The Kingmaker reviewed

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kingmakerNev Fountain’s The Kingmaker is one of several titles I have had recommended to me and finally listened to. It comes up on forums as a perennial favourite and the only reason I hadn’t heard it before was pure chance. All I knew was that it was a Fifth Doctor story with Peri and Erimem as companions.

Now is the time for me to learn the secret of who killed the…

The story

From the product page on Big Finish we learn:

Dr Who encounters one of the most notorious characters from the past, as he journeys through time to solve the great Historical Mysteries…

Not surprisingly the Doctor becomes mixed up with Richard the third himself, as he tries to unravel the perplexing problem of who exactly killed the Princes in the Tower.

Peri and Erimem also encounter a suspicious time traveller. Someone from the Doctor’s own past. Someone who shouldn’t really be there at all.

So who did murder the Princes in the Tower? Perhaps it’s best not to ask a question like that.

You might not like the answer…

This tale of history and mystery splits the Doctor away from his companions very early and the separates them in time. The Doctor is researching the mystery of the Princes in the Tower for a book he is writing. This artifice aside once the story gets under-way there is no need of contrivance; we have the story of Richard: Duke of Gloucester, Henry: Duke of Buckingham and various publicans, serving wenches, torturers and political intrigue. And just who is Mr Seyton (rhymes with Satan!)

As the story moves in two threads separated by time the mysteries slowly unravel before we learn the startling truth of the fate of the Princes. The Doctor also has a showdown with Mr Seyton and history is taken to the very edge of breaking. All does end well but not before the plot thickens.

The storytelling

I have avoided much in the way of spoilers but let me just say this is inventive, entertaining and superbly performed. We have Arthur Smith as Clarrie the landlord; John Culshaw as Earl Rivers (and a rather accurate Fourth Doctor thrown in ); Michael Fenton-Stevens as Mr Seyton keeps the listener guessing; Marcus Hutton is a wonderful Henry and before I run out of adjectives the performance of Stephen Becket as Richard is breathtaking.

The style is a bit Blackadder meets Python in places and I shy away from giving this Classic status as the artifice with the book being written annoyed me. There is a also a new rule – mighty time travelling robots can pass through the TARDIS defences with ease as they are easy to defeat. Let’s just hope the Daleks don’t hitch a ride on one!

Grumbles aside this is a very good story and I now know why people rave about it. It is a pure historical that isn’t (it makes sense if you hear it) and one I can imagine listening to again. I even enjoyed the chemistry between Peri and Erimem (of which there is plenty).

What do you think?

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Aidan says:

    We both seem to be hitting the same audios right now (I listened to 100 this week too). I ended up having pretty mixed feelings about this. I appreciated the way it resolved and that left me on a bit of a high but when I look back on the story as a whole I felt underwhelmed. Perhaps it comes down to the way everyone labels it a classic – certainly it didn’t meet my expectations.

    Really good point on the robots breaching the TARDIS defences BTW – I knew something about that sequence was irking me but wasn’t sure what it was.

    Like

    1. Tony Jones says:

      Thanks Aidan – I did feel that this was a really great story wrapped in a not so good wrapping and with a slightly less tongue in cheek approach could have been awesome. The tone did match the delivery of the cast though so it is consistent.

      For me then not quite classic though I enjoyed it! Next up the Charlotte Pollard review!

      Like

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