While leading a flotilla of Battle TARDISes against a Dalek fleet, the Doctor is shot down on the planet Moldox and befriends a human girl named Cinder. The Doctor and Cinder find their way back to Gallifrey and must defy the Time Lords, who plan on using a doomsday weapon to destroy twelve inhabited worlds in order to stop the Daleks. But the Daleks have a super weapon of their own and mean to erase the Time Lords from history. Can The Doctor thwart the Daleks and the Time Lords? Of course he can! He's the Doctor...
I got this from Netgalley.
The Engines of War is the first Doctor Who novel featuring the War Doctor, aka the Doctor played by John Hurt in Name of the Doctor and Day of the Doctor. That may be the reason for the problems I'll be pointing out a little later.
George Mann did a pretty good job with what little information we've been given about the War Doctor during the Time War. The Time Lords and Daleks have been committing untold atrocities upon one another for years, escalating to unbelievable degrees at this point in the Time War. The Doctor is caught between a rock and a hard place and does some good Doctoring with Cinder in tow.
There is a lot of action and a lot of cool concepts, like mutant Time Lords powering the possibility engine, the Dalek's new magic eraser weapon that wipes people from existence completely, to the Time Lords and their super weapon. Mann dips into Who history, touching upon adventures from the fourth and eighth doctors, as well has seeing hints of his own future. While he's wearing a different skin, he's still The Doctor we all know and love...
... And therein lies the rub. There isn't enough in the story to distinguish the War Doctor from any other Doctor. I get a sense of world weariness from him, much like the Eleventh Doctor, but apart from not wanting to be called The Doctor, he's pretty much still The Doctor. When the War Doctor first appeared, I got the feeling that he did a lot more than use The Moment to end the Time War. Apart from punching someone in the jaw in this one, there's nothing particularly edgy about him.
Like I said, Mann did the best he could with what little background he had to work with. I'll be reading future novels featuring the War Doctor. 3.5 out of 5 stars.