All Flesh Is Grass (Time Lord Victorious).

Wham bamm, thank you Una McCormack. After the barnstorming final moments of the previous novel, Una picks up the momentum straight away with these three Doctors, Eighth, Ninth and Tenth in a stand off, their ships and incongruous armies ready to blast each other out of the sky. It's Daleks vs vampires with the fate of a genocidal race at the centre.  The future of the universe is in their hands (again), we're reminded more than ever that something has broken within the Tenth Doctor and it's going to take two of his earlier selves to knock some sense into him.

Multi-Doctor stories are always about the differences and Una carefully delineates their perspectives between the still optimistic Eighth Doctor, Ninth nursing his survivor guilt and Tenth believing himself powerful enough to have the power of mortality in his hands. The cover art tells you everything you need to know about him, wearing that itchy Gallifreyan head gear and robes as though he's  become the symbol of some manifest destiny. When Tenth described himself as Time Lord Victorious in The Waters of Mars, this was the fearful character that we assumed he would become. When he tells Wilf later about it all going wrong, he could just as easily be referring to this.

The author captures Eighth perfectly, especially his passive aggressive sarcasm and although Tenth remains the focus, he's given plenty of action as the consequences of his own alliance with the Daleks becomes all too real. Castellan knows what readers who haven't heard the Big Finish audios think since they're all tied together pretty tightly and the book only gives the briefest explanation for how they ended up working together or how he and Brian the Ood assasin know each other. But that's the point of these cross platform franchise promotion. To draw the consumer into enjoying as much of it as possible.

But honestly its just a pleasure to have the Eighth Doctor in novelistic prose again outside of the many short stories which have appeared since The Gallifrey Chronicles. Until recently he's been thought of a classic Doctor but since Time of the Doctor, he's become a kind of bridging incarnation between the two, although Big Finish have brought those barriers down considerably anyway with the Tenth Doctor turning up all over the shop thanks David Tennant keeping himself busy between series of Staged. Hey Big Finish, Michael Sheen is right there.

The book even manages to provide a more nuanced explanation for how the Doctor doesn't remember meeting his other selves between adventures but often refers back to them. They both remember and don't. The memories of these meetings return when they're in each other's company but submerge at other times. My guess is that it also has to be matching incarnations. Ninth still believes Gallifrey was destroyed because he wasn't a part of The Day of the Doctor and that adventure is still in this Tenth's future.

Placement: Well, yes indeed. Firstly, I'd thought I'd missed something at the start of the Mutually Assured Destruction  audio and yes, it turns out All Flesh Is Grass bridges the gap between that and The Enemy of My Enemy, so I'll have to shufty them around. But despite the theme music on the audios, this Eighth Doctor feels earlier that the Time War version. At one point he references not popping back to visit Romana and K9 on Gallifrey often enough which doesn't seem consistent with his Time War inclination. So I'm moving the whole lot to the start of the Time War era for now. But honestly it might as well be just before Shada.

1 comment:

Daniel Tessier said...

I concur that this reads as an Eighth Doctor long before the Time War. Given his perturbed but not distraught reaction to the idea of a universe without Gallifrey, I'd say it was before The Ancestor Cell at the very latest. Admittedly, I've not yet heard the audios.