Book Review – Doctor Who: Luna Romana

  • Title: Luna Romana
  • Series: Doctor Who Companion Chronicles
  • Discs: 2 CDs
  • Author: Matt Fitton
  • Director: Lisa Bowerman
  • Characters: Romana I, Romana II, Future Romana, Fourth Doctor, Stoyn
  • Cast: Lalla Ward (Romana II), Juliet Landau (Romana I, Future Romana), Terry Molloy (Quadrigger Stoyn)
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 4/27/2018

Luna Romana is a two-disc Big Finish Companion Chronicles story. It features Lalla Ward as the Second Romana and Juliet Landau as a future Romana and as the first Romana, a role originated by Mary Tamm. Tom Baker does not actively play the part of the Doctor (his voice is not present on the audio) but this story is firmly set in the Tom Baker era of Doctor Who, and Terry Molloy plays the villain. Each of the four episodes in Luna Romana is set in a different time and place, so I did have to listen to this audio twice to figure it out, and even then I found it a little confusing.

Part 1, after a short intro in which future Romana reflects on her early days with the Doctor, has the first Romana and the Fourth Doctor landing in ancient Rome to track down the Sixth Segment of the Key to Time. The Doctor takes in some local theater, but Romana is quickly bored by the coarseness of the play, so she decides to explore the nearby temple dedicated to the moon goddess. She finds a hidden room, and a very precise instrument to track the position of the moon and the calendar. She also finds a strange man, well, six of them, all with the same face. This man threatens her.

In part 2, the Second Romana and the Fourth Doctor land in what Romana takes to be ancient Rome again, but they quickly discover to be an amusement park on the moon: Luna Romana. The only person left in the park beside automatons is an insane Time Lord, named Stoyn. Stoyn’s been trapped on the moon for 2000 years. His only company is a time-space visualizer, which constantly shows the Doctor’s adventures. Stoyn has developed quite the hatred for the Doctor whom he blames for his predicament. Once the Doctor and Romana arrive, he takes the Doctor hostage. Romana quickly rescues him. However, during the resulting fight after Stoyn realizes that Romana disabled the robotic guards with her sonic screwdriver, Stoyn falls through the Time-Space Visualizer, which shatters around him, and into a time tunnel. Then Romana arrives. Realizing that she remembers seeing herself, this other Romana urges the Second Romana to jump through the time tunnel – which she does.

Back in ancient Rome, Romana lands on the temple roof, and nearly falls off, before being rescued. She and the Doctor discover the Key to Time, but it’s the Fifth Segment which they already have. Earlier Romana had let the “injured” Time Lord in the TARDIS to use the Zero Room to pull himself together (literally – the six identical men were splinters of Stoyn who was splintered by the journey through the broken Visualizer). But the TARDIS is stolen. Fortunately, the Future Romana sent the TARDIS back from the moon.

There is another confrontation on the moon, and this time the Doctor and Romana succeed in defeating Stoyn for good. Both return to ancient Rome, where the Doctor encourages an ancient playwright. The Doctor, who had been nervous about completing his mission for the White Guardian, realizes he can’t avoid it any longer. And Romana, in her future version, is more confident in herself and assured of her past lives and adventures.

I did listen to this audio adventure over a week ago (thus the April posting date on GoodReads). It was a good story, but a bit confusing in places. Lalla Ward does an excellent job telling the story, however, as does Juliet Landau. Terry Molloy is suitably angry and crazy as Stoyn (Molloy is known for his portrayal of Davros in “Genesis of the Daleks”.) Recommended. I still, though, prefer the single-disc Companion Chronicles but I do like the entire premise of the series as “missing adventures” and stories told from the point of view of the companion.

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Note: No promotional consideration was paid for this review. I review because I enjoy it!

Book Review – Witches of Lychford

  • Title: Witches of Lychford
  • Author: Paul Cornell
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 04/15/2018

Witches of Lychford is a short book and first in a trilogy. Three women all return to their home town, a small English village, and become unlikely allies in a battle against Sovo – a supermarket chain that wants to build a store in the village. One of the women had actually never left. Judith lives in the village and always had, and has a slightly abusive husband she would never leave. Lizzie returns to the village as the new Anglican priest, but she is having doubts about her faith. Her former best friend, Autumn, has also returned and opened a “New Age” and witchcraft shop. Autumn and Lizzie had a falling out years ago, partially because Autumn was always logical and scientifically-minded. Lizzie is shocked, therefore at the type of shop that Autumn now owns and runs.

But the three all, gradually, deal with the traumas in their past, open up to each other, and work to stop Sovo, which is up to a great deal more than just “bringing progress, jobs and modernity” to the small village of Lychford. It seems the village is a lynchpin – holding a dark, supernatural world at bay. Autumn, who disappeared for two years, had actually literally fallen in to “fairy land” which was not a wonderful place but dark and scary. Lizzie had accidentally pushed her fiancé in front of a car. The accident changed her life. And Judith – Judith is also hiding a secret that is only revealed in the last few pages of the novel.

The story brings these three characters together, and they learn to trust each other. They also learn about the supernatural world from Judith – though each has an affinity for it in their own way. The developing friendship makes the story work. But this also feels, not so much as an “unfinished” book, but definitely the first part of something. I will need to read the next too volumes to see how interconnected the story is. But for now, I enjoyed Witches of Lychfordas a story of the unlikely friendship of three women who are “sisters-in-arms” in a battle against dark forces.