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What with there not being much televised Who this year, the BBC have partially filled the gap with this series of books for younger readers, the first of which was published in January and the tenth and final one last week. The full list is:
  1. Doctor Who - The Darksmith Legacy: The Dust of Ages by Justin Richards
  2. Doctor Who - The Darksmith Legacy: The Caves of Mordane, by Colin Brake
  3. Doctor Who - The Darksmith Legacy: The Colour of Darkness, by Richard Dungworth
  4. Doctor Who - The Darksmith Legacy: The Depths of Despair, by Justin Richards
  5. Doctor Who - The Darksmith Legacy: The Vampire of Paris, by Stephen Cole
  6. Doctor Who - The Darksmith Legacy: The Game of Death, by Trevor Baxendale
  7. Doctor Who - The Darksmith Legacy: The Planet of Oblivion, by Justin Richards
  8. Doctor Who - The Darksmith Legacy: The Pictures of Emptiness, by Jacqueline Rayner
  9. Doctor Who - The Darksmith Legacy: The Art of War, by Mike Tucker
  10. Doctor Who - The Darksmith Legacy: The End of Time, by Justin Richards
There are basically two models for multipart stories like this, the Key to Time / Keys of Marinus model where our hero has to pick up individual items which make a wholen and the McGuffin model as in the Daleks' Master Plan (or indeed the Lord of the Rings) where the vital object has to be kept out of the hands of the bad guys and if possible destroyed. This is an example of the latter approach, with the Eternity Crystal, as created by the Darksmiths, clearly drawing inspiration from both Tolkien's One Ring and the Nation/Spooner Time Destructor (or more exactly its taranium core). These are good precedents, and the Darksmith Legacy makes the most of them. Each book has a different setting (including two historical visits to Earth) and usually a new alien species as well as the relentless Darksmiths in the background. The Doctor travels solo for the first few volumes and then picks up a young companion, Gisella, who is more than she seems. There are excellent cliff-hangers at the end of each book, and I rather regret reading them all in one go rather than spacing them out as they were published. Also each book has a puzzle or two, integrated into the plot ("Which button should the Doctor press? Crack the code!") and some further information "from the Tardis databanks", either about fictional planets or something factual and relevant. All in all they are a jolly good contribution to the younger end of Who literature; I felt the third (by Richard Dungworth) was the least accomplished but all the others are pretty good.

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