Synopsis: The First Doctor, Ian, Barbara and Vicki land in China in the year 1865. What at first starts out as a well meaning adventure and exploration of the past soon turns deadly, as Ian is attacked. The crew then become trapped in intrigue, with the people depending on them... As a great power from the stars threatens to destroy not only ancient China... But the entire world...
Review: Holy moley! When I first heard about The Eleventh Tiger from the official (Doctor Who) site, I practically jumped up and down. I'm a massive First Doctor fan and I was not disappointed! Unlike other Doctor Who novels, I didn't find the plot/background/universe establishment dull, nor an uphill battle and it was easy to read.
Like other historicals (for which the First Doctor is a trademark), we are plunged into worlds that we have little (if any!) knowledge of. Thus, as was the intention when the show was created, we learn about important aspects of other cultures and their history. And, like all the other historicals, The Eleventh Tiger pays off in spades, with a richly detailed adventure in mid 1860s China.
Ian and Barbara, even Vicki, are given a chance to shine and they do so very well. There are some delightful scenes such as when Wong Fei-Hung asks Vicki if Ian and Barbara are husband and wife (that is, married) and Vicki replied "I think they are on the inside." The other significant characters, such as the reincarnation of the First Emperor, Wong Fei-Hung, his father, Kei-Ying and... One other significant character I can't name, for spoiler reasons, are all well written and aren't simple say the line to advance the plot, they are integral to the plot.
What was most surprising was the Doctor's role in this. In all First Doctor TV serials, the Doctor has often taken up a supporting role most of the times, generally due to William Hartnell's fluffs, age and general inability to handle the strain. However, The Eleventh Tiger gives the Doctor a chance to shine and while there's equal attention paid to the other main characters, the Doctor is never neglected and as usual, the moments are extremely memorable. There is, in fact, a duel (martial arts) which has GOT to be one of the finest First Doctor moments, in fact, all of Doctor Who! It's almost worth buying the novel for the duel! It's so good!
The Eleventh Tiger is one of the best novels I have ever read. It combines insights into Chinese history, with smatterings of science fiction and quite a bit of literary greatness! Go read it! Now!
Title: The Eleventh Tiger