Doctor Who and the Curse of Peladon is a novel written by Brian Hayles, based on a script that he wrote. The novel was published in 1974, two years after the script was copyrighted.
The Doctor cons his way onto a committee reviewing whether a Renaissance-level planet should be allowed to join a Galactic Federation. The decision process is fatally complicated by a priest who threatens the delegates with the sacred royal beast. Will the Doctor and his companion be able to fast-talk their way out of this one?
The most important thing to know about a Doctor Who book is if it is set during a part of the Doctor’s life that you are familiar with. Curse of Peladon is set during the Doctor’s third regeneration, when he was played by John Pertwee. In this book he’s traveling with a contemporyish woman named Jo.
The prose in this book is heavy with the adjectives, and the action is somewhat over-described. The key example is page is 108, a wall of text describing a combat between the Doctor and the King’s champion. The elaborate verbiage the novel an immersive feel, but it is difficult to escape the suspicion that Hayles is padding out a pretty thin script. As it is, the novel comes out to 142 pages.
The pictures in this book are pretty nifty. They are done in a black-and-white line style. Each one takes up an entire page.
The villainous priest expressed concern that his planet would be exploited as a result of joining the federation, and I really wish that this sort of colonial and economic anxiety was more prominent in the novel. Given that this book was written in the seventies, when many of Britain’s former colonies in Africa were gaining independence, it’s not difficult to see a post-colonial subtext. The reference to a ‘developing planet’ only confirms this suspicion.
Overall, I’d describe this book as okay. I’ve read better books dealing with the complex topic that is Doctor Who. I’d recommend Stephen Baxter’s Wheel of Ice, and or Jim Mortimore’s Campaign before reading this.