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Pages 172
ISBN 0-426-19200-X
Publication Date 18 July 1991


1991 Target Books edition

Only a few years from now, a squad of UNIT troops is escorting a nuclear missile through the English countryside. At the nearby archaeological dig, knights in armour are fighting battles with broadswords – and guns and grenades.

The Doctor arrives on the scene and meets two old friends: Brigadier Lethbridge Stewart, called out of retirement to help in an emergency, and Bessie the souped-up roadster.

Ace escapes from death by drowning in a submerged spaceship, only to find herself at the mercy of a demon known as the Destroyer.

The action is fast and furious, as expected in a script by Ben Aaronovitch, who wrote the classic Remembrance of the Daleks. And why do the knights address The Doctor as ‘Merlin’? What is the powerof the sword that Ace retrieves from the bottom of the lake? Will Morgaine carry out her threat to destroy the world?

This novelisation is by Marc Platt, who both scripted and novelized Ghost Light, the story that immediately followed Battlefield in the 1989 season.

2016 BBC Books edition

‘How do you do?’ The Doctor said. ‘This is Ace, and I am…’ ‘Merlin!’ cried the Black Knight. His smile broadened in wonder and recognition. ‘Merlin, against all hope!’

A UNIT nuclear convoy, stranded on the shores of Lake Vortigern, becomes the focus of an incursion by knights from a parallel reality. In this other world, technology and magic exist side by side, and the legends of King Arthur are fact. Close to the lake, the sinister Mordred battles against his enemy Ancelyn and summons his mother, the powerful witch Morgaine.

Is The Doctor really Merlin? And will he discover what actually happened to King Arthur? But time is running out for everyone as Morgaine takes control of the nuclear weapons and summons the Destroyer – Lord of Darkness and Eater of Worlds…


Featuring the Seventh Doctor as played by Sylvester McCoy with his companion Ace .



  • The opening sequence of the Brigadier and Doris is excised.
  • A flashback sequence includes an unknown future incarnation of the Doctor, who has red hair and wears a camel-hair coat. This incarnation would later reappear in a cameo sequence in Ben Aaronovitch’s Transit.
  • There is an extra opening sequence of Bambera being summoned to Geneva to be breached on the nuclear missile transport. Excalibur’s signal causes a storm, which is what grounds the convoy.
  • Walmsley is given an Irish wolfhound, Cerebrus. The dog is summoned by The Doctor with K9’s old dog whistle to join the evacuation.
  • Ace is buried under rubbish when the TARDIS is thrown about by the signal.
  • The novelisation includes dates not given on screen: Walmsley’s tax disc reads 30.6.99 (suggesting a setting of late 1998 orearly 1999), while Liz Shaw’s old UNIT pass expired on 31.12.75.
  • The book is divided into four “parts”: However, the first part ends prior to the cliffhanger to the broadcast Part One, on Ancelyn recognising The Doctor as Merlin.
  • The novelisation contains material filmed but cut from the finished version such as Ace’s jealousy of the Brigadier and her quoting of Clarke’s Law. (This material is included in the extended VHS and DVD versions.)
  • It also includes material from earlier drafts that was never filmed such as Rowlinson going to help Lavel after the helicopter crash, the Brigadier taking charge of Lavel’s remains and a href=”/doris” title=”Doris Lethbridge-Stewart”>Doris attempting to get information on casualties. It also uses the idea of the Destroyer initially appearing as an aristocratic man in a 20th century business suit, with his shadow being that of his demon self.
  • The Destroyer kills a group of soldiers who try to help Ace and Shou Yuing at the hotel.
  • There is extra background material of Morgaine and Mordred receiving Excalibur’s signal, including Mordred being summoned from a tavern with his drinking partner.
  • Mordred’s initial companions are named as Sir Comus and Sir Madlamor.
  • Ancelyn’s back story is given: He was a Knight General in Morgaine’s army who deserted because of an ancient family pledge to answer Arthur’s call. He refuses to give UNIT information on Morgaine’s army because of his old oaths.
  • Shou Yuing is given the family name Li.
  • Ace knocks Mordred down with Ancelyn’s sword during their first meeting.
  • Ancelyn is specified as the one who killed the Knight Commander.
  • Rowlinson reveals he is a retired police officer.
  • Zbrigniev is killed when Morgaine and Mordred capture the missile.
  • It is Bambera, rather than The Doctor, who knocks Mordred unconscious as he is about to kill Ancelyn.
  • At the close, The Doctor ruminates on how the Earth authorities are negotiating Morgaine and Mordred’s fate with their own dimension and how the mechanism for replacing Morgaine as ruler has broken down, before the Brigadier announces that he has had a job offer that will be hard to turn down

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