The Cambridge Geek

Pilgrim: The Winter Queen

Well this is unexpected.

The seventh series was announced as the end of Pilgrim, but it would appear that was premature. Instead, William Palmer, the Faerie-cursed immortal wanderer of the mortal world has returned for an eighth series.

And he's returned to Melcombe, for his once a decade negotiation with Jack Sweet, for the life and liberty of Roxanna, who has spent her life trying to avoid being swept away to the land of Faerie. That's fortunate for the people of Melcombe, as some recent earthworks have released the Winter Queen from her prison under a local mound.

Sam has been clearing the area around the mound in order to help improve tourism in the area, and he is the target for the Queen as the nearest thing to a "King" the town has. She is determined to return the land to the eternal winter that dwells in her heart, just in time for the Winter Solstice, held at bay only by the townsfolk's Melcombe dance.

The two faerie threats come to blows over the people of the town, with Jack Sweet's desire to own Roxanna matched by the Queen's murderous rage against those who have trapped her. In particular, the Faerie King her brother, is her final intended victim, and he needs Pilgrim to put her back into the ground. Once again, Pilgrim is strong-armed into doing the dirty work of the Grey Folk, and he must make the sacrifices necessary to put the world to rights.

As always, this is a brilliant piece. The cast make the characters come alive, and their conviction in the rightness or wrongness of their individual driving forces ramps up the tension. It has a certain comfortableness, as expected to be found in such a long-running show, but that doesn't take the edge off the villains of the work. It's still pleasingly horrifying, with death haunting the edges, and the cruelly murderous Winter Queen having a precisely pointed knife that she can put into Pilgrim's heart.

It comes back to the conflict between the light and dark sides of Faerie, following the mythology once again of summer and winter, sun and moon, and does a nice job of exploring the consequences of enternal life or death. Has a rather interesting climax.

If you listen to this and would like to catch up, series 1 to 6 are occasionally available on iPlayer, or Amazon has them collected as series 1 to 4 and 5 to 7, with series 8 soon to appear.

Score 4

Tagged: Radio Drama Cast Fiction Fantasy