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Recap / New Series Adventures: Engines of War

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The first story entirely featuring the War Doctor. It is set during the Time War, and leads into the events of "The Last Day" and then "The Day of the Doctor".


  • Always Chaotic Evil: Averted in the case of the Time Lords. While the High Council have fallen prey to He Who Fights Monsters, the ordinary people are explicitly described as being innocent and worth fighting for.
  • Back from the Dead: The Doctor alludes that Rassilon rose from the grave in order to lead the Time Lords in the Time War.
  • Batman Gambit:
    • The Doctor at one point surrenders to the Daleks, knowing fully well they aren't going to straight up exterminate him, but rather bring him exactly where he wanted to go.
    • The Doctor pulls one on Karlax as well. Saving his dying body from space, leaving him in an unlocked Zero room, and then putting in a failsafe that made sure that if someone else operated the TARDIS it'd centre in around him.
  • Beleaguered Bureaucrat: The Castellan.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: The Doctor is, generally, a nice guy. What happens when you piss off the incarnation solely created to be a warrior? Well... When Cinder dies, the Doctor leaves her killer to the Daleks... just because he can. The Daleks, for their part, do exactly what they normally do.
  • Big Damn Heroes: The Doctor (crash)lands on top of several Daleks and Degradations, saving Cinder's life.
  • Bigger on the Inside: Subverted at first. The TARDIS is on its side, and the Doctor ushers Cinder in, and he expects her to to say this but instead she remarks everything is "The right way up" (despite being on its side), it takes a bit for her to get to the size issue.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The Doctor and Cinder save people from destruction by Time Lords, Borusa makes a Heroic Sacrifice and destroys all the Daleks in the system... but Cinder is killed, Time Lords have become villains, and the Doctor decides to finish the war by destruction of both sides.
  • Bound and Gagged: What happens to Cinder when she is being interrogated using a Mind Probe. (No, not the mind probe!)
  • Bury Your Gays: Cinder, a lesbian, gets killed in this story.
  • Call-Back:
  • Call-Forward:
    • Borusa as the "possibility engine" gains omniscience and omnipotence by absorbing the Time Vortex, just like Rose as the Bad Wolf. He also uses his power to wipe an army of Daleks from existence.
    • Rassilon inquires if "the Doctor" has managed to track down the Master. Which he won't, until due time, assuming he's even bothering to track him down of course. Rassilon even points out he "Saw into the eye of the war."
    • It's explicitly mentioned that Rassilon goes rat-tat-tat-tat with his gauntlet's fingers.
    • There's a weapon the Time Lords think can stop the war. It's first thought to be The Moment from the Omega arsenal.
  • Dying Dream: As Cinder dies, her last visions are of the family, in perfect bliss, when she was just aged six.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Borusa and the other Time Lords Rassilon experimented on. Their timelines have been retro-engineered meaning they are in a constant state of flux between the past and possible future regenerations. They can see all possible timelines and when Borusa is in the Eye of Tantalus he is able to pull on threads of possibility to bring new timelines into being; similar to Bad Wolf he is able to wipe all traces of the Daleks from the Tantalus Eye.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Invoked when the Daleks reveal their intention to convert the Doctor into the 'Predator Dalek' in the hopes of harnessing his imagination and ingenuity; the Doctor observes that if they converted him into a Dalek, stripping him of his emotion would also deprive him of everything they're trying to harness in the first place.
  • Fiery Redhead: Cinder is presented as such.
  • For Want Of A Nail: Russell T Davies once suggested that the Genesis of the Daleks was the start of the Time War, the Doctor having been plucked out of his own timestream to stop the Daleks from being created. This book confirms it, as did the Big Finish Gallifrey series a few years earlier.
  • Hairpin Lockpick: The Time Lords created an intricate, sonic proof lock that someone might unlock via a different, cruder method. Cinder breaks out using her bracelet.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: A major theme in the story. The Time Lords are shown becoming no different than their enemies the Daleks during the Time War, as they decide to wipe all the Daleks in the Moldox system, and arrogantly place themselves above billions of people, who also will die from the drop of the bomb.
  • Heroic Sacrifice:
    • Cinder gets shot saving the Doctor from Karlax.
    • The Castellan, who transmits the codes needed to escape Gallifrey to the Doctor, despite knowing he'll probably get executed for this. Karlax suspects he was responsible and tells Rassilon he'll find out who did this.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Averted by the Daleks. They adapt their armour so the energies of their demat guns can be safely dispersed if they were to be used on them.
  • Indy Ploy: The Doctor says to Cinder he's not good with long term plans and prefers "winging it".
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Despite how generally despicable Rassilon is, he's not wrong to point out that while the main character hates being called "the Doctor" (since he feels like he doesn't deserve it any more) he hasn't offered any other alternatives as to what he would prefer to be called. Granted, Rassilon calling him "Doctor" is a deliberate psychological jab.
  • Living Ship: The Doctor describes a TARDIS graveyard as a home for old friends and points out to Cinder you can't run away with one without its permission.
  • Lured into a Trap: The Doctor does this to Dalek ships, enabling battle TARDISes to destroy them. Then it turns out to be a Dalek trap and the battle TARDISes are destroyed by Dalek Stealth Ships. The concept of traps and ambushes comes back into the narrative often.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Karlax. The narration states that he has spent most of his lives manipulating others in order to achieve his own goals.
  • Mind Probe: The Trope Namer is used on Cinder to confirm the Doctor's tale to the Time Lords, and the results are shown to be quite unpleasant.
  • The Needs of the Many: Inverted. That's how the Time Lords try to justify closing the Eye of Tantalus, even though it will destroy twelve worlds and kill billions. The Doctor decides it would be better to destroy the Daleks than save Cinder, though the latter was due to her explicitly telling him that she's willing to make the trade.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: The Time Lords tried altering the course of Dalek history, which gave the Daleks the idea to try and alter the course of Dalek history, creating the various Skaro Degradations.
  • The Nth Doctor: The Doctor, of course, gets a reference here and there about past lives, but Karlax regenerates from a somewhat wiry white man into a more tall, dark and muscular incarnation. Borusa is also shown shifting through various regenerations, including a middle-aged woman — possibly a sneaky reference to an Alternate Universe Borusa seen in the Gallifrey series (on an alternate version of the planet), in which she was played by Katy Manning.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Cinder. The Doctor finds out her real name but the reader doesn't.
  • Punch-Clock Villain:
    • The Castellan, who helps use the mind probe on Cinder on Karlax's orders but is clearly very upset about doing so and shows the Doctor where Cinder is. Later he helps the Doctor escape Gallifrey, despite knowing he'll probably get executed for this.
    • Partheus is implied to be this as well. He even lets the Doctor go after they stop him using the Tear on the Spiral.
  • The Quisling: Jocelyn Harris, who used to be the elected leader of Moldox but immediately surrendered to the Daleks, and despite contemplating acting as a double agent for the resistance was always too scared to actually do anything. She is Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves when no longer needed.
  • Race Lift: In-Universe, Karlax becomes "dark skinned", different from his first seen incarnation.
  • Reality Warper: Borusa briefly becomes this as he goes further into the Tantalus Spiral. Not only can he see possible timelines, he is able to pull possibilities into existence. At the Doctor's command he destroys all trace of the Daleks in the Tantalus Spiral.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Borusa, when he sacrifices himself to destroy Daleks in the Moldox system.
  • Ret-Gone: The Daleks have devised dematerialisation weapons that erase whoever they shoot from history. They even plan to do it to the whole planet of Gallifrey!
  • Ripple-Effect-Proof Memory: When people are erased by the Daleks Temporal Weapons memories are retained but people can't put them together. However, the Doctor knows what has happened.
  • Save the Villain: Even though Karlax tried to kill him, when his TARDIS is wrecked by the Daleks the Doctor saves him. Subverted later. After Karlax kills Cinder the Doctor dematerialises the TARDIS around him, leaving Karlax surrounded by Daleks. He is quickly exterminated.
  • Spanner in the Works: The Doctor, as per usual, disrupting both the Dalek plan to destroy Gallifrey and Gallifrey's plan to destroy the Tantulus Spiral.
  • Taking the Bullet: Cinder jumps in between a shot fired by Karlax and the Doctor. "You said I'd only get in the way."
  • Tested on Humans: The Daleks conquer the people on Moldox and the other worlds of the Tantalus Spiral just so they can test their new cannons on them.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: The Time Lords High Council and Partheus, who are going to destroy the Moldox system with all its survivors to destroy Daleks's plan to Ret-Gone Gallifrey.
  • Xanatos Gambit: A large part of the mining of the Tantulus eye, thus provoking the Time Lords into action, was all to provoke the Doctor, hoping that the resulting path would lead him (with or without the Tear of Ishtar) into Dalek, erm, plungers? So that instead of employing their Gallifrey destroying weapon, (which would still net them their victory) they would have the Doctor in the Eternity Circle, where they could remove his emotions and encase him into their newly built Predator Dalek.