Of course I’m going to be covering Time Lord Victorious! It’s a Doctor Who event that will be told in (among other things) books and audios, two of the main topics I cover on this blog. Information was a bit scarce when they first announced this project so I decided to wait until the first set of stories had been announced before I weighed in. And it’s a good start since two new books have been unveiled…
Time Lord Victorious
This project is something I’ve been waiting for the licensed media to do for a while now. Whenever new tie-in media for the modern Doctors is released it tends to keep the story self-contained. Rarely will the events of a novel or an audio have any impact on a larger tapestry of stories, even within its own medium. The closest we’ve ever had in novel form was The Darksmith Legacy series in 2009 which, though ambitious for the time, was focused on children’s books and had little multimedia appeal beyond its own website.
Licensees have crossed over before but only in offhand ways that pass most people by. After a six year absence, the Tenth Doctor got a brief reprise in the novels via In The Blood in 2016. Written by Jenny T. Colgan, this partly tied-in to the imminent Tenth Doctor Adventures over at Big Finish and featured a character from Colgan’s entry to that range. Even so, neither story had any wider impact on the characters.
Only the Eighth Doctor, the ginger middle-child of the series, is allowed to have these large, sprawling epics. Simply because there’s less TV continuity around the character for writers to bump up against. The Eighth Doctor Adventures books that ran from 1997 to 2005 were episodic but, taken as a whole, told one large story. Meanwhile, Paul McGann has played the Doctor for more than 100 audio plays that barely pay EDA continuity any heed. Even when he did return to TV briefly in 2013, that just broke fertile new ground on another period of the Eighth Doctor’s life.
The information we have on Time Lord Victorious suggests some alternate version of David Tennant’s Tenth Doctor is going to be the antagonist with the Ninth and Eighth Doctors trying to set things right. Not only does this give the Eighth Doctor a brand new storyline, it gives the often-overlooked Ninth Doctor a new lease of life and allows the Tenth Doctor to break away from his normal characterization without affecting continuity. I’d be very surprised if, once TLV is complete, its effects aren’t felt in ongoing ranges and Doctor Who media for years to come.
But enough on that, let’s look at what has been announced…
The Knight, the Fool and The Dead by Steve Cole
We live forever, barring accidents. Just like everyone else in the universe.
The Doctor travels back to the Dark Times, 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.
Due for release in October 2020, The Knight, The Fool and The Dead will mark the first volley in Time Lord Victorious. The involvement of Steve Cole, one of the most prolific Doctor Who authors, is among the few things that could confidently be predicted about this project from the first. Not only did Cole contribute to The Darksmith Legacy, he worked as range editor the Eighth Doctor Adventures which told a similar larger story about a war involving Time Lords.
The cover art – another Lee Binding piece – suggests this first story features the Tenth Doctor alone. Also with the Ood (or at least one very well turned-out Ood) appearing, this book will tell the story of how the Tenth Doctor becomes the Time Lord Victorious. Going by the synopsis, taking the Doctor back to the start of the universe – the start of life and death itself – seems like a good place to send the Tenth Doctor mad.
All Flesh is Grass by Una McCormack
Even a Time Lord can’t change the past.
A wasteland. A dead world… No, there is a biodome rising from the ashes. Here, life teems and flourishes, with strange, lush plants and many-winged insects with bright carapaces – and one solitary sentient creature, who spends its days talking to the insects and tending this lonely garden. This is Inyit, the Last of the Kotturuh.
In All Flesh is Grass we are transported back to The Dark Times. The Tenth Doctor has sworn to stop the Kotturuh, ending death and bringing life to the universe. But his plan is unravelling – instead of bringing life, nothing has changed and all around him people are dying. Death is everywhere. Now he must confront his former selves – one in league with their greatest nemesis and the other manning a ship of the undead…
Another dependable voice in Doctor Who novels is Una McCormack. Like Cole, McCormack is prolific in both novels and audios so a multi-platform project like this is right in her wheelhouse. Having recently written the first tie-in novel The Last Best Hope for Star Trek: Picard, which was a masterfully crafted prelude to the television series, I’m very happy to see her name on the cover. All Flesh is Grass will be out in December 2020.
As for wild, baseless speculation from the cover art – and assuming my predictions from Steve Cole’s book are accurate – this will be the first book to introduce the Eighth and Ninth Doctors tackling the newly b’villained Tenth Doctor. Two previous incarnations fighting a dark, twisted version of their future self. My assumption from the cover was that the Time Lord Victorious might having allied himself with – or even taken control of – the Daleks. But the synopsis seems to suggest that one of the earlier versions is working with them, which is much more interesting.
Of course I’ll be following Time Lord Victorious very closely, reporting any updates and editorializing my thoughts whenever new things happen. My sincere hope is that TLV will give Christopher Eccleston a chance to reprise the role of the Ninth Doctor in some form. I understand his reluctance to return to the role, but if the character is being explored in new ways that might be a challenge he’d like to take up. But I’m tempering that hope for obvious reasons. In any case, I’m very excited to see what these Doctor Who writers can do with a fresh canvas.
What are your hopes for Time Lord Victorious? Let me know in the comments…