‘So,’ she said, ‘the trick is to spend our days trying to live instead of trying not to die?’The Knight, The Fool, And The Dead, page 126
There is a lot to like in this short Doctor Who novel. The tenth doctor has traveled to the Dark Times shortly after declaring himself the Time Lord Victorious, a being who has the discretion to write the rules of time as he sees fit. He is also struggling and running away from his own impending demise after being told a prophecy of his impending death/regeneration. During his adventure to this time period, the Doctor quickly runs into the Kotturuh, a species who judges all creatures by their potential contribution to the universe by imposing life spans on them. This removes the immortality all species had at creation, and, in effect, begins the occurrence of ‘natural death.’ The tenth Doctor, along with an Ood assassin, a survivor of the Kotturuh, and a scientist, struggle to determine how to stop the Kotturuh from passing judgement on more planets before death sweeps across the entire universe.
I enjoyed the fast pace of the book, and it was an easy read. I was able to finish it in a couple hours. However, I do think the shortness of the novel detracted from its ability to tell an excellent story rather than just a good one. I loved learning more about the Kotturuh, and they truly are an interesting foe for the Doctor, especially at the stage of his life during this story. The physical description of them was eery and learning more about how they set lifespans was interesting, if not totally understandable or believable. I also really enjoyed the comedy of Brian, the assassin Ood, and was happy with his appearance in this book since I enjoyed him in previous outings as well. There were hints of depth and greatness sprinkled throughout the book, such as in my favorite quote shown above, but I would have liked more existential musings (especially from the Doctor) given the entire book is about death. The ending, however, sets the Doctor in an interesting place and role, and I’m looking forward to seeing what he does with it in future installments of this multimedia project.
Overall, the book is a good and enjoyable read that is somewhat constrained by its length, lack of depth in approaching a topic such as death, and confusing/unbelievable scientific explanations for the Kotturuh’s abilities. Therefore, I rate this book 3 out of 5 stars.