War of the Daleks

Roots: The Dalek Chronicles (the Dalek Prime). The Empire Strikes Back (the battle on Terakis is reminiscent of the battle on Hoth). There are quotations from Thomas Paine's The American Crisis, Ulysses S. Grant's On the Art of War, General William Sherman, and William Shakespeare's Julius Caesar. There are references to Alice in Wonderland, Star Trek, Baywatch, Puccini, Star Wars, Jackanory, Rumpole of the Bailey, and Greek myth (Odysseus).

Goofs: The plot.

Why exactly does the Dalek Prime feel the need to explain Dalek contin... sorry, history, to the Doctor rather than, say, just exterminating him on the spot? It even admits that it probably will do this next time they meet.

The Doctor claims that the Daleks have no art or culture, which contradicts The Also People (and demonstrates a basic misunderstanding of the word "culture"), as well as raising the question, what does Peel think that statue in The Daleks was for? [the Doctor is making a point to Sam, or he doesn't know the Daleks as well as he thinks].

For a vegetarian, Sam is curiously keen on the idea of Breccan turkey.

Daleks apparently have standing orders to kill the Doctor on sight, even though they almost never actually try to do this.

The bizarre dialogue given to the Dalek Prime makes it sound like a cross between a Bond villain and a housewife.

The Doctor claims that his previous incarnation wiped all records of himself from Earth's records, which contradicts several other novels, including Transit and So Vile a Sin [also written by Ben Aaronovitch...]. [He's referring to a specific set of records that his seventh self erased.]

The Seventh Doctor saw a star chart of what turns out to be Antalin in Remembrance of the Daleks but for some reason recognised it at the time as Skaro [see below for a possibly explanation of the plot].

Busard ram jets are spacecraft engines said to be powered by drawing in interstellar dust and junk. This sounds fine, except that in interstellar space dust and junk are spread far too thinly to power any such engine.

The Doctor seems surprised that the Daleks have so many ships left since he destroyed Skaro - but even supposing he did, they're likely to have an awful lot of resources in other solar systems that they've conquered. On the approach to Skaro, Sam says that the Daleks don't look like they lost a war - but all the Doctor told her was that they had reached an impasse.

Antalin is used as the name of both the waterworld in interlude one and the planet that the Hand of Omega destroyed. (John Peel has said that this was due to a mistake he made with his notes.)

The Doctor claims that the Daleks have the technology to pilot whole worlds by using the planet's core (as in The Dalek Invasion of Earth) - however, Godengine revealed that this was due to an Osirian device that they never actually got their hands on.

So: was it Skaro that was destroyed by the Hand of Omega, or was it Antalin, or was it somewhere else? The Thals seem to think it was Antalin's sun that went nova - based on location - and that the planet called Skaro here is in the right position for Skaro. However, Skaro in this story is explicitly stated to not be radioactive - yet the original Skaro clearly was (see The Daleks). The Dalek Prime's story varies - he suggests to the Doctor that the planet destroyed was Antalin, but at the trial he identifies it as a constructed world.

If the Movellans were created by the Daleks as a ruse to trick Davros, then who are the race of robots who will cause the Daleks so many problems that are mentioned in A Device of Death? [Maybe the Dalek Prime was lying about the Movellans.]

Davros recalls that the Spider Daleks were one of his designs, yet the Thals' belief that they had been abandoned centuries ago rules out the possibility that they were amongst his recent designs - and he certainly hadn't designed them by the end of Genesis of the Daleks.

On page 8, it says that Spider Daleks have tougher armour than regular ones. On page 218, it says that they are not as heavily armoured.

Generally the numbers involved in the war seem ridiculously small. It says that thousands of Daleks have perished in the conflict - yet there must be millions or billions on Skaro alone (especially if - as the Doctor suggests - there has been a general recall).

The Dalek Prime's contingency plan seems very strange. He installs a hidden Dalek factory ship onboard the prisoners' ship. He then expects the prisoners to escape through the most violent bits of the war, after which he gives them very little resistance. However, he was originally expecting a scavenger ship rather than a bunch of heavily-armed Thals. How did he expect them to escape the planet?

The Movellans turn up as Dalek allies in the Mechanoid interlude, and the Mechanoids recognise them. However, other books (most notably Salvation) will clearly establish that the Mechanoids were sent out in the earlier stages of space exploration - well before the Movellans appeared.

The Thals seem to have forgotten what the Doctor said at the end of Planet of the Daleks because they seem surprised at his more pacifist stance. And yes, this story is after Planet because the Thals know the Doctor can change his appearance.

Fashion Victims: Thals still wear their traditional fighting costumes underneath their armour, which consist largely of thongs...

Dialogue Disasters: Lots, including almost everything the Dalek Prime says.

Sam: 'Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.'
The Doctor: 'Then I think someone's seriously overdue for their eye test.'

The Doctor: 'Genocidal, xenophobic maniacs, number one in a seemingly endless series. Sam, this is Davros. Davros, this is Sam'

The Doctor: 'So, is this the bit where you exterminate us personally, or is it where you explain your masterplan and gloat a lot?' Well, actually...

Dialogue Triumphs: Chayn: 'I've heard it said that the first casualty of war is the truth. That's not true. The first casualty in war is love.'

Chayn on Delani: 'He's nobody's superior. He's just some soulless bastard who kills innocent people who get in his way. If he weren't in uniform, he'd be on trial for murder right now. But because he's a soldier, instead he's a hero.'

Continuity: Daleks can levitate telekinetically (see Death to the Daleks) [an exaggeration, and they usually use technological means]. The Doctor claims that their guns can fire a thousand times without recharging [which isn't actually very impressive]. He also claims that they have no culture and no arts. They don't need survival pods, as they can survive in space on their own. Dalek ships include killcruisers. The Daleks plant a dimensionally transcendental factory ship on board the Thal ship: the Doctor uses the TARDIS to dump it in the Vortex and fling it back in time and space [after which it ends up in the mercury swamps of Vulcan - see The Power of the Daleks. The Doctor suspects that he's already dealt with it].

Special types of Dalek seen here include Special Weapons Daleks (Remembrance of the Daleks) (which Davros designed, even though the Dalek Prime's forces have adopted the design), Spider Daleks (which have eight jointed legs instead of the usual Dalek base and slightly larger than normal Daleks), Striders (which are similar in appearance to Spider Daleks but ten times larger than normal Daleks and with four cannons), and Marine Daleks (which are torpedo shaped, with the eye-stalk at the front and the gun stick and manipulator arm parallel to the body). Spider Daleks are more manoeuvrable and have tougher armour than normal Daleks but are more vulnerable due to the joints in their legs. Spider Daleks are also less heavily armoured than normal Daleks. Daleks also have hoverbouts - disc-shaped aircraft with a crew of 1 Dalek.

The status of individual Daleks is determined by the colour of their casings: grey Daleks are foot soldiers with limited intelligence, Blue Daleks are senior to them - the equivalent of non-commissioned officers, Red Daleks are senior to them and more intelligent and autonomous, Black Daleks are next, then Gold Daleks, and then the Dalek Prime [the Daleks don't have an Emperor at this point, the original being destroyed in The Evil of the Daleks and Davros becoming the next after Terror Firma]. The Dalek Prime is larger than the other Daleks, is a burnished gold colour and has an expanded dome with a dozen lights.

Skaro means home in the Old Kaled tongue [interesting then that the Thals have also adopted it]. The planet destroyed by the Hand of Omega was not Skaro, but Antalin, a planet located in a system ten parsecs from Skaro and once the home of an advanced civilisation before the Daleks turned it into a slave world.

Davros' escape pod has been floating in space for thirty years (Remembrance of the Daleks). His life-support system contains a mechanical claw hidden behind a panel that can fire electrical bolts. The Thals put an explosive collar around his neck to ensure his cooperation, as well as a power lock with a dead man's switch, which will drain his power instantly and kill him: the Daleks remove these. Davros designed the Spider Daleks, which it is implied are an early design [are they Mark I or II Travel Machines (see Genesis of the Daleks)?]. The Daleks place Davros on trial, prompting a civil war between Daleks loyal to Davros and those loyal to the Dalek Prime: the Dalek Prime's forces win and Davros is exterminated by placing him in a matter dispersal chamber and effectively dematerialising him. The Spider Dalek which operates the chamber then destroys the memory core to prevent Davros from being reassembled from the stored pattern [however, the implication is that the Spider Dalek is a secret Davros loyalist and copies the memory core to reassemble Davros later. After he is reassembled, he escapes from "Skaro" in a small ship and encounters the Eighth Doctor again, still refusing to believe that Skaro has survived. See Terror Firma].

Slythers (The Dalek Invasion of Earth) are native to Skaro, can survive underwater, and absorb their prey through their bodily membranes, secreting stomach acids through their skin to aid digestion.

The Thals have high-tech full body armour that can be hardened to withstand a nuclear explosion. When not hardened, this armour can survive two Daleks firing in unison, but not three. Troopers are equipped with one-shot rocket packs which work for only 2 minutes. Many of them have heard of the Doctor and clearly don't believe that he's just a mythical figure (c.f. Planet of the Daleks). The plan on forcing Davros to technologically augment them in order to make them stronger and thus better able to stop the Daleks.

Terakis is a smallish planet with near Skaro-normal gravity on the edge of Thal space. The inhabitants are tall and slender with four arms, rich brown skin, slits for mouths, and large eyes. They are intelligent hunter-gatherers. Terakis is destroyed by a Thal planet buster bomb as part of a trap for the Daleks that wipes out half of their Eighth Fleet.

Antalin is almost entirely covered in water and is rich in marine life. This is not the same Antalin as the one apparently transformed into a fake Skaro.

There is a Mechanoid city on Hesperus (see The Chase). All Mechanoids are programmed to destroy Daleks on sight, as they are known to be hostile to humans. The Mechanoids on Hesperus recognise Movellans [presumably their Central Computer receives updates from somewhere, since the Mechanoids must have been sent out from Earth long before Destiny of the Daleks].

The Doctor has a signed copy of War and Peace in the original Russian. He has a swiss army knife in his pockets. He plays a recording of Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro in the control room, apparently via an internal sound system controlled from the console! He feels guilty about the Thals' militarism, believing that it all stems from him persuading Alydon's people to fight in The Daleks [!]. He's built a new sonic screwdriver since The Bodysnatcher, which he uses to destroy a Dalek with an ultrasound burst that destroys its brain. He blames the randomiser for the fact that he didn't realise that he wasn't really on Skaro in Destiny of the Daleks (see The Armageddon Factor, The Leisure Hive).

Sam orders French toast and orange juice from the TARDIS food machine - though all its food looks like a mars bar and a glass of carrot juice. She also eats half of a Mars bar. She has been reading Jane's Spaceships [which she presumably found in the TARDIS library]. She fends off Loran's sexual advances by telling him she's underage.

The TARDIS contains a painters study containing a smock, an easel, and a work in progress. The Doctor has to disconnect the Time Rotor in order to remove the TARDIS lock, in order to override fail safes designed to prevent him taking it apart in flight. The current force field default settings were programmed by a previous incarnation of the Doctor [possibly the Fourth - see The Horns of Nimon] and allow the TARDIS doors to be safely opened in space [see The Runaway Bride]. With regards to the TARDIS's indestructibility, the Doctor notes that "indestructible" is a relative term. The TARDIS control room has a huge holographic scanner that forms the ceiling, as well as a smaller, monitor based scanner. The TARDIS has an emergency system that will return it to Gallifrey. The Doctor hasn't repaired the State of Grace circuitry [which has broken since The Bodysnatcher]. He dematerialises the TARDIS from around a fusion bomb planted in the control room by the Daleks.

Bussard ram jets are powered by drawing in interstellar dust and junk.

The War of the Daleks Retcon

If the Dalek Prime is to be believed, the following is true:

1) During the Dalek invasion of Earth (The Dalek Invasion of Earth), the Daleks raided Earth's archives (specifically the Ministry of Defence in London) and discovered records of previous Dalek incursions on Earth, involving Davros and the Hand of Omega in 1963 (Remembrance of the Daleks) and "the Styles business" (Day of the Daleks). This part of the story is corroborated, because we see a recording of Rachel Jenson reporting on Remembrance of the Daleks.

2) The discovery from these records that (a) Davros was still alive and (b) that he destroyed Skaro with the Hand "was a cause of some concern" to the Dalek Prime, who realised that the Daleks couldn't change history by simply travelling back in time and stopping him, because that would cause a paradox. Instead, the Dalek Prime decided to send back a team of "Renegade" Daleks to pretend to oppose Davros' Daleks but to actually let them win, so that Davros' plan unfolds as recorded in history. This is despite the fact that in Remembrance of the Daleks the only thing that stops the Renegade Daleks from leaving with the Hand is the Doctor. And the Dalek Prime says they didn't expect him to be involved.

3) In order to satisfy history and save Skaro the Daleks sterilised the planet Antalin and made its surface radioactive to turn it into a reasonable facsimile of Skaro. They then looked for Davros on the real Skaro, found him, and moved him to a fake knock-up of the bunker that they built on Antalin (without bringing him out of suspended animation), so that when he woke up in Destiny of the Daleks he automatically assumed that he was still on Skaro. It is, therefore, Antalin that was destroyed by the Hand of Omega.

4) The Movellans were created by the Daleks and are the Dalek concept of what a humanoid is like. The Dalek-Movellan war did not happen, but was a fabrication engineered by the Dalek Prime so that Davros would believe that the Daleks needed him when they "found" him on "Skaro". Following his escape from prison (Resurrection of the Daleks) the Daleks leaked the fake news that the Movellans had won the war, hoping that this would prompt Davros to search for the ultimate weapon and thus find the Hand of Omega; instead, he started creating his own race of Daleks (Revelation of the Daleks).

5) Following the events of Remembrance of the Daleks, having thus saved Skaro, the Dalek Prime has Davros brought to Skaro to stand trial because it knows that some Daleks are loyal to Davros and some to the Dalek Prime. It engineers a civil war between the two factions so that Daleks loyal to it can exterminate those loyal to Davros, purifying the Dalek race. A "stealth" Dalek hides in the TARDIS, disguised as a lectern [using technology similar to the chameleon circuit, or simpler holographic techniques].

It is debatable how much, if any, of this is true within the fiction. The Dalek Prime claims during the trial that the fake Skaro was constructed, and the Doctor starts getting confused about whether the Daleks can move stars. As noted in the Goofs section, it seems highly unlikely that the Seventh Doctor mistook Antalin for Skaro, and the Dalek Prime's account of what the "Renegade" Daleks were really doing in 1963 also doesn't make sense. The new origin of the Movellans may also contradict A Device of Death.

It is possible, and considerably more likely, that all of this is a massive exercise in propaganda by the Dalek Prime, who must surely be aware of the psychological impact of the Daleks on other races and who most certainly does indeed want to find out which Daleks are loyal to Davros and deal with them. Further evidence for this includes the fact that whilst the Dalek Prime admits that saving Skaro by directly trying to alter history wouldn't work, the paradoxical solution of trying to trick history with the destruction of a fake Skaro makes even less sense. Davros certainly doesn't believe the Dalek Prime, either here or in the subsequent Terror Firma.

The only possible problem with this interpretation is that a small group of Thals believe that Skaro still exists and that Antalin was destroyed. But since none of them are likely to have ever set foot on Skaro, and since Antalin and Skaro are a mere ten parsecs apart, it seems likely that the Dalek Prime's propaganda pays off. In which case the "Skaro" seen here might actually be Antalin. The Dalek Prime's claims about the Movellans might also be an attempt by the Daleks to save face after a humiliating past defeat - a few Movellans are seen on "Skaro" and Hesperus, working for the Daleks, but Destiny of the Daleks did rather demonstrate how easy they are to reprogram...

Links: Sam recalls meeting Vampires (Vampire Science) and recalls the HADS operating (The Bodysnatcher). She remembers the Doctor telling her about Davros on Tractis (Genocide). The Doctor recalls his seventh incarnation erasing all computer records of himself (Transit) and implies that the Master damaged the TARDIS lock in San Francisco (The TV Movie).

The Doctor says that he tried appealing to the Daleks' better nature once, and it didn't work (Genesis of the Daleks or The Evil of the Daleks?). There are lots of references to previous Dalek stories including The Daleks, Mission to the Unknown (Marc Cory, Varga Plants, the SSS), The Daleks' Master Plan (Varga Plants, the SSS), Planet of the Daleks,Genesis of the Daleks (Davros, the Thals), Remembrance of the Daleks (Davros, the destruction of Skaro), The Dalek Invasion of Earth (the Slyther, the Dalek invasion), Day of the Daleks (referred to in records plundered during the invasion). The Doctor's reference to having seen the Daleks' future, but not who wins may or may not be a reference to The Evil of the Daleks. The Power of the Daleks (the Doctor dealing with the factory ship - or so he thinks). The retcon heavily affects Destiny of the Daleks, Resurrection of the Daleks, Revelation of the Daleks, and Remembrance of the Daleks.

Location: he human scavenger ship Quetzel and [a planet that may or may not be] Skaro 30 years after Remembrance of the Daleks. The prologue takes place on Terakis - a planet between Thal space and Dalek space in the same timezone. The interludes happen on the water-world Antalin not that long after The Daleks' Master Plan, on the Draconian ship Hunter in a time period soon after the Draconians have introduced female officers, and the planet Hersperus nearly three hundred years after Mechanoids arrived on the planet.

Future History: The Daleks will invade Earth several times.

Unrecorded Adventures: The Doctor hasn't seen a Bussard ram jet for centuries.

The Bottom Line (prosecution): 'It doesn't make sense. Astonishingly bad, with turgid prose, one-dimensional characters and occasional interludes that read like World Distributors Annuals. All of which pales in comparison next to the incredible stupidity of the main plot, which sees Peel tying himself in knots to salvage Skaro, aided by out-of-character infodumps by various Daleks. The result is a novel that makes both Davros and the Doctor appear stupid, outwitted as they both are by the Dalek Prime, a figurehead without any sort of character and with appalling dialogue.

The Bottom Line (Defence): 'It's not possible I destroyed the wrong planet...' The plot of the book is, essentially, just an excuse to say that the destruction of Skaro seen in Remembrance of the Daleks didn't happen. There are a few bits of the book which are half-decent - whilst writing this review, I was surprised how much better it was than I'd remembered. However, there are still plenty of weak points - the very complicated story of the retcon, the way everyone (including Sam) fancies the Doctor - which is really poorly written, and the Dalek Prime's contingency plans are particularly rubbish. Without the retcon (which, let's not forget, only takes up one chapter plus a dozen throwaway lines in the rest of the novel), this book would be a forgettable action romp. With it, it's a work of infamy which most fans will want to blot out of their memory.

Discontinuity Guide by Paul Clarke and Stephen Gray

Other Guides to this Story

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War of the Daleks is brilliant. I can't understand people who can't find rich pickings, and a very strong adventure in it.

I think it's because there's very little substance or depth to the story, and because the retcon chapter is such a big distraction. The exact same story (without the irritating and completely unnecessary retcon) is told several times better in the BBC book Prisoner of the Daleks.

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