This, the fist episode of the Companion Chronicles features Maureen O'Brien reprising her role as the first Doctor's companion Viki, a space traveller from he future, who left the TARDIS after she fell in love with the Trojan hero Troilus, and departed to begin a new life in the ancient world as Lady Cressida. This story reveals that she misses the advanced world of the future, but she has a secret friend hidden deep underneath a temple in the form of the mysterious 'cinder'.
In the story that she recounts to the cinder, she recounts how, along with the Doctor and fellow companion Steven, she visited Regency London druing a bitterly cold winter. A frost fair is being held on the Thames, where they encounter novelist Miss Austen and a mysterious egg. Writer Marc Platt weaves an engenious plot, capturing beautifully the flavour of the early series of Doctor Who, and painting a very convincing picture of the period. He also writes Jane Austen very well, capturing her elegant but catty personality admirably well. She is just one of a rich and varied cast of characters that you can believe are really from the nineteenth century. At the same time, the science fiction element of the plot is very present, and the story is wonderfully creepy and tense, with enough humour to lighten it without tarnishing the effect. In short, the elements are beautifully balanced. Best of all, there's an ingenious time loop, making use of the legend of the pheonix in a very creative and effective way. Maureen O'Brien only adds to all this by reading the story beautifully. Her impression of William Hartnell is very good indeed, and it helps that Platt has captured his character perfectly. The plot threads are woven into a wonderfully satisfactory conclusion to an exciting, flawless and memorable narrative. Possibly the best of the Companion Chronicles that I have heard yet.
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