Settiai (settiai) wrote in calufrax,

rec: balm of gilead

Story: Balm of Gilead
Author: Patrice
Rating: Teen
Word Count: 37,496
Author's Summary: Still coping with the events surrounding "Enlightenment," the Doctor, Tegan, and Turlough stumble into the American South, circa 1850. While trying to help some newfound friends, Turlough makes a startling discovery about himself.
Characters/Pairings: Tegan Jovanka, Vislor Turlough, Fifth Doctor
Warnings: none

Recced because: Patrice is one of my favorite authors when it comes to the Fifth Doctor's era, and it was really hard to choose just one of her stories to rec. I finally decided on this one, though, for a variety of reasons. In it, she takes a difficult place and time period - the Deep South, sometime prior to the American Civil War - and throws the Doctor and his companions into a situation that that can't be "fixed" simply by a snap of the fingers. While there's an alien presence, many of the issues dealth with - most noticeably the issue of slavery - is because of humans, not aliens.

One of the things I adore about this story is that it gives us a deeper look at the Doctor, Tegan, and Turlough than is usually presented. By showing their reactions to the situation, each of them unique to the character's personality, it reveals quite a bit about who they really are inside. Add a delightfully complex plot to that, not to mention the story's length, and you're in for a terrific read.

Selected quote:

Turlough could tell that the Doctor's mind was elsewhere. He had that absent manner about him, answering Tegan's questions without really thinking about them. Turlough was finding it rather difficult to concentrate on the situation, too. Visions of manacles, identifying brands, and forced labor skirted at the edge of his thoughts, bringing a rush of unpleasant recollections. The years he had spent on Earth had been dull and tedious, but at least they had driven some of his memories down beneath the surface. Now he was locked up again, amid others in even worse circumstances. Imprisonment and servitude were all around him. A vague sense of nausea returned to twist in his belly.

He swallowed and took a deep breath, but the hot, muggy air he inhaled did little to settle his stomach.

"Are you all right?"

He realized that Tegan had spoken to him. Turlough blinked. "Yes, of course–as all right as anyone can be who's being held prisoner against his will."

"It's not like it's the first time it's happened to us," Tegan reminded him.

Turlough shook his head. "It's never been like this before."

"At least we aren't facing aliens," she said. "No monsters or gigantic bombs or plagues waiting to be released here."

"No," Turlough replied, "just the subjugation of human beings."

"If it's any comfort," the Doctor interjected, "slavery will be abolished here in less than ten years' time. Lizabeth, Josiah, and Nathanael will all gain their freedom."

"If they survive that long," Tegan said somberly.

Don't forget to leave feedback for the author if you enjoy the story.
Tags: author: patrice, companion: tegan, companion: turlough, doctor: 5, rating: teen, reccer: settiai, type: gen

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