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Audio Book Review


Doctor Who
The Companion Chronicles
The Darkening Eye


Author: Stewart Sheargold
Read by: Sarah Sutton
Big Finish Productions
RRP: £8.99 (CD), £7.99 (download)
ISBN: 978 1 84435 355 2
Available 31 December 2008

While investigating a debris-littered battlefield in deep space, the TARDIS crew are salvaged by an ancient race of collectors known as the Dar Traders. Separated from the Doctor, Adric, Tegan and Nyssa find themselves at the mercy of the collectors’ curiosity. But the Dar Traders have salvaged a cabinet from the battle that could be very dangerous indeed. What does the suave assassin Damasin Hyde know of the cabinet? And why is everybody so interested in the missing Time Lord? To find the Doctor, the TARDIS crew must enter a violent interplanetary war - where someone will die, and it will change everything...

This is the first Companion Chronicle to deal with an incarnation of the Doctor later than the Fourth. This may seem like a pointless exercise - after all, the Fifth Doctor, Peter Davison, regularly stars in full-cast audio dramas for Big Finish, so why do a talking book? However, this reading (by Sarah Sutton, supported by Derek Carlyle) allows writer Stewart Sheargold to tell a new story featuring Adric and Tegan, characters who are usually off-limits to Big Finish due to the unwillingness of Matthew Waterhouse and Janet Fielding to reprise their roles (aside from Tegan’s one-off reappearance in The Gathering).

Sutton doesn’t really capture Adric’s vocal qualities, or the Doctor’s, though Tegan’s Australian accent means that her dialogue is unmistakable. However, this is very much Nyssa’s story, both in the TARDIS crew’s timeline and in the frame narrative, which takes place on Terminus. Meanwhile, Derek Carlyle reprises his role from The Death Collectors as the husky-voiced Dar Traders and also plays a patient with Lazar’s Disease in the Terminus scenes.

It doesn’t matter if you haven’t heard The Death Collectors, because this audio book is a prequel to that story, documenting the Doctor’s first encounter with the Traders. In fact, to my mind The Darkening Eye is a better introduction to the creatures’ culture than the often confusing The Death Collectors (though some of the discussion of the Threshold, a mystical halfway house between life and death, still goes over my head somewhat). Indeed, I now feel more inclined to give The Death Collectors another go.

The disc concludes with seven minutes of interviews with the two performers and director Ken Bentley, all of whom seem to have forgotten that Big Finish has presented the post-Terminus Nyssa before, in Circular Time.

All in all, The Darkening Eye is worth a look.


Richard McGinlay

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