Publisher's summary Edit
Only a few years from now, a squad of UNIT troops is escorting a nuclear missile through the English countryside. At the nearby archaeological dig, knights in armour are fighting battles with broadswords – and guns and grenades.
The Doctor arrives on the scene and meets two old friends: Brigadier Lethbridge Stewart, called out of retirement to help in an emergency, and Bessie the souped-up roadster. Ace escapes from death by drowning in a submerged spaceship, only to find herself at the mercy of a demon known as the Destroyer.
The action is fast and furious, as expected in a script by Ben Aaronovitch, who wrote the classic Remembrance of the Daleks. And why do the knights address the Doctor as 'Merlin'? What is the power of the sword that Ace retrieves from the bottom of the lake? Will Morgaine carry out her threat to destroy the world?
2016 edition Edit
'How do you do?' the Doctor said. 'This is Ace, and I am...' 'Merlin!' cried the Black Knight. His smile broadened in wonder and recognition. 'Merlin, against all hope!'
A UNIT nuclear convoy, stranded on the shores of Lake Vortigern, becomes the focus of an incursion by knights from a parallel reality. In this other world, technology and magic exist side by side, and the legends of King Arthur are fact. Close to the lake, the sinister Mordred battles against his enemy Ancelyn and summons his mother, the powerful witch Morgaine.
Is the Doctor really Merlin? And will he discover what actually happened to King Arthur? But time is running out for everyone as Morgaine takes control of the nuclear weapons and summons the Destroyer - Lord of Darkness and Eater of Worlds...
THIS NOVEL IS BASED ON A DOCTOR WHO STORY WHICH WAS ORIGINALLY BROADCAST FROM 6-27 SEPTEMBER 1989.
Featuring the Seventh Doctor as played by Sylvester McCoy with his companion Ace
Deviations from televised story Edit
- The opening sequence of the Brigadier and Doris is excised.
- A flashback sequence includes an unknown future incarnation of the Doctor, who has red hair and wears a camel-hair coat. This incarnation would later reappear in a cameo sequence in Ben Aaronovitch's PROSE: Transit.
- There is an extra opening sequence of Bambera being summoned to Geneva to be breached on the nuclear missile transport. Excalibur's signal causes a storm, which is what grounds the convoy.
- Walmsley is given an Irish wolfhound, Cerebrus. The dog is summoned by the Doctor with K9's old dog whistle to join the evacuation.
- Ace is buried under rubbish when the TARDIS is thrown about by the signal.
- The novelisation includes dates not given on screen: Walmsley's tax disc reads 30.6.99 (suggesting a setting of late 1998 or early 1999), while Liz Shaw's old UNIT pass expired on 31.12.75.
- The book is divided into four "parts": However, the first part ends prior to the cliffhanger to the broadcast Part One, on Ancelyn recognising the Doctor as Merlin.
- The novelisation contains material filmed but cut from the finished version such as Ace's jealousy of the Brigadier and her quoting of Clarke's Law. (This material is included in the extended VHS and DVD versions.)
- It also includes material from earlier drafts that was never filmed such as Rowlinson going to help Lavel after the helicopter crash, the Brigadier taking charge of Lavel's remains and Doris attempting to get information on casualties. It also uses the idea of the Destroyer initially appearing as an aristocratic man in a 20th century business suit, with his shadow being that of his demon self.
- The Destroyer kills a group of soldiers who try to help Ace and Shou Yuing at the hotel.
- There is extra background material of Morgaine and Mordred receiving Excalibur's signal, including Mordred being summoned from a tavern with his drinking partner.
- Mordred's initial companions are named as Sir Comus and Sir Madlamor.
- Ancelyn's back story is given: He was a Knight General in Morgaine's army who deserted because of an ancient family pledge to answer Arthur's call. He refuses to give UNIT information on Morgaine's army because of his old oaths.
- Shou Yuing is given the family name Li.
- Ace knocks Mordred down with Ancelyn's sword during their first meeting.
- Ancelyn is specified as the one who killed the Knight Commander.
- Rowlinson reveals he is a retired police officer.
- Zbrigniev is killed when Morgaine and Mordred capture the missile.
- It is Bambera, rather than the Doctor, who knocks Mordred unconscious as he is about to kill Ancelyn.
- At the close, the Doctor ruminates on how the Earth authorities are negotiating Morgaine and Mordred's fate with their own dimension and how the mechanism for replacing Morgaine as ruler has broken down, before the Brigadier announces that he has had a job offer that will be hard to turn down.
Writing and publishing notes Edit
- Dedication: “For Ben the perfect gentle Knight who let his humble squire take over the reins”
- This was the last novelisation of a televised story to be published in the short-form paperback format introduced in 1973; after one non-televised story adaptation, the format would switch to the longer, Virgin Missing Adventures format for the final releases.
- The novel completed the Seventh Doctor story adaptations, with the exception of the 1996 TV movie which would be adapted by BBC Books five years later.
Additional Cover Images Edit
British publication history Edit
One single paperback edition, priced £2.50 (UK), estimated print run: 22,000 copies.