The Stones of Blood
By David Fisher
The Target imprint of Doctor Who novels is like nectar to any fan as they offer a punchy adaptation of almost every episode of the series up to the mid-90s, but there were a few missing. Fear not, as BBC Books are not only releasing adaptations of newer episodes but are also looking to fill in the gaps. The Stones of Blood is an adaptation of David Fisher’s Fourth Doctor episode from the late 70s. It holds close to the original screen writer’s vision in all its glory and crazy Fourth Doctor antics.
The Doctor is amid a quest to find all the Keys of Time that have been hidden throughout known time and space. One fragment has been tracked down to Earth in the late 70s, the location, Bodcombe Tor and its standing stones. However, these standing stones may be more walking stones as over the centuries the number in the circle has changed. Are these disappearing stones linked somehow to the new resident of the local manor house and the cult he has formed?
Doctor Who has seen many eras and most fans have a favourite. The Doctor as I knew them was a fun slice of science fiction that suffered from a lack of BBC budget. The Doctor would often proclaim Earth to be his favourite planet and preferably a location within five miles of the sound studio to save money. Stones harks back to these days and is quaint, but never forgets to be great fun.
If you cannot afford explosions and CGI has not been invented, then what do you do? Write great characters. Fisher’s screenplay highlights the Fourth Doctor in all the glory the character deserves and there are also some wonderful guest parts including a feisty archaeologist, a dangerous alien and a couple of AIs that think they can get the better of the Doctor.
The plot itself is restrained by what happened on screen, so it is a little back and forth between locations as the Doctor and his companions Romana and K9 try to uncover where the MacGuffin is. The Keys of Time feel very much like a tool used to keep this season of Doctor Who ticking along and is a little out of place in a standalone title. However, once the book opens up around halfway, the real fun begins.
Suddenly, this is not a book about the wet British countryside, but of blood drinking stones, antient aliens and interdimensional space. The story takes a left turn that could only happen with the Doctor. The characters of the Justice Machines offer a different challenge to the Doctor and the reader. They are judge, jury and executioner and cannot be bribed. Of course, this is the Doctor we are talking about, and he will use his wit and intelligence to find a loophole. The whole trial sequence is amusing, but also deadly. It is balanced well with the other action that runs parallel as the companions seek to save the day.
Doctor Who: The Stones of Blood is a faithful and fun adaptation of a well-loved episode. Even back in 1978 it had some quirky ideas. This adaptation does not shy away from some of the odder aspects of the episode and highlights how fun Tom Baker’s Doctor was. There are intelligent ideas in the book; the history of the Tor is well described, and the futuristic Law Bots raise some interesting questions. The book is less that 200 pages and is a fun, fast read. Any fan of the show will enjoy it, especially those that remember the episode. It does not have some of the depth of other Who stories, but for entertainment, it still delivers.
Written on 4th July 2022 by Sam Tyler .