The Doctor and his human companion Rose are spinning through the space-time continuum in their ship, the Tardis. They stop to get their bearings, and the Tardis suddenly breaks down. They are stranded on Starfall, a planet at the heart of the zeg, an area of space where advanced technology does not work. Here even the spaceships and robots are steam-powered.
At the spaceport where the travellers find themselves, a shadow beast is on a killing spree. Rose witnesses two of the murders and is amazed to hear the beast apologizing for its actions. When the beast later attacks the Doctor he diverts it with conversation. He discovers that it is a mild creature called Kevin who is forced to kill to order. It was once controlled by the legendary space pirate Hamlek Glint, but its current master remains a mystery.
The pirate's treasure, including a casket which is said to bring people back to life, has been lost since Hamlek Glint disappeared in the Starfall system many years earlier. Drel McCavity, the planet's owner, has been obsessed with it since he lost his wife. The Doctor claims, truthfully as it happens, to have equipment which can find Glint's ship, the Buccaneer, long since abandoned in the outer reaches of the zeg. He persuades McCavity to take a spaceship out there; his secret plan is to get the Tardis away from the zeg's crippling influence. The scheme works, and the Tardis starts to repair itself.
Meanwhile the clunky robot crew also begin to regain their abilities, and reveal themselves as the murderous battle robots who once served with Glint. They want to find the Buccaneer so that they can resume their former life. The Doctor, Rose and the other humans manage to escape through an ingenious trick, but the Tardis is left behind. They must face the robotic pirates again to have a chance of retrieving it. They make their way to the Buccaneer and find Kevin on board. Will the shadow beast be a powerful ally or join forces with its former shipmates? Or does it just want to be left alone to finish its crossword?
The review of this Book prepared by Maureen Evans