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City of Death by James Goss was a novelisation of the TV story of the same name written under the pen name David Agnew by Douglas Adams and Graham Williams during a last minute rewrite of the script A Gamble With Time written by David Fisher. It was the first novelisation since Shada.

Gareth Roberts, who wrote the Shada novelisation, was originally meant to write that of City of Death, but dropped out during writing.

Publisher's summary[]


"You're tinkering with time. That's always a bad idea unless you know what you're doing."

The Doctor takes Romana for a holiday in Paris – a city which, like a fine wine, has a bouquet all its own. Especially if you visit during one of the vintage years. But the TARDIS takes them to 1979, a table-wine year, a year whose vintage is soured by cracks – not in their wine glasses but in the very fabric of time itself.

Soon the Time Lords are embroiled in an audacious alien scheme which encompasses home-made time machines, the theft of the Mona Lisa, the resurrection of the much-feared Jagaroth race, and the beginning (and quite possibly the end) of all life on Earth.

Aided by British private detective Duggan, whose speciality is thumping people, the Doctor and Romana must thwart the machinations of the suave, mysterious Count Scarlioni – all twelve of him – if the human race has any chance of survival.

But then, the Doctor's holidays tend to turn out a bit like this.

Chapter titles[]

  • Part One
  1. All Roads Lead to Paris
  2. Isn't it Nice?
  3. A Painting Like...
  4. Look to the Lady
  5. Mixed Doubles
  • Part Two
  1. Paris in a Day
  2. Lies Beneath
  3. Unique Plurals
  4. Count Down
  • Part Three
  1. Renaissance Man
  2. Follies
  3. Déjà Vu
  4. The Father of Invention
  5. Material Witness
  • Part Four
  1. The Discrete Charm of the Bourgeoisise
  2. Goodbye, Not Au Revoir
  3. We'll Never Have Paris
  4. À la Recherche du Temps Perdu
  5. French without Tears in the Fabric of Space-Time



  • It is mentioned that the Jagaroth came to earth tracking a Racnoss energy signal, in reference to the events of The Runaway Bride.
  • Romana notes that she prefers Count Scarlioni as a villain over Davros.
  • Romana lists a number of art galleries across the universe better than the Louvre, including the Braxiatel Collection.
  • Romana began travelling with the Doctor at the age of 125, and has been travelling with him for somewhere between a few weeks and a few years. Duggan believes she is 25.
  • The Doctor looks at an Ernest Hemingway book.
  • The Doctor and Romana have previously visited the Medusa Cascade.
  • The Doctor returns to Paris from Florence using the fast return switch.
  • The Doctor once showed Romana an episode of Blue Peter.
  • Romana improves upon Kerensky's computer, increasing the memory to 1 MB and adding 7 computer languages and 5 protocols. She describes it as a "clever prime", in reference to a series of BBC-licensed television adverts for Prime Computers in Australia featuring the Doctor and Romana, which were released in 1979, but never shown in the UK.


  • This novel was released complete and unabridged by BBC Audio and read by Lalla Ward.
  • The audio set of eight CDs was released 21 May 2015 priced £25 (UK)
  • This is the second of Douglas Adams's Doctor Who stories to be released in book form, fourteen years after Adams's death in 2001. None of his three Doctor Who stories had previously appeared in book form for a variety of legal reasons.
  • This is the first official novelisation of City of Death. It is also the first novelisation of a story broadcast on television since PROSE: The Novel of the Film.
  • The four-part structure of the novel mirrors the four-part structure of the televised story.
  • The title page includes the following info, in homage to the original Target novels:
    • THE CHANGING FACE OF DOCTOR WHO This book portrays the fourth incarnation of Doctor Who, whose physical appearance later changed when he lost an argument with gravity.
    • THE CHANGING FACE OF SCAROTH This book portrays the twelfth and final incarnation of Scaroth, last of the Jagaroth.
  • In 2018, Target Books printed an abridged version of the novelisation.
  • This story was also released as an ebook available from the Amazon Kindle store.
  • The book was released in Brazil by Suma de Letras as Cidade da Morte.


 Deviations from the televised story[]

  • An original scene features Romana and Duggan going on a night out together, with Romana getting drunk on wine in the process.
  • The background of the art critics is expanded upon.
  • Scarlioni does not know he is Scaroth until the scene where he removes his face.
  • The character of Countess Scarlioni is greatly expanded upon, given a backstory and a first name, Heidi. She is also shown to have a closer relationship with the Count, with him regretting having to kill her greatly.
  • K9 features briefly in the novel; he did not appear at all in the televised version.
  • Duggan's backstory as to how he ended up in Paris is explored in great detail, with a scene depicting his last case before the events of this story.
  • There are several other minor changes: for instance, Scaroth can travel three minutes back in time as opposed to two, and the Doctor's words on the Mona Lisa are "These are Fakes" rather than "This is a Fake".
  • Kerensky's death is presented from his perspective, showing him living out decades within the time bubble musing over his past.
  • Hermann is given a back story as a German soldier who provided Scarlioni with art treasures after World War II.
  • The sketcher from the café is named as Bourget, as per an early storyline, and makes several more appearances, repeatedly compelled to draw people with clock faces.
  • The tour guide is named Madame Henriette and given a collection of cats.
  • Scaroth is not killed in the chateau explosion but left trapped in the time bubble.
  • There is an extra sequence of Duggan fighting a group of Scarlioni's men while escaping from the chateau. It is Romana, rather than Duggan, who knocks the Countess unconscious. The Countess is armed with a gatling gun rather than a hand gun.
  • The Doctor does not realise the explosion of the Jagaroth ship started life on Earth until he travels back in time, instead worrying history will be changed drastically if Scaroth's splinters are removed from history.
  • The Doctor displays more anger towards Romana for building Scarlioni a time machine.
  • The Doctor states Shakespeare sprained his wrist playing croquet rather than writing sonnets.
  • The Jagaroth ship is named the Sephiroth, the name of the species in early storylines.
  • Some characters are switched around: for instance, when the Doctor returns to the show on television he is escorted in by a thug and sends a maid to inform Scarlioni. In the novelisation, he gets the maid to take him inside and sends Hermann to get Scarlioni.
  • The Countess' bracelet is said to be isomorphic, meaning in theory only Scarlioni can remove it, and allows him a degree of control over her.
  • The Doctor gives the remaining Mona Lisa to Duggan at the end; the televised version is vague as to what happened to it.
  • Duggan sees the Doctor and Romana leaving in the Doctor's TARDIS from the bottle of the Eiffel Tower.
  • Count Scarlioni is said to possess a fireplace previously owned by Madame du Pompadour.

Additional cover images[]

Editions published outside Britain[]

  • Published in the USA by Ace Books in 2015 as a hardback edition and 2016 as a paperback edition, it was one of three books published by them in the 2010's.
  • Published in Italy by Mondadori in 2015 as a paperback edition, translated by Alessandro Vezzoli and published as La Citta della Morte, it was one of three books published by them in the 2010's.
  • Published in Brazil by Suma de Letras in 2015 as a paperback edition, translated by Regina Winarski and published as Cidade da Morte, it was one of two novelisations published in the 2010's.
  • Published in Germany by Cross Cult in 2015 as a paperback edition, translated by Claudia Kern and published as Die Stadt des Todes, it was one of five books published by them in the 2010's; this edition uses the same cover design as the UK paperback edition.
  • Published in Hungary by Gabo in 2015 as a paperback edition, translated by Zsolt Beke and published as A Halal Varosa, it was one of two novelisations published in the 2010's.
  • Published in the Czech Republic by Argo in 2016 as a hardback edition, translated by Pavel Cernovsky and published as Mesto Smrti, it was one of three novelisations published in the 2010's.
  • Published in Turkey by Ithaki Yayinlari in 2016 as a paperback edition, translated by Ayda Sungur and published as Olum Sehri, it was one of three books published in the 2010's.
  • Published in China by the Shanghai Translation Publishing House in 2017 as a paperback edition, translated by Yao Xiang Hui, it was one of two novelisations published by them in the 2010's.
  • Published in Russia by AST in 2018 as a hardback edition, translated by Alexey Osipov, it was one of eight books published in the 2010's; this was the only foreign edition to create its own version of the cover design.


This novel was released as an audiobook on 21 May 2015 complete and unabridged by BBC Audio and read by Lalla Ward.

The cover blurb and thumbnail illustrations were retained in the accompanying booklet with sleevenotes by David J. Howe. Music and sound effects by Simon Power.

The audiobook was re-released on 4 November 2021 as part of the anthology The Time Travel Collection.

External links[]