A mysterious ancient race, a powerful crystal and the odd in-joke to Doctor Who’s illustrious past are just some of the elements of The Dust of Ages, which sees the Tenth Doctor and a small crew of Moon surveyors tackle a set of monsters made from Moon dust.
Justin Richards kicks off the new 10-part Doctor Who book series – which mixes standard linear storytelling with diversions to the Darksmith Legacy website for interactive segments – in the solid style that he has become known for.
It’s a far cry from the days of System Shock (dying for a television adaptation) but Richard’s ability as a reliable contributor as well as senior advisor to the range has seen him adapt his imaginative plots of old into solid fare aimed at a lower age range.
The Dust of Ages is an important title as the first book of The Darksmith Legacy, and it throws us headlong into the events on the moon with the TARDIS seen on the first page, the Doctor on the second and an almost relentless pace with only a few slower moments during setups and escapes from the moon dust golems.
Despite The Dust of Ages checking in at 108 pages, the concept and ongoing nature of The Darksmith Legacy refuses to overshadow the events on the moon, which all seem to stem from a mysterious, powerful crystal whose presence and machinations give proceedings more than a hint of The Hand of Fear.
The Doctor himself is purely as portrayed by David Tennant, from the manic energy to the quiet murmurs and talking to himself. This Doctor travels alone, placing the series of books in the post-2008 series timezone. There is little sophisticated by the prose, however, and anyone expecting something as mature as Harry Potter will be disappointed. The ingenuity of this series lies beyond the plot of the individual books.
I am of course skirting around the real selling point of the book and The Darksmith Legacy as a whole. One thing before I continue, however – as noted, these are slim volumes, and unfortunately the print and paper quality within don’t reflect the £4.99 cover price. In fact the inner page design where images and puzzles are introduced to The Darksmith Legacy hark back to the Interplanetary Spy series from Bantam Books in the 1980s.
The similarities in concept are obvious, of course, with The Darksmith Project taking the modern approach by incorporating a website – www.thedarksmithlegacy.com.
Not just any website, however – this is a Flash enhanced, interactive game world that throws the reader of the books into a set of puzzles, quests and games. The reward is eternity points, which allow for various bonuses to be unlocked such as desktop wallpapers.
It’s a lot of fun, and perfect holiday/weekend diversionary fare for the largely Doctor Who-on-TV-less year that is 2009.
With a good set of authors behind the series and an online quest as well as some tangible bonuses for loyal, regular readers of the series and visitors to the website, The Darksmith Legacy looks set to be a major triumph in BBC Worldwide’s partnership with Penguin Children’s books.
The Darksmith Legacy: The Dust of Ages is available from Amazon for as little as £1.10!