Doctor Who and the Masque of Mandragora
Posted September 22, 2011on:
published in 1977
where I got it: purchased used
why I read it: I is a novice Whovian
I love it when I pop into my local family owned bookstore and they say “we just got in a ton of classic scifi, come take a look!” So up to the attic I went, startled a sleeping cat (every bookstore should have a cat. or two), and found an entire shelf of classic Doctor Who books. But which to choose? my first Doctor was Eccleston, and these books predated him by about 30 years.
They all looked great, and were in like-new condition, so I randomly chose Doctor Who and the Masque of Mandragora. How could I say no that dazzling smile? Now that I’ve read it, I can’t wait to go back this weekend and get another one. or two.
This book is based on one of the TV serials, but I’ve only ever seen a few minutes here and there of the older Doctor Who tv shows. How can I call myself a Doctor Who fan if I haven’t seen the originals? Eh, as far as I’m concerned there were only three Star Wars movies ever made.
The back of the book gave the basics of the plot, The Doctor and Sarah Jane (what a wonderful surprise, I love her!!) get sucked into the Mandragora Helix, fly the TARDIS right through it, and accidentally take some of the Helix energy with them. The TARDIS lands them in the middle of a beautiful orchard in 15th century Italy. On the property of a family going through a power struggle. As an uncle and nephew fight to rule, a court astrologer is trying to take power for himself through the local pagan cult. Throw in some very hungry and mildly intelligent Mandragoran energy, and you’ve got yourself a recipe for a disaster that only the Doctor can fix.
Ok, so the plot isn’t super deep and the book isn’t real long. But sometimes that is exactly what I want, and this was one of those times. Well, it’s not that the plot isn’t deep, it’s that it doesn’t dwell on the dangers of the Mandragoran energy and how if the energy gets loose on Earth, humanity would become mental slaves to it, and we’d quite literally never know what hit us. There is danger, and knives, and bad guys and exploding people, and the barest touch of Sarah Jane’s relationship with the Doctor and his true relationship with the universe, but this is a family friendly adventure. After my not so hot experience with a recent Michael Moorcock Doctor Who book, I was beyond delighted to get so much enjoyment out of this one. The entire book is just adorable.
And finally, the Doctor as I believe he was meant to be. Like I said, my first Doctor was Eccleston. I enjoyed him immensely, fell head over heels in love with Tennant, and Smith is very very slowly growing on me. But I saw those guys playing The Doctor the same as I saw Connery and Dalton (my favorite) and Brosnan and Craig play James Bond. it was different actors playing the same character. . . not the character inhabiting different bodies.
While I was reading The Masque of Mandragora I could hear The Doctor’s voice in my head while he was talking to Sarah Jane. Sometimes it was Eccleston’s voice. Sometimes it was Tennant’s. Sometimes it was even Smith’s. For the first time, all those people suddenly were the Doctor for me, instead of just playing him on tv. I think I’m one step closer to getting it, and that was the best part of reading Doctor Who and the Masque of Mandragora.
and this line had me laughing my ass off for no particular reason:
“A Time Lord has to do what a Time Lord has to do”.
doesn’t that sound just so gangsta?
And I do believe there’s a lot more classic and old skool SF & classic Doctor Who in my future.