`The Burning Prince' is the first of a new trilogy of stories from Big Finish. It is a multi-doctor trilogy from 5 to 6 to 7. The first story is with Peter Davison and is set in outer space in the alien Drashani Empire.
Peter Davison for me is one of my favourite Doctors. Having enjoyed his adventures on telly and especially the adventures he's done for Big Finish (particularly with Nyssa (Sarah Sutton)); his Doctor always sparks something really meaning and energetic in his stories. Of course, his Doctor is on his own here in the story, and is set after 'Arc of Infinity'
when he goes back to pick up Nyssa and Tegan from their holiday in Amsterdam.
The story itself is about a group of characters on a starship in Drashani space on a mission to rescue a princess Aliona bethrohed to be wed to Prince Kylo. There's a lot of politics and family feuds going on in this story that gives a lot of back story about a civil war that's taken place between families. There's also a lot of action and suspense going on which took me completely by surprise.
The cast is exceptional and very invigorating to listen to when hearing this story. Peter Davison of course is at the top of his game in this story. Even though he's without a companion in this story, his youthful energy makes up for the story. His involvement with events in this story really makes it pacey and exciting as he tries to help people even when they're dying one by one.
The rest of the cast includes Clive Mantle, who's a joy to listen to. I know him from `The Vicar of Dibley' when he appeared as the brother of David who tried to seduce Dawn French's Geraldine Granger. Here he's playing Ambassador Tuvold, who seems to be nervous and jumpy at times. But as the Doctor gets to know him and as we get to know, he's really an interesting character who's been forced in a very difficult situation when on the mission and has to make some hard choices. I found the moments funny when he was annoyed at having to keep running all the time and the Doctor helping him on the way. His defining character moment comes at the end of the story, when he defeats the villain of the story.
George Rainsfod who plays Prince Kylo, the `burning prince' is really good. I haven't seen `Call the Midwife' at all which he happens to be in and is currently on at the moment, but hearing as Prince Kylo was very enjoyable. His conflicting good side and bad side when he's on the mission is very thrilling as he's unable to control his anger and rage when searching for the princess and gets impatient as he bursts into flame. He seems to be the typical adolescent in this story, but he does have a history and back story which comes across very well, and you can almost sympathise with him especially when he becomes the victim during the later half of the story.
Princess Aliona played by Kirsty Besterman was a thrill and plays a very pivotal role in this role as well for the entire trilogy. She appears in `Parts 3' and `4' of the story; and seems quite plain at the start. But there's something more to her later on, which I won't reveal in case of spoilers. But Kirsty's performance is brilliant and very chilling when I heard her.
John Dorney who wrote this story sets up the trilogy very well with an action adventure `war movie' feel. I had the pleasure of meeting him once before this came out. He certainly brings a `classic' feel to his stories as well as new one; and comes up with twists and turns you do not expect. The death of one of the major characters in the first episode was very unexpected for me, and I think it was the way he wanted it.
The story ends with a post-credits sequence which becomes very important for the trilogy as it leads on to the next story - `The Acheron Pulse' with Colin Baker. It leaves you wondering what's going to happen next and wanting you to hear more.
The CD extras include `incidental music suite' on Disc 1; a trailer for The Acheron Pulse (Doctor Who)
on Disc 2 as well as behind-the-scenes extras with Peter Davison; Clive Mantle; George Rainsford; Kirsty Besterman and director Ken Bentley.
To sum up, `The Burning Prince' is an exciting start to the Drashani Empire trilogy. Peter's Doctor is always a joy to listen to and manages to cope well without his companions in a dangerous situation. With two more stories in waiting for the rest of the trilogy, it's about to get even better and exciting.