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When the Fourth Doctor takes Leela to visit an immense tree space station known as the Heligan Structure, little do they know that the tree has been asleep for centuries, dreaming of vengeance against a man in a blue box… As the tree awakes, the Time Lord and his companion soon discover why they are such unwelcome guests.

Eleven Doctors, eleven months, eleven stories: a year-long celebration of Doctor Who! The most exciting names in children's fiction each create their own unique adventure about the time-travelling Time Lord.

40 pages, Kindle Edition

First published April 23, 2013

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About the author

Philip Reeve

196 books2,471 followers
Philip Reeve was born and raised in Brighton, where he worked in a bookshop for a number of years while also co-writing, producing and directing a number of no-budget theatre projects.

Philip then began illustrating and has since provided cartoons for around forty children's books, including the best-selling Horrible Histories, Murderous Maths and Dead Famous series.

Railhead, published by Oxford University Press, will be published in the UK in October 2015

Pugs of the Frozen North, written with Sarah McIntyre, is out now.

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5 stars
275 (25%)
4 stars
462 (42%)
3 stars
314 (28%)
2 stars
31 (2%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 135 reviews
Profile Image for Alejandro.
1,142 reviews3,565 followers
January 6, 2016
This is the fourth book of the 50th Anniversary event featuring 11 short stories, each with a different doctor and companion. I was really eager to reach this one since the Fourth Doctor is my favorite doctor! I like all the rest but due I met the franchise watching episodes of this particular doctor, he is my favorite. Also, it was really cool that they picked Leela as his companion for the short story. My favorite companions are Romana II & K-9, but it was Leela the first companion that I met when I watched the TV eps, so I like to read stories with her. Also I like the synergy and balance that it's resulted in a team of a primitive cave-girl and a futuristic scientist. Technically, K-9 appears in the short story as a cameo, but since he is re-charging, he didn't participate in the adventure. It seems that the "rules" of having just one companion in this short stories were pretty strong.

The Good

It's a Fourth Doctor story!!!

I loved the idea of a "wooden space station", this "Heligan Structure, it's such an overwhelming concept. It's not a totally "new" idea since I remember to read something quite similar in an unused script for Alien3 with some kind of space station also contructed with wood. Nevertheless, that was a script that never reached the chance to be watched or read, and in here, you have a wonderful developed sci-fi adventure.

Due the setting of a "wooden space station", the choice of using Leela as the companion was marvellous and she was quite useful. I can't think of a better companion of any doctor for this particular plot.

Sometimes he was like a child, sometimes a god. Often he seemed to be both at once. (Leela thought this about the Fourth Doctor, and I think that it was one of the best descriptions ever that even fits with any doctor of the franchise)

There are new villains in here too, just I don't know how to comment it without spoiling so, let's just say that there are new villains.

Also there is another cool surprise, and no, I won't comment it. I don't want to spoil that. Let's just say that there is a really cool surprise.

The Bad


The Odd

Nothing that I could notice. Philip Reeve, the author, showed a great management in the Doctor Who's lore.
Profile Image for Lea.
891 reviews192 followers
February 11, 2019
The Fourth Doctor and his companion Leela land on a space colony on a giant bio-engineered tree, where the inhabitants have waited a long time for the Doctor to return so they can take revenge on him. The Doctor has no idea what they're talking about, as it's a future version of him who's been there before in the past. Ah, the joys of being a time lord. You end up in places where you're hated for things you haven't even done yet.

The Doctor being the Doctor, it turns out of course that he's not the evil person these inhabitants make him out to be. As this is a short story, everything solves itself rather quickly and it's quite predictable. The flat characterisation of everyone is also at least partially due to the short length. The world-building is nice, though. It's a short and harmless story, with some nice touches (I liked the bow tie comments).

Profile Image for Iain Hamilton.
100 reviews3 followers
September 25, 2013
Really cannot understand the 1 star rating from the only other rater so far. This is by far the best yet of the 50th Anniversary E-Shorts and took me back to Saturday tea times in the late 70s/early 80s.

OK it could be longer but it has a lot of plus points:


- Proper Doctor Who title and period plot. CHECK

- Tom Baker's Doctor well captured. CHECK

- K-9 cameo. CHECK

- Suitably heroic activity by Leela. CHECK

- Scarf used as (integral?) part of the plot. CHECK

- Sonic Screwdriver gets airtime. CHECK

- Suitable self-deprecating humour. CHECK:

"...it doesn't ring a bell, I'm afraid. But then I've visited such a lot of places... Did it look a bit like a gravel pit? You'd be amazed by how many alien worlds look just like gravel pits..."

- 11th Doctor shout out. CHECK:

"I mean, he's wearing a bow tie!" the Doctor explained patiently. "Riduclous objects! I wouldn't be seen dead in a bow tie!"

And the only Cons I can think of:

- Length (mentioned previously)

- We appear to be getting the "Curse of the 50th Anniversary E-Shorts" by which only the even numbered ones are really good. (Too Star Trek!!!)

- No Sarah Jane or Harry Sullivan. (I really like Leela but she has now been the companion in both of the Fourth Doctor's 50th Anniversary adventures to date - this and his appearance in IDW's Prisoners in Time. Someone in BBC licensing should have made sure Sarah Jane and Harry got an outing.)

In short something for old and new fans alike.

Absolutely loved it!!!


My reviews of other works in the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary E-Shorts series:

1. A Big Hand for the Doctor
2. The Nameless City
3. The Spear of Destiny
5. Tip of the Tongue
6. Something Borrowed
7. The Ripple Effect
8. Spore
9. The Beast of Babylon
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for B Schrodinger.
305 reviews673 followers
June 2, 2013
The Fourth Doctor story in the range is the best quality so far. The Doctor and Leela arrive on a massive tree in space that is inhabited by beings who already know the Doctor and want him bought to justice. What a wonderful little plot that makes the most of this short format.The characterisation is spot on, with a unique environment.
Read it. You'll enjoy it.
Profile Image for Marshal (thebookishhowler).
117 reviews77 followers
May 2, 2017
This is by far my favourite from the series. I love the plot, the adventure, everything! It was really a roller coaster ride, everything was fast and the plot twist, goodness. I was so happy to have read this one, Fourth Doctor, Leela, and a reference to a another particular Doctor!
Profile Image for Adam Stone.
213 reviews5 followers
December 16, 2013
The Roots of Evil features the fourth Doctor, Leela and K9. Leela is missing the open air and the trees of her home so the Doctor take her to see the Heligan Structure, a giant tree space-station (yes you read that correctly a tree space station).

This space station houses an entire civillisation who don't exactly welcome the Doctor with open arms, rather the opposite in fact, and the entire population have been bought up on tales of how evil and nasty he is, with people having names such as Vengeance-Will-Be-Ours-When-The-Doctor-Dies-A-Thousand-Agonising-Deaths and Agony-Without-End-Shall-Be-The-Doctor’s-Punishment.

Again this story is typical of the era in which it is set and also the characterisation of the regulars is once more spot on and we even got a very short cameo from K9 which was again very typical of that particular series of the show with him not having finished charging himself up so that he couldn’t participate any further in the story.

This is another really short story, but is a fun quick read with some very interesting concepts, and quite a nice little twist for people about why the inhabitants of the tree want the Doctor dead.
Profile Image for Polly Batchelor.
686 reviews73 followers
February 20, 2023
"Sometimes he was like a child, sometimes a God. Often he seems to be both at once."- perfect description of the Doctor

Narrated by Sophie Aldred

Leela is missing the trees and the open air. So the Doctor takes her to see the Heligan Structure- a giant tree space station. The Doctor is an unwanted guest, The station population have been told stories of the Doctor and how evil he is. Leela was the perfect companion for this story- Leela being in her element and was useful. I would of preferred a full novel for this story rather than a novella.
I think I would have enjoyed the audio version more if it was Louise Jameson narrating rather than Sophie, even though Sophie did do a good job. It is a Leela based story.

“... A whole city of tree houses, slowly linked together over hundreds of years. It's a space station, Leela. A wooden space station!”- The Doctor
Profile Image for Zain Hashmy.
73 reviews2 followers
August 14, 2018
Philip Reeve isn't a Doctor Who name at all, and I was surprised to see that he was given an Anniversary story to write, and a bit skeptical about his ability to be able to pen down the Fourth.
But there you have it, the story features the Fourth Doctor and Leela, large as life and twice as loud, just like they're supposed to be. I'll always have a soft spot for the Fourth Doctor and Leela, because this was the first ever Doctor Who book I picked up, and my first step as a Whovian.

It's an enjoyable short read, but if it was an episode, it would be about 10 minutes long, and that's my only gripe with the story. It could have been a full novel, fleshed our properly, instead of being condensed into a short story.

Profile Image for H.J. Swinford.
Author 3 books56 followers
December 1, 2022
The best story so far. It felt the most like a true episode of Doctor Who. It was fun to experience an adventure through the POV of Leela, one of the few companions not from the modern world. And Reeve captured the Fourth Doctor's personality incredibly well. Plus a hat-tip to Eleven to round out the whole story.
Profile Image for The Bookseller.
119 reviews4 followers
May 20, 2020
Philip Reeve is one of my favourite authors. To find a Doctor Who story written by him is the equivalent of me discover an amazing cocktail. And honestly it didn't disappoint.

The science fiction ideas that Reeve presents in this story seem fresh and dynamic. My only disappointment was that it wasn't longer. The world building has so much to it; it could easily be expanded to fit an entire novel.

I think this is what needs to happen next. Philip Reeves must write a Doctor Who novel...Why has this not happened?
Profile Image for Igor Neox.
302 reviews17 followers
April 20, 2022
What an original idea! Even for a Doctor Who story, when you think you’ve seen everything..
Profile Image for Karl Orbell.
222 reviews39 followers
May 2, 2013
So, the BBC are releasing a set of short Doctor Who stories to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the programme. One book for each Doctor, a different author each time. This book is for the fourth doctor, he is not my doctor, but one I consider definitive, Tom Baker.

Usually I would not have bothered with TV spin-off books, but this one was by one of my most favourite authors, Philip Reeve. His Mortal Engines quartet is right up there with The Lord of the Rings in quality story terms, and he has written many other books that are magnificent. So I paid the exceptionally low cost of this book and started to read.

The story is about a group of people living aboard a living tree, named The Heligan Structure. It is so large it behaves like a moon. The purpose of it is to terraform planets. But here is one not doing that, long overgrown and with permanent residents who have been installed for many generations, waiting... the Doctor soon finds out what for.

It is an excellent story, just like a televised story would have been during the Tom Baker era, the feel is spot on. Indeed I am somewhat sorry that it has not been televised, as it would make for a popular series.

Philip Reeve is quite outspoken of his lack of love for the modern Doctor Who, but Tom Baker was his doctor long ago when he was young and still liked it a good deal and he manages to bring the old style back to life, with the quality that made it live so long.
Profile Image for Dan.
684 reviews19 followers
April 26, 2013
Another great e-short! In this one the Fourth Doctor and Leela land on a civilisation built on a giant tree which has been brought up on the idea of killing the Doctor. It's a great idea which is really well executed and does feel like a Fourth Doctor story. Reeve certainly captures Tom Baker's Doctor excellently and from what I know of Leela he captures her well too, although perhaps Sarah-Jane might have been a more appropriate companion in a celebration of the series?

The story is built around the Fourth Doctor reacting to something the Eleventh Doctor did which is an interesting idea and works really well here- it's a pleasure to read the Fourth Doctor's views on wearing a bow tie. There's also references to a swimming pool in the TARDIS and the sonic screwdriver not doing wood. Some people don't seem to like references to future eras in these books but personally I think they are good fun and make it easier for people to get into the story.

Great fun and a worthy story for the Fourth Doctor!
Profile Image for Richard Wright.
Author 30 books48 followers
April 26, 2013
It's April, and time for the fourth incarnation of the Doctor to take centre stage in this series of anniversary short stories celebrating fifty years of Doctor Who. This is easily the best of the line so far. The Doctor on perfect Tom Baker teeth-and-curls form, a giant orbital space station that's a tree, and an entire civilization that's been waiting nine hundred years to punish the Doctor for something he won't do for another seven regenerations. Inventive, fast-paced, funny and perfectly suited to the era while at the same time ramping up the pace to that of the modern TV show. Exactly what this little run of books should be, and a splendid introduction to one of the most enduring of Doctors for young readers.
Profile Image for F.R..
Author 31 books199 followers
May 3, 2013
I enjoyed this yarn. Like all right minded people I’m a fan of Tom Baker’s Doctor, and Philip Reeve captures his playfulness and his relish in grinning at danger. Leela is missing the sight of trees and so The Doctor takes her to a giant tree in space, but the locals – and the tree itself – want revenge for some great crime The Doctor committed in their past and his future. (This is the second of these tales to contain an overt reference to Matt Smith’s version). This story is far larger and more ambitious than could ever have ever been realised on 1970’s British television, it moves along at a great zip, the irritating K9 is disposed of early in the proceedings and if the conclusion is almost literally deus ex machina – hey, a lot of very good Doctor Who has ended that way!
Profile Image for Ashley.
2,774 reviews1,776 followers
April 24, 2013
This was a pretty cool story. The giant tree planet was nifty (even more so when it went evil). Reeve captured the Fourth Doctor's personality really well, though I would have preferred Sarah Jane to Leela, most definitely. I get that Leela holds a special place in Reeve's heart, as she was his first companion, but Sarah Jane is the more iconic role (and if this is a celebration of Doctor Who, I'd think you'd go with iconic.) Anyway, I guess Leela was okay.
Profile Image for Leilani.
443 reviews16 followers
April 29, 2013
A very enjoyable Fourth Doctor and Leela story in which they visit a space colony on a giant bio-engineered tree, and are met with a distinct lack of welcome. Both the Doctor and Leela seem perfectly in character, and they both get chances to shine while overcoming the dangers they're facing. The story is brief and fast-paced, but despite its shortness manages to fit in a surprising amount of atmosphere and adventure.

Profile Image for Paul Dumont.
72 reviews
June 9, 2013
Philip Reeve's note perfect pastiche of season 15 Doctor Who is pacy, witty, confident and engaging - I particularly liked the description of "one of those twenty-fourth-century computers with the big dials and buttons" which describes any number of pieces of high tech kit on view in 1970s SF TV. It's "The Face of Evil" re-done with touches of Brian Aldiss' "Hothouse" and Robert Heinlein's "Orphans of the Sky" done with an enviable lightness of touch.
Profile Image for Scott.
1,187 reviews106 followers
August 2, 2015
Another in a series of novella's made for the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who. This one follows the 4th doctor on an adventure on a massive tree space station with a legendary hatred for the Doctor because of a visit from a future Doctor (love time travel). One of my favorite Doctors and the story was fine I guess although it left me wanting a little bit more meat to the story...still, it's Doctor Who...go read it.
Profile Image for Kribu.
510 reviews53 followers
April 28, 2013
Hmm. Nice little story, with a plot and all, and I liked Leela being chosen as the companion, and the Doctor was recognisable and the story felt fitting for Four, but somehow it felt a little ... not sure how to put it, but lacking something? The conclusion came too quickly and easily, perhaps.
Profile Image for Sean Kennedy.
Author 59 books971 followers
May 13, 2013
Probably the best anniversary short so far, although I couldn't help wishing it was Sarah Jane and Harry instead of Leela. Some great one-liners regarding the names of the planet's inhabitants. I could just picture Tom Baker's reactions so clearly in my head.
Profile Image for Mary Archer.
33 reviews1 follower
January 11, 2022
A fun read about a murderous tree who may or may not have started that way. I enjoyed the humorous names such as Ven short for “Vengeance-Will-Be-Ours-When-the-Doctor-Dies-A-Thousand-Agonizing-Deaths.” With each encounter the Doctor’s eager friendliness contrasts with the residents of the tree’s 900 year long grudge of unknown towards him as man with The Blue Box.

The tale builds with action and intrigue with a competent companion Leela who unlike many Dr Who companions is quick on the offense—refreshing in the midst of the Doctor’s infamous “no weapons” pacifism.

A striking mystery lies at the core of the tree, but also a strong message about grudges and the way it halts expansion, fulfillment and natural growth. As such, the story also invites contemplation on the Doctor’s long enduring effects and how it could go awry as it shapes civilizations and many generations thereafter.
Profile Image for Kylle.
73 reviews25 followers
January 26, 2021
I've never watched any of the Fourth's episodes, but somehow I got to paint him vividly in my mind! The story had the scarf, a K-9 appearance, and even a shoutout to the Eleventh (unless I missed any other regeneration who thought bowties were cool). Overall, I would've enjoyed this if I had a better connection with this version of the Doctor. This was an okay short story with a standard DW episode recipe and a predictable plot, and if I didn't like the show, I'd have dismissed it as a children's novel.
Profile Image for Joe Clegg.
119 reviews
March 24, 2022
The Fourth Doctor has many companions, but there’s no more formidable than Leela. I’m here for any and all of their adventures together. She’s as witty as the Fourth Doctor is gleeful, and Reeve does a banging job of bringing them to life on the page.

The first in this series of shorts that feels like a proper well-rounded, unabridged Doctor Who adventure in space and time. All boxes ticked for me. Why not five stars? I don’t think a short is worthy of five. Unless any of the remaining 8 can prove me wrong…
Profile Image for Joe Pranaitis.
Author 23 books76 followers
June 12, 2022
Author Philip Reeve brings us a forth Doctor adventure where the TARDIS lands on a Heligan, a tree space station. But here's the thing him and Leela are accused of something that the Doctor hasn't done yet. I won't give away the twist the a later regeneration of the Doctor caused the problem that the fourth doctor has to solve. And with all his normal flair the Doctor dose and they leave the people of the tree space station with a great sight. I highly recommend this novella to all Doctor Who fans and you'll like the nods to the later Doctor that caused the problem in the first place.
Profile Image for Eduardo.
87 reviews4 followers
October 24, 2018
Rápido e divertido.

O conto do quarto Doutor retrata bem o espírito do pouco que conheço desta encarnação: um Doutor muito mais divertido e ativo. O autor faz uso do contexto do personagem para construir sua história, com presenças de Leela, K-9 e do fato de estar novamente livre para viajar pelo espaço. Com uma narrativa de ritmo rápido e muito bem ambientada, o conto do quarto Doutor é uma diversão rápida, mas com alguns outros ingredientes para os fãs.
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