Book Club: Timewyrm: Exodus

Time for another book! We are going to read together Timewyrm: Exodus

Please discuss below - no need to finish it first, discuss as you go along but please add spoiler tags for anything that could be considered a spoiler!

If you’ve previously read the book and want to join in the discussion, that’s great too!

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This is one I’ve read a couple of times and it’s a little favourite of mine. Terrance Dicks’ writing is so familiar from reading a bunch of his novelisations.
I am saving my review of it for a while, it is bound to be full of spoilers :wink: I am really excited to hear what other Who fans think of it, for me this is probably the best of the Timewyrm quartet.

Happy reading! :tardis:

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I’ll get to unpacking Exodus probably in the week - spoiler alert, it’s probably a 6/10, maybe upped to a 7/10 when I finish my re-read? Not bad, but subtly challenging, and definitely not in a good way. Just War will go on to do everything Exodus did well in a much better way.

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I’m not a big fan of Exodus. I was really enjoying it at first, for basically all of Part 1, but after that things went downhill. The remainder of the book I found not particularly interesting and a bit unsatisfying, and it really rubbed me the wrong way when Dicks went out of his way to make Ace scream and faint (even acknowledging that wasn’t normally in character for her, but really not justifying it with anything particularly worse than stuff she encountered on TV).

Okay, so I’ve read nine chapters so far. I’m already liking it more than Genesys. Dicks shows a great understanding of the Doctor Who formula and this TARDIS team, and the story moves along briskly while feeling like a slightly fleshed-out version of a TV episode. The text is very comfortable to read, and it balances humour with a sense of growing unease. The focus is on Seven and Ace, and there hasn’t been any violence, nudity, or questionable views on women so far.

The setting is pretty interesting as well. The supporting characters haven’t quite left an impression yet. I feel that Dicks makes the Nazi characters a bit too gullible and easily fooled by the Doctor, who goes gallivanting around the place and pretending to be a high-ranking Nazi official, fooling everyone with little to no credentials to back him up. Then again, this might be a very conscious decision on Dicks’ part to ridicule a possible alternative timeline where Britain is under Nazi rule.

This has been enjoyable so far, but not mind-blowing or particularly memorable.

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The overriding memory of this story is of course the return of the War Chief. In those early days of Doctor Who being off-screen but VHS releases coming quick and fast, it was exciting to have the return of a fairly obscure, but at the same time, pivotal villain. The show’s first ‘evil’ Time Lord (as oppose to the Monk’s more mischievous nature). And, I’ll be honest, I’m glad Dicks wrote this novel to dispel all that nonsense that the War Chief was an early incarnation of the Master.

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For me this is the peak of the Timewyrm quartet. It certainly have got a few issues but on the whole the story being told and it’s pace makes it hard for me to put down when I’m reading it.

The alternative timeline story where we see the results of the Nazis winning the war and the Doctor and Ace having to put it right is actually well done and engaging, and written in Terrance Dicks’ familiar simple prose.
For some reason I always find it intriguing when black magic and mysticism is portrayed as an integral part of the Nazi party, it adds another layer to the narrative.
Having had German lessons for 3 years in primary school was a bit of a disadvantage here, “Kriegsleiter” is literally “War Chief” so that reveal was spoiled from the get go :roll_eyes:
Ace takes the part of “generic damsel in distress companion” and it’s not a good look for her and really goes against her characterisation.
I must say that I find it a bit problematic that the Timewyrm is seen to empower Hitler, I know it is described as being trapped in his madman mind, but still it has a influencing factor on his path to power and his horrific actions, crimes and policies. I think it removes a degree of blame from Hitler and his fellow founding members in the rise of Nazism in Germany. It works as a storytelling device but it partly absolves the absolute worst of humanity from total responsibility for their actions. Hitler was a skilled orator and used powerful rhetorical devices to manipulate a population that lived in austerity due to the severity of the reparations placed upon Germany after WW1 to generate a following, that’s entirely upon him, not due to alien influence - that’s just a horrifying aspect of humanity.

Still, it was a fast-paced read which kept me interested the whole way through - in short: a Terrance Dicks novel :slightly_smiling_face:

4/5 :star:

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I’ve read seven more chapters tonight. The story is still pretty easily digestible, but it’s a bit more focused on Nazi Germany now, as we’ve travelled back to the war, and the narrative doesn’t move along a lot. It’s a bit weird reading about Seven hanging out with Hitler, Goering, and the lot, but at least Dicks puts a lot of effort into fleshing out the absurd and scary ways of Nazi Germany, so we can all learn something here. And there are even hints of the Timewyrm’s presence, finally!

By the way, I believe I’ve caught the cleverly hidden hint (the Master style) to the main villain of this story. Given my extensive knowledge of German, I am confident that the mysterious Kriegslieter, whose name is a literal translation of the War Chief, is indeed the War Chief (although, the correct spelling would technically be KriegsLEITER, but oh well). This also fits with the fact that he seems to know the Doctor from before and that he is a character created by Dicks. So let’s see whether I was right and how things play out!

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I’ve read this book like three times and never noticed the wrong spelling of Kriegsleiter :joy: Even spelled it the right way in my post…

Edit: You shouldn’t read my earlier post until you are finished, there are a couple of spoilers…

I finished this tonight and enjoyed it greatly. This is definitely more fast-paced, focused, and Doctor Who-y than Genesys, and there was really none of John Peel’s forced mature stuff here. Well, except for the suggestion that Ace is a virgin and a bloody zombie soldier battle.

It seems I was right about Kriegslieter (and I just realised, having finally read the stuff hidden under spoiler tags, that @BillFiler mentioned being spoilt in the same way above!). I appreciate Dicks’ decision to reintroduce the War Lords and the War Chief and connect this story to The War Games, despite their swift dismissal following their introduction and their unfulfilled potential. However, Dicks handled them more skillfully than the Timewyrm, a character he barely shows any interest in until the very end of the novel, and even then, her presence is fleeting.

I concur with @BillFiler that the use of the Timewyrm to enhance Hitler’s power is problematic and somewhat distasteful. The depiction of Nazi Germany and all its leaders felt on-point, bizarre, and horrific, but also somewhat simplified and not completely right all the time. Not to speak of the way the Doctor unashamedly got along with everybody as part of his machinations.

It was a pity that we didn’t get more of the alternative Britain, as I had just begun warming up to the setting and characters when Dicks shifts gears to 1923 and 1939 and keeps the story tied to real-life history (more or less) for the remainder of the novel. That being said, following Hitler, Goering, Himmler, and the lot was quite interesting, as was the suggestion that the Nazis were fascinated by black magic and religious artefacts, which I’ve always found interesting (this is why I love the Indiana Jones films!).

Gosh, the last third and climax were wild. The Mask of Mandragora-style sacrifice (the only time Ace didn’t feel like Ace), the zombie soldiers, and the blowing up of the castle. The way War Chief talks about having undergone an aborted regeneration (years before RTD did it with Ten!), which left him horribly disfigured, reminded me of Magnus Greel.

I also liked the small references to past adventures, such as the Morbius lotion that Seven gives Ace at one point or the mention of Castellan Spandrell’s army knife. Why doesn’t the Doctor always park the TARDIS inside the space-time continuum to prevent detection, since he shows here that he can do that? And Ace is worried about not knowing enough German, as the TARDIS doesn’t yet act as a universal translator :smiley:

So yes, this was a better novel than Genesys overall. Comfortable to read, fast-paced, interesting, and even silly and imaginative in that typical Doctor Who way at times. It was more focused on the Doctor and Ace and made them feel much closer to their TV counterparts.

Score: 85/100.

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Seems like we are very much on the same wavelength here :tardis:

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Here’s the Poparena video for this novel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=feX6zBrfhAg

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Thanks for the video; it was very fun and informative. I particularly liked how he read out a few sections of the novel.

By the way, I just realised that the book never returned to Hemmings after he stumbled into the TARDIS. I completely forgot about that until the video pointed it out! So, I assume we’ll return to this in the final Timewyrm book?

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That’s a fair assumption :wink:

I also posted his video for Genesys in that thread. Unfortunately, the video series only goes up through No Future and appears to have been abandoned for other projects.

Ooh, I missed that one! I’ll check it out!

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Bit late to the party, but I finally got around to starting this one. I’ve read it before and enjoyed it then. And I’m really enjoying it this time too. Just finished Chapter 3. While I neither agree or disagree with the comments on Dicks’ worldview at this point at least, I must say that his prose style is very readable. It just flows. The Doctor and Ace feel like the Seventh Doctor and Ace right from the get go. The Doctor’s routing of the two BFK thugs and then his nonchalant predicting of the stages of interrogation right up to his method of escape is brilliant and a lot of fun to read. Dicks does write a decent mystery that I’m sure un-spoiled readers probably found quite engaging. Looking forward to continuing the story and refreshing my memory of key plot points.

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It’s taking me a while on this one (mainly because there’s so many other things I like doing in my spare time), but I’m thoroughly enjoying this. When I find the time/gumption to actually pull out my phone and read, it reads fast. Does the author’s premise that aliens were behind Hitler’s madness and power dilute the real evil of the Nazi regime? Absolutely. Is this still a fun Seventh Doctor/Ace novel? Totally.

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I’m still so behind on my books, only half way through this one. I’m hoping to read lots today as I have a long car journey.

I am quite enjoying it so far, although a little uncomfortable with the Doctor being nice to Hitler.

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Ooh I just finished this. And I agree with the points above that it’s quite uncomfortable reading in some places, especially where it is suggested that the Timewyrm is responsible for some of the things Hitler did.

I also feel like there wasn’t really much to tie this into the previous novel or the “Timewyrm arc”, the Timewyrm barely has any dialogue and is despatched very quickly and easily at the end. It’s almost like the story was written one way and then adapted to shoehorn in the arc.

But as others has said it was a very quick and easy read, and enjoyable too. I liked it! I gave it 7/10.

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