By Will Barber – Taylor
When Colonel Alistair Lethbridge-Stewart of the Scots Guard is recalled from Libya to help combat the Yeti incursion in London, he finds himself on the frontline fighting robotic soldiers of an alien entity known as the Great Intelligence. With the British Government still reeling at this proof of alien life, what connects these events to the events to the seemingly quiet Cornish village of Bledoe? And what has all of this to do with Lethbridge-Stewart?
The Forgotten Son is a unique book. It captures the tone of modern Doctor Who novels but also mixes in a nostalgic feel comparable to the Target novelizations of old.
Set mainly in Cornwall, The Forgotten Son is clever as it connects with fans old and new. The book opens with a short recap of The Web of Fear. However, the author Andy Frankham-Allen does so in a way which brings in new and old fans by showing a new scene which shows how Lethbridge-Stewart became involved with the Yeti incursion. Frankham-Allen also connects the story to the new series of Doctor Who in several subtle ways. Throughout the book sly references are made to the show’s current continuity that only those who know where to look will see. This continuity interweaving that Frankham-Allen does doesn’t harm the book in any way. Readers unaware of the references won’t feel left out because of it and for those readers who know what Frankham-Allen is referring to will be pleased to have this other dimension added to the book.
Frankham-Allen deals with all the characters, whether original or taken from Doctor Who extremely well. Lethbridge Stewart comes across as he did on screen during The Web of Fear; he is stern, intelligent and mildly bewildered by what is going on. As the character grows and develops between The Web of Fear and The Invasion (the character’s second appearance), the novel acts as a good bridge between the two points. We see that Lethbridge Stewart is developing and changing and that the actions that he takes in this book set him onto the path of the commander of UNIT.
Similarly, Frankham-Allen treats the other characters in the book well. The Great Intelligence who is the antagonist of the book is well written and keeps the silky, soft spoken menacing tone that he emitted in The Web of Fear. The return of Doctor Anna Travers is also dealt with well, with Anna still a feisty intelligent woman that she was shown to be in the story. The newer characters in the book are also dealt with well. To go into too much detail about them would spoil the central twist of the book but in particular the character of Ray is well constructed and likeable even though he is not always liked throughout the book.
Frankham-Allen gets the tone of the book right. He injects the mixture of menace and fun that 60s Doctor Who had back then. Particularly well done is the opening. It reads almost like one of Terrence Dicks’ Target novelizations with that unmistakable Doctor Who type atmosphere and the unnerving feeling that something is ready to attack at any moment.
All in all, The Forgotten Son is a well-paced, superbly atmospheric and detailed story that will transport its reader back to a time when you could truly hide behind the sofa as the Yeti menace stalked London.