Spoilers are precisely defined here. Rules vary by the story's medium. Info from television stories can't be added here until after the top or bottom of the hour, British time, closest to the end credits roll on BBC One. Therefore, fans in the Americas who are sensitive to spoilers should avoid Tardis on Sundays until they've seen the episode.



The Reign of Terror was a novelisation based on the 1964 television serial The Reign of Terror.

Publisher's summary[]

It is 1794 and the TARDIS materialises some distance away from Paris during the French Revolution - the infamous Reign of Terror.

Soon the TARDIS crew find themselves caught up in the tangled web of historical events. Imprisoned in a dank dungeon, Ian is entrusted with delivering a message to master-spy James Stirling.

Who is James Stirling? What world-shattering events are being discussed in a deserted inn off the Calais road?

And can the Doctor and his friends escape a violent and bloody death at the dreaded guillotine?

Chapter titles[]

  1. So Near And So Far
  2. Under Siege
  3. Prisoners of the People
  4. The Diggers
  5. Liberty
  6. Sanctuary
  7. The Tyrant Of France
  8. Betrayal Everywhere
  9. Illusions Shattered
  10. A Hard Bargain
  11. A Glimpse Of Things To Come
  12. Escaping From History

Deviations from televised story[]

  • Contrary to the televised story, the time-travellers conscientiously alternate between English and French more than a dozen times throughout the story. It's this language barrier that causes several issues, such as Lemaitre's more aggressive turn towards Ian in the Conciergerie and the French physician's suspicions towards Barbara when Susan is ill.
  • The state and culture of France is expanded upon by both Barbara and the narrator. Including, but not limited to the tricotouses who jeer at those for the Guillotine, dying their wool in the victims' blood, and Napoleon's turbulent relationship with Barras and his government.
  • Barbara's rebuke of the gaoler's advances leaves a livid gash in his cheek from where her ring caught the skin.
  • Instead of wishing the unconscious foreman pleasant dreams, the Doctor jokes to him, as he places the coin on his eye, that the traveller was right. The foreman had indeed witnessed a "total eclipse".
  • Louis XVI is mentioned.
  • Leon loses his composure towards the end of Ian's torture as his men grow more restless and violent. Before Jules emerges into the crypt, he is pleading with Ian for the schoolteacher's life in exchange for information on his conspirators.
  • Robespierre's maiming is depicted with "blood, teeth and fragments of jawbone [spurting] out between his clawing fingers." His pistol is flung from his hands into the ceiling where it discharges, creating a downpour of glass fragments from the chandelier to the delight of the jeering mob.
  • Jules and Barbara's discussion of who will succeed Robespierre mentions Barras, Fouché, Tallien and Fréron as potential successors to the government. It's her, rather than Ian, who tells Jules to remember the name Napoléon Bonaparte. Stirling overhears the conversation with marked interest, though he hasn't the opportunity to ask the travellers where they really come from.
  • Ian and Barbara are more despondent about their inability to change the course of history than on television. The latter questions whether they learnt anything at all, which Susan refutes by pointing out they aren't the same people who came aboard in Totter's Lane.

Story notes[]

  • The cover and information on the right are for the original Target edition. It featured the artwork of Tony Masero. (See below for information on editions with different covers).

Writing and publishing notes[]

  • The novel was one of several completed by Ian Marter shortly before his death in October 1986. It was published posthumously.

Additional cover images[]

British publication history[]

Hardback (March 1987)
  • W.H.Allen & Co. Ltd. UK ISBN:0491037023, copies priced £7.50 (UK))
Paperback (August 1987)
  • Target / W.H. Allen & Co. Ltd. Single paperback edition, estimated print run: 32,500, priced £1.95 (UK).


This Target Book was released as an audiobook on 2 June 2022 complete and unabridged by BBC Audio and read by Jamie Glover.

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.

External links[]

to be added