Faction Paradox: The Book of the War by Lawrence Miles

glasstatterdemalion's review against another edition

Go to review page


One of the most impressive things about The Book of the War is that it exists at all.

I don't mean that as an insult or even faint praise. This is a book where the editor Lawrence Miles took everything he liked about and had written for Doctor Who as a setting and a bunch of ideas that he wanted to explore further, and then rounded up several other authors (some of whom had written for the Doctor Who line and some who hadn't) and then all of these writers contributed things that they were interested in, whether ideas they wanted to explore and expand on, other pieces of media, or bits and pieces from the long history of Doctor Who. And then through three tons of elbow grease they put together an encyclopedia that reads like a single piece of work. And on top of all that it's incredible.

The Book of the War is an in-universe encyclopedia of the first fifty years of a time-spanning conflict between the Great Houses, who mapped out the long stretches of history, and the Enemy, a mysterious opposing force whose existence should be theoretically impossible but exists anyway. Between them is a group of Great House renegades named Faction Paradox who are opposed to both sides.

The Book goes into details about events we had seen or were referenced in the Eighth Doctor Adventure novels such as Alien Bodies, Interference, The Taking of Planet 5, Shadows of Avalon, and The Adventuress of Henrietta Street, while also going further and expanding the setting in many ways that they couldn't have if they were still part of Doctor Who proper, while setting up and foreshadowing events that would take decades before they paid off.

It would be wrong to call The Book of the War just an encyclopedia, though it is that, as it's more a collection of short stories. Following the guide suggested by the now defunct Faction Paradox website, narratives emerge in the various entries, and several of the missing ones, with a few strands weaving in and out of the entire work.

And if all of that wasn't enough, the entire work also has a lot to say about humanity, civilization, culture, stagnation, the effects of war, in-groups and out-groups, media, cultural imperialism, and of course, the entertainment industry in Hollywood.

So again, the fact that this book exists at all is truly amazing, and speaks to the massive amount of talent of the people who brought it into existence.

nwhyte's review

Go to review page


The first in the series of Faction Paradox Doctor Who spinoff books, this is supposedly an encyclopedia of things in the Faction Paradox world which sort of comes together to make a story or several stories (an approach also used by Christopher Priest in The Islanders). I admit I did find it all pretty confusing, but it was engaging enough that I've got hold of the next few volumes in the series and will start getting through them at the rate of one a month for the next while.