The Time Lord Victorious series is an interesting project: it’s a multi-media Doctor Who story arc which encompasses multiple incarnations of the Doctor and is told through books, comics, audio dramas and, probably, other formats as well. It’s really intriguing.
At the end of the episode “The Waters of Mars” the Tenth Doctor declares himself the Time Lord Victorious and decides that he is above the laws of time. In the next episode “The End of Time” he mostly seems to have moved passed this and is more in a state of shock about how far he’d gone. Some fans were disappointed that the Time Lord Victorious wasn’t explored in more detail and that’s what this series sets out to do.
At the start of The Knight, The Fool and The Dead, the Tenth Doctor arrives on a planet during the ‘Dark Times’ – an era of history to which time travellers are not supposed to visit, but he has decided to do so due to his new Time Lord Victorious mindset. Here he learns about a race called the Kotturuh who bring death to every planet they visit. By this, I mean that they introduce limited lifespans to peoples living in peaceful immortality. They decide how long a species should live for – naturally, this doesn’t sit well with the Doctor and he decides to take action against them.
Along the way, he’s joined by a young woman named Estinee who lives in the Dark Times. She acts as a kind of one-off companion and is a very interesting character: right at the start of the novel, she witnesses the destruction of her home planet, which naturally leaves her as somebody with a rather bleak view of the world. She’s reluctant in joining the Doctor for this adventure, but I really enjoyed what she brought to the story and, by the end, was quite stunned by her actions.
Meanwhile, the Doctor also meets an Ood named Brian. Brian, it seems, knew the Doctor in another incarnation, but the Doctor has no recollection of this (I look forward to later parts of the series explaining who Brian is). Brain is very much the ‘official’ companion for the story. As a very unconventional companion, it was fun to see he and the Doctor interacting with one another. He’s also a very mysterious character: after all, Oods shouldn’t exist at this point in history. It is he, the Doctor and Estinee who really carry the story.
Throughout the story, there are a couple of flashbacks to moments in earlier Doctor’s lives, which I enjoyed. It’s a nice treat for fans and it does a good job of tying it into the deeper universe of Doctor Who. In fairness, they don’t really add very much to the story, but there’s nice little bits of unashamed fan services and I certainly have no problem with that.
If I had to fault the story, it would be on two main points: the first was that, as much as it does indeed explore the Doctor in Time Lord Victorious mode, for a lot of the story, it does kind of feel like a slightly generic Doctor Who adventure (apart from the ending, which was crazy and really enticed me to continue the series). The other point is that the idea of a species imposing life spans on already-evolved races seems kind of strange to me… wouldn’t every species lead miserable, over-crowded lives without death? The idea that death didn’t used to exist, but was imposed on the universe by a malicious force is a very strange one indeed and I’m not entirely sure I like it… but as it will be explored in more depth later on, I’ll reserve my judgement for now. It may turn out to be more interesting than I thought!
So all in all, an enjoyable Doctor Who story which was easy to read, but which did have a couple of problems. It was by no means bad, but there are certainly better Doctor Who novels out there. But, if the purpose of this novel was to make me excited about the rest of the Time Lord Victorious… well, then it achieved its purpose!