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Quatermass

Sergeant-at-Arms
Dec 7, 2010
7,750
2,950
#81
BOOK 80

The Eminence in Shadow Manga volume 2, by Anri Sakano, from the light novels by Daisuke Aizawa.

So, here I have come to the second manga volume of The Eminence in Shadow. But how would it fare? Let’s find out…

A conspiracy to frame Cid Kagenou for the kidnapping of Princess Alexia Midgar leads Shadow Garden to an underground lair. There, they rescue Alexia, and Cid demolishes the lair with his ultimate move, I Am Atomic. But that’s only the beginning of troubles for Cid. Shadow Garden has established a department store franchise without his knowing for fundraising, a group of thugs are murdering people claiming to be Shadow Garden, and Princess Iris has Shadow Garden in her sights, no matter what…

I have to admit, after all the fun of the prior volume, this one feels like a bit of a letdown by comparison. After the rescue of Alexia, it’s in a transitional phase until the next big story arc of the first light novel, so the plot isn’t that great. And there are times when Cid’s delusions and the adulation of his underlings get old.

Yet for all that, it’s still an entertaining work. The seeming demise of Millia is treated with pathos and respect, and Cid’s first use of I Am Atomic is spectacular. Cid’s breakup with Alexia is also very darkly comical, and while less dark, the scene involving Gamma mixes up both the drama and the comedy.

Overall, while a lesser volume than the previous one, this is not a bad adaptation of The Eminence in Shadow. I hope the next volumes show some improvement…


***½
 

Quatermass

Sergeant-at-Arms
Dec 7, 2010
7,750
2,950
#82
BOOK 81

Doctor Who: The Star Beast by Gary Russell.

When Doctor Who came back with David Tennant reprising the role of the Doctor, I found myself aggravated to discover that, outside of the UK, the latest shows would only be available via Disney+. Refusing to subscribe to a streaming service, I found myself awaiting the novelisations as a way to experience them. The first of the specials, The Star Beast, was based on an old comic story done for Doctor Who Magazine by Pat Mills and Dave Gibbons. But how would it fare being adapted?

The Doctor returns to London, only to run into a familiar face: his old companion Donna Noble, lacking memories of their time together, lest her mind burn up. But destiny seems set to force them together when a spaceship crashlands in a steel mill, and its inhabitant, the cute and timid Meep, flees to the Nobles’ household. The Meep claims to be a fugitive from the monstrous Wrarth Warriors, bioengineered monstrosities. But what is the truth? Can the Doctor stop the destruction of London? And will Donna survive her latest brush with the Doctor?

I have to admit, the plot is more than a little thin on the ground. Admittedly, that is partly because of the source material of the TV story, a comic from the late 70s, and even with the extra plot thread of Donna’s family and her troubles being woven in, it still feels a bit lacking. Plus, Donna’s salvation is a bit of a deus ex machina, even if it’s an entirely plausible and welcome one to wash away the bad taste from her memory being wiped.

Still, for all that, it’s still an enjoyable romp, and the emotional notes of Donna, her daughter Rose, and the rest of her family is spot-on. The revelation of the Meep’s true nature is handled well, and their character is delightfully diabolical. And the addition of in-universe documents help add some needed polish to the story.

Overall, The Star Beast was a decent, but not superlative, adaptation of the comic. It hits some right notes, and is good, but I feel it could’ve been a touch better…


***½
 

Quatermass

Sergeant-at-Arms
Dec 7, 2010
7,750
2,950
#83
BOOK 82

The Eminence in Shadow Manga volume 3, by Anri Sakano, from the light novels by Daisuke Aizawa.

Time for the third volume of the manga version of The Eminence in Shadow. But would the third volume regain lost ground after the disappointments of the second? Let’s find out…

Cid’s work to portray his public persona as a background character has had mixed results. He’s gaining attention from Rose Oriana, the princess of the Oriana Kingdom, as well as Shelley Barnett, the adopted daughter of the vice-principal of the Midgar Spellsword Academy. But things go from bad to worse when a group claiming to be Shadow Garden attacks. Cid thinks they’re terrorists using his organisation’s name, but they are the Cult of Diablos, seeking an artifact that will give them power. And they’re willing to kill every last student to get it…

Although this volume has gone back up in quality from the prior volume, it’s still stretching the plot a touch thinly. In addition, the emphasis on Cid’s school life and cover compared to his Shadow Garden machinations is a bit boring, and his attempts at seeming to be a background character are a touch cringy. And it cuts off just as it gets to the really good bits.

Yet this is actually still a good adaptation that helps explain a bit more what wasn’t as explicit in the novels. Cid’s dismay at being involved with a protagonist-style character in Rose is hilarious, as is his reaction to being caught up in what he believes to be a terrorist attack, albeit in a darkly comic way. There’s plenty of awesome moments too, and not just for Cid and Shadow Garden.

Overall, this volume managed to get back up to the standards of the first volume. Time will tell if it stays that way…


****
 

Quatermass

Sergeant-at-Arms
Dec 7, 2010
7,750
2,950
#84
BOOK 83

Doctor Who: The Giggle by James Goss.

One of my favourite villains from the classic series of Doctor Who was the Toymaker. Admittedly, he appeared in only on show in the TV series, but he made reappearances in comics, audio dramas, and even a novelisation of a story intended for the 80s. So I was delighted to hear that he returned for the last of the Fourteenth Doctor specials, played by Neil Patrick Harris. But how would the novelisation of this story turn out?

Returning to Earth, the Doctor and Donna find it enveloped in chaos, people fighting each other and causing destruction over who is right and wrong. Brought by UNIT to find out the cause, the Doctor realises it is from a broadcast by John Logie Baird in 1925, of the Stooky Bill puppet giggling. Travelling back in time to find the cause, the Doctor soon realises that an old foe has returned: the Toymaker. Facing a being of godlike powers who is determined to make the universe his playground, can the Doctor prevail?

The plot of this story, sadly, is very thin on the ground. It basically has the Doctor running from incident to incident with very little actual plot, just the battles of wits between him and the Toymaker. In addition, the ‘Bigeneration’ concept is a bit of a deus ex machina, even if Regeneration itself was one in the first place.

Still, even despite the lack of plot, there’s much to enjoy, with the Toymaker proving to be one of the Doctor’s greatest foes once more. Indeed, much of the novel is playfully narrated by him, giving an insight into his thoughts, and the typography is suitably chaotic, giving a sense of the energy and bedlam of the story. And it’s a suitably warm-hearted sendoff to the Fourteenth Doctor, and a nice introduction to the Fifteenth.

Overall, this was a damn fun novelisation, even if the plot was thin on the ground. And hopefully, this bodes well for the future of the series…

****½
 

Quatermass

Sergeant-at-Arms
Dec 7, 2010
7,750
2,950
#85
BOOK 84

Apparently, Disillusioned Adventurers Will Save the World Manga volume 1, by Shinta Fuji.

So, having read the first volume of the light novels of Apparently, Disillusioned Adventurers Will Save the World, I decided to give the manga version a go. But how would it fare? Let’s find out…

Nick, a young Adventurer accused of theft by the true thief and kicked out of his party, as well as dumped by his girlfriend, a con artist. Tiana, a former mage of noble extraction, disowned by her family thanks to the machinations of her former fiancée and his new lover. Zem, a priest falsely accused of raping a young girl who had a crush on him. And Karan, a Dragonoid who was left for dead by her previous party. After meeting in a tavern and exchanging their past stories, Nick makes an astonishing suggestion, for them to work together as a party of their own. But can they overcome their scarred souls to do so?

I have to admit, some of the faults with this adaptation are due in part to the faults of the original. The plot was, after all, somewhat thin on the ground. In addition, this manga version makes Zem’s habits a bit too explicit, and needlessly so, and the sexualisation of the main female leads doesn’t help.

Still, there’s much to commend it anyway. The story is an enjoyable and novel twist on a number of clichés from the genre, and the manga helps make some parts of the story a bit more explicitly clear than the novel. Aside from the more explicit elements, the artwork is charming and does a good job of showing the characters in action, as well as the more emotional moments.

Overall, this was a decent enough adaptation, hampered by both the thin plot of the original book, as well as an unnecessary amount of explicit imagery. A shame, that…


***½
 

Quatermass

Sergeant-at-Arms
Dec 7, 2010
7,750
2,950
#86
BOOK 85

The Eminence in Shadow volume 2, by Daisuke Aizawa.

Having read the first volume of The Eminence in Shadow, I wished to try the second. But how would this isekai novel do? Let’s find out.

Lindwurm, the Sacred Land. Cid Kagenou is drawn there by the information of his second-in-command in Shadow Garden, Alpha. However, he is so wrapped up in his delusions of being the Eminence in Shadow, he doesn’t realise the truth that Shadow Garden have uncovered, that the Witch of Calamity is the woman whose memory he encountered in the Sanctuary, Aurora. And the Royal Bushin Tournament proves to be more trouble, and not just for Cid and Shadow Garden. Foreign princess Rose Oriana is forced to go on the run for attacking her fiancée, who is more than he seems…

Now that the honeymoon period is over, the concept of Cid being utterly oblivious to the truth has gotten somewhat old fast. In addition, like the previous volume, this feels like multiple stories bolted together. I also feel the revelation about Diablos’ true identity as Aurora has come a touch too soon, making the overall story arc of the series feel rushed. And the final scene with Rose feels just a touch too heartbreaking for the series.

Yet for all that, it’s still an entertaining romp, managing to mix drama and humour fairly effectively. Both Alpha and Delta get some time to shine, especially as the latter didn’t get much in the first volume, and some illumination of their respective pasts as well. Alexia and Beta’s rivalry is also amusing, as is Epsilon’s insecurities.

Overall, this was a good continuation of the series. I just hope it picks up a little, though…

****
 

Quatermass

Sergeant-at-Arms
Dec 7, 2010
7,750
2,950
#87
BOOK 86

Apparently, Disillusioned Adventurers Will Save the World Manga volume 2, by Shinta Fuji.

The first volume of the manga of Apparently, Disillusioned Adventurers Will Save the World was, admittedly, a touch disappointing for various reasons. But would the second volume fare any better? Let’s find out…

Tensions are high in the party, with Karan and Tiana unable to trust each other due to their mistakes. But Nick is trying his hardest to keep their fledgling group together. Will he succeed? Or will their trust issues cause their party to fall apart, or worse, die to the monsters they fight?

Again, an issue of the original source material makes itself known in the manga. Namely, that the plot is somewhat thin on the ground. It moves from incident to incident without adding too much of substance to the plot.

However, the emotional moments are spot-on, with the group finally gaining some coherency and small trust in each other and their abilities. Karan and Tianna certainly reconcile, and Karan grows fonder of Nick despite an accident he causes to one of her possessions. What’s more, there’s far less of the more explicit content from the first manga volume, with what remains being within the norm for most manga.

Overall, while not quite an improvement on the first volume on the whole, this volume improved in some areas, even if it wasn’t as great in others. A shame, that…


***½
 

Quatermass

Sergeant-at-Arms
Dec 7, 2010
7,750
2,950
#88
BOOK 87

Operation Mincemeat: The True Spy Story that Changed the Course of World War II by Ben MacIntyre.

Truth is stranger than fiction, and yet fiction and deception are potent tools in warfare. And the recent film Operation Mincemeat, as well as its predecessor The Man Who Never Was, detailed the events of a real-life operation that influenced outcomes in the Second World War. I decided to read a book detailing this strange and bold operation to deceive the Axis Powers, but how would it turn out?

In 1943, a man’s corpse was found by Spanish fishermen floating off the coast. Evidence suggested that he was one William Martin, a Naval officer with documents claiming the Allies intended to invade Greece rather than Sicily, as previously thought. In fact, he was Glyndwr Michael, a dead man whose corpse was used in a bold and bizarre attempt at misdirecting the Nazis. This is the story of how Operation Mincemeat was conceived, developed, and carried out…

Books about history, even relatively recent history, do run a risk of being a touch dry, and this is no exception. In addition, I think there are moments when the prose could have been a touch more laconic about certain areas. Even when providing context, it feels less exhaustive and more exhausting.

Yet the book itself still remains exciting and informative, giving a real insight to some of the more madcap areas of espionage and deception. And the cast, ranging from the likes of eccentric naval intelligence Ewen Montagu to the irascible and once-untouchable pathologist Sir Bernard Spilsbury, seem larger than life, even though they were real people. There’s also a real sense of tension and excitement most of the time in the prose.

Overall, this was a pretty good insight into a formerly-hidden corner of warfare and espionage history. A good read…

****
 

Quatermass

Sergeant-at-Arms
Dec 7, 2010
7,750
2,950
#89
BOOK 88

Parallel World Pharmacy Manga volume 1, by Sei Takano, from the light novels by Liz Takayama.

Yet again, I embark on a venture into an isekai work, a manga adaptation of a light novel series. But how well would Parallel World Pharmacy fare? Let’s find out…

Kanji Yakutani is a prodigy pharmacist who is driven by the demise of his sister to cancer. But his drive leads him to die of overwork at a tragically young age. Yet he is reborn as Farma de Medici, son to the royal court physician of the San Fleuve Empire. With access to powerful magic and blessings from the God of Medicine, can Farma continue his quest to cure as many ills as he can in a world where superstition reigns as much as science?

The story is finding its feet, and it shows. There’s not much plot in this volume, just the standard overpowered isekai protagonist stuff in some regards. And the volume cuts off at a rather vital point, a bit cruel even by the usual cliffhanger standards.

Yet the sheer novelty of this story makes up for it, with Farma actually using his scientific knowledge combined with magic to effect his cures. The fact that he’s not summoned to save the world from some demon lord helps, instead trying to save it from ignorance and disease. The comedy works for the most part, and so too does the drama.

Overall, this was a novel take on an overpopulated genre. I just hope it gets better…


****
 

Quatermass

Sergeant-at-Arms
Dec 7, 2010
7,750
2,950
#90
BOOK 89

Apparently, Disillusioned Adventurers Will Save the World volume 2, by Shinta Fuji.

So, here I am with the second volume of the light novel series Apparently, Disillusioned Adventurers Will Save the World. But how would this instalment fare? Let’s find out…

The Survivors are doing well, partaking in missions and indulging in their hobbies. However, a chance encounter between Nick and his con artist former girlfriend Claudine sours matters. Forced into a duel with Claudine’s party of fraudsters, the Iron Tiger Troop, they are forced into a bout of Bare-Knuckle Maths. But even if they win, Claudine’s partner in crime Leon has a secret weapon, one with links to Bond, the Sword of Bonds…

Let’s face it, the plot structure of this volume isn’t that great. It’s basically two and a half relatively simple stories bolted together to form a single book. And because of that, the ending feels like it takes too long to get to the damn point.

Yet for all that, it’s still an entertaining work. The concept of Bare-Knuckle Maths, while seemingly ludicrous, actually has a sound in-story logic to it, and it’s fun to see the Survivors trounce the Iron Tiger Troop. And Tianna shows that, harsh though she is, she at least cares about others in her own way.

Overall, this was a good, but not stellar, continuation of this series. Here’s hoping it improves…

****
 

Quatermass

Sergeant-at-Arms
Dec 7, 2010
7,750
2,950
#91
BOOK 90

Overlord Manga volume 5 by Satoshi Oshio and Hugin Miyama, from the light novels by Kugane Maruyama.

Here I come to the next volume of the Overlord manga. But how well would this volume turn out? Let’s find out…

A brainwashed Shalltear seems to have the upper hand against Ainz Ooal Gown, until he reveals his strategy, tricking her into exhausting her MP while pulling off bluffs of his own. But even as he kills and revives her to remove the brainwashing, the activities of the Tomb of Nazarick are far from done. They have an experiment to run…with a nearby group of Lizardmen tribes in their sights…

I have to admit, the Lizardmen arc wasn’t one of my favourite arcs in the series. This is, admittedly, because it takes the focus off Nazarick and focuses on characters I am meant to sympathise with. The art style also takes a little getting used to, considering I was weaned on so-bin’s art for the novels and the anime designs for the characters.

Yet this manga volume actually managed to make me a bit more invested in the Lizardmen arc, more than either the manga or anime did. The conclusion to the fight against Shalltear works well too. And I like the pacing of the Nazarick segments being more interspersed with the Lizardmen segments, helping remind us of who the main characters are, even if they’re far from heroic.

Overall, this was a good adaptation, even if part of it was of one of my least favourite arcs in the series. Here’s hoping for it to continue that way…

****
 

Quatermass

Sergeant-at-Arms
Dec 7, 2010
7,750
2,950
#92
BOOK 91

The Eminence in Shadow volume 3, by Daisuke Aizawa.

Now, I have come to the third volume of The Eminence in Shadow. But how well would the third volume of this parody of isekai fare? Let’s find out…

Lawless City, a wretched hive of scum and villainy run by a triptych of crime bosses, Crimson the vampire, Yukime, and Juggernaut. Crimson is seeking to overturn the status quo by reviving his former master, the Blood Queen Elisabeth. But even if she can be stopped, another crisis is brewing: Shadow Garden’s front company Mitsugoshi’s meteoric rise has gained attention, with an organisation of merchants looking to take them down. However, Cid has embarked on an unusual course of action…going against Shadow Garden itself!

Once more, this is basically a pair of relatively disparate stories bolted to each other, linked this time by Lawless City as a setting. I actually genuinely think the credit crisis arc could have filled an entire volume, with the vampire arc the weaker arc of the two. And Cid basically abandoning Shadow Garden does leave a bad taste in the mouth, given that, as selfish and lacking in communication as he is, you’d think he’d have sense enough not to leave his subordinates in the dark.

However, this was still an entertaining volume, especially the second half. Delta in particular comes into her own as a character, with some interesting and entertaining scenes giving more of an insight into her character. Yukime is a welcome addition too, and the economic warfare angle is a novel one. Plus, the scene where Gamma has to fight off assassins in her own clumsy way is hilarious and awesome.

Overall, this volume of The Eminence in Shadow was pretty damn good, but it could have been much better. A shame, that…

****
 
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Quatermass

Sergeant-at-Arms
Dec 7, 2010
7,750
2,950
#93
BOOK 92

Overlord Manga volume 6 by Satoshi Oshio and Hugin Miyama, from the light novels by Kugane Maruyama.

So, here I am, reading the sixth volume of the Overlord manga. But how well would it turn out, especially as it is adapting one of my least-liked arcs? Let’s find out…

Zaryusu completes his task of uniting the Lizardmen tribes to face the army of Ainz Ooal Gown. And not a moment too soon. The army, commanded by Cocytus, is sent out to lay waste to them. But Cocytus feels that he was given too few soldiers, though even that may be too much for the Lizardmen…

Although the previous volume had managed to get me more involved with the Lizardmen arc, this volume showed that honeymoon was well and truly over. Honestly, I found it hard to be invested with them. It doesn’t help that much of the volume is one big extended battle sequence anyway.

Still, the artwork does a good job of portraying the Lizardmen individuals and their emotions well. And the battle scenes are well done too. They are tense up to the end, with Cocytus’ admiration and his own doubts coming across well.

Overall, this was a decent, but not stellar, adaptation of an arc I am not fond of in Overlord. Hopefully, it will improve…

***½
 

Quatermass

Sergeant-at-Arms
Dec 7, 2010
7,750
2,950
#94
BOOK 93

Doctor Who: Dalek Combat Training Manual by Richard Atkinson and Mike Tucker.

I decided to give this Doctor Who spinoff book, discussing the Daleks, a whirl. But having read many such books before in the past, would this be any better? Or would it turn out to be a waste of time?

The Time Lords are intent on combating the Daleks, to stop them from conquering all time and space. But beating the Daleks is no mean feat. Thus, this manual has been written, with fighting the Daleks in mind. Chronicling the history of the Daleks, along with the encounters the Doctor has had with them, past, present, and future, this book hopes to help the readers fight the Daleks.

The main problem with this book is that everything in it has been done before, and in far better books. It’s not bad as much as mediocre, retreading lost ground in a way that strives to be fresh, but ends up being somewhat stale. And it feels like the Dalek timeline, already hard enough to pin down though it is, is mangled almost beyond repair in this book.

Still, writing this book from the perspective of the Time Lords is novel enough, I guess. And it’s not a truly bad book. It’s certainly enjoyable enough for newcomers to the franchise. I just wish it had been better.

This book, while not truly bad, was a mediocre one that retread old ground, and merely churned it up anew. A shame, that…

***
 

Quatermass

Sergeant-at-Arms
Dec 7, 2010
7,750
2,950
#95
BOOK 94

The Eminence in Shadow Manga volume 4, by Anri Sakano, from the light novels by Daisuke Aizawa.

So, here I am with the fourth manga volume of The Eminence in Shadow. But how would this latest instalment fare? Let’s find out…

Cid is working to stop the terrorists masquerading as Shadow Garden, but he soon learns the truth about the real culprit, the Assistant Principal Lutheran. But Cid’s actions mean that Shadow Garden have become fugitives, and will have to dive deeper into the shadows. Thus, during a tournament in Lindwurm, Cid and Shadow Garden will find even greater truths, though whether the delusional Cid will understand is another matter entirely…

Well, I have to admit, part of the problem with this volume is that it’s a transitory one. Straddling two of the light novels, it doesn’t help the lack of substantial plot here. Plus, I don’t think it shows enough of the emotional fallout with Sherry and her adoptive father’s demise.

Still, this is a pretty good volume all the same. There’s still some laughs to be had from the disparity between Cid’s thoughts and the beliefs of his followers, and Lutheran’s backstory is portrayed well enough. The clash between Shadow and Aurora is also enjoyable, and the final pages end on an interesting cliffhanger.

This was a decent adaptation of The Eminence in Shadow, so far. Here’s hoping it continues that way…


****
 

Quatermass

Sergeant-at-Arms
Dec 7, 2010
7,750
2,950
#96
BOOK 95

Antiques Roadshow: 40 Years of Great Finds by Paul Atterbury and Marc Allum.

Antiques Roadshow is one of those genteel shows I have some small interest in. So when I found a book about the show, I decided to read it. But would it be to my liking?

Since 1977, groups of antique experts have come together to appraise and valuate antiques of various people on TV. Antiques Roadshow has since become something of a phenomenon on British television. And over the years, there have been many strange and interesting items that have come under scrutiny by the experts on the show. This book, thus, takes a look at a selection of said items…

I have to admit it, reading about antiques isn’t my cup of tea, and this book doesn’t help kindle any real interest beyond what I already have. Some of the anecdotes don’t excite me, and many even become samey after a while. I mean, there’s multiple antiques relation to the Titanic.

Yet for all that, there was enough to keep my interest. There’s some genuinely interesting anecdotes relating to some items, like how a World War II veteran got a packet of Rommel’s cigarettes, or about the game bilbocatch and Jane Austen’s love for it. The book is very well-presented too.

Overall, this was a moderately interesting compilation of stories about Antiques Roadshow. A shame it wasn’t a bit more than that…


***½
 

Quatermass

Sergeant-at-Arms
Dec 7, 2010
7,750
2,950
#97
BOOK 96

Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End volume 1, by Kanehito Yamada.

Most of the fantasy manga works I’ve been reading lately have been in the isekai genre. But I had heard praise for a relatively new series: Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End. How well would this novel take on the fantasy genre go down with me, though?

Decades ago, a group of four adventurers took down the Demon Lord and saved the world. Now, their mage, the reserved and aloof Elf Frieren, has reunited with her former comrades, only to be surprised and disturbed by how much they had aged compared to her immortal self. When Himmel dies, Frieren realises how much she didn’t truly know him, and regrets it. Thus, she begins a journey, of self-discovery, even picking up a protégé along the way, Fern, and learns how to truly live…

Let’s face it, there’s not much of a plot in this volume, if there ever will be later in the series. Instead, it seems to be more about Frieren’s journey and a series of seemingly unconnected (for the most part) incidents. And Frieren, at times, can be a touch annoying.

Yet the story is charming, and an interesting meditation on life, death, and time that manages to avoid too much navel-gazing, masterfully juggling pathos, gentle slow fantasy, and even some comedy (like Frieren’s tendency to fall for mimics). Frieren is a surprisingly charming, interesting, and funny character, and her development throughout the volume is a sight to behold. The other characters, particularly Frieren’s former comrades, and her protégé Fern, are also good.

Overall, this was a pleasant surprise to behold. Frieren is a promising series that I hope to read more of…


****½
 

Quatermass

Sergeant-at-Arms
Dec 7, 2010
7,750
2,950
#98
BOOK 97

Whotopia: The Ultimate Guide to the Whoniverse by Jonathan Morris, Simon Guerrier, and Una McCormack.

Books that proclaim themselves to be the ‘ultimate guide’ to some subject or another are a dime a dozen. Yet I decided to try this Doctor Who book. But how would this supposed ‘ultimate guide’ fare?

The Whoniverse is vast and ever-changing. But some things remain the same. Thus, this book is a compilation of anecdotes and memoirs by the Doctor, their companions, their allies, and their foes. From the beginning of time to the ends of the universe, this book encompasses much of the Whoniverse…

As is often the case, this book falls short of deserving the title of ‘ultimate guide’. There’s very little in this book that a hardcore Whovian hasn’t read before. And trying to cram so much in means more than a few things fall by the wayside, and there seems to be a bias towards the new series.

Still, to give the authors their due, they did a near-perfect job on writing the anecdotes from the viewpoints of the characters. Every character sounds almost exactly or exactly as they did on the show. The book is well-presented too, with plenty of images to illustrate the various people and worlds of the franchise.

Overall, while nothing a hardcore Whovian hasn’t read before and falling short of the ‘ultimate guide’ hype, this is a good illustration of the Whoniverse. More comprehensive and interesting than I initially thought…

****
 

Quatermass

Sergeant-at-Arms
Dec 7, 2010
7,750
2,950
#99
BOOK 98

Parallel World Pharmacy Manga volume 2, by Sei Takano, from the light novels by Liz Takayama.

So, here I am, embarking on the second volume of Parallel World Pharmacy. But how would this manga adaptation fare with its second volume? Let’s find out…

Farma manages to barely persuade his sceptical father to allow him to create the cure for tuberculosis. And to the astonishment and delight of everyone, Empress Elisabeth II, along with his father, are cured of their diseases. A grateful empress bestows upon Farma a royal charter, allowing him to build and run a special pharmacy catering to any and all who enter. But Farma has an uphill battle: between the politics of the pharmaceutists and the preconceptions he had to overcome, he may not be able to carry out his dream of helping others…

Once more, part of the problem is that the story is still finding its feet. Farma doesn’t get his titular pharmacy until halfway through this volume, and the plot is yet to get traction. And there’s too many of the same clichés in the genre that mar this.

Yet this is still a relatively novel take on the isekai genre. The curing of the various ills that plague a medieval/Renaissance society is done in a heartwarming way, with Farma not seeking to save the world, just help people. And there’s some intriguing foreshadowing of future troubles to come.

Overall, this was a decent continuation of a decent series. Here’s hoping it continues that way…


****
 

Quatermass

Sergeant-at-Arms
Dec 7, 2010
7,750
2,950
BOOK 99

Doctor Who: The Church on Ruby Road by Esmie Jikiemi-Pearson.

With the current series of Doctor Who out of my reach due to Disney+ having the rights to transmission in Australia, I find myself turning to other avenues for these stories. Luckily, the latest stories have been novelised, including the Fifteenth Doctor’s first full story, The Church on Ruby Road. But how would it fare?

Ruby Sunday is an oddity in this modern world, a foundling, adopted by loving guardians. But after a TV appearance to find her origins, strange things begin happening to her, as if she was cursed. And things go from bad to worse when her guardians’ latest foster child is abducted, by Goblins, creatures using coincidence and happenstance to wreak havoc across time and space. With the help of the mysterious man known only as the Doctor, Ruby sets out to save the baby. But can they stop the Goblins?

Many of my issues with this story are probably those with the source material rather than with the novelisation itself. The plot isn’t anything to speak of, being simply going from one incident to the next. In addition, it feels like the story is going too far away from the science fiction (soft and verging on science fantasy as it was) of the series, and into outright fantasy.

That being said, it’s an enjoyable romp. The energy and joie de vivre of the current Doctor is portrayed excellently on the page. Ruby Sunday feels promising as a new companion, with parallels between her and the Doctor made. And the climax is done well enough, with a decent Chekhov’s Gun being used, compared to the usual use of deus ex machinas by Russell T Davies (who wrote the screenplay this novel is based on).

Overall, this was a decent, but not great, novelisation, though this was partly due to the source material. A shame, but it still conveys promise for the stories to come for the Fifteenth Doctor…


***½
 

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