Written by Justin Richards
Read By Peter Purves
Released by BBC Worldwide - May 2018
Available from Amazon UK
In this new original audiobook featuring the First Doctor, we have a short adventure built into the middle of the classic First Doctor epic serial The Dalek's Master Plan with the Doctor, Steven, and Sara Kingdom ending up in the middle of World War I, and finding that the timeline has been delayed, and it is causing havoc on the Web of Time.
As a simple short story, Men of War is solid on atmosphere but feels incomplete. It has a good premise, a major battle of the war has not yet begun, and now the timeline is trying to fix itself by swallowing up all the lives that would've been lost if the battle had taken place. The problems of this audio are in the ending, which feels like a lazy quick wrap up, leaving dangling threads for another story to solve.
The big cliffhanging reveal is that Archduke Franz Ferdinand survived his assassination that launched the world into war, meaning the Timeline is even more screwed up than initially thought. But the Doctor just sort of says that it will have to wait because they must avoid the Daleks, and the story is over. It is unsatisfying to the story being told. It feels like this story has all this promise and then it just ends with a tease that basically tells the listener to buy another audio if it wants to get closure.
This might not be a huge problem if the story felt like it had a more satisfying conclusion to it's contained story. I've enjoyed many a Doctor Who adventure in a variety of formats that ends with a tease of tales to come...but if you have a self contained story that teases more to the story, the ending for the self contained bit ought to be a bit more interesting.
As I already have the next story (Horrors of War), it takes the annoyance out of that ending. And I've already seen that the title of BBC Audio's third release, also written by Justin Richards, is Fortunes of War, which has me more prepared for the story to end later. But if I were a listener who purchased an audiobook and didn't know it was part of some bigger plot-line, I'd be a bit more irritated.
But let me dial back the criticism a bit. I actually liked the bulk of this story. I thought Peter Purves did a lovely job reading it, and it has some brilliant ideas floating around. I am quite interested to hear this little series of audiobooks out. It doesn't have a great ending, and while the cliffhanger feels like a cheap way to not actually end this specific story...it is a good cliffhanger that left my interest peaked.