1997 saw the Virgin Novels bring their Missing Adventures to an end with The Dark Path. The range had featured ideas that had once been considered as treading sacred ground. And The Dark Path, like Lungbarrow before it, is a prime example of this.
This novel features the earliest meeting of the Doctor and the Master, here going by his original name of Koschei. This is the anticipated falling out between the Doctor and his old friend, with Koschei becoming the Master at the end of the novel.
I will admit that David A. Mcintee isn't an author that I have kept up with in the Doctor Who world, nor is he an author whose Who work I have read, I have enjoyed. Many find his books dull and plodding. But The Dark Path is very readable. In this piece of fiction, Mcintee manages to pay homage to many films and television series' in the form of the events and characters he features here. For me, this was most evident in the form of Captain Sherwin, who reminded me of Captain Janeway from Star Trek: Voyager.
Mcintee keeps many of Patrick Troughton's mannerisms and handles them to a tee. He also manages to give Jamie a good turn, with him being one of the characters that was never served world in novel form. This was of course probably because Mcintee was a Scotsman himself. But Mcintee pays much of his attention to Victoria and her emotional vulnerability is exploited shockingly by Koschei. It is the events that surround her in this novel that make her decide to leave in the following story, Fury From The Deep, a story that the end of this novel sets up.
The characterisation of Koschei was much more disappointing. It is certainly left very unclear as to why he finally decides to turn evil at the end of the book. Perhaps more astonishingly though, is that Mcintee leaves much of the plot unexplained and as a result, we readers are left wondering what the catalyst for the dramatic change in the direction of this vital character.
The Dark Path is very readable, though it did take me a matter of weeks rather than the days books normally takes me. But it is let down very much by the poor characterisation of the Master, despite this being Mcintee's second attempt at the character, but then one has to remember that he was also disappointing in First Frontier. It would be a little while to see if he would get it right a third time in Face of the Enemy...