(ISBN 0-426-20452-2)







 The Doctor and Benny

 are following a trail

 of kidnapped children

 across a continent

 recovering from the

 ravages of the First

 World War. The only

 clue they find is the

 toy bear each missing

 child was given. they

 soon find themselves

 unwilling guests on

 Q’ell: A PLANET where

 a similar war still

 rages - and has done

 for fourteen hundred



 Stranded on Earth,

 Chris and Roslyn

 struggle to find a

 way of stopping the

 Q’ell from recruiting

 every child in the

 world to their cause,

 WHILST the Doctor

 tries to start a

 peaceful revolution

 on a planet where

 there is no longer

 any word for PEACE.


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Toy Soldiers







In some ways, Paul Leonard’s New Adventure, Toy Soldiers, borders on the traditional. The notion of giant Teddy Bears kidnapping children and sending them off to

fight in an alien war is textbook Doctor Who all the way, especially when juxtaposed with

the beautiful period setting of post-war France. What’s more, the unusually striking cover

art depicts a spider-like war machine that looks like something torn out of Attack of the Clones, demonstrating that if nothing else, this novel was ahead of its time.


For me, the most memorable

New Adventures were those

that pushed the envelope

and took the series in new

directions. In many of these

books, the Doctor tended

to wait in the wings before

appearing at the climax for

the big payoff, and with Toy

Soldiers Leonard portrays the

Doctor in the same kind of way. We look at him from an external point of view, as something of an enigma. Unfortunately, it just doesn’t quite work here. With the plot focusing heavily so on Chris and Roz and their thoughts and feelings about travelling with the old Time Lord, the mystery surrounding him is inevitably negated somewhat.


However, it’s good to see Chris and Roz being fleshed out a little bit by the author - it seems like they haven’t done much since their explosive arrival in Original Sin. In Toy Soldiers they are both given the opportunity to do some good old-fashioned policing, as well as learn to cope with the day-to-day problems that go together with time travel. For example, I love how Leonard skilfully shows Roz’s failure to comprehend the racism that she is subjected to here – it’s so base; so inconceivable to her that someone could be judged by the colour of their skin.



For some reason though, Chris seems more bumbling and incompetent than he did in the previous novels. He’s like a stereotypical American movie cop – all muscle, no brain. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing; it’s just not how I had previously envisioned the character. This trait does allow the author to explore something that often bugs Doctor Who fans though – time travel! There is a brilliant scene towards the end of the book where Chris looks at the TARDIS console and crudely reasons that if he leaves the spatial co-ordinates where they are, but turns the temporal co-ordinates back a little bit, he could make it to his rendezvous with the Doctor on time after all. Cue the Cloister Bell…


Benny isn’t handled badly either, but this is far from being her finest hour. Much of the story’s strength instead emanates from the non-regular characters, such as Amalie and Nadienne, who really give the story its emotional weight. Of course, the horror is meant to come from the idea of children and teenagers fighting and dying in battle, but to me the true horror of Toy Soldiers is seeing what becomes of the parents and the others left behind.


With the benefit of a decades hindsight, I think its fair to say that Toy Soldiers is, in many ways, the quintessential New Adventure. Don’t get me wrong - it certainly isn’t a particularly impressive offering – quite the opposite. Toy Soldiers is neither great nor is it awful; it’s a merely a passable novel that contains flashes of inspired brilliance as well as a fair few flaws. As New Adventures go, this one sits slap-bang in the middle.


Copyright © E.G. Wolverson 2006


E.G. Wolverson has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.

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