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Audio Book Review


Doctor Who
The Story of Martha


Author: Dan Abnett
Read by: Freema Agyeman
BBC Audio
RRP: £9.77
ISBN: 978 1 4084 2654 8
Available 02 June 2009

For a year, while the Master ruled over the planet Earth, Martha Jones travelled the world, telling people stories about her friend the Doctor. She told them of how the Doctor has saved them before, and how he would save them again. This is that story: it tells of Martha’s travels, from her arrival on Earth as the Toclafane attacked and decimated the population, through to her return to Britain to face the Master. This is the story of how she survived that terrible year...

You may have noticed an omission from the above synopsis, compared with that of the printed version of this book, which went on to boast: But it’s more than that. This is also a collection of the stories she [Martha] tells, the stories of adventures she had with the Doctor that we haven’t heard about before, the stories that inspired and saved the world... Those four short stories are absent from this abridged audio book (though they are available separately as downloads), leaving behind just the hefty frame narrative of Martha’s year-long quest, as she struggles to survive and spreads the word of the Doctor’s good deeds.

Not that I really miss the short stories, which I didn’t find particularly memorable in the first place. Dan Abnett’s frame story was, for me, easily the most interesting part of the book, and it remains distinctive in its own right, taking place during the year that elapsed between The Sound of Drums and Last of the Time Lords, with Martha as the main protagonist. Admittedly the tale is undermined by the fact that, having seen Last of the Time Lords, we know that Martha will survive and that, due to bizarre timey-wimey stuff, the year never happened anyway. In spite of this, the author gives a gripping account of the companion’s experiences.

And thank goodness that Freema Agyeman, the actress who brought the character to life on screen, was available to read the audio book. Agyeman is the obvious choice to tell Martha’s story, and along the way she also provides some decent French and Russian accents, and some not bad Japanese ones, as she portrays the various people Martha encounters during her global journey.

Captain Jack, the Doctor and the Master appear only briefly in the story, the former in a brief flashback recapping the events of The Sound of Drums, the latter in a chapter near the end of the book, and the Doctor in both. However, the evil Time Lord’s presence is felt throughout the narrative, thanks to his omnipresent statues and his loyal soldiers, who are in dogged pursuit of Martha. Abnett also teases us with the possibility of another familiar character putting in an appearance...

The Story of Martha might not be a master work, but it is a worthwhile experiment, even without the short stories. Try listening to it in context, in between The Sound of Drums and Last of the Time Lords, and see just how well it fits in.


Richard McGinlay

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