When he recovers, the disorientated Doctor looks in a mirror and sees the face of a stranger. He knows only that he is called the Doctor - nothing more. But something deep inside tells him to trust the TARDIS, and his hands move over the controls of their own accord.
The TARDIS takes him to a strangely familiar junkyard in late-nineties London, where he is flung into a confrontation between local drug-dealers and Samantha Jones, a rebellious teenager from Coal Hill School.
But the Doctor soon finds the TARDIS transporting him to various other places in order to recover all his memories - and that involves seeing seven strangely-familiar faces...
After an encounter with the Master in 1999 San Francisco, the Eighth Doctor finishes reading The Time Machine (a book written by his old friend H. G. Wells). After he checks the Eye of Harmony in his TARDIS, he falls prey to a final trap set by his old enemy, the Master, which erases all of his memory. The only fact he knows for certain is that he is called "the Doctor" - but Doctor who? His instincts tell him to "trust the TARDIS", which immediately lands.
He has landed at a scrapyard at 76 Totter's Lane, London in 1997, where he encounters a young lady by the name of Sam Jones, who is being accused by local drug dealers, led by Baz Bailey, of "grassing" them over to the police. Having saved Sam from these insidious characters, who were intending to force Sam into taking drugs to get her addicted, the Doctor falls foul of the local police who promptly charge him with possession and selling the cocaine he has confiscated from the thugs. Sam tells her two teachers, who have noticed her lateness, and takes them back to the junkyard to verify the story. The Doctor escapes in the confusion of Bailey's desperate attack on the local police station. He runs back into the TARDIS and it dematerialises - taking the cocaine with him to dispose of it safely. This leaves Sam alone, defenceless against the knife-wielding druggies...
The TARDIS lands in the year 100,000 BC, and he meets his first incarnation in the jungle and they psychically link (giving the Eighth Doctor his memories up to that point in his life). The Eighth Doctor stops his other self from killing a caveman who was slowing their party down. The First Doctor explains that he must get away before the "time bubble" his eighth self is in bursts and starts to damage the timeline. The Eighth Doctor then leaves.
The TARDIS then lands during the events of the War Games, where he helps his second incarnation, Jamie McCrimmon and Zoe Heriot with their important mission to contact the Time Lords. Having regained his second life's memories, he leaves happily.
He next meets the Third Doctor, who himself has just fought the Master and the Sea Devils and has saved humanity by blowing up a Sea Devil base. He, blaming his eighth self for his exile to Earth and for the Master's concurrent escape, threatens him with the Master's Tissue Compression Eliminator. But he tosses the weapon to him instead. The Master has again escaped to fight another day, and the Eighth Doctor leaves.
Having landed on the planet of the Three Who Rule, the Eighth Doctor gives the Fourth Doctor an emergency blood transfusion after his younger self is attacked and nearly fatally drained by another group of vampires, and leaves with yet more memories (to the astonishment of companion Romana).
Meanwhile, back on Gallifrey, Lady President Flavia has noticed the Doctor crossing his timelines and demands that he be carefully watched. A Time Lord called Ryoth demands the Doctor be executed: the resulting paradoxes could be irreversible. Flavia denies this. Ryoth alerts the Celestial Intervention Agency to the situation, and the Agency give him access to the fabled Timescoop technology, perfectly preserved since the Death Zone incident. He uses it to send a Raston Warrior Robot to the Fifth Doctor and his companions, Tegan Jovanka and Vislor Turlough. Luckily, the Eighth Doctor then arrives at the aftermath of the incident in the Death Zone, where he saves his fifth incarnation and his companions from the Raston Warrior Robot and a passing platoon of Sontarans by tricking the two into fighting each other. The Doctors create a feedback system, so when Ryoth sends a Drashig to kill them, it instead materialises in the same room as Ryoth and eats him and the Timescoop. It is then caught and transmatted to the Death Zone by guards in the Capitol in the hopes that it will take care of the other horrors there.
Soon he arrives in the middle of his second trial by the Time Lords, which his sixth self seems to be losing (especially as the insidious Valeyard has just accused him of a mass genocide attack against the Vervoids). After giving him advice and encouragement, as well as helping to begin an investigation into his past self's trial on Gallifrey, he leaves, his memories almost completely intact.
He finally arrives on the planet Metebelis III, where the alone and depressed Seventh Doctor is trapped by a giant spider. After rescuing his former self (by killing the arachnid with the TCE), he remembers leaving Sam, and immediately dashes back into the TARDIS to her rescue.
Meanwhile, the Master is visiting the Morgs, and gives them some of his treasure in return for a Deathworm Morphant. After testing it in his lab, he goes to Skaro, in the hope of being killed and then stealing the Doctor's body.
Once saved by the Doctor, Sam decides to join him on his travels.
- Eighth Doctor
- First Doctor
- Second Doctor
- Third Doctor
- Fourth Doctor
- Fifth Doctor
- Sixth Doctor
- Seventh Doctor
- Sam Jones
- The Master
- The Valeyard
- Miss Olive Hawthorne
- Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart
- Susan Foreman
- Barbara Wright
- Ian Chesterton
- Jamie McCrimmon
- Zoe Heriot
- Jo Grant
- John Benton
- Romana II
- Tegan Jovanka
- Vislor Turlough
- Raston Warrior Robot
- Trev Selby
- Vicky Latimer
- Marilyn Simms
- Machete Charlie
- John Hart
- Jane Blythe
- Jack Harris
Coal Hill police
Foods and beverages
- Rassilon's Red is Gallifrey's finest vintage. The Sixth Doctor and Eighth Doctor drink several goblets of it.
- Best Old Shobogan is a beverage drunk by the Outsiders of Gallifrey.
- The Fourth Doctor and Romana drink red wine.
- Shobogans speak highly of the Doctor.
- The Eye of Harmony in the Doctor's TARDIS is a symbolic manifestation.
- The Castellan keeps the Black, Grey and White Files.
- Olive Hawthorne may have latent telekinetic abilities.
- The Eighth Doctor meets the Brigadier (Although the Brigadier does not realise that he is the same man as the Third Doctor).
- Romana has a different blood type from the Doctor.
- Rassilon has been guiding the Eighth Doctor's journeys throughout the novel "to make one or two small improvements in the pattern of history".
- Flavia is president. She has regenerated a few times since meeting the Fifth Doctor.
- Spandrell is Castellan once more.
- The Eighth Doctor loses his memory from a trap left by the Master, requiring him to visit his past selves and regain his memories via telepathic contact with them.
- Time Lords retain the same blood type across all their regenerations, allowing the Eighth Doctor to donate his own blood to save the Fourth.
- The Time Lords chart the incarnations of their people, and past incarnations are blue while the current incarnation is red.
- The CIA has placed a tracker in the Doctor's TARDIS. They have also gained possession of the Time Scoop, which was supposed to have been destroyed after Borusa had played the Game of Rassilon.
- When the Eighth Doctor meets his predecessors, the initial contact triggers a moment of temporal stasis, giving the Doctors a few moments to talk before time restarts.
- Time Lords share memories when multiple incarnations of the same Time Lord are acting independently in the same time zone, but the memories of the latest incarnation are vague; as a result, the Fifth Doctor remembers the Third Doctor and Sarah confronting the Raston Warrior Robot in the Death Zone, but it takes him a few moments to recall the exact details.
- Ryoth's skill in Temporal Mechanics allows him to use the Time Scoop.
- The Master left his TARDIS in Devil's End. He retrieves it following his escape from Fortress Island.
- Drashigs, Sontarans and the Raston Warrior Robot are time scooped in order to launch an attack on the Fifth Doctor and the Eighth Doctor.
- Deathworms were tamed by the Morg. The Master experimented on them for his own purposes.
- The Raston Warrior Robot feeds on atomic radiation in the atmosphere. It can be confused by two similar brain wave patterns combined with the principle of Buridan's ass.
- The Master uses his Tissue Compression Eliminator on a lorry driver; it is later taken by the Third Doctor, who gives it to the Eighth as a souvenir, the Eighth using it to save the Seventh from a Spider before throwing it away.
- The title of chapter eleven, The Vampire Mutation, was a working title for State of Decay.
- The Doctor's first line in the BBC Eighth Doctor Adventures series is; "Dear old H.G., such an optimist. Such an enthusiast... especially for the ladies."
- Flavia is president. However, Dick's earlier novel PROSE: Blood Harvest established that Romana II was President. This discrepancy was addressed in PROSE: Unnatural History, where Rassilon's "improvements to the pattern of history" were explained as an attempt to undo the events of PROSE: Lungbarrow.
- By the end of the novel the first eight Doctors have appeared, three versions of the Master — the Delgado, the Ainley, and an unknown incarnation — plus the War Chief have appeared, we meet two versions of the Sixth Doctor, and Borusa is temporarily released from the Dark Tower, but may have returned to Rassilon as he still feels as though he should be punished.
- This novel also makes for one of the more continuity-heavy novels, with Terrance Dicks referencing TV: State of Decay (which he had previous written a sequel to as PROSE: Blood Harvest). TV: The Five Doctors (also by Dicks) is referenced heavily here.
- The Master retrieves his TARDIS from where he hid it in PROSE: The Face of the Enemy.
- While pondering the Doctor's interaction with his other selves, Flavia mentions the events of TV: The Three Doctors, The Five Doctors, and The Two Doctors as other events where multiple incarnations were present.
- While this story states that the Eighth Doctor persuaded the First Doctor not to kill a caveman during his adventure in the year 100,000 BC, (TV: An Unearthly Child) another source given by the First Doctor himself stated that it was Ian who dissuaded him instead. (AUDIO: The Sontarans)
- The Eighth Doctor would later meet the Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Doctors again in AUDIO: The Four Doctors, has a brief meeting with the Third Doctor in Interference, and talks with all seven of his predecessors in The Light at the End.
- The Master's last referenced encounter with the Doctor was on the Cheetah World, and he still has the Cheetah virus. (TV: Survival)
- Ruath supposedly destroyed the Timescoop chamber in PROSE: Goth Opera.
- In this novel the Seventh Doctor has a "mid life crisis" while trying to deal with his approaching death, which was more or less addressed in PROSE: The Room With No Doors and Lungbarrow.
- The Master uses the creation of the Morg to become worm-like as he is in TV: Doctor Who.
- There is an inconsistency to Tegan knowing her Doctors as she mistakenly believed the Eighth Doctor to be the Fourth even though she had met the Fourth when he regenerated into the Fifth in Logopolis.
- The "small improvements" that Rassilon used the Eighth Doctor to make through this novel are elaborated on in PROSE: Unnatural History.
- The Discontinuity Guide to: The Eight Doctors at The Whoniverse
- The Cloister Library: The Eight Doctors