Darkheart: a faded neutron star surrounded by dead planets. But there is life on one of these icy rocks - the last enclave of the Earth Empire, frozen in the image of another time. As the rest of the galaxy enjoys the fruits of the fledgling Federation, these isolated Imperials, bound to obey a forgotten ideal, harbour a dark obsession.


The Doctor, Jamie and Victoria arrive to find that the Federation has at last come to reintegrate this lost colony, whether they like it or not. But all is not well in the Federation camp: relations and allegiances are changing. The fierce Veltrochni - angered by the murder of their kinsmen - have an entirely different agenda. And someone else is manipulating the mission for his own mysterious reasons - another time traveller, a suave and assured master of his work.


The Doctor must uncover the terrible secret which brought the Empire to this desolate sector, and find the source of the strange power maintaining their society. But can a Time Lord, facing the ultimate temptation, control his own desires?






The Dark Path

MARCH 1997






I don’t think that many fans would argue that The Dark Path is anything other than the most ostensibly appealing Missing Adventure of them all. David A McIntee’s sixth Doctor Who novel proudly bears the images of both Patrick Troughton and Roger Delgado on its cover, and its title makes it plain that this is the big one. This is the one where Koschei starts down the dark path that will forever dominate his destiny. This is the one where the Doctor’s oldest and dearest friend becomes the unsurpassably evil Master. This is, without doubt, the most significant Missing Adventure of them all. But is it the best?


If the truth be told, probably not. Like many other stories that promise so much, The Dark Path doesn’t quite live up to its illimitable potential. McIntee’s plot feels incredibly protracted - it is only in the last fifty pages or so when planets start blowing up and the space battle kicks off that things start to get interesting. Until then, The Dark Path’s pages are filled with typically- beguiling McIntee characters quietly dancing around each other, saturated with the series’ embroidered continuity. As the backdrop to what should be one of the greatest tragedies in Doctor Who, the setup is adequate, but far from magnificent.


© Virgin 1997. No copyright infringement is intended.Fortunately though, McIntee writes for Koschei so very well that everything else seems to fall by the wayside. The author instinctively captures the traits that have always been synonymous with Delgado’s suave, gentlemanly Master, and written them in isolation. On television, it was almost a struggle not to like Delgado’s Master even though he was clearly the most evil man that had ever lived. He had a charisma that made him impossible to hate; an almost hypnotic equanimity that endeared him to the Doctor-rooting audience. Here, Koschei retains all these winning characteristics, but lacks the Master’s devastating flaws. More than that though, McIntee really stresses to the reader that Koschei is not just the Master without the evil corrupting his soul, he’s actually a positive influence on the universe. Like the Doctor, he travels the cosmos with a companion, Ailla, fighting wrongdoing wherever he goes. In an earlier Missing Adventure (set later), The Menagerie, the Doctor suggests that once upon a time he and Koschei were so similar that they were “the same person”. The Dark Path takes this idea one step further, showing that they were, in a sense, identical. And this makes what is to come all the more heartbreaking.


Much like the young Anakin Skywalker, Koschei is seduced by a lust for power - the power to do good. He wants to seize the power of the Darkheart and use it to “surgically remove” pain and suffering from the universe. But, as the Doctor points out, power corrupts. And absolute power corrupts absolutely. Through his desire to make things better for all, Koschei becomes the very thing that he sought to destroy.


“My people mistrust me, I kill one of my best friends who was sent to me by the other, and both betray me. I have found myself, Doctor, and I am the stronger for it.”


But here’s the rub. After a couple of hundred pages dwelling on what a thoroughly decent chap Koschei is, within the blink of an eye he destroys Terileptus and his journey towards the dark side is complete. Whilst McIntee successfully shows how Koschei is so completely seduced by the power at his fingertips, we aren’t offered any insight into his thought processes. I wanted to know what was going on inside his head. I wanted to see those cogs turning. I wanted to feel what could turn a good man to the dark side. Yes, Ailla betrays him; the Doctor won’t join him; the Time Lords are spying on him – he’s bound to be feeling a little peeved. But to drive him to genocide? It doesn’t seem like enough somehow. There’s got to be more to it; some underlying psychosis or susceptibility. McIntee might as well have said that Koschei didn’t like Mondays and left it at that.


However, whilst The Dark Path doesn’t – and, if I’m honest, probably couldn’t ever have – lived up to my expectations concerning the Master’s psychology, one element worked far better than I ever thought it would: Victoria Waterfield. As this novel is set immediately prior to Victoria’s departure in Fury from the Deep, McIntee masterfully weaves together all the threads surrounding her character in a manner that not only sets up her imminent leaving, but her troubled future too. Whereas Koschei’s fall from grace is fast and hard, Victoria’s is slow and brooding, and exacerbated by her affection for a man who’s on the verge of monsterdom. Having suppressed her grief over her father’s death at the hands of the Daleks, Victoria suddenly finds herself in the position where she could destroy Skaro before the Daleks ever left the planet, preventing not only her father’s death but untold billions more. And she thinks about it. And it tears her up inside. The dearth of insight into Koschei’s thoughts and feelings that I’ve lamented above is, quite unexpectedly, compensated for in one of the most illuminating and moving companion studies that I’ve ever come across in print.


Make no mistake, The Dark Path offers much. An empire becomes a federation; a lost little girl gets her first, corrupting glimpse of power; and a Time Lord becomes a monster beyond measure. It’s a great book, even outstanding places, but it’s no mythological cornerstone; no defining classic. However, its bold author should still been given due credit for daring to envision a story that many said could never be told; for putting pen to paper on a project that he must have known could never satisfy the lofty expectations that fandom would pin upon it, and in doing so making the Whoniverse that little bit richer.


Copyright © E.G. Wolverson 2006


E.G. Wolverson has asserted his right under the Copyright, Design

 and Patents Act 1988, to be identified as the author of this work.



This novel’s blurb places it between the television serials The Web of Fear and Fury from the Deep. Within this gap, we have placed it after the novel Twilight of the Gods. Whilst the audio books featuring Victoria were released later, both Twilight of the Gods and The Dark Path clearly build towards Victoria’s departure in Fury from the Deep.


This story was the first to offers us insight into the chain of events that saw the Master start down the dark path towards evil. The 2007 episode Utopia would suggest that from the moment the Master looked into the Untempered Schism as a youth, his every thought was punctuated by the sounds of drums – a sound that slowly drove him mad - while the 2003 audio drama Master suggests that the Time Lord Goddess of Death claimed the Master as her champion following a killing perpetrated by the Doctor. None of these ideas are mutually exclusive, of course - the Master’s fall appears to have been a gradual one. The Schism is simply where it all began, and this novels Darkheart System was his Mustafar...


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