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Audio Book Review


Doctor Who
The Eyeless


Author: Lance Parkin
Read by: Russell Tovey
BBC Audio
RRP: £9.77
ISBN: 978 1 4084 2653 1
Available 07 May 2009

At the heart of the ruined city of Acropolis is the Fortress, a brutal structure placed here by one of the sides in a devastating intergalactic war. Fifteen years ago, the planet’s population was killed in an instant by the weapon housed in the heart of the Fortress. Now only the ghosts remain. The Doctor arrives, determined to fight his way past the Fortress’s automatic defences and put the weapon beyond use. But he soon discovers he’s not the only person in Acropolis. What is the true nature of the weapon? Is the planet really haunted? Who are the Eyeless, and what will happen if they get to the weapon before the Time Lord? The Doctor has a fight on his hands, and this time he’s all on his own...

It took me a moment to decide whether I should refer to the ruined city in the above synopsis as Acropolis or Arcopolis. In the original book, it’s spelled Arcopolis, as indeed it is on the back cover of this double CD. However, reader Russell Tovey (The History Boys, Doctor Who: Voyage of the Damned, Being Human) pronounces it Acropolis (like the Greek citadel) throughout his narration. In the end, I decided to follow the narrator’s version.

On the whole, though, apart from some rather comical kids’ voices, this is a superior reading to Tovey’s previous one, The Doctor Trap. This is because the performer isn’t terribly good at putting on different voices. Fortunately, The Eyeless features a lonesome and therefore less talkative Doctor and is heavy on moody description, which Tovey does well, rather than on dialogue.

This book is the first to feature the Tenth Doctor travelling alone, following the departure of Donna in Journey’s End. On numerous occasions, especially near the beginning of the story, the Time Lord misses having someone around to act as a springboard for his scientific observations and humorous remarks.

Not that there’s as much humour here as we usually get in this series. Echoing the Doctor’s lonely mood, and perhaps as a reaction against the increased comedy quotient of recent Donna Noble adventures, author Lance Parkin has penned a decidedly grown-up narrative. Though there are numerous juvenile characters, their circumstances, being survivors of a global massacre, are grim, and the main child character, a teenage girl called Alsa, is full of rage about her situation.

The title of the book is a curious choice, since no eyeless beings appear until about halfway through the story. When they do finally show up, however, the Eyeless provide intriguing subject matter. Seemingly made of glass, these telepathic creatures share a group mind and a co-operative mentality, though they lack emotions. They offer a stark contrast to we humans, who, like most of the survivors of Acropolis, value privacy and self-determination.

While I appreciate Parkin’s efforts to turn in a more intellectual entry to the series, I found the print version of The Eyeless something of a chore at times. This abridged audio version is considerably easier to digest. Worth keeping an eye out for.


Richard McGinlay

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