Doctor Who: The Stones of Blood is perhaps an odd choice for a classic era novelisation re-release. However, this one has a bit of backstory to it and not just within the published pages…

The third serial of the Key to Time season, The Stones of Blood, was novelised a mere 18 months after the story was transmitted. However, the author of the novelisation was not the author of the television script. Few would complain about Terrance Dicks writing a Doctor Who Target book. He was prolific at them. For so many loyal readers Terrance was synonymous with the Target novelisations range. So when it came to The Stones of Blood the 1980 novel by Dicks provided a solid retelling of the broadcast episodes.

It was however a little thinner in terms of pages (124) than one might expect. Target novels offered the opportunity to expand on what was televised. Given the speedy turnaround time required, Terrance Dicks was unlikely to have had the opportunity to expand on the scripts he was no doubt working from. It was a shame but as was Dicks’ skill, the story was still very well delivered. However, this left open an opportunity for expansion but more of that later.

Doctor Who: The Stones of Blood

The Stones of Blood is one story that I’ve never been a massive fan of. What begins as a moody, creepy tale veers off in a very different direction. It reminds me of the Quentin Tarantino movie ‘From Dusk to Dawn‘. Instead of a liquor store robbery-turned-vampire-thriller The Stones of Blood goes from gothic horror to sci-fi courtroom drama. Unlike ‘From Dusk to Dawn‘ this deviation feels far less successful. Personally, I am far more interested in the opening British gothic horror drama. Shifting to the bright and shiny spaceship environment, on television and in print, dampens my enthusiasm for the tale.

Doctor Who: The Stones of Blood. Cover by Anthony Dry (c) BBC Books

This opinion is cemented by the more detailed backstory provided for the stone circle of Bodcombe Tor. Some of it is a bit graphic but neatly sets the tone for a dark plot. Our introductions to the key players of the mysterious De Vries and the combination of Professor Rumford and Vivien Fay provides further intrigue. What served as the cliffhanger for Episode 1 is also much clearer in prose. However, even when the story does venture into outer space, this reader’s enthusiasm was maintained by Fisher’s writing skills. The dialogue for the Fourth Doctor is so delightful and impossible not to hear in the vocal tones of the iconic Tom Baker. I enjoyed reading this story far more than I enjoy watching it.

By David Fisher

Original author David Fisher was invited by BBC Audio commissioner Michael Stevens to revisit his story for a 2011 audio release. Susan Engel, who played Cessair of Diplos superbly on screen, narrated a brand new version of the story. Now that novelisation is available in print for the first time with an expanded page count of 190. It offers significantly more background for characters such as Professor Rumford and Vivien Fay but also the Nine Travellers setting.

Whilst there was nothing wrong with the original novelisation by Terrance Dicks it is a real privilege to read David Fisher‘s version of the same story. Sadly Fisher passed away in January 2018 but it is wonderful that his remaining two Doctor Who adventures, The Stones of Blood and The Androids of Tara have finally been released in novel form. The former of the two certainly makes for a thoroughly enjoyable read.

Doctor Who: The Stones of Blood is available now with a cover price of £7.99 from Amazon, Waterstones and other retailers.


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