The Sorcerer’s Apprentice
“There’s no such thing as magic,” the Doctor said.
But the land of Elbyon might just prove him to be wrong. It is a place, populated by creatures of fantasy, where myth and legend rule. Elves and dwarves live in harmony with mankind, wizards wield arcane powers and armoured knights battle monstrous dragons.
Yet it seems that Elbyon has secrets to hide. The TARDIS crew find a relic from the thirtieth century hidden in the woods. Whose sinister manipulations are threatening the stability of a once peaceful land? And what part does the planet play in a conflict that may save an Empire, yet doom a galaxy?
To solve these puzzles, and save his companions, the Doctor must learn to use the sorcery whose very existence he doubts.
The Doctor, Susan Foreman, Barbara Wright and Ian Chesterton arrive in a deserted forest, where they follow a path which leads to a demolished village. Fearing danger, they return to the TARDIS, to find a dragon, which injures Barbara. They are saved by Sir Bron of Westhold, who slaughters the beast. He offers to take them to Fluxford for rest.
On arrival in the great city, they meet up with Edmund Palbury preparing for his marriage to Princess Mellisa. They enter the palace and are given rooms. After settling in, the TARDIS crew meet up with the wizard of the court, Gramling, who politely offers to help open the blue box. He cannot enter under suspicious circumstances.
The new arrivals are asked to attend a meal, ordered by the king and queen in celebration of their daughter’s marriage. There, the TARDIS crew meet up with many other new faces, including Sir Peridor, Kilvenny Odoyle and the princess herself. The meal is interrupted rudely by a mysterious figure known as Marton Dhal. He asks for Princess Melissa to come forth so that he may marry her. Edmund is furious, but before he can do anything, Dhal disappears.
In the night, there is a sudden attack and, while the guards prepare themselves for battle, Apemen have already infiltrated the castle. Princess Melissa and Susan are taken. Edmund demands a retribution in order to save his fiance, and so a debate begins organising a wise way in order to tackle the problem. The TARDIS crew then hear of Merlin’s Helm, a machine that could save them from Dhal’s powers. They then decide to send two parties: one straight to Dhal, and another to find Merlin’s Helm in the Shadow Isles.
Up in space above Avalon, Admiral Nyborg is amassing an army to land on the planet, but they have been suffering faults. Finally, he manages to send a successful party down, but miraculously. Inside, Captain Shannon, Lieutenant Monadno, Jen Komati and Ivanov crash land on the planet.
The Doctor and Ian decide to join the quest to find Merlin’s Helm. Along with them, they have Kilvenny Odoyle, Sir Bron, Thurguld the Dwarf and Alammar the Elf. They travel to the docks to find their seventh companion, Captain Tristram and his crew on the Merrow. Using the sea, they travel towards the Shadow Isles, colliding with creatures and terrors of all kinds until they finally arrive. Along the way the find a crash landed ship, which contains the off-worlders. They bring them on board, but are reluctant to trust them.
Susan and Princess Melissa are trapped in the Black Tower where Dhal only brings them out of their cell in order to show them the work of his dragons as they wreak havoc across the land. While in his laboratory of sorts, Susan manages to steal two vials, which she hopes contain acid.
Disembarking the ship, the seven companions realise that The off-worlders have already left to reach Merlin’s Helm. Climbing up the many steps, they find Monadno blocking their way. Thurguld is shot, but Alammar fire two arrows at Monadno, killing him. They finally reach the remains of Prydwen (Merlin’s ship) and find Captain Shannon and Ivanov inside. When Ivanov places the Helm on his head, he is overwhelmed by his power and loses control. There is an eruption and everyone escapes, Sir Bron grabbing the Helm on his way out. Believing that Shannon died, they leave. However, he is still alive and sends a message to Nyborg in space.
Barbara becomes bored of staying in Fluxford castle and so joins the queen in cheering the locals up. When supposedly seeing Susan in the crowd, she is led into the forest outside the city. She gets lost and falls into a trance. She is saved by a cat and shown to a house in the forest belonging to an old woman named Anni Glassfeather. In the morning, she is given breakfast by the old woman and they decide to help save Melissa and Susan in the black tower. They use broomsticks, to Barbara’s amusement, to travel.
While Dhal is distracted by off-worlders trying to enter the atmosphere, Susan and Melissa use the acids on the bars to the outside. After burning through thoroughly, they manage to escape using the Rapunzel story and plait Mellisa’s long hair and climb down the side of the tower. There they find Edmund and his attacking army and also Barbara and Anni Glassfeather who have come to help. On Raven’s Tor, a raging battle begins between Fluxford soldiers and all manner of creatures. As Edmund’s army leaves in triumph, Dhal believes he still hasn’t lost as he rides the dragons towards Fluxford.
With Jen Komati now on their side, the Doctor, Ian and the other companions return to Fluxford to begin the crowning ceremony. Gramling prepares himself to gain control while Dhal’s army closes in. Ian is happy to see Barbara, Susan and Melissa. Captain Morgane and the rest of the knights prepare for a siege.
The off-worlders arrive, captained by Shannon, and the Doctor offers to make peace. Shannon refuses, and the battle begins. Most of the knights are killed and many of Shannon’s men too. Suddenly Dhal arrives with his huge army, and the two armies are forced to fight together in order to survive. The Doctor return to the main hall to see the developments.
However, when Gramling is crowned, everything stops outside except for Dhal. The audience realise that Gramling was their enemy and has been working with Dhal. Dhal wants to end the world with one easy movement. However, being very old and very weak, Gramling is unable to control the power. He somehow swaps bodies with Dhal who dies unexpectedly. Gramling is now the main enemy. Using their joint powers, Kilvenny Odoyle, Anni Glassfeather and the Doctor fight against Gramling. Odoyle is killed by Gramling’s strong powers and Anni is knocked out. Becoming weaker, the Doctor finally manages to subdue Gramling and they break apart.
An ancient cephlie comes to rectify the problem. He promises to cease everything bad by killing its species. Thanking the TARDIS crew, the king, queen, princess and prince to be are grateful. With the danger now gone, they are allowed back into the TARDIS without any more problems.
- The Sorcerer’s Apprentice was the twelfth novel in the Virgin Missing Adventures series.
- The novel’s title is likely a reference to the Goethe poem The Sorcerer’s Apprentice and the well-known symphonic poem by Paul Dukas based on it.
- The story begins literally two minutes after the events of the television story Marco Polo. Ian is described as wearing the same outfit that he wore in the preceding story.
- The body beppling reaction and city riots occurred in the novel Original Sin.
- The novel The Dark Path makes mention of events in this novel.