This month’s Main Range audio sees the return of the Sixth Doctor, Constance and Flip trio, plus the audio debut of the Ice Warrior “Ice Queen”. All this plus regular Ice Warriors, Ice Lords and Time Lord technology, and that’s a lot of returning or familiar elements, but what about the new Vultriss race? Does it all add up to a good story?! Let’s find out!
Violently ejected from the Space-Time Vortex, the TARDIS crash lands on the remote planet of Cygia-Rema, a mountainous world ruled by the bird-like Vultriss. Their newly-crowned Queen Skye is expecting first contact with alien ambassadors – Ice Warriors – and the sudden arrival of the Doctor, Flip and Mrs Constance Clarke causes confusion.
However, Skye is no ordinary ruler, she is the Fabled One gifted with the deadly power of ‘The Cry’. The queen who will enable the Vultriss to fly once again – at any cost.
But as the Doctor investigates why the TARDIS crashed, he discovers that the Vultriss are hiding a deadly secret. An ancient legacy that if left unchecked will plunge half the galaxy into an eternal living end.
*spoilers appear from here on out!*
The story is well set out, constantly adding new layers as it goes along. At first The Doctor, Constance and Flip accidentally end up on the planet Cygia-Rema just as their Queen Skye (Natasha Cowley) is about to receive an Ambassador from the Martians / Ice Warriors, including an Ice Queen (Adele Lynch). Then Constance is kidnapped by a rebel group that includes the recently deposed Queen who believes Skye is a fraud and is using their ancient myth to gain power, while at the same time The Doctor and Flip found out that old Time Lord technology is keeping a rip in the vortex from leaking out the freezing this half of the galaxy in place forever, and that the technology in question is being tampered with by an unknown force. THEN we find out that Queen Skye is indeed not-very-nice, but also that the Ice Warriors aren’t the Ambassadors and are instead a group of rebels that killed most of the Ambassadors crew and its them who both plan on destroying the technology and freezing this part of the galaxy, and who partially converted and mind-controlled Skye in the first place.
It sounds convoluted, but spread out across two hours it works well, and keeps the story going. In the end, The Doctor, Flip, Constance and the Ice Lord Ambassador who was frozen rather than killed by the rebels all work together to re-seal the rip in space, all the while Skye betrays her captor and makes sure the rebel Ice Queen and herself are trapped in the time vortex forever. Throw in a few side plots like the old “member of a rebel group sees their leader die and has to carry on then by the end winds up in control of what’s left of the government they rebelled against and is unsure if they can do the job”, and a trusted member of Queen Skye’s entourage having a son who is a part of the rebels and story is never dull, that’s for sure.
While Flip is her usual nonchalant self (but again, nowhere near as bad as she was to start), I did enjoy The Doctor’s interactions with Constance, who after her experience with the Static in the previous story (and boy does that seem like ages ago!) she initially wants to go home, but ends up being okay with going the “long way round”, helping The Doctor during the big climax at extreme risk to herself. After a companionless trio of stories the last three months, it was a nice reminder of how good it is for The Doctor to have someone to bounce off of.
I’m not sure how to feel about this cover. Love some of the original elements and how its blended, but it’s also far, far too colourful. Like Sixth Doctor’s coat levels of colourful…
Not a lot. I will say the Vultriss themselves were quite a straightforward and dull race. They were sort of stuck, because without the visual of them being bird-like, they either had to voice them like normal people (with a few words like “talons” replacing “hands”) or have two hours of cartoon squawky bird voices. Thankfully they went with the former, which was better on the ears, but as I said, it did make them seem quite plain.
The Ice Queen first appeared in the Twelfth Doctor TV story “Empress of Mars”, otherwise, Ice Warriors have obviously been a thing for some time, and I’m sure as hell not listing all their stories. That being said, a more peaceful Ice Warrior race acting as Ambassadors but having to deal with rebels of their own kind trying to bring them back to their old ways was a key part of the Third Doctor TV story “The Monster of Peladon”.
Constance is still shaken from her experiences during the previous story (timeline-wise), “Static“.
Cry of the Vultriss is a really good story. It keeps zipping along at lightning pace but none of the twists come out of complete nowhere, you feel it was all plotted out and thought in advance. There aren’t a great deal of memorable new characters, which stops it from getting a perfect score, but it will definitely pass two hours very pleasantly.