Book Review: Doctor Who -Time Lord Victorious: The Knight, The Fool and The Dead
We live forever, barring accidents. Just like everyone else in the universe.
The Doctor travels back to the Ancient Days, an era where life flourishes and death is barely known...
Then come the Kotturuh – creatures who spread through the cosmos dispensing mortality. They judge each and every species and decree its allotted time to live. For the first time, living things know the fear of ending. And they will go to any lengths to escape this grim new spectre, death.
The Doctor is an old hand at cheating death. Now, at last, he can stop it at source. He is coming for the Kotturuh, ready to change everything so that Life wins from the start.
Not just the last of the Time Lords. The Time Lord Victorious.
The first significant release in the Time Lord Victorious range, The Knight, The Fool and The Dead by Stephen Cole is the first novel set in the Doctor Who saga being told across books, audios, toys and even a Dalek animated TV series.
Our 14-year old Ben Greenland, the world's biggest Doctor Who fan and regular co-reviewer of Doctor Who Big Finish audios for The Digital Fix, gives his opinion on this exciting new release...
I'm on my own, this time, for a special review of the first novel of Time Lord Victorious; The Knight, The Fool and The Dead.
The book begins with the Tenth Doctor just after the events of The Waters of Mars. He is looking for some time away from death, having come through the fracture in time he accidentally caused (due to Adelaide Brook dying on Earth) and into the Dark Times, an era no Time Lord is supposed to be able to visit, and a time where death doesn't exist. Perfect for his purposes.
For the Doctor, this story is a slow descent. Having just come out of briefly being the Time Lord Victorious, he's in a fragile position, so being confronted with the opportunity to stop death from ever happening ends up breaking him. Throughout the novel, he slowly loses what being the Doctor means, in a moral dilemma against the Kotturuh. Is he right to prevent death? Are the Kotturuh right to dispense it and judge how long each species deserves to live? This question, while never properly discussed, lingers through the pages, as he decides to use the Kotturuh's power against them and judge how long THEY should live, thus becoming once more the Time Lord Victorious.
The supporting characters are very interesting. Estinee, a girl who acts as one of two companions for the story, is instantly likeable, making you feel for her and despair what has happened to her. The one notable negative, however, is the idea that the Kotturuh touch can't affect her directly, yet she can still die. Quite why the touch has no effect is never explored, which did irk me somewhat. However, the fact that she was going to die anyway makes her almost a ticking bomb just waiting to go off, making you feel for her even more. She goes through a lot in the book which makes her eventual fate upsetting but also happy in equal measure.
Fallomax, the scientist who uses Estinee to help her make a profit on Lifeshrouds (an intriguing idea, devices that prevent you succumbing to the Kotturuh touch, much like Estinee herself) is a very odd character, who has a mini arc of sorts through the book. He raises the moral question against the Doctor "You don't like me using Estinee, yet you're happy to use all those people to fight the Kotturuh?. Annoyingly though, she doesn't quite get a resolution, sort of just dropping out of the novel. Chalskal is very much a minor villain who doesn't hold attention very much, and who also just leaves the book.
Other than the Doctor himself, the two strongest characters are Brian the Ood Assassin and the Kotturuh. The Kotturuh, who make their Big Finish debut in Doctor Who Short Trips Lesser Evils, start off as very prominent and powerful characters, and end up becoming vulnerable and scared beings as they start to crumble and die thanks to the Doctor. They are very strong characters who I look forward to seeing more of. However, other than the Doctor, the best character is by far Brian. A brilliant idea which I was really looking forward to seeing, Brian is the best thing to come out of Time Lord Victorious so far. He's more than I thought he would be, too, with his personality disorder and his mentions of Mr Ball. Where he comes in though, is very much left unexplained and one I hope is explained in his upcoming Big Finish audio.
Due to him becoming what he does, I never felt like the Doctor was as safe a presence as he usually is, but through to the end of the novel there was still elements of him left. Trying to show the Kotturuh mercy on their death sentence (until that goes a bit pear shaped) and trying to convince himself he's doing the right thing (doesn't help Brian eggs him on), it still ultimately leads to the Time Lord Victorious. In this book, who's the villain? The Kotturuh, or the Doctor? It very much ends on a cliff-hanger, leading into the next, to be released, book All Flesh in Grass. Heavily tied to Time Lord Victorious, it's a decent Doctor Who story, but definitely one of the weaker Tenth Doctor books I have read.
Check out The Digital Fix's review of the first Big Finish Time Lord Victorious release Master Thief / Lesser Evils here.