Doctor Who: The Jade Pyramid by Martin Day, read by Matt Smith (AudioGO, January 2011, 1 CD, ISBN: 9781408427491)
This is the second of Matt Smith's audio book readings, the first being The Runaway Train which was set in America. In The Jade Pyramid we're off to medieval Japan.
The TARDIS is drawn to a distress beacon emitting from a small village in Japan. It appears to be coming from an ancient shrine. The Doctor and Amy meet the elder of the village, the kind and wise Shijô Sada who takes them inside the shrine past the "guard" of animal-skin covered mannequins called Otoroshi. Shijô Sada won't allow them to see the chamber containing the pyramid as it is sacred. However they are interrupted by the news that the Shogun has sent Samurai soldiers to retrieve the Jade Pyramid for himself. The Doctor must prevent the pyramid, which he believes to be alien technology, from falling into anyone's hands. A discussion amongst the villagers reveals both friend and foe of Shijô Sada and Amy escapes the meeting to take a look at the pyramid and it is then things begin to go badly wrong. The Otoroshi come to life and Samurai are almost upon the village. How can the Doctor save the village, Amy and protect the pyramid?
The Jade Pyramid is an exciting story along a slightly familiar theme of humans killing first, asking questions later. For a single cd length story it packs a lot in; there's fighting from Samurai and a ninja assassin as well as betrayal and a loss of a significant character, and the Japanese setting is refreshingly different.
Matt Smith reads at the breathless pace we've become used to in the tv series and differentiates the characters well and his Doctor is as mesmerising as ever.
I have a slight quibble in that the occasional background music at times slightly overwhelmed the narrator, and maybe needs to be toned down a little.
The Jade Pyramid offers a pleasant fix whilst we await the arrival of the new series and is one that I will listen to again.