The Shadows of Avalon
Roots: Alice in Wonderland, La Morte d'Arthur, The Wizard of Oz, A Midsummer Night's Dream. There are references to Talking Heads' "Once in a Lifetime", Charlotte Rampling, Terrance Stamp, The Great Escape, Yellow Pages, the BBC, Goldfinger, and "Men of Harlech".
Dialogue Disasters: "We Faraqued the Ka Faraq Gatri!"
Dialogue Triumphs: "This will ease the passage through dimensions for you. It also cures several common ailments, clears the skin, and can be used to strip polish from furniture."
"I'm the Doctor. And I'm here to save the world!"
"It's recently come to me... About life. Well, it's only what it is because it isn't for ever. Good stories have endings. If we just tried to keep hold of everything we'd ever had... Well, I don't think that's living at all, quite, do you?"
Continuity: Avalon is the other-dimensional realm of the Catuvelani, the Kingdom of the sleeping King Constantine. Mab ab Mab Pendragon is the Queen Regent. The dream of Constantine connects to the sleeping group mind of all humanity: Avalon occupies the same space as England and is the same size as Great Britain, which the Catuvelani call Greater Pryddein. Constantine also exists as a dream in Britain, under the name Constantine King, who has wandered Earth for centuries unsure of who he is: Cavis and Gandar made him self aware so that he would draw power from Constantine's dream. The Unseelie Court in the North is currently making trouble for the Catuvelani. The Unseelie are quantum creatures and are the original inhabitants of Avalon: they are also Earth Reptiles. The Catuvelani call the Brigadier's England the Homelands. The Catuvelani are Celtic. Constantine has been sleeping at the bottom of a black pool for other two thousand years, whilst his Regents rule. The technology that created Avalon and allowed Constantine to bring his tribe there to escape Roman rule was provided by Gallifreyan Interventionists: the society of the Catuvelani is based closely on that of Gallifrey in many ways: hence they have a High Council that meets in a hexagonal room, and a Castellan. Avalon isn't the dimension that Morgaine hails from, but is similar in principle. They use dragons for transport, which are reared by magic but live as normal beasts.
Lethbridge-Stewart is now a General, but almost everyone calls him the Brigadier. Since his rejuvenation in Cheldon Bonniface at Bernice Summerfield's wedding, he has returned to active service and has seen combat. Doris has recently died, drowned during a yachting accident: the Brigadier blames himself, for insisting on taking the boat out in poor weather. When the Brigadier was six or seven, he went on holiday to a caravan site in Sussex with his parents, during which they went to an air show. British Army Medical Officer Lieutenant Cronin has been counselling him since Doris died, at the suggestion of UNIT's Chief of Operations in Geneva. He has kept some old photographs and letters but sent most of Doris' stuff to her mother's. Doris used to rub liniment into his back every night. He doesn't believe in an afterlife. He stays in Avalon once the dimensional rift is sealed, to live out his life with Mab.
The Time Lords are currently in a dispute with the People (The Also People) and know of the future war with the Enemy (Alien Bodies, Unnatural History, Interference, The Taking of Planet 5). Romana is still President of the High Council, her titles now including Lady President, the War Queen, and Mistress of the Nine Gallifreys. She has black hair with a fringe, green eyes, a tattoo of the Prydonian Seal on her left ankle, and usually wears pearls. On Gallifrey, there are three-hundred and sixty-three towers forming the Presidential Wheel around the Capitol. Type 98 TARDISes have holographic scanners.
Cavisadoratrelundar (Cavis) and Gandarotethetldrax (Gandar) are Interventionists and lovers. They were recruited from the Patrexes. The Doctor knows of them, and knew Cavis' father, who used to visit Lungbarrow. Cavis' father was a staunch anti-Interventionist, which forced the pair to kill him: Gandar did the deed, to spare Cavis. The pair did something unpleasant to the Vardans (The Invasion of Time, No Future), which the Doctor has heard about. Cavis only has one heart, having not yet regenerated [see The Sensorites, The Man in the Velvet Mask] despite having been on thirty field missions, at least one involving Sontarans. Gandar has always wanted to take on the Doctor, as a result of which he models his appearance on that of the Master, dressing in black and wearing a small beard. Time/Space Visualisers are used on Gallifrey (see The Space Museum, The Chase). The pair impersonates both Cateluvani and Unseelie, including the Unseelie War Mages. Gandar regenerates after Margwyn stabs him through one of his hearts. Mab beheads Cavis. Gandar regenerates again after a sword wound, cremates Cavis, and stays in Avalon as a prisoner of war, gradually settling down in the land.
The Doctor has always wanted to visit Avalon. He officially resigns as UNIT's scientific advisor via a letter written in High Gallifreyan, and becomes Mab's Magical Advisor. He remembers both his father and the loom and isn't sure which is real: he wonders if Faction Paradox have changed his past. He rides a horse and a dragon here. He gets tipsy on beer. He's known to UNIT troops by the code name Zachary. He uses a Gesture of Warding to survive in the Vortex.
Fitz introduces Compassion as "Miss Galore".
Compassion has spent six weeks living amongst humans in Bristol, and has a check-list of things to do provided by the Doctor, which includes living among humans, making friends, getting a job, eating chips, writing poetry, kissing someone ("properly"), getting a cat, and falling in love. The Doctor signed it with a sigil in High Gallifreyan, which translates as "Foolish Wanderer". In preparation for the poetry, she has been reading rather a lot of it. She turns into a TARDIS here, the end result of a process that started when the Doctor altered her receiver to pick up signals only from the TARDIS: it has been processing the data, solving block-transfer computations in her nervous system, and finally transforming her into a complex space-time event. The Doctor realises that it was her that the other TARDISes were talking to during the Fendahl affair (The Taking of Planet 5) and why the scanner blew up on Skale (Parallel 59). Compassion is a type 102 and the mother of the next generation of TARDISes, the 103s (see Alien Bodies). Romana tries to have her abducted and bred with another capsule to produce these, but she escapes, with the Doctor and Fitz inside. Her interior is currently in flux and rather dark and disturbing.
The TARDIS is seemingly destroyed here, a cloud of butterflies from the butterfly room escaping as it explodes. The Doctor hypothesises that the TARDIS sensed that Avalon would lead to her destruction and began circling it, which lead to her attraction to such anomalies as the dimensional disturbance on Drebnar (Frontier Worlds) and the gestalt dream on Skale (Parallel 59).
UNIT Colonel Munro is presumably Captain Munro from Spearhead from Space.
Creatures that feed in the Vortex include Swimmers (The Taking of Planet 5), Polts, Chronovores (The Time Monster, No Future, The Quantum Archangel), and Krakens (Unnatural History).
Links: Happy Endings. The Brigadier recalls the events of The Dying Days and thinks about Fiona (The Scales of Injustice), Kate and Gordy (Downtime). He alludes to his "Cromer" comment in The Three Doctors. He recalls visiting Africa (Transit). There are references to Gallifreyan Looms (Lungbarrow), Faction Paradox, Morgaine (Battlefield), Melkurs (The Keeper of Traken), giant maggots (The Green Death), Ogrons (Death to the Daleks, Frontier in Space) and Goth (The Deadly Assassin). The final line is a nod to The Five Doctors.
Location: Wiltshire, July 2012; England, October 1967
Future History: Britain has a King [presumably Charles] by 2012.
Unrecorded Adventures: The Doctor has met Lewis Carroll and Geronimo.
The Bottom Line: "We can't leave it all to the Doctor. All of us are going to have a find a way to be him, if anything at all is to be saved." Paul Cornell's farewell to the novels has been unfairly slated over the years: despite his trademark mawkish sentimentality, there are some great ideas on display here, and the Brigadier gets a much-deserved happy ending that ends his story but lets him live happily ever after. The fate of Compassion, now taken for granted, was a brilliant twist at the time, and the pay-off for all the hints dropped in the previous half-dozen books about what's been happening to her.