The Daleks are advancing, their empire constantly expanding into Earth’s space. The Earth forces are resisting the Daleks in every way they can. But the battles rage across countless solar systems. And now the future of our galaxy hangs in the balance… The Doctor finds himself stranded on board a starship near the frontline with a group of ruthless bounty hunters. Earth Command will pay them for every Dalek they kill, every eye stalk they bring back as proof. With the Doctor’s help, the bounty hunters achieve the ultimate prize: a Dalek prisoner–intact, powerless, and ready for interrogation. But where the Daleks are involved, nothing is what it seems, and no one is safe. Before long the tables will be turned, and how will the Doctor survive when he becomes a prisoner of the Daleks?
Slowly getting through the long-overdue reviews of the massive stack of Doctor Who novels I picked up in one shot at the Half Price Books in my area, this one being yet another Tenth Doctor adventure, and featuring arguably the most popular Doctor Who villain ever created: The Daleks. Surprisingly, there’s not too many novels that actually feature the Daleks, but I guess that’s a good thing. Wouldn’t want to over-saturate this, would we? I’m looking at you, “Daleks In Manhattan/Evolution of the Daleks”. Anyway, on with the review…
In Prisoner of the Daleks, The Doctor (sans companion, putting this tale probably between Planet Of The Dead and The Waters Of Mars of the Gap Year Specials, according to the TARDIS Wiki) shows up on a seeming deserted site on the planet Hurala, where he’s locked inside the basement while exploring the computer data core. Five days later, a ship full of bounty hunters show up to refuel, and come across a tapping noise, which turns out to be The Doctor tapping out the SOS in Morse code with his spoon. After some investigating, it turns out that the computer system was set as a trap, and suddenly the place is attacked by Daleks. They escape, but not without seriously wounding one of the crew and having one of the Daleks gain access to the ship, exterminating said wounded crew member before being cryogenically frozen by The Doctor. Tensions mount, back stories are given, and the Doctor realizes that this encounter with the Daleks was before the Great Time War in the time line. After interrogating the captured Dalek, they set out to find the planet Arkheon, which lies on a schism in time and space that the Daleks are searching for to gain access to the Time Vortex. Only, when they arrive, they discover that the Daleks have been there for quite a while, using humans to dig for the Threshold at the planet’s core. Of course, due to the time line, the Daleks have unwittingly brought in The Doctor–the “Oncoming Storm” that he’ll be referred to as in a future time–and he manages to thwart their plans, but not without considerable losses. Also, things go “boom” and ends in a rather existential note.
Overall, Prisoner of the Daleks has the feel of a classic Terry Nation episode of Doctor Who that features the Daleks. We get a look at why the Daleks are quite the chilling foe to go up against, especially when you get to the part of how they set their guns in a way that shows exactly how sadistic they can be with exterminating non-Daleks. It’s a rather dark story that works in its favor, and by the time you get to the end, the happy seems a bit hollow. A very good Doctor Who yarn, when all is said and done.