The Dust of Ages

Roots: Moonbase 3.

Goofs: Karagula is described as a cold, desolate planet, despite the baking heat when the Doctor visits in The Colour of Darkness.

Continuity: High Minister Drakon is the leader of the High Witan, the ruling council of the Darksmith Collective. The Darksmiths are skeletal humanoids. They build the Agent, a sophisticated humanoid robot, to track down the Eternity Crystal. The Agent incorporates plastics salvaged from the wreckage of the Nestene homeworld (see Rose), and knowledge of the Time Vortex taken from a deactivated Gundan robot (Warriors’ Gate). [The Darksmiths must be able to travel in time, as later novels in the series are obviously set much further in the future and Varlos appears to have travelled back in time in The Vampire of Paris].

The Eternity Crystal was created the Darksmith Vargos, who hid it on the Moon. When it becomes active again, it animates the dust on the Moon.

The Doctor adopts the alias of Doctor Smith, from the Bureau of Alien Technology.

Snorkellians make great cleaners, as they suck up dust through their snouts and digest it.

Links: The end of the novel leads directly into The Graves of Mordane. The Darksmiths of Karagula were first mentioned in Martha in the Mirror. One of the chapter titles is The Hand of Fear!

Location: Survey Four on the Moon, the early twenty-first century; and Karagula.

Future History: Survey Four is one of several bases set up by the big corporations to mine for minerals and ores on the Moon.

The Bottom Line: Obviously aimed at a younger audience, The Dust of Ages nevertheless makes a rather entertaining start to the Darksmith Legacy saga. Richards’ workmanlike style makes him well suited to overseeing a series like this, and he sets the tone by providing a surrogate companion (the first of several along the way), and introducing the Darksmiths and the Agent. It’s hardly the most sophisticated novel in Doctor Who’s history, but it is rather good fun.

Discontinuity Guide by Paul Clarke
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