Doctor Who Players 1 Doctor Who Players 2

Terrance Dicks
BBC Worldwide LTD. / BBC Books
1999 / 2013

Arriving on the sun-baked veldt in the middle of the Boer War, the Sixth Doctor is soon involved in the adventures of struggling politician and war correspondent Winston Churchill. Of course, he knows Churchill is destined for great things, but unseen forces seem to be interfering with Winston’s historic career… The Doctor suspects the hidden hand of the Players, mysterious beings who regard human history as little more than a game. With time running out, can the Doctor find the right moves to defeat them?

Book number six in the series of re-released 50th Anniversary Doctor Who novels, featuring the Sixth Doctor and Peri, is quite the fun historical tale, here. Not only does it have one of my favorite Doctors—personally, I think Colin Baker would have been one of the best portrayals of The Doctors, beyond that costume that would make your eyes hemorrhage, had he not been the Doctor at the absolute worst time in the show’s history—but there’s also a tie-in to the aftermath of the Second Doctor epic War Games, a flashback featuring the Second Doctor and World War I, mysterious time-traveling people known as The Players that view all of history as merely a game and the humans as unto chess pieces to be manipulated, a Nazi conspiracy, and Winston Churchill in three different stages of his life and career. The Doctor is at his most affable smug self, and we even get to see (well, with our brains, anyway) him change into a couple more fetching and respectable outfits, less garish and such. There’s also a nice mention of the Seventh Doctor and Ace that fits in there. You’ll just have to read it to get it.

The story was nicely paced, the interaction between the characters very well crafted, and the entirety of the novel was very cinematic in stature, making for a satisfying yarn without getting overly complicated. Then again, Terrance Dicks is always good for that, be it his straight up fiction or his many book adaptations of Doctor Who television scripts. Overall, another good entry in the series of re-released novels, an entertaining adventure to be sure.