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Toy Soldiers (New Doctor Who Adventures) Paperback – 21 Sep 1995
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The Doctor and Benny are following a trail o f kidnapped children across Europe, a continent recovering f rom the ravages of the First World War. The only clue they f ind is the toy bear each missing child was given. This is Le onard''s first New Adventure. '
Top customer reviews
Doctor Who stories located partially or entirely on the planet Earth usually work best when they contain a historical slant; in this case the Great War 1914-1918. On a remote planet the insectoid Q'ell are fighting a parallel war; using various species that they have kidnapped; including humans. Even worse, child humans are being employed as soldiers; their memories altered to ensure they fight to the death.
The Doctor and Benny infiltrate the group of humans who the Q'ell are using to do their kidnapping and soon find themselves embroiled in a galactic conspiracy; one which unless stopped, will bring about the destruction of the Earth...
The story rattles along at a great pace, The Doctor and Benny are aided by two new (temporary) companions; Cwej and Forrester and the action provides plenty for the reader to become involved in. One of the best so far!
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
In post-WWI Europe, most of the young men are dead. But something is happening to those that are left; children are being kidnapped, and the only clue is that each child was given a teddy bear by a mysterious stranger shortly before vanishing. The Doctor, Benny, Chris and Roz are, of course, investigating the disappearances. Chris and Roz stay in Europe looking for the responsible parties. The Doctor and Benny soon find themselves trapped on a planet called Q'ell, where the children are being forced to fight and die alongside aliens in a war that seems to serve no purpose.
The regular characters are extremely well portrayed here. They all have their place and their function, but there is room enough for the characters to move around. Roz and Chris pair off each other entertainingly within the larger group, while the Seventh Doctor and Benny remain practically writer-proof. Leonard is the first author since Andy Lane in ORIGINAL SIN to make effective use of the two Adjudicators, and it's great to see them back on form.
I particularly liked how, in the beginning, we see the TARDIS crew exclusively from the standpoint of the secondary characters that they encounter. We are allowed to view them as strange, different people who radiate an aura of power. This is the sort of thing that Andrew Cartmel liked to do in his novels, but he usually made the Doctor seem like a force of nature, something to be in awe of. Here, there is a sense of that, but they feel more like guardian angels, albeit ones dressed in unfamiliar clothes and speaking of strange anachronistic things.
The discussions on war, killing, death and hate are, for the most part, quite interesting. Unfortunately, there are one or two places where Leonard crosses the line between subtle hinting, and sledgehammer moralizing. I really appreciated the sequence where Roz unknowingly mimicked a 20th century xenophobic woman. I didn't like it so much when the author pointed out how clever the comparison was. Still, the understated portions outweigh the heavy-handedness, so the batting average on this count is fairly good even if there are a few obvious missteps.
During the beginning of this book, the imagery and situations that Leonard was throwing at me gave me goose bumps while reading. Towards the end, some of the luster had faded, and while the ending was weak comparatively, it still made for a satisfactory conclusion. Overall, the book does overcome its flaws, and I wish that I hadn't waited so long to read this one.
(I do not seem to have good luck with the physical copies of this book I have owned. When I first bought the book back in the mid-90s, it wasn't until I got home from the bookstore that I realized I had purchased a incorrectly bound copy; opening the front cover revealed not the publishing information or blank filler, but page number 201. Pages 201 through to the end replaced the first forty pages of the book, and those first forty pages were not to be found anywhere within the covers. I promptly made a mental note to take the novel back to the shop and obtain a free replacement. Flash-forward to the year 2002, and I discovered that I had never got around to doing that. I bought myself a copy on-line that fortunately had all the pages, but on this one the margins were messed up, sometimes being too close to the outside, and, worse, sometimes being too close to the center to read the text properly. Oh well, on some days you just can't win.)
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