With the new series of Doctor Who comes a new set of BBC Books, and this time there are three titles, each featuring Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor and one of the new companions on the cover. June Dawson’s novel, The Good Doctor features Graham O'Brien in front of a stained-glass window, giving some clue as to the story inside.
The story starts at what seems to be the end. On the planet Lobos a violent war has been halted between the dog-like Loba and human colonists. The TARDIS team leaves the scene as usual, but Ryan has left a mobile phone behind. They return, but several centuries have elapsed and things haven’t turned out quite as the Doctor had hoped.
On paper the setup is a little reminiscent of the Star Trek story Piece of the Action, but sadly the mobile phone is merely a means of getting the TARDIS to go back to Lobos. That aside, Juno Dawson paints a bleak world where the Loba are slaves and the population is subservient to a religion worshipping The Good Doctor. The exploration of what happened next feels relatively fresh, and putting the Doctor into a male-dominated society under religious domination echoes some themes of the show’s gender change without over-egging. There’s also the classic trope of mistaken identity, which adds a twist to the tale.
Each companion is given something to do, with Graham and Yaz taking the lion’s share. There are well-drawn rebels, dodgy clerics and a self-obsessed mayor all in a society that feels complex and credible and, in places, like a steampunk Roman Empire with technology and an arena. Given this will have been written from the basic brief for the companions, none feel generic and Brian in particular comes straight off the page as he does on screen.
It’s tightly scripted and well-paced, and the resolution is very Doctor Who in that peace is reached but at some cost and sacrifice from those involved. The Doctor is true to her core values of non-weapon wielding and brokering peace, and the whole story works well.
The Good Doctor is an easy enough read at 240 pages, and Juno Dawson has done a decent job with the characters. There’s enough here to entertain any fan wanting more from the latest Doctor.
DOCTOR WHO: THE GOOD DOCTOR / AUTHOR: JUNO DAWSON / PUBLISHER: BBC BOOKS / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW