Shield of the Jotunn reviewed

Doctor Who Shield of The JotunnComic book writer Ian Edginton makes his Big Finish début with Shield of the Jötunn, a main range story for the Sixth Doctor and recently joined companion Constance Clarke (Miranda Raison). On the evidence of this story their returns can’t be too soon.

Oh, I nearly forget to mention this is also directed by Louise Jameson as well!

I enjoyed it, but what makes this story worth listening to? Let me share my point of view…

The story

First stop the Big Finish product page for Shield of the Jötunn:

2029 AD. In the desert of Arizona, billionaire philanthropist Dr Hugo Macht is trying to save the world from climate change. But his great project to “scrub the sky clean” with nanoatomic machines grinds to an unexpected halt when his diggers break into something unexpected: a Viking burial barrow containing eight corpses, a mysterious shield, an even more mysterious inscription… and a yet more mysterious traveller in time and space, known only as the Doctor.

And that’s not even the strangest part of Dr Macht’s day. Soon, it’ll begin to snow. Soon, the Doctor and his Girl Friday, Mrs Constance Clarke, will come face-to-face with an ancient horror in the blizzard. A Frost Giant, in need of a new body. In need of flesh…

The US desert setting took some adjusting to, I was expecting another Area 51 type tale. Instead this was a decent story with real people whose drives were initially simple then fleshed out as the Doctor himself says to Dr Macht. There’s enough science, legend and aliens to appeal to most listeners and I like the way the Doctor is very true to his principles; he helps the alien threat even though he knows he will be betrayed. We don’t explore any of Constance’s past but do get some good moments where she talks about War, sacrifice and wonders if World War II was worth fighting, given how the world ends up poisoned by humanity. Good stuff and not spread on too thick.

Finally a battle with a Frost Giant, if that’s not enough for listeners, I don’t know what is!

The storytelling

In many ways this is a contemporary story for the Sixth Doctor, rather than a story we might have had in the 1980s. Writers do sometimes (for example on the Early Adventures range) seek to create stories as of the time the show originally transmitted. There are plenty of eco-tales from pre-2005 Doctor Who, but with its nanotech, this is not one of them. This may seem critical, it is meant to be an observation only.

I happen to have read some of Ian’s comic work, and have reviewed his Red Seas reprints so I recognised, and enjoyed the more his Vikings. In many ways this took a different approach to story, sharpened up Mrs Clarke’s character and had several characters with some depth. Louise did a cameo and if there is a weaker point for me it is the fairly long sequence where Constance reads the ancient legend. A small gripe against an entertaining and very well scripted tale. Louise directs well and I’d be very happy for more from where this came.

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