History hurts, and it inspires – the two almost contradictory statements are at the heart of Guy Adams’ latest tale which throws the time travellers into the midst of a conflict that gets far less recognition than it deserves. I suspect most people’s knowledge stretches to For Whom the Bell Tolls and the Picasso painting Guernica, and they may know the name General Franco, but the causes of it, and the quite incredible toll it took on the country have been overshadowed by the atrocities and the sheer scale of the Second World War. As with Paul Magrs’ excellent account of The Peterloo Massacre a few months back, Adams’ research is evident while never feeling as if it’s being infodumped on the listener.
This isn’t a straight historical, though; there are aliens in the vicinity, who have some very unpleasant abilities and who take over one of the travellers (allowing that actor to have fun showing a different side to their character). The members of a leper colony also have a key part to play alongside the revolutionary soldiers and the inhabitants of the local village.
Adams juggles all of these different elements skilfully, separating the three time travellers for a lot of the time, which allows both companions to strike up friendships with those caught up in the war and get different perspectives. Enzo Squillino Jnr’s Juan Romero is one of the most rounded characters we’ve had in some time, and I hope both actor and character return. As ever, Martin Montague’s sound design works very well and Jamie Robertson’s music is similarly enjoyable.
Verdict: A strong tale set against an unfamiliar backdrop. 9/10