The Stealers of Dreams, written by Steve Lyons, is one of just six New Series Adventures featuring the Ninth Doctor as portrayed by Christopher Eccleston. It leads the Doctor, Rose, and Jack Harkness to Colony World 4378976.Delta-Four. At first it appears to be an extremely dull planet, but the longer they stay there, and the more they learn about the lack of dreams and prohibition of all fiction, the more it becomes clear to the Doctor that something strange is at play here. Will he be able to figure out the world’s secret before one or both of his companions suffer tragic and permanent harm?
The Stealers of Dreams is one of those novels you enjoy although ultimately is it pretty predictable — I predicted a couple of things very early on that became true during the course of the novel. What makes it enjoyable nonetheless is the nice flow the story has; you never really get a dull phase, and the story moves along pretty flawlessly and logically (as logical as a Doctor Who story can be, at least). It’s also one of those novels that benefits from the short length of the New Series Adventures, since I doubt that Lyons would have been able to add much to the story without it feeling like padding. What makes this novel work is also that there is no real bad guy per se. Sure, the authorities’ methods of dealing with the “fantasy crazy” are questionable, but ultimately not purely evil. The predictability and the fact that the plot isn’t really original overall prevent it from being a real hit, but within its confines it works on a very acceptable level.
I quite liked that Lyons gave each of the trio their own part of the story: this way, all three get some time in the limelight. While I was occasionally not quite sure about Captain Jack’s characterisation, in the end characters are where The Stealers of Dreams really scores. Both the Doctor and Rose felt very true to their TV counterparts, but where the novel shines is with the original characters. Given the constraints of the NSAs, of course we can’t expect multi-layered characters with a ton of backstory, but within those constraints Lyons gave us some good characters with Waller and Domnic.
Overall The Stealers of Dreams is an entertaining little novel, and while not quite on par with some of the stronger NSAs I’ve read (for example, The King’s Dragon by Una McCormack), it’s definitely worth a look, especially for people wanting to “see” more from the Ninth Doctor.
The Stealers of Dreams (by Steve Lyons) was released by BBC Books in September 2005.