Masters of Earth reviewed

Masters of EarthThe November main range release for 2014 was Masters of Earth by Cavan Scott and Mark Wright. There are many features to pick out — this is the next in the Sixth Doctor  plus  older Peri trilogy, it’s got Daleks in it but not in the title and it’s also rather clever.

It’s also one the writers are very pleased with as Cavan notes on his own blog (see Masters of Earth – some details).

The story

A rather good synopsis on the product page:

The year is 2163. Ten years since the Daleks invaded the Earth. One year until the Doctor, in his first incarnation, will help bring the occupation to an end. But for now, their reign of terror goes on.

The TARDIS brings the Doctor and Peri to Scotland – enslaved, like everywhere else on the planet. But there are rumours of Dalek-free islands off its coast. Places where resistors and refuseniks are coming together, gathering arms and armour, preparing to strike back against the enemy.

When the Doctor falls in with an unlikely group of freedom fighters making that dangerous journey to Orkney, he finds himself trapped – but not only by the Daleks, their robotised henchmen and their human collaborators.

By history.

Because history shows that for another year, resistance is useless…

The rebellion must fail – and as a Time Lord, the Doctor can do nothing to help

On top of all the complexity about Dalek invasion, humanity struggling, Robomen and history, there is also the added dimension of the Doctor and Peri re-establishing their relationship after Widow’s Assassin.

The story starts with a landing in Scotland and progresses through the reveal of the scenario. The TARDIS gets trapped in mud meaning the Doctor and Peri have to use local means to travel around and not get caught by Daleks / Robomen. They fall in with hero-to-be Moira Brody (the excellent Tracy Wiles who is also in the new Omega Factor) and have a tour of the world under the Daleks, their oil-drilling and other experiments.

There is a twist or two (one is so good and hardly ever used, which I won’t spoil) and some double-crossing along the way. Peri also falls foul of one of the Dalek experiments giving a life and death element to the story. Having only just been reunited with the Doctor, being written out again would be cruel!

In the end time is left alone, and there is a gentle influence towards the First Doctor story Dalek Invasion of Earth but not in any sense diminishing the original.

The storytelling

For me this worked well. I had a sense this was the world the First Doctor would soon discover, it had similar levels of technology, authentic Daleks with the aerials on their backs and some other early 1960s elements. The Scottish setting was interesting and the characters all informed by the brutality of their time.

Maybe the ending was a little too tidy and maybe Peri’s life or death situation never quite felt as clear cut as it should have been (ie the threat she faced should have worked faster than it seemed to). These are gripes only; the overall effect was a decent listen and a solid story.

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