In Review: Big Finish: The War Master: Hearts of Darkness

Sir Derek Jacobi returns in The War Master: Hearts of Darkness.
Hearts of Darkness

Synopsis: Sir Derek Jacobi returns in The War Master: Hearts of Darkness. 

Recruited by the Celestial Intervention Agency, the Master finds himself thrown into a mission that will take him into deepest Dalek territory.

Abandoned on the planet Redemption, he assembles a crew and acquires a ship. The journey that follows is certain to test them all.

But space pirates and living corpses are the least of their worries. Their biggest threat is a Time Lord who likes to call himself  the Doctor.

Review: The War Master: Hearts of Darkness is written by David Llewellyn and Lisa McMullin. The story is a marvelously twisted chapter in the lives of our favorite frenemies. 


Please bear with me. This box set is structured as a mystery. Moreover, it’s a mystery in which established tropes are spoilers and red herrings. 

Llewellyn and McMullin take a page from the Master’s playbook. They use Doctor Who against itself to tell the story of Doctor Who. As a result, I can’t discuss plot in significant detail without giving everything away.

“The Edge of Redemption” by David Llewellyn centers around both a literal location and a state of being. The Master is without his Tardis. A smuggler’s ship will have to do. 

There’s only one problem. The smuggler’s ship has been impounded. The Master and a rag tag team have to plan and execute a heist to retrieve it. 

The mechanics of the heist aren’t important. What matters are the character dynamics among the team and the number of Chekhov’s guns placed along the way.

In “The Scaramancer” by Lisa McMullin, the titular character is one of those guns. Frankly, she’s not even the most pressing one. The story culminates in a twist that is the inertia of internal logic.

“The Castle of Kurnos 5” by David Llewellyn is both a giant classic Doctor Who homage and another Chekhov’s gun. The narrative and the finale it leads to are the centerpieces of the set.

“The Cognition Shift” by Lisa McMullin is the showdown between the Master and the Doctor. Both are exactly who they have been, are, and will be.


The supporting cast is wonderful. Sam Hallion, Sandra Huggett, Luyanda Unati Lewis-Nyawo, Colin McFarlane, Tanya Moodie, Julia Sandiford, and Amanda Shodeko are all nuanced in their roles as they add depth to the Doctor Who universe.

That said, the soundscape belongs to Sir Derek Jacobi and Paul McGann. Decades of love for their craft and this franchise came through every syllable. Bravo, gentlemen!


I don’t know how Big Finish is going to top this, but I can’t wait to hear them try.


You can purchase The War Master: Hearts of Darkness here. 

Big Finish: The War Master: Hearts of Darkness
  • Story
  • Performances
  • Audio Production

Raissa Devereux became a life-long genre fan at the age of four when she first saw The Wizard of Oz at a screening at Arizona State University. Years later, she graduated from A.S.U. as an English major, History minor, Whovian, and Trekkie. Now a Florida transplant, she loves the opportunity Sci-Fi Pulse has given her to further explore space travel, time travel, masked heroes, gothic castles, and good yarns.
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