The Doctor, Zoe and Jamie are drawn
off course, the TARDIS landing in a city carved into a mountain,
floating on a silicon sea around a dying world. They soon discover the
catalyst for their unexpected landing: an elaborate and long-planned
trap, painstakingly woven together by Quadrigger Stoyn.
this, the second part in Big Finish’s trilogy featuring Stoyn,
centuries have passed since his last encounter when The First Doctor left him
all but stranded on the Moon. It’s abundantly clear that in all that
time he’s accumulated a mighty grudge against the Time Lord since then.
Molloy (pictured right) continues to provide a dependably strong performance as Stoyn,
conveying both his sense of hatred for The Doctor and his anguish at
having to endure the daily chaos of a life away from the certainties of
Gallifreyan order. Frazer Hines and Wendy Padbury easily re-inhabit the
familiar roles of the Second Doctor’s travelling team, though it’s
undoubtedly Hines who steals the show. He performs narration duties on
this Companion Chronicle most impressively, capturing the essence and
cadences of Patrick Troughton’s performance. It required only a very short
stretch of this listener’s imagination to imagine Troughton himself
participating in the Big Finish recording studio.
the story unfolds, it soon transpires that the floating mountain upon
which the TARDIS has landed is, in fact, a bloody big boat regularly
assailed by storms of both meteorological and extra-terrestrial origin,
the latter bringing new arrivals to a Sanctuary presided over by its
Abbot (Stoyn). The gradual peeling away of the layers of mystery
surrounding the nature of Stoyn’s plans, his floating Sanctuary and the
planet itself provide plenty to hold the listener’s interest.
there are thought-provoking revelations from both Stoyn and The Doctor
as to their respective departures from Gallifrey. The former’s bitter
recriminations at what he sees as The Doctor’s blasphemy stands in stark
contrast to the Doctor’s rather more prosaic description of Quadrigger
Stoyn as a self-appointed policeman with no authority and generally a
bit of a nuisance.
Who adventure would be quite complete without monsters, and this one is
no exception. That said, the monsters in question – creatures composed
of living rock – turn out to be a part of the larger eco-system of the
sentient world, described by The Doctor as promethean in nature.
his travels The Doctor has often unwittingly landed himself and his
companions deep in trouble as a result of his actions (witness his
ongoing difficulties with Skaro’s most wanted). This Big Finish trilogy
certainly builds upon that notion, with a vengeful Stoyn playing the
very long game, doggedly plotting The Doctor’s course through space and
time, using the resources of the sentient planet to create a power
structure and beacon, all the while awaiting the TARDIS’s arrival at a
pre-determined point. It is of course entirely typical of The Doctor’s
piloting of his craft that when he, Jamie and Zoe first arrive at
Stoyn’s sanctuary, they unwittingly miss that designated landing point.
a redemption of sorts for Stoyn however as, whether entirely knowingly
or not, his centuries in the role of the mysterious Abbot have provided a
benevolent centrepoint for the Sanctuary and its people, even if it’s
down to his actions that many of them have arrived there in the first
out-and-out battle between good and evil, but instead an intriguing and
continuing meditation on The Doctor’s departure from his homeworld and
its consequences. For Stoyn it’s nothing less than a fall from heaven: The Doctor continues to view his former home far less favourably and
there’s some foreshadowing of things to come for this particular TARDIS
see him cast off to goodness-knows-where, with presumably all to be
revealed in the third and final part of the trilogy.