Doctor Who: The Newbies Guide
Cat's Cradle: Time's Crucible
This is the fifth novel in Virgin's New Adventures line.
Where does this fit?
This happens in sequence with the other New Adventures.
Other Guides to this Story
The Seventh Doctor is short, dark-haired, and speaks with a slight Scottish accent. He thinks of himself as "Time's Champion", deliberately seeking out situations to "put right". He usually has a plan, and is willing to manipulate everyone - including his companions - to achieve it.
Ace was a teenaged delinquent in 1980s Perivale. She invented her own homemade explosive called nitro-nine, and prefers her nickname of Ace to her real name of Dorothy. She she was swept away from Perivale by a timestorm, ending up on Iceworld in the far future. Ace met the Seventh Doctor in Dragonfire and became his companion. During her travels with the Doctor she has grown up considerably. However, she has been hurt by the way the Doctor has manipulated her. In particular, she was hurt by the way he tricked her in The Curse of Fenric and the way he forced her to face the evil she sensed in a house her 13 year old self had burnt down in Ghost Light. She calls the Doctor "Professor".
Recurring and Historical Characters
Rassilon is the legendary founder of Time Lord society. A great many myths and legends surround his activities and a large number of powerful Time Lord artefacts bear his name. He appeared in The Five Doctors, many many generations of Time Lords after his appearance here. That appearance was after he had (apparently) died.
Omega was a contemporary of Rassilon and was responsible for creating the Eye of Harmony - a black hole that powers all TARDISes. He was trapped in an anti-matter universe whilst doing this, and attempted to return to the real universe in The Three Doctors and Arc of Infinity. Both times, he was prevented from doing so by the Doctor's interference. Those stories happen many many generations after being trapped in the anti-matter universe, whereas his appearance in this book is before that.
The Other is a shadowy figure from Time Lord legends. He was a colleague of Rassilon and Omega and practically nothing is known about him. He briefly appeared in the novelisation of Remembrance of the Daleks.
Susan Foreman: was a companion of the first Doctor first seen in An Unearthly Child, the first ever episode. She always called the Doctor 'Grandfather', and the Doctor always referred to her as his granddaughter. Susan also had some telepathic ability. Susan doesn't actually appear in this story, but some aspects of this story make a lot more sense if you are aware that she exists.
In The Brain of Morbius the Doctor encountered the Sisterhood of Karn, a female religious order with links to Gallifrey.
In Remembrance of the Daleks the Doctor used an ancient Gallifeyan device called The Hand of Omega, which was capable of destroying stars or of turning them into black holes.
In Silver Nemesis the Doctor encountered a human called Lady Peinforte, who claimed to know secrets connecting the Doctor with an era of Gallifreyan history called 'the Dark Time'.
The revelations about Gallifrey's past in this book would be followed up (and expanded on) in Lungbarrow though you can understand either book perfectly well without reading the other one.