Book Review: Engines of War

Engines of War by George Mann, Doctor Who New Adventure Specials #4

"The death of billions is as nothing to us Doctor, if it helps defeat the Daleks."

The Great Time War has raged for centuries, ravaging the universe. Scores of human colony planets are now overrun by Dalek occupation forces. A weary, angry Doctor leads a flotilla of Battle TARDISes against the Dalek stronghold but in the midst of the carnage, the Doctor's TARDIS crashes to a planet below: Moldox.

As the Doctor is trapped in an apocalyptic landscape, Dalek patrols roam amongst the wreckage, rounding up the remaining civilians. But why haven't the Daleks simply killed the humans?

Searching for answers the Doctor meets 'Cinder', a young Dalek hunter. Their struggles to discover the Dalek plan take them from the ruins of Moldox to the halls of Gallifrey, and set in motion a chain of events that will change everything. And everyone.

An epic novel of the Great Time War featuring the War Doctor as played by John Hurt.


I have been catching up with the Doctor Who series in the past couple of months but finishing all the episodes, I luckily received some great book post in the form of Doctor Who books! Doctor Who is a big phenomenon among the British television scene and has already been airing very strong since 1963! Can you imagine that, that is way long. A lot of authors have already contributed stories to the growing Doctor Who written fiction. I found it actually more than suitable to kick off with Engines of War by George Mann. I have gotten to know his writing from his other books, Newbury and Hobbes, The Ghost and his Sherlock books. He is very skilled author and works his magic once again. 

Even though Engines of War is the fourth book in the New Adventure Specials series it can be very well read as a stand alone book. The story of Engine of War picks up with the universe fighting The Great Time War, the Daleks, an mutant alien race is fighting against the Time Lords, the Daleks completely decimate every planet they visit, leaving nothing behind. However there is an exception, which our Doctor soon finds out. The Doctor who is currently battling it out against the Dalek invasion crash lands on the planet of Moldox, who inhabits the system known as the Tantalus Eye. After getting out of his TARDIS and getting "acquainted" with his surroundings he soon finds out that Moldox isn't a pretty place to be. Moldox is also overrun by the Dalek invasion and soon he is put in the fray of battle and narrowly manages to safe a young girl, Cinder, who is part of a rebel opposition against the Daleks, she is a Dalek Hunter and quite a feisty one at that! But something strange has already happened in the encounter from which the Doctor saved Cinder... As the Doctor is making his way across the desolate landscape and meeting up with the resistance he uncovers something truly horrific that has the possibility to change the tie of the Great Time War forever, and definitely not in favor for the Time Lords. There is only one possibilty to stop the Daleks in their tracks and that is to present Time Lord Council on the planet of Gallifrey. However where the Doctor thought that he would have a surefire case to ask for help, the TIme Lord Council has other plans, they want to use one item that will stop the Daleks, so with that the Doctor and Time Lords are on the same line, but using this one item will cost a lot of human casualities as well, one thing that the Doctor cannot let happen. Now there is a race as time is running out and the Doctor hasn't gotten the cooperation he wants and needs. But as it is all drawing to a close the Doctor makes another interesting discovery one that goes back a few... Will the Doctor have enough time to save everyone? 

I have to say that the story of Engines of War doesn't feature a very heavy storyline, instead George Mann has kept the story quite light and airy making the entry into the book appraochable for everyone. As I already mentioned before, you can read this book very well without any prior Doctor Who knowledge. If you don't have this, Engines of War is a great science fiction read, but if you are more into the Doctor Who timeline than I think you will appreciate the ending of the book just a bit more. 

In a manner of a few paragraphs George Mann gave a very nice and clear description of the Doctor and the other characters of the book. The Doctor is a phenomenon and a very well establish character amongst the different series and different books, luckily not every Doctor is the same and George Mann more than lives up to the statement of "War changes everything, even the Doctor". In this case, the Doctor isnt one to really make a joke here and there, instead he is determined to win the war against the Daleks once and for all, I have to be careful not to say no matter the cost as the proposal of the other Time Lords does entail innocent casualties. In the beginning of the book the Doctor felt a bit abstract in his actions, but later on there is very nice transformation where he shows a lot of his other sides as well. All in all a very nice characterization of him. Next to the Doctor you also have Cinder, the Dalek Hunter, now her character is more of the opposite of the Doctor who is rather calm, collected and thinks about every move. Cinder acts in the spur of the moment. Making hasty decision. Her introduction to Gallifrey and the other Time Lords proved to be a very interesting one. All combined both the Doctor and Cinder made up for a great couple to readily bring the story of Engines of War forward. 

One part I really liked was the way how the Daleks were shown. They are mutants placed in robots, like cyborgs. It was just brilliant to see how they acted and talked just as a robot should be. When I read there paragraphs I could just hear those robotized voices in my head. Perfect stuff! 

Engines of War is a highly entertaining read, George Mann makes the Doctor Who universe readily approachable with this story. you can read it without having any prior Doctor Who knowledge as a solid Science Fiction story but be forewarned though that if you pick this up you will be hooked for the remainder of your life to Doctor Who. Proceed with caution.

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