Doctor Who: Time Lord Victorious is a multi-media adventure starring the Eighth, Ninth and Tenth Doctors. But what is it all about?
The first thing to note is that the name Time Lord Victorious links back to a name the Tenth Doctor gave himself in the 2009 episode ‘The Waters of Mars,’ where he declared that the laws of time were his, and that they would obey him – before embarking on a god-like power frenzy. Indeed, ‘The Waters of Mars’ was retroactively worked into the Time Lord Victorious narrative, with the episode being made available in a special Blu-ray release, along with the stories ‘Planet of the Daleks,’ ‘Genesis of the Daleks,’ ‘The Deadly Assassin,’ ‘State of Decay,’ ‘The Curse of Fenric’ and ‘The Runaway Bride.’
But how are these adventures relevant to the Time Lord Victorious narrative? Well, many of them link back to the early days of the universe known as the Dark Times, which is when much of the Time Lord Victorious story is set. For example, tales such as ‘The Deadly Assassin’ and ‘State of Decay’ give tantalising details about the early days of the Time Lords; ‘The Deadly Assassin’ features the Eye of Harmony, an artificial star that dates back to the Time Lords’ origins and is said to be intrinsic to their time travel abilities. ‘State of Decay,’ meanwhile, connects to the Time Lords’ ancient war with the King Vampire, which took place during the early days of Gallifreyan society.
And characters such as the King Vampire are another key component in the Time Lord Victorious arc. In the Dark Times, there were a number of immensely powerful, god-like beings, of which the King Vampire was one. Another was the Empress of the Racnoss, who features in ‘The Runaway Bride,’ along with the ancient Fenric from ‘The Curse of Fenric.’ These are all creatures who have influenced the early days of the universe. Fenric, for example, used people and planets like chess pieces to achieve his ends, whilst the Racnoss’ spaceship was present at the formation of planet Earth, and became integral to its structure.
Then there are the dreaded Kotturuh. At the start of the universe, these ominous creatures made it their business to travel from planet to planet and determine the lifespan of every living creature, deciding how long each species should live. In essence, these creatures introduced death into the universe, and in Time Lord Victorious they are credited with giving the Osirin god Sutekh the “gift of death” that he tried to spread throughout the cosmos (see ‘Pyramids of Mars’) and it is also revealed that the Racnoss hid at the centre of the Earth in order to escape the Kotturuh’s trail of destruction.
So, this is the backdrop against which the Time Lord Victorious storyline plays out. But if you’re planning to jump into the saga for the first time, where on earth should you start? The good news is, it doesn’t really matter – the Time Lord Victorious arc has been designed in such a way that its individual books, audio adventures and comics can be enjoyed as standalone adventures, with no prior knowledge of the other stories. Its ‘designer’ James Goss encouraged fans to think of the whole thing as being like a Doctor Who festival with lots of different stuff happening around you, and you can just pick what you fancy.
That being said, for the completists among you, there is a definitive story order for the Time Lord Victorious. This begins in a period called The Fractured Universe (before the Dark Times) and the first ‘event’ is a video trailer called ‘The Last Message,’ in which a damaged Dalek, suspended in space, cries out that it must warn the universe about the Doctor. This then leads into the Daleks! animated series (which is available on YouTube), followed by the ‘Defender of the Daleks’ comic and the audio adventures ‘Master Thief’ and ‘Lesser Evils.’
Then there are the Eighth Doctor audio adventures ‘Echoes of Extinction,’ ‘He Kills Me, He Kills Me Not,’ and ‘The Enemy of my Enemy.’ Over the course of these stories, two important elements are thrown into the Time Lord Victorious mix. One is a device known as a Devolver, which has the power to wipe out species on a grand scale by reversing their evolution. Another is the character of Brian the Ood, a creature with a split personality who veers between faithful servant and hired assassin. He becomes both a help and a hindrance to the Eighth and Tenth Doctors during the Time Lord Victorious saga.
Next is the TV story ‘The Waters of Mars’ in which the Tenth Doctor goes on something of a power trip, before realising that he may have gone too far in trying to control the laws of time.
And then we officially enter The Dark Times, starting with the short story ‘The Dawn of the Kotturuh,’ in which the dreaded Kotturuh bring their ‘gift of death’ to the planet Birinji. They continue on their crusade for some time, until it is established in the novel ‘The Knight, the Fool and the Dead‘ that someone has actually developed a form of protection against them. Known as the lifeshroud, it can deflect the Kotturuh’s attacks – something that the Tenth Doctor uses against the Kotturuh themselves, and effectively wipes them out by giving them a lifespan of just fifteen minutes.
However, one Kotturuh escapes this fate. In ‘All Flesh is Grass,’ (another Time Lord Victorious novel) the Eighth, Ninth and Tenth Doctors encounter the sole survivor Inyit, who reveals that the Kotturuh’s actions were actually inspired by the fear of a legend. They believed that, once the last of their species died, uncontrollable death energies would spread through the universe. And whilst Inyit does indeed die in this story, she manages to contain the desolation by transferring her energies into a vampire known as Ikalla.
The damage, however, is already done. The Tenth Doctor’s earlier actions in Time Lord Victorious (when he restricted the Kotturuh’s lifespan) have actually damaged the timelines of the universe on a monumental scale, hastening what has become known as the Kotturuh Crisis. Indeed, it seems as if the Dalek Restoration Empire (as seen in the Daleks! animated series) may not have existed had not been for his actions.
After this, we have ‘Mutually Assured Destruction‘ starring the Eighth Doctor, and then a short story called ‘Exit Strategy.’ In the latter, it is revealed that the Daleks had been secretly manipulating the Doctors from behind the scenes, trying to bring them together so that they could uncover who was behind the damage to the timeline, and repair it.
This is when the Time Lord Victorious story shifts to The Victorious Times, beginning with an Escape Room game called ‘The Hollow Planet’ which tells the story of a rogue Dalek that has taken over a mining facility. Then there is the Fourth Doctor audio adventure ‘Genetics of the Daleks‘ featuring (I think) the same Dalek from ‘The Hollow Planet,’ who in turn survives to wreak havoc in the subsequent Escape Room adventure ‘A Dalek Awakens.’
The final piece of the Time Lord Victorious story comes in the Tenth Doctor segment of ‘Echoes of Extinction.’ This focuses on a creature of pure psychic energy created by the government of the planet Orriv, and the Tenth Doctor joins an expedition crew who are on a mission to capture it. Initially, the Network goes on something of a killing spree by possessing the various members of the expedition, but the Doctor ultimately manages to talk it round, and the creature is contained.
So as you may be able to tell, some pieces of the Time Lord Victorious saga have a greater bearing on the overall picture than others. But every segment contributes something to the greater whole, even if it’s just a tantalising clue. In ‘Echoes of Extinction,’ for example, the Tenth Doctor notes that the Eighth Doctor is about to go through the Kotturuh Crisis – throwing a bone to less-familiar listeners, who may be tempted to go off an explore more of the Time Lord Victorious arc.
What is your favourite adventure from Time Lord Victorious? And have you managed to collect everything? Let me know in the comments below.
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