The Fourth Doctor Adventures for this year are set while The Doctor is travelling alone, which is a rare setting for this particular incarnation, and the first story is a really strong outing set entirely in a library on a moon of Gallifrey, which is also a unique and very fun setting but sadly it also features the cancelled-due-to-being-a-twat James Dreyfus incarnation of the Master… Oh well, let’s take a look!
The premise is easy… to type, in that The Doctor (Tom Baker) finds an old book titled “The Dischord Grimoire” while wandering around the TARDIS and knows its dangerous and ancient so decides to pop to Gallifrey’s near or possibly actually-endless library known as “The Recusary” and visit his old friend Ansillon (Adrian Lukis) to get it appraised and potentially stored. While it’s never stated it’s heavily implied that Ansillon is the monk-like mentor that The Third Doctor met during his regeneration story, and add in Eminent Sedanya (Annette Badland) who is apparently an old teacher of The Doctor, the setting and The Master there is a lot of Time Lord continuity going on here, but to Timothy X Atack’s credit, it works.
Emma Noakes plays Elanora, a quiet librarian who acts as the pseudo-companion during much of the story and again does a really good job, so full credit to the entire cast here. As per usual The Doctor arrives and people start dying and he’s soon blamed for it, in this case it involves a stop at a special Time Lord confessional where you literally can’t lie and The Doctor confesses to the murder, and other crimes all the way up to trying to take over Gallifrey. Of course it’s all eventually revealed to be The Master and I must say I was rather annoyed because James Dreyfus finally nailed the role and put in a good performance in what will now be his final appearance released long after his self-imposed exile due to twatery. Oh well.
I’m not entirely sure what expression that is Tom Baker has going on here, but whatever…
There is a bit of exploration into what Time Lords do when they’re about to die, which is interesting. They confess all their sins in complete privacy and then enter the Matrix to be digitally stored. Kind of fits in with the whole Confession Dial thing from the Twelfth Doctor’s TV run, but not quite. There are silent watchers who wander the library which was a fun concept and made for a perfect disguise for The Master, but I can’t remember their names so… sorry about that.
If I had to fault the story I’d say it flies just a little be too close to Deadly Assassin, which is a real pain because it takes place literally RIGHT AFTER Dead Assassin, so The Doctor coincidentally had two major Gallifrey-set adventures led by The Master trying to gain ultimate power in a row. Plus I will say that some of the early half of the story can be quite slowly paced, though the pay-off is worth it, it’s overall a really fun story.
The overall cover of this story and the next, given a subtitle to match current releases…
As mentioned this is set directly after Fourth Doctor TV classic “The Deadly Assassin”, and Ansillon is heavily implied to be K’anpo Rimpoche, the reclusive Time Lord monk who helped the Third Doctor regenerate in “Planet of the Spiders”.
Blood of the Time Lords was a really enjoyable dive into Time Lord lore and features great performances from the main cast. A few niggles drop it down from 5 but it does come highly recommended if you’re looking for a good Time Lord-heavy story.
Not a lot to add here. The Master’s plan involves building a doomsday weapon held secret in the library and he very nearly succeeds. Given this is a younger incarnation of The Master he seems far colder and calculating, I guess he’s missing the desperation or partially insanity of his later selves. The Doctor’s old teacher Eminent Sedanya ends up being in league with The Master but gets betrayed and killed, which serves her right, frankly, especially after being okay with setting up Ansillon to be obliterated in a particle dispersal execution thingy at a trial. Due to the nature of the doomsday weapon the events of the story are undone and both Sedanya and Ansillon are returned to life, which is a bit of an annoying copout but at the same time I really enjoyed Ansillon, so I was happy to hear him survive!