Friday, 17 February 2017


Slowly but surely, I'm covering the timelines of all recurring baddies. This time, we're looking at the Ice Warriors (or Indigenous Martians for those of the more politically-correct persuasion). 


A race of aliens that Who fans, sometimes, like to compare to Star Trek's Klingons. The Ice Warriors do seem a bit more three-dimensional than most "monsters" that populate the Doctor Who Universe. Unfortunately we have only witnessed the Ice Warriors at work outside of their own native environment. Unlike the Daleks, who we have watched evolve on Skaro, it is difficult to truly grasp what Martian culture must truly be like. Only fragments of dialogue from various episodes have offered any kind of real idea. But, from those fragments, I'm going to try to piece together a coherent timeline.


It's entirely possible that Mars had a very different climate during its very distant past. It may have been very similar to Earth's -probably a thinner atmosphere and not as much water - but it was still comparable. This would have been a good Twelve Million or so years ago. At this very early period in the planet's history, several different life forms were starting to evolve.

But then, the Fendahl came by on its way to Earth. Astrologically projecting itself across countless light years, it chose to "take a swipe" at Mars to gather energy before finally embedding itself into the crust of the Third Planet. Most of the species on Mars perished during its feeding. The natural resources of the world were very badly ravaged, too.

On this less hospitable version of Mars, a race of reptiles managed to survive the Fendahl's attack. Over a period of time, they began to evolve - even become somewhat advanced. They were one of those species that chose to rely on a science that was a mixture of electronic and organic. These two forms of technology working so closely together meant it was inevitable that these surviving Martian reptiles would eventually develop into cyborgs of some sort.

The reptile race did their best to make their world more inhabitable. They tried to engineer a thicker atmosphere so they could live more on the surface. But the experiments did not succeed and ended up inducing some nasty climate changes. The planet's mean temperature was rising radically. Being reptiles, they weren't good at maintaining a steady body temperature. They had to fashion themselves' special survival suits to keep themselves' cool.

The reptiles kept a very strict feudalistic system. With various lords ruling over serfs, there was also a great need for a warrior class. It was this group that took the greatest advantage of the shell-like survival suits. They built in all sorts of modifications that made them more efficient killing machines. Because the armor was still, essentially, a coolant system - they became known as Ice Warriors.

One weakness in their armor that the Ice Warriors were unable to ever fix was a certain vulnerability to heat. During these times, it was only a sudden blast of heat that would affect their life-support functions. As conditions on the planet would change, so would the nature of this weakness.


The Ice Warriors served their lords. Which meant the lords were responsible for their philosophies and codes of conduct. Two principal schools of thought began to develop among the lords and the warriors who served them. Both mentalities put heavy emphasis on Right of Conquest. But one believed that conquest could only occur if certain rules were respected. Honor had to be upheld under all circumstances. The other mentality, however, wasn't so interested in respecting such ideologies. There was still some degree of an honor code among this second group - but it could easily be swept aside if there was glory to be had. Before the Second Great Cataclysm (which we'll get to in a moment), these two factions were very evenly matched and constantly battled each other.

On the side of the Honorable Ice Warriors, a great hero arose. Skaldak was the bravest and boldest of all warriors and was so popular that he was promoted to the rank of Grand Marshall. This showed just how revered he was. The title of Grand Marshal was, normally, only given to those of Royal Blood. Skaldak, although a mere warrior, became the exception to the rule.

It was at this point that Martian technology had evolved to a level where they were starting to investigate interstellar travel. Skaldak, hero that he was, elected to travel on the first ship into space. It was going to explore a neighboring planet.

Unfortunately, it never returned.

FOOTNOTE: The Martians, at this time, were also investigating various forms of biological warfare. One thing they created was a sentient weapon that existed in water. They called it The Flood. Their creation raged out of control, however, and tried to conquer the planet. The Flood was frozen in a huge block of ice - to be imprisoned there for all eternity.


The Martian space exploration program wanted to continue in its forays - perhaps, even, try to find out what happened to Skaldak. But another great disaster struck.

Sutekh, mightiest of all the Osirians, chose to stage a huge battle against his brother and his supporting forces on the surface of Mars. Although most of the conflict took place on the Red Planet - it, ultimately concluded on Earth. As Sutekh saw that he was losing, he tried to flee. His enemies cornered him on Earth, though. The Mad Osirian's final defeat took place in ancient Egypt.

In the aftermath of the great battle, a pyramid was left behind to assist in the imprisonment of the Destroyer. So oppressive was the power of the Osirians, that none of the locals dared to go near the structure. To the Martians, the pyramid represented doom and they wanted no part of it. The surviving colonies steered clear of it.

At first, there weren't a lot of locals left to steer clear Sutekh's pyramid, anyway. Most of the Martian population was wiped out in the cross-fire of the war between the two brothers. Some survived in remote locations. Re-building their society was very slow and tedious. It took several thousand years before they were anywhere near the level of technology that they had before the war of the Osirians.

But when they finally returned to that point, they renewed their space program. Again, another prototype ship shot off into space to explore a nearby planet. This one had Commander Varga as its captain. But the results of their initial exploration were the same as Skaldak's. The crew was never heard from again.

But more ships were sent off into space that experienced real success. Always, the warrior class manned these expeditions. Small colonies on other, more hospitable worlds began to be established. The Ice Warriors were expanding into the Universe.

The damage from both the Fendahl and the Osirians ultimately proved to be too devastating. There was no real atmosphere left on Mars and most of its natural resources had been wiped out. The planet was at Death's Door and something needed to be done about it.

Mars' climate had been altered even more as Sutekh and Horus had battled. This also meant radical alterations to their survival suits to compensate for it. Their weakness to heat became even easier to exploit. A sudden intense blast of heat was no longer necessary to play havoc with their life support systems. Simply raise the heat, in general, around Ice Warriors and that would weaken them considerably.

ANOTHER FOOTNOTE: I will admit: there is the slightest of dating problems, here. The Eleventh Doctor says Skaldak has been asleep 5 000 years. The Fourth Doctor claims that the battle of the Osirians took place 7 000 years ago. I like to claim that Skaldak's expedition took place before the Osirians devastated the planet because the Grand Marshal does seem to describe a Mars that was more abundant in resources than the Mars we see, now. So it seems to me that we need another cataclysm that's done even greater damage to the planet after Skaldak has left. (I include the Fendahl's visit to the planet only because it is mentioned in Image of the Fendahl - it doesn't really have a huge bearing on the Martian history that I'm trying to cover, here).

Here's how I reconcile it: the Fouth Doctor is rounding up a bit when he speaks of the War of the Osirians and the Eleventh Doctor is rounding down when he speaks of how long Skaldak was frozen (which especially makes sense - Skaldak does seem very upset about how long he's slept). All these events probably took place around 6 000 years ago.


While the Ice Warriors are going into deep space, they have chosen to stay away from Earth. The Honorable Faction have respected the fact that it, already, has a civilization on it and are concentrating on other worlds. The Less Honorable Faction has tried to organize invasion campaigns, but their rivals have managed to hold them in check. Thus far, at least.

In 1983, a major hero is recovered. Grand Marshal Skaldak was entombed in ice when his ship crash-landed in a polar region of the Earth. Humans eventually discovered him and thawed him out. The events of Cold War take place, here. Skaldak is returned to his people at the end of the story when a nearby ship picks up his distress beacon.

Although we get the impression that he belonged to the Honorable Faction, Skaldak's experiences on Earth may have fueled the ambition of the Less Honorable Ice Warriors to invade it. He may have spoken too much about the vulnerability of the humans and how easy it is to exploit the various weaknesses within their culture.  While the Cold War on Earth, more or less, resolves itself sometime shortly after Skaldak is revived, the Less Honorable Ice Warriors continue observing the humans secretly. They begin looking for a new sociological Archilles' Tendon to hack at.

We can guess that, over the next few years, there has been some very covert contact between humans and Martians. Most of it has been kept secret from the general population of Earth. But the upper echelons of certain governments are aware of the Ice Warriors' existence. Which is why, when the Sycorax attack in The Christmas Invasion, the British government knows they aren't Martians.

YET ANOTHER FOOTNOTE: There is some debate regarding when, exactly, the Ice Lords started fashioning special armor for themselves'. Both Skaldak and Varga and his crew all hail from quite some time ago. All of them wear the garb of Ice Warriors. Ice Lords, with their Darth Vaderish helmets are nowhere to be seen. Could it be that Ice Lords don't start wearing special armor until sometime around Seeds of Death?

The best evidence to support this idea is in Cold War. Skaldak is referred to as a Grand Marshal - but he still just wears a warrior's armor. Whereas the Grand Marshal we see in Seeds of Death has the Darth Vader helmet. So is it possible the Ice Lord armor didn't exist in Skaldak's day? That all lords wore warrior armor, instead?

It's my belief that Ice Lords always had their special armor. That we just don't see them until Seeds of Death - but they've always been there. The Doctor speaks as though Skaldak was the greatest of all the Ice Warriors. Which is why I claim that he is a rare instance in which a warrior rose to a high status without having any royal blood in him. He is a Grand Marshal in status but, because he isn't high born, he's not allowed to wear an Ice Lord's armor.


As we enter the 21st century, more and more of Mars is being evacuated. The Martians are settling into smaller colonies on uninhabited planets. Or living aboard ships in Deep Space. Some still remain in deep underground survival chambers on their homeworld - but most have left. Which is why the Bowie bases that get set up on Mars don't encounter any Ice Warriors. The planet has been evacuated, for the most part. The Martians that do remain are too well-hidden. The very first Bowie base, however, does stumble upon the Flood by accident and has to destroy itself to prevent the ancient weapon from invading Earth.

Those Ice Warriors still living beneath Mars' surface are mainly Less Honorable. Because they are meeting little opposition, these days, they are able to rally a proper invasion against the Earth. The Less Honorable Faction does tend to enjoy biological warfare (it's likely that they were the ones that created the Flood all those years ago) so they hatched a nasty scheme involving specially-designed seed pods that would do the bulk of their work for them. Lord Slaar is put in charge of the attack force that will overpower the small base on Earth's moon. The humans' over-reliance on T-mat technology will be used against them. Seeds of Death plays out at this point.

When the fleet plummets into the sun at the end of the story, it takes the bulk of the Less Honorable Ice Warriors' forces with it. For quite some time after that, the Honorable Ice Warriors dominate the political landscape. Ice Warriors continue moving away from our solar system and eventually find an uninhabited world suitable for mass colonization. They are especially interested in it for its mass deposits of trisilicate - a rare mineral that can be used to facilitate interstellar travel. They begin to adapt their core technology to utilize it better. The planet is christened New Mars. Just like the Daleks with New Skaro, the name is eventually simplified to just Mars.

The Ice Warriors - the story that first introduces the Indigenous Martians to the show - transpires at this point. The script never states anywhere when this story actually takes place. Some like to think that it is another 21st Century story that we saw so frequently in the Patrick Troughton Era. Others are more inclined to believe that it takes place closer to the 30th Century.

I tend to agree with the latter opinion. The members of Brittanicus Ice Base are shocked to find an alien. Yes, this would point towards a 21st Century setting. But it seems they are more intrigued by the fact that the alien has been buried away for so long than the mere fact that it is an alien. Which would indicate to me that humans have had plenty of contact with races from other worlds by this point in time. It's the idea that this is an ancient alien that makes them so keenly interested in it.

Getting The Ice Warriors to take place in the 30th Century also suits the timeline I'm trying to create in this essay all the better. By this point in time, all the Martians have cleared off to New Mars. Twenty First Century Humans were still young in their level of space exploration and missed them entirely. They don't really make any real contact with the Martians until a great while later. Which is why Varga and his team don't get recognized by the humans. With nearly a thousand years transpiring since the events of Seeds of Death, records that humans might have had of the Martians would be extremely scant. Which is another reason why they're not recognized by either humans or the Brittanicus super computer.

The humans giving  the Martians the title of "Ice Warriors" in this story was just a lucky coincidence. That had actually been their name all this time.


Over the next two thousand years or so, the Honorable Ice Warriors continue to dominate Martian ideology. The Ice Warriors do fight in wars and even partake in the occasional act of conquest - but it is all done within the context of very strict rules. Humans do, eventually, encounter them as they expand their own colonies. Some fighting might have even taken place between the two empires but the skirmishes are limited. New Mars was situated a great distance away and the Human Empire just isn't interested in developing in that particular corner of the cosmos.

But as we approach the 50th Century (the date most fans like to ascribe to the time period in which the Peladon stories take place), an Intergalactic Federation has formed. The reach of the Federation is a long one. But it does still have some opposition. An alliance that simply refers to itself as Galaxy Five is one of its biggest rivals. The Federation is broad enough, however, to include both the Ice Warriors and humans. And many other races, too. Including Alpha Centaurans, Arcturans and the people of the planet Vega (it's just too embarrassing to call them Vegans).

Because the Honorable Ice Warriors are still, very much, in control of things - they cooperate quite nicely with the Federation. Their desire for war makes them ideal as a sort of police force. When negotiations break down, Ice Warriors get called in to deal with the rare instances where brute force must be used. They are often included in diplomatic teams, too, so that it is made clear to everyone that the Federation does have a degree of military strength to back it up.

Which is why Lord Izlyr is part of the diplomatic attachment that is sent to the planet Peladon as it seeks admittance into the Federation. The Doctor, who has mainly been meeting more brutish versions of the Ice Warriors, gets his opinion re-shaped in Curse of Peladon.

The Ice Warriors even become so generous that they begin to share the advantages of trisilicate-based technology with the rest of the Federation. This becomes especially useful as war, finally, breaks out between the Federation and Galaxy Five. Ships running on trisilicate are just so much more efficient that they represent a huge tactical advantage. Mars, itself, has drained most of its supply and a new source is desperately needed to win the war. Fortunately, Peladon possesses the mineral in great abundance.

Those Less Honorable Ice Warriors have not totally disappeared, though. They still exist in small break-away factions that remain covert throughout Martian society. They look for opportunities, though, where they might finally gain enough might to manifest themselves' more overtly. They try to seize one of those moments some fifty years after the experiences of Curse of Peladon.

In Monster of Peladon, Lord Azaxyr secretly allies himself with Galaxy Five to re-route the supply of trisilicate coming from Peladon. Along with the help of a treacherous human who they've corrupted with the promise of wealth, Galaxy Five will gain a huge advantage in the war effort if the plan succeeds. Once more, the Ice Warriors are the baddies in the story and the Doctor must fight them rather than work with them.

In the end, the plans of Azaxyr fail (we also discover that the armor of Ice Lords is more decorative than practical when we see Azaxyr fall to the blade of a knife).

Are the Less Honorable Ice Warriors done for, though?

We doubt it....


While this is a timeline that does, more or less, work well with the five existing Ice Warrior stories that we've seen, we have already heard that they will be returning in Series Ten. Who knows where and when the story will take place. Or what sort of havoc this may all play with what I've written, here. But rather than being filled with dread - I'm actually a bit excited. Because now it means I get to write an appendix....

Like my CHRONOLOGIES AND TIMELINES essays? Here's a few more:


The Time Lords (the first in the series of three - you'll have to dig around for the rest!):

And the first entry in my multi-part epic: The History of the Daleks:   


  1. Some interesting ideas here. Also, if you have not done so, check out some of the new adventure books. One of them deals with Peladon and Ice Warriors there. The second one, Bernie Summers wedding, also had Ice Warriors in them as well.

    1. I have read them. There's another one where they spend the entire story on the surface of Mars and investigate an Osirian pyramid. I really liked that one. Even re-read it again later.

  2. I OWN that issue of Decalog with that Tom Baker and Leela story in it! GREAT STORY!

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