I have recently acquired a little extra time, and have decided to delve into my vast library of unread books this summer. As it turns out I have already started this with "Love and War" a Doctor Who book from The New Adventures line published by Virgin back in the 90s. This book may very well be the beginning of modern Doctor Who.
It is obvious that Paul Cornell has a deep understanding of doctor who as it was at the end of the TV run. He delves deep into the dark underbelly of the show and the characters. there are several elements that are in the book that remind me a lot of the new Doctor Who series and I believe that is because Cornell's work was looked at in great detail. There are little elements like the Doctor being called "The oncoming storm" in some legends, of course this is changed to be what he is called in Dalek Legends, but it is still there. Also there are some character archetypes we have recently seen in the series that show up here. This book introduces the character of Professor Bernice Summerfield, a self proclaimed archeologist and strangely a thrill seeker. Her character is vaguely reminiscent of another archeologist we have recently met in Professor River Song.
Now there are elements of the book (and really the whole line of books) that might put one off. these books were very much written for an adult audience and as I said delve into some darker territory. Characters, like Ace, become more morally ambiguous, and the Doctor becomes a man who plans and doesn't care who really gets caught up. He is willing to sacrifice people for the greater good. Now, we do see this on occasion, but in this book he is completely alien, which he is. That is what they were playing up, but his character is almost unlikeable. He treats the universe as a game, and can't be concerned with who may die. He is Times Champion and it is very obvious the editors of these new adventures wanted to play up the mystery of the Doctor.
All of that said, the story flow is very much like a classic TV story. The unseen aliens sit in a green unfriendly glow and discuss their plans. It could have came right off of the screen. It was easy to visualize. The story concerns . . . well . . . essentially, zombies. zombies that are controlled and brought to life by sentient fungus creatures that live in a hive mind. It flows well, as you really get into Ace's head and see another side of the doctor. A side that is slightly repugnant as he lets his plans run their course no matter who gets involved, every one is a pawn. He sits and watches the game play out, as if he is a deity watching from above. He is continually reprimanded by the humans around him who can not understand why he does what he does.
All in all the book is fantastic, and I recommend the read if you can take a slightly different approach to the character of the Doctor, and his companions.