Doctor Who is unique in managing to run for more than half a century without a continuity reboot or freezing into a status quo. While there is a definite formula, a Caucasian man warping throughout spacetime in a blue box, the cast changes frequently enough that the franchise seems regularly renews itself. Compare this to earlier heroes like Superman, who are older than the Doctor but always gets rebooted into the same scenario every decade or so. When I’m reading a story about an iconic American superhero I’m confident I’ll be able to orient myself through the familiar side characters. Doctor Who stories set in eras I’m unfamiliar with are much more confusing.
Lungbarrow is set in one such era, being the Seventh Doctor’s final adventure before the 1996 TV movie. After being called back to his homeworld Gallifrey, the Doctor lands in the universe’s awkwardest family reunion. This novel is particularly controversial for its revelations about the Doctor’s past, Time Lord reproduction and history, although these tantalising facts are no longer considered canon. There are cameos from Romana (now Gallifreyan President) and the two K9s, and the only thing that really threw me off were unfamiliar companions. The setting, the ancient sunken family home of Lungbarrow, was brilliantly imagined, complete with giant sentient furniture, wooden servants and bizarre board games.
I enjoyed Lungbarrow, but I would have gotten a lot more from it if I’d read previous books in the series. It must’ve been great fun being a Doctor Who fan in the nineties, with so many of these books about. I remember when I was kid, hanging around in the local library, were there’d be all these Doctor Who books in the teenage section. Read this one if you’re curious about Time Lord biology, but I don’t think it stands well alone.