Monday 13 November 2017

30 Discs Hath November #13: The Quality of Mercy

Audio Adventures in Time and Space #35
The Quality of Mercy

written by David A. McIntee

Okay, so another one of these. In this case the minor non-BBC owned aspect BBV are working with is Guy de Carnac, a Templar Knight and one-off love interest of Bernice Summerfield from the novel Sanctuary which even when this was made was five years or more out of print. I haven;t read Sanctuary in years and I'm pretty sure Guy dies at the end but, well, retcons are a thing and here we are: the further adventures if Guy de Carnac that I can't imagine anyone was clamouring for but here we are.

If I seemed down on this series yesterday its because I had fond memories of these releases that I Scream didn't live up to. Happily, The Quality of Mercy was a better production all round. It had none of the off-putting straight to listener narration or lack of ambient sound that made I Scream such a slog. In fact, it made a good impression straight off with a Gregorian chant intro, church bells and neighing horses to set the scene.

Its Crusades o'clock and Guy de Carnac is a former Templar knight wandering darkest Mummerset in search of a farrier. He comes to a town which is awaiting an inquisitor to question a strange man who fell from the sky and speaks no known language. As a well-traveled man and servant of God, Guy is asked to look in on the stranger who he judges to be neither angel nor demon but simply a man, a sailor from some strange and unknown land.

The inquisitor, when he arrives, is naturally a lot more cynical. He's no as bloodthirsty as the stereotype would have it because this is David A. McIntee writing and he does a lot of historical research. The inquisitor is still the villain of the piece and he has less than pure motivations but he doesn't start torturing people out of boredom or anything like that.

Thankfully, the debate over who or what the sailor from the sky is doesn't form the whole mystery of the story. I say thankfully because anyone paying even minimal attention can tell instantly that he's an alien and no amount of listening to Guy and the inquisitor trying to puzzle that out with their literally medieval frame of reference is going to make that carry an entire hour. Its made clear early on that Guy is no longer a Templar and the reasons for his expulsion are made a central mystery of the story even as he tries to discover the truth behind the sailor. Guy has a good line in theological debate even if it is mainly to convince people that the way he wants to do things is the way God intended. I'm also interested that Guy's complex attitude towards Christianity (though not towards God, it seems) is presented as quite morally neutral, neither a reason to condemn him or a reason to lionise him which is an unusual attitude for an author to take.

As it happens this was the sole Guy de Carnac story BBV produced before the Audio Adventures ended but it does make me want to revisit Sanctuary now I have a voice to apply to the character. 

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