The Doctor sees it all; Ace puts grace before the fall.
This is not only an excellent ending to this novel, but to the whole series of books. It even makes Apocalypse feel a bit more relevant, which is no mean feat.
There is an implication here, despite what we’ve seen, that the Sixth Doctor has been involved in these schemes as well. We’ve seen the first four directly interacting with the Seventh Doctor over the last few books, and the Fifth is bound so as not to interfere with the Doctor’s war on evil, but what of the Sixth? Well, much as the Timewyrm traveled back over the Doctor’s timeline to make his second incarnation a carrier, it appears that the Seventh Doctor used the Sixth to put the time vortex gate-amulet in the Church of Cheldon Bonniface! He says that this works because it was before he met the Timewyrm, but that must mean he also influenced his past life the way the Timewyrm did. It’s an interesting idea, but one that I hope is used sparingly in the future, if used again at all.
Ace’s character demonstrates a natural development of she’s seen over the last few novels. She’s gone from picking fights with Gilgamesh and Freikorps thugs to pleading for her school bully to be saved. She refuses to fight Chad and even attempts to console him, not to impress the Doctor, but because that is what she thinks he would do. This is not a cure for all her demons – she still cannot bring herself to speak to her mother at the end of the story – but she stays to watch the death of a shade of Audrey out of- guilt? Sympathy? A sense of duty?
The concept of the Doctor and Timewyrm warring across all of time is well written- a difficult task for two momentarily pan dimensional beings in conflict throughout and outside the universe. The Doctor’s temptation to remain outside of the universe when the battle is done, to live a life of an watcher without without pain, echoes his dilemma at the beginning of the novel, when asa young man he complained about the uncaring Time Lords. Again faced with the prospect of being a impassive observer or a passionate fighter, he chooses to fight.
I’m not sure I’m quite convinced Qataka would give up her form to become a baby, but it’s a lovely thought on retribution, and one which would be replicated years later in Boom Town. It had been seeded throughout their conversations that in approaching omnipotence, the Timewyrm regained some of its appreciation for the fallibility of being a mortal. Perhaps it isn’t so strange after all.
I adore the idea that all those who have died for the Doctor do not blame him- he just imagines that they do. There’s something comical about the way the demons become reasonable and chatty once the Doctor is gone- a sense that they’d be quite alright if that madman stopped being so hard on himself.
In Revelation, I complained about the perfunctory ending, with no time spent on how Raphael, Revna, Avum and the others dealt with the fallout of events. Here, we check in on all the main characters, and I almost cried when the Doctor said “And this is my friend Ace.” It establishes that in releasing his guilt and letting the flower grow again, he is, in some way, a new man- so he must introduce himself anew.
Emily’s offer to Ace is touching, akin to Victoria’s departure in Fury from the Deep. It bookends Ace’s discussion with Avram in Genesys as to why she travels with the Doctor, as well as echoing the other, passive life she could have had as Dorry. What’s wonderful is that I don’t think Ace rejects the ‘normal’ life because it’s inferior to travelling with the Doctor. She rejects it because the by the Doctor’s side is where she wants to be the most, and not just as a default option because the alternative (with Emily and Peter) would be terrible. She’s given two choices she appreciates, rather than one good and one bad.
It’s been, on the whole, a great series of books, and this one scores an easy 9. Only Apocalypse drags the series down, and even then it is because it is not as daring and complicated as the other novels. In their concepts and storytelling, three of these books live up to the “too broad and too deep for the small screen” tagline, and Apocalypse does at least do the same with its visuals.
Finally, Saul the church tucks his Reverend into bed, and the universe is restored as it should be. But… what’s been scratching at Ace’s door in the middle of the night?
Timewyrm: Revelation– Chapters 12-13 and Epilogues