Hold on to your hats, the series just took a violent shift to the left. Or right. Or some other random direction.
Lawrence's image of the Doctor is a lot more idiosyncratic than the previous authors'. And in some ways a lot more in keeping with the general style of the Doctor; only turned up to 11. The Milesian Doctor thinks nothing of playing a chess game one move each year, with his opponent trying to murder him each time.
This book is all of fun, well written, pivotal and strange. Lots of things get set up here that don't get more than a brief mention in the following books; until they suddenly explode later in the series. The plot brings together major powers from across time-and-space, including post-Doctor Gallifrey, in an auction for a mysterious artifact that turns out to actually be the body of the Doctor himself. Unsurprisingly he's slightly irritated by this.
Watch out for introductions of the following, but only tempting details on any of them:
- Biodata; particularly Sam's
- Faction Paradox
- The Type 103 TARDIS
- The Celestis
As I said before; fun, well written, pivotal, strange. Plus we get to see where UNIT start to go after we leave them in the late 1990s. Highly recommended, but with too many loose-ends to really be treated as a "stand-alone".