Publisher: BBC Books (Hardcover – 1 December 2020)
Series: Time Lord Victorious – Book One
Length: 178 pages
My Rating: 4.25 out of 5 stars
Prepare to follow the Tenth Doctor into one of his darkest adventures as he faces death itself in the early days of the universe with the first novel in the Time Lord Victorious multimedia series, Doctor Who: The Knight, The Fool and The Dead, by bestselling author Steve Cole.
Shortly after the events of the 2009 television special The Waters of Mars, the Tenth Doctor attempts to outrun his guilt and his prophesised death by fleeing deep into the past to the Dark Times. Near the birth of the universe, life flourishes and death is barely known. Only a few rare people die, and most beings live for vast quantities of time. That is until the Kotturuh arrive and turn the peaceful and bountiful planet that the Doctor is visiting into a dead world within seconds.
The Kotturuh are a vile and terrible race who are spreading throughout the cosmos dispensing death and destruction on an unbelievable scale. Worshiping a mysterious equation, the Kotturuh view themselves as the arbiters of life and death, travelling to planets and dispensing mortality. With each new species they encounter, they decree what that species’ lifespan will be, whether centuries or moments, and any who have lived beyond their set time are instantly killed.
Determined to stop the Kotturuh’s reign of terror, the Doctor and a small team of companions begin to work on a defensive strategy that will ensure life forms are immune to the Kotturuh’s power. After travelling to the Kotturuh’s world and witnessing the equation that they follow, the Doctor begins to formulate a plan that will not only stop the Kotturuh for good but may even put an end to the Doctor’s greatest enemy, death. Determined to change all of time and space so that life will win for all time, the Doctor will become more than just a Time Lord, he will be The Time Lord Victorious.
Now it will probably surprise no-one who is familiar with my blog that I am quite a fan of Doctor Who (just add it to the massive list of fandoms that I follow). Despite my love of the televisions shows, I have not gotten into the Doctor Who novels, audio dramas or comics, although that may change in the future. The Knight, The Fool and The Dead is an intriguing and compelling Doctor Who tie-in novel that takes the reader on a fantastic and exciting ride with the Tenth Doctor. Written by Steve Cole, who has written a huge number of Doctor Who novels and audio dramas among other intriguing works, this book is a vital entry in the Time Lord Victorious project. Time Lord Victorious is a connected series of Doctor Who tie-ins told across multiple forms of media, including novels, comics, audio dramas and various other formats, which sees various incarnations of the Doctor encounter similar foes and each-other in a massive adventure. The Knight, The Fool and The Dead, is a major part of this expanded tie-in series, introducing one of the main antagonistic species and producing some of the major connected moments.
The Knight, The Fool and The Dead had an intriguing and enjoyable narrative which places the Tenth Doctor in an interesting and deadly conflict. I had an awesome time reading this amazing story and, in many ways, it felt like an episode of Doctor Who, with the Doctor being confronted by danger, recruiting a unique team of individuals, including an immortal, a mad scientist and a time travelling Ood hitman (a hitood??), before finding an inventive solution to the conflict. This proved to be a fun and enjoyable adventure, although it does get somewhat dark towards the end, mainly due to the Doctor’s vulnerable mental state and the reckless course of action that he undertakes. While the book mostly follows the Tenth Doctor and his companions, there are also some flashback scenes to some of previous Doctors, each of which show the Doctor telling one of his companions the same story in different ways. These flashback scenes are very interesting, especially to fans of the franchise, and they have some clever connections to the main story and to the overarching events of the Time Lord Victorious. Due to how short the novel is (only 178 pages), The Knight, The Fool and The Dead, is extremely fast paced, although Cole does an amazing job setting everything up in a short period and then ensuring that the story that follows is cohesive with a good flow. I found myself powering through this novel in extremely short order, especially once I got stuck into the excellent story, and I really enjoyed how the entire narrative turned out. I particularly liked the intriguing and shocking cliff-hanger, which definitely makes me want to check out the next novel in the series.
This latest novel from Cole proved to be quite an enjoyable Doctor Who tie-in novel that really captures the tone and feel of the television show. Like many pieces of tie-in fiction, The Knight, The Fool and The Dead, is best read by fans of the Doctor Who franchise, especially those who loved the Tenth incarnation of the Doctor. Due to it being part of the Time Lord Victorious project, The Knight, The Fool and The Dead has some intriguing connections to the wider universe, with several other significant figures and characters making appearances, resulting in a lot of references for eagle-eyed fans. While some knowledge of the wider Doctor Who canon would be ideal for readers of this novel, I felt that the story contained within The Knight, The Fool and The Dead was accessible to newcomers who should have fun getting through this interesting science fiction adventure. While this novel is connected to a huge range of other Doctor Who media releases, I felt that readers did not need to have enjoyed any of the other entries in the Time Lord Victorious series before this book to follow the story. While The Knight, The Fool and The Dead is a major entry in this connected franchise and is necessary reading for people trying to enjoy the Time Lord Victorious as a whole, this book can easily be enjoyed on its own. I am rather curious about some of the comics and other novels being created as part of this, and I might have to check them out at some point in the future.
One of the things I enjoyed most about this book was the author’s portrayal of the Doctor. The Knight, The Fool and The Dead features the Tenth Doctor, who was played by David Tennant on television, as the central protagonist of this book, and I felt that Cole did an outstanding job of bringing this iconic character to life. Cole captures so much of this Doctor’s personality, including the way he speaks and thinks, so much so that while I was reading through this novel my brain automatically read all of the Doctor’s lines to me in Tennant’s voice. This helped turn The Knight, The Fool and The Dead into such a fun story, especially as Tennant’s Doctor is probably my favourite version of the character. However, the real highlight of Cole’s portrayal of the Tenth Doctor is how the author brings a much darker and conflicted tone to the character. This version of the Tenth Doctor is only shortly removed from the climatic events of The Waters of Mars, where the Doctor’s hubris led to the suicide of a woman he was trying to save. Because of this, and because his own upcoming death has been foretold, the Doctor has fled back in time to try to outrun his problems. I really enjoyed the way in which the author portrays a much more unpredictable and emotionally ragged Doctor throughout this book, especially one who is still getting flashes about what happened during his last adventure. This somewhat damaged Doctor ends up making some rather rash and dangerous decisions, especially when an opportunity to end all death comes before him. The way in which the author works this more damaged version of this fantastic character into the narrative is extremely cool and I really appreciate the way in which he brings the story back to the events of the television series.
Overall, Doctor Who: The Knight, The Fool and The Dead by Steve Cole is an excellent and compelling Doctor Who tie-in novel. Thanks to its quick narrative and fantastic depiction of the Tenth Doctor, I had an absolute blast getting through this new book, which serves as a key entry in a captivating multi-media series. This is a great book to check out, especially if you are a major Doctor Who fan, and I will need to get the next novel in this series, All Flesh is Glass, to see how this storyline ends.