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Audio Book Review


Doctor Who
The Companion Chronicles
The Wanderer


Author: Richard Dinnick
Read by: William Russell
Big Finish Productions
RRP: £8.99 (CD), £7.99 (download)
ISBN: 978 1 84435 621 8
Available 30 April 2012

The TARDIS arrives in Siberia at the start of the 20th century, just as a shooting star hurtles to the ground. With it comes an illness that affects the Doctor and Susan, and knowledge that must not fall into the wrong hands. With his friends either dying or lost, Ian Chesterton must rely on help from a mysterious wanderer called Grigory, a man who believes that God has given him the gift of healing. The stakes are high for Ian as the alien object offers not only the chance to save the Doctor but also the opportunity he and Barbara have been waiting for: a way home to 1963...


The above spoiler alert might not prove to be necessary. I dare say that many listeners will, like me, in a prediction worthy of the “mad monk” himself, guess the involvement of Rasputin as soon as the name Grigory is mentioned. However, Ian takes a while (more than an entire episode) to cotton on to the fact, so it is possible that author Richard Dinnick meant this to be a surprise. Barbara might have worked it out sooner, but she is absent for most of the adventure.

As we learn during the eight minutes of interviews at the end of the CD, the author’s first draft of The Wanderer concerned the supposed prophet Nostradamus rather than the infamous monk, but Dinnick was forced to revise his idea as Nostradamus has already appeared in a Big Finish adventure, The Doomsday Quatrain. As it happens, the Doctor has also met Rasputin before (or rather since), though not quite so recently in terms of publication: in the Third Doctor novel The Wages of Sin. The two stories do not conflict with each other, though, because The Wages of Sin takes place more than a decade later, at the end of Rasputin’s life. In common with that novel, this audio book depicts Grigory more sympathetically than history has tended to do. He is brought vividly to life by guest actor Tim Chipping.

The primary voice is that of William Russell as Ian Chesterton / the narrator. As ever, it is a delight to hear him perform, which he does without betraying a hint of the cold we are told he has in the interviews.

Though I guessed the involvement of Rasputin, the author did manage to defy my expectations in a couple of respects. I presumed that the “shooting star” would be connected with the Tunguska explosion, but it is not. I later thought that its effect upon the TARDIS’s controls might lead into its malfunction in Planet of Giants, but again I was mistaken.

The Wanderer is pleasant to listen to, but, unlike the revelations of the alien device, hardly earth-shattering.


Richard McGinlay

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