threat to our regulars.

Our regulars, of course, are Doc 4, Romana 1, and K-9 2. This story is slotted after The Stones of Blood, and sees some rather weak excuses to convince the TARDIS and tracer that the fourth segment to the Key to Time lies in this time. In fact, much of the "science" that forms the basis of this story just didn’t ring true to me. This makes it just as well that the intrigue and atmosphere of the 1930s Shanghai works so well. With a corrupt police force, Tong gangs on the loose and the battles between Japan and China, there’s no end of trouble before we come to the real opposition.

Now for those of you waiting for all the copying of the original series, we have the return of everyone’s favourite pig cortex Mr Sin (oh dear, he says, I already used that phrase in the opening paragraph…). Sin gets to return to his original life — being an assassin. Unlike everyone else in Who, it’s somewhat believable that he could use ventilation shafts to get to his targets. Well, somewhat. Freed from the sanitised and cast-limited screen adventures, he gets to kill dozens and dozens and dozens of people. Most of these come with a rather large little jaunt he takes near the end of the book when, as usual, his master underestimates his blood-lust, and lets his baser instincts take over. There are that many ‘fountains of blood’ in this book to, well, make an awful mess. And if you thought he was nasty before — now imagine that he can "jump" instantly from one point to another…

And the story? Well, it’s a page-turner, if a bit of a regulation run-around. I’ve no liking for the first Romana, but the Doctor is quite his usual self, and the other cast are all quite well written and interesting. The plan by Hsien-Ko is quite ambitious and original (and a tad worrying in its scale!), and don’t assume any of the characters are quite who they seem. Okay, it’s not a patch on the original — but hey, it’s a good read. Unfortunately, as I keep saying, there’s precious few of the Missing Adventures that seem to progress beyond that point…

End of Review

Here’s the list of the Doctor Who reviews available here:
Benny Adventure: Beyond the Sun
Benny Adventure: Deadfall
Benny Adventure: Ghost Devices/Mean Streets/Tempest
Benny Adventure: The Sword of Forever
Fanzines: Mag Bag #1
Fanzines: Mag Bag #2
Fanzines: Mag Bag #3
Fanzines: Mag Bag #4
Fanzines: Mag Bag #5
Fanzines: Mag Bag #6
Fanzines: Mag Bag #7
Fanzines: Mag Bag #8
Fanzines: Mag Bag #9
Fanzines: Mag Bag #10
Fanzines: Mag Bag #11
Fanzines: Mag Bag #12
Missing Adventure: Dancing the Code
Missing Adventure: Downtime
Missing Adventure: Invasion of the Cat-People
Missing Adventure: Lords of the Storm
Missing Adventure: Scales of Injustice
Missing Adventure: Shadow of Weng-Chiang
Missing Adventure: System Shock
New Adventure: Bloodheat
New Adventure: Death of Art
New Adventure: Dimension Riders
New Adventure: Eternity Weeps
New Adventure: Falls the Shadow
New Adventure: Legacy
New Adventure: No Future
New Adventure: Sleepy
TV: The Curse of Fenric
TV: The Greatest Show in the Galaxy
TV: The Happiness Patrol
TV: Season 25 Review
TV: Season 27 Review (the 2005 return)
TV: The Twin Dilemma
→ Or just head back to the Doctor Who Index

David J Richardson, Site MapBack to Main IndexBack To Area Index

This page last updated by David J Richardson on Wed, 20 Apr 2005.