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Review — Sword of Forever

First Published:
Sonic Screwdriver #112

Publish Date:
March 1999

What more can I say? Read it!

No one could ever accuse Jim Mortimore of being under-ambitious. His previous Who novels had a variety of fantastical elements: witness the multi-dimensional Legion in Lucifer Rising or the organism so large it excretes planets in Parasite — and that was before he got ambitious in Eternity Weeps and Eye of Heaven. You get no less in his latest, The Sword of Forever; indeed, when you look at the range of settings it covers and the presentation of the various threads making up the novel, this one probably even outdoes what has come before. This is not always a good thing — you need to pay a fair bit of attention to avoid getting horribly confused, as you get the feeling Jim is far more interested in his prose or latest idea than making sure it all ties together in the end. Having said all that, The Sword of Forever would be my favourite of Jim’s pieces, and thus a must-read.

This book is very reminiscent of the Indiana Jones world, with archaeological traps, sacred and powerful religious items, and a wide range of settings; these include a Paris claimed by vicious jungle in the aftermath of genetic warfare, London preserved under a glassite pyramid and with some very interesting laws and regulations, as well as Egypt, Ethiopia, Kampuchea and others. And each is there for a point! The so-called Sword of Forever is a religous artifact (or machine?) that it is said to have the power to bring one back from death — indeed, it may have been the means to Jesus Christ’s resurrection. In a chaotic world, even your local tinpot dictator could lead the Crusade to end all Crusades with this at the head.

Meanwhile, a totally separate thread sees a world of intelligent (though non-technical) raptors meeting primitive and agressive humanity. The immediate relevance of this is not apparent — but trust me, it’s pretty significant. The Knights Templar, who have been a running issue in the Bennyverse, are finally explained (well, sorta — but it’s a fascinating tale, and you tend to go ‘Ah…’ an awful lot as it comes out!) and we find that Benny is far more entangled with them than one would have thought…

In a similar vein to the Eighth Doctor tale Alien Bodies, our protagonist’s ultimate mortality is very much an issue: there will be no eventual gentle fading out for our heroes! All this is wrapped in hypnotically engrossing prose and a feeling of utter conviction (again similar to Alien Bodies).

As for the ending, upon which most debate will centre on: is it a cop out, a "reset button"? Or is the change/lack of change the whole point? What is the wider significance of the real nature of the Sword of Forever and its guardians? Could Jim Mortimore kick us in the guts a bit harder and more often in his next book? I hesistate to say ‘no’, but that doesn’t stop me saying this is one you just have to read.

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

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