A Doctor Who novel, written by John Peel. The first of Virgin Publishing's New Adventures.

Previous story: Prime Time | Next story: Timewyrm: Exodus


Regular characters

The Seventh Doctor


Recurring characters

The Timewyrm

Major developments

In an attempt to destroy Qataka, the Doctor is responsible for her transformation into the Timewyrm. The Timewrym escapes into the vortex, harbouring a hatred for the Doctor.

My opinion

The first Doctor Who book to be written with an older reader in mind, this book tries hard to be adult in places, opening with Ace waking up naked in bed, and featuring many bare breasted temple prostitues in Ishtar's temple. The plot, however, is simplistic and many of the plot twists are quite contrived. While some of the characters are given some decent characterisation, the fairly important character of Gilgamesh is just a cliche. All in all, a pretty pedestrian beginning for the New Adventures. If you want to see where the Timewyrm came from it's worth a read, but I'd say skip it otherwise.

Quick outline

Following a partial warning the Doctor receives from his fourth incarnation about the Timewyrm, an evil creature known to the Time Lords in legends, the Doctor and Ace land in ancient Mesopotamia. Here they meet Gilgamesh, the King of Uruk, and investigate strange goings on in nearby Kish.

It transpires that Qataka, an alien whose experiments in cybernetics have given her the ability to transfer her mind into machines and given her the power of mind control, has crashed on Earth and is masquerading as the Goddess Ishtar.

Qataka has ordered intricate patterns of copper to be inlaid in the temple walls, and the Doctor discovers that, when completed, these will transform the temple into a powerful beacon that will enable Qataka to control everyone in the surrounding area. This, the Doctor realises, would seriously disrupt the course of Earth's history.

A story told by a friendly songsmith leads the Doctor to belive that there are other aliens from Qataka's world in the nearby mountains, and he sends Ace with Gilgamesh to investigate while he returns to Kish.

In the mountains Ace discovers Utnapishtim, who had built a space ark to save the last of his people from the cobolt bomb that Qataka had used to destroy their home planet after they had attempted to execute her for her crimes. Utnapshtim's ark crashed on Earth soon after shooting down Qataka's ship, and they lack the power to leave again. Ace discovers that Utnapishtim has a computer virus that could destroy Qataka.

The Doctor, meanwhile, has been captured by Qataka and has discovered that she has rigged a cobolt bomb to destroy the Earth if she dies. She is about to drain his mind for the secrets of time travel when Ace returns with Gilgamesh and Utnapishtim. Before the Doctor can warn them about the cobolt bomb they successfully infect Qataka witht he virus. The Doctor transfers her mind into the TARDIS' telepathic circuits to convince the bomb that she is still alive while he defuses it.

The bomb is defused, and is given to Utnapishtim to provide power for his ark. The Doctor and Ace return to the TARDIS, where they dsicover that Qataka has survived and has taken control of the TARDIS. The Doctor tricks her into inhabiting the secondary control room, which he jettisons into the vortex. Instead of destroying her, however, Qataka uses the knowledge and technology she has gained from the TARDIS to adapt into a creature of the vortex, names herself the Timewyrm and escapes into the vortex.

The Doctor realises that his fourth incarnation was trying to warn himself that he would create the Timewyrm.

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