Vlad All Over

Big Finish Folly, Part 46 – Son of the Dragon, by Steve Lyons

The Tardis arrives in the Balkans, and the Doctor quickly discovers that he has landed in the midst of a Turkish campaign against the Eastern Christians led by Vlad III, Prince of Wallachia. Treated with suspicion by the Turkish soldiers, only Erimem’s evident status as a noble queen keeps them from being kept as prisoners. And then the Wallachians attack and Erimem is carried bodily away by Vlad himself. Charming and brutal, he intends to take her as his wife. But while Erimem finds herself believing in his purpose, the Doctor knows what history records as the fate of the first wife of Vlad the Impaler, Son of Dracula…

Another historical play – and another belter too. James Purefoy plays Vlad with scenery-chewing brilliance, roaring and growling through his lines like a man possessed. The overriding sense behind this play is one of horrible, bleak plains, with only the blood (frequently let) to colour the landscape. Descriptions of impaled soldiers and villagers are kept mercifully to a minimum, but it doesn’t take much to imagine those views.

The story revolves around the twin poles of Vlad and Erimem and for the first time since the Council of Nicaea Caroline Morris is really allowed to let rip, giving everybody the full Egyptian Princess treatment. Even the Doctor must play second fiddle here, and Peri gets pushed even further down the billing into a comedy second-stringer. There are enough heavy hints that Erimem is becoming tired of her travels with the Doctor that it quickly becomes apparent that we are nearing the end of her story arc – a shame in a way that it has taken this long for her to really become a strong character.

With no real “bad guys” as such (well, they’re all as bad as each other, I guess) Son of the Dragon becomes a real battle between characters instead – and that’s probably the best way to get around the awkward “vampire” stereotypes associated with Vlad and his dad. A very good, gritty story, with plenty of meat to sink one’s teeth into…
****½

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stevenpoore

Epic Fantasist & SFSF Socialist.

One thought on “Vlad All Over”

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