Read by Susan Engel and John Leeson
AudioGo, out now
The quest for the third segment of the Key to Time takes the Fourth Doctor and Romana to Bodcome Moor, and the mysterious stone circle known as the Nine Travellers…
An oddity for the AudioGo range this – a completely new novelisation of a Tom Baker story. Original TV writer David Fisher has made no bones about his dissatisfaction with Terrance Dicks’ 1979 version of his tale, and has taken this opportunity to pen his own account. Those who’ve read his novelisations of The Leisure Hive and The Creature from the Pit will know what to expect: some sub-Douglas Adams gazeteer work, and a temptation to intrude into his characters’ thoughts at the most inopportune moments, thus losing any pace from a scene.
The Stones of Blood isn’t as bad as the novel of The Creature… Fisher begins promisingly by setting the historical scene, but then we get a history of the Manor and later an Appendix (mid-book!) about the origins of the Megara, both of which state information which is then revealed in the ordinary narrative, as it was on screen. There are also some well-intentioned attempts to flesh out the minor characters, such as the doomed acolyte Martha, and the two hikers, some of which work better than others (too many characters have Daddy issues in this novel!) Where Fisher’s additions are more successful is in his treatment of Romana (apart from one very odd simile that she uses about a Sumo wrestler which negates half the “I don’t understand Earth things” that characterise the rest of her musings), and some of the logical gaps in the Megara’s actions.
Susan Engel (the original Miss Fay) does a good job, with clearly distinguishable voices for the main protagonists, even if her Doctor is a little too gruff on occasion, while Leeson does his usual fine job as K-9. The music veers more towards Murray Gold than Dudley Simpson, but that’s to be expected in contemporary releases.
Verdict: Certainly running a lot longer than a reading of Uncle Terrance’s version, this could have done with a little more editing, but gives a new slant on a classic story. 6/10