FORMAT: HARDCOVER (REVIEWED), DIGITAL | RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Though the Time Lord Victorious event straddles multiple media, the core of its story is told across two novels, which function like a Doctor Who TV two-parter.
Steve Cole’s The Knight, the Fool and the Dead saw the Tenth Doctor travel back to the Dark Times to take on the Kotturuh – the ‘bringers of death’ who dispense mortality. It ended with a big cliffhanger: the Doctor confronted by his two previous selves, one in league with the Daleks, the other with ancient Vampires. Una McCormack’s All Flesh is Grass picks up from that point.
With three Doctors, as well as Daleks, Vampires, the last of the Kotturuh, and not forgetting Brian the Ood assassin, it has a lot to pack into its 200 pages, so it’s to McCormack’s credit that All Flesh is Grass is an easy and fun read. It has a bombastic, finale-esque feel to it, albeit freed from the budget constraints of the TV show. The mish-mash of enemies and the interplanetary setting allow for some exciting, imaginative encounters.
However, its brevity is this book’s biggest downside; the narrative zips from place to place so fast that it barely takes a moment to breathe. With little chance for McCormack to get into characters’ heads, the characterisation of the three Doctors feels weak, and the opportunity to explore what they’d make of each other is missed.
The Kotturuh, set up as the main villains of Time Lord Victorious, also lose out here, in part because they’re overshadowed by the Daleks – who, though always a fun villain, have been done many times before – and in part because the speedy pace means that questions about them aren’t satisfyingly answered. By the end of this main strand, we're over our initial confusion as to what Time Lord Victorious is, but instead confused about whether what we've just read makes any sense.