Many of the reviews I have written for the Eighth Doctor Adventures have spent quite a bit of time lamenting the TARDIS Team themselves. Companion Samantha Jones is not one whom is thought of highly in the Doctor Who community for good reason: she has a characterization similar to that of Clara Oswald, incredibly abrasive and bold yet treated as if she’s somehow a flawless companion. It was clear that the BBC Books were attempting to recreate the powerful female companions of the Virgin New Adventures such as Benny and Roz, but they failed by making Sam an annoying character. What makes this an even harsher disappointment is that seven books before her departure they introduced a second companion who actually allowed Sam to overcome her character’s rougher nature and show the real potential to be a great potential. Revolution Man is the third novel to feature companion Fitz Kreiner, and Paul Leonard uses the story to really explore each characters roles as well as an in depth reflection on the late 1960s’ place in history. The plot deals with the Doctor investigating an anomaly in the late 1960s, a time of protest, a time of revolution, and a time of drugs. There is a new drug on the streets which seems to give those who take it telekinetic powers, and it’s up to the Doctor, Fitz, and Sam to get to the bottom of the mystery.
Leonard’s plot is interesting as it spans three years
in the history of Earth, 1967-1969, only ending when the threat is done. Leonard does an amazing job of setting the
atmosphere of the novel as one of tension.
You can feel through the pages that there is revolution brewing, the
Vietnam war is dragging on, the youth are restless for change that hasn’t come,
and the Maoist reign of China is in full swing.
Every supporting character in this novel is either a revolutionary in
some way, or a drug user, or at least tangentially related to those
professions, making Revolution Man come across as incredibly tense as a
riot could be breaking at any moment.
There’s also a real psychedelic nature to the novel with the drug
Om-Tsor basically being LSD with added telekinetic powers, creating a genuinely
silent threat as the Doctor has to track it through as it poses a danger to
society. The ‘revolution man’ of the
title is a figurehead, shifting from person to person and remaining an ever
present threat throughout the novel, leaving symbols on the Great Pyramids and subtly
broadcasting their presence to the world.
It makes a great off-screen threat, and the actual reveal of the two
behind the title creates a true monstrosity for the Doctor and company to face
in the climax.
Sam Jones is placed in an interesting environment here
as throughout the book she is working with anarchists who are planning violent
resistance. Leonard uses this to explore
just how Sam believes protest should be carried out. Sam has truly grown since her introduction in
The Eight Doctors and has built up the idea that everything can be
accomplished with peaceful methods.
Leonard truly gives her a voice, as she investigates the trail of the
Om-Tsor and the phenomena it had possibly caused in Rome, as well as its
potential to destroy the rest of the world.
Leonard gives her a foil in the ‘king’ of the anarchists Jean-Pierre
Rex, who eventually takes the mantle of Revolution Man at one point. Rex is a character who insists on using
violent tactics throughout the novel who serves as a glimpse at potentially
what Sam would become if she becomes violent, ending his life with a bang and
leaving an impression on Sam. Fitz on
the other hand genuinely goes through hell in this novel. Putting the character only a few years after
his own time is used to really show just how different the late 60s are from
Fitz’s 1963. There is the rise of drug
culture which throws Fitz as well as the genuine shift in music towards the
psychedelic, as Fitz gets a love interest in Maddie, a user whose boyfriend is
in a band and addicted to Om-Tsor.
Maddie is pitiful as a character, as Leonard intentionally makers her
one of those characters who cannot fend for herself. It’s essentially because of her Fitz is brainwashed
by the Chinese government which has a lasting effect and because of the
monstrosity her boyfriend becomes that Fitz has to shoot him. Yes, the climax of this book involves Fitz in
a fight for his life against the Revolution Man, once called Ed, now an
amorphous mutated, Lovecraftian blob of terror and he shoots him. This event shakes the TARDIS crew but not
The actual shaking of the TARDIS crew is the Doctor
then picking up the gun and finishing the job in cold blood. This is one of those aspects which resonates
with the reader, seeing the Eighth Doctor have the first hints of a darker
side. Throughout the novel the Doctor is
presented as the savior, coming in to make sure everything, but in being a
savior he has to take arms and this alone is the highlight of the novel. Overall, Revolution Man takes a place
as one of the best Eighth Doctor Adventures, challenging the characters and
acting as a turning point in their relationship which the forthcoming novels
must resolve. 10/10.