Home : Archive : TSV 41-50 : TSV 46 : Review

Toy Soldiers

By Paul Leonard

Book review by Nicholas Withers

Toy Soldiers, the New Adventure by Paul Leonard, is a problem novel. While the plot, characters, setting, and themes are all excellent, it is a hard book to stick with and read all the way through.

The setting is well done, combining the world of post-World War One Europe and the harsh battlefields of an alien world. Leonard succeeds in capturing the feel of the historical period, right down to the reaction of the Europeans to a black female (Roz Forrester). This works equally well the other way, with both Roz and Chris struggling to come to grips with a world radically different from their own.

On 'style' this book rates highly. The whole idea of giant teddy bears, steam powered war machines, and kidnapped children is brilliantly conceived and would make a spectacular and stylish television story.

With so many companions running about these days it is becoming increasingly difficult to find the Doctor in the vast majority of the pages of a New Adventure. It is only towards the end that he becomes a major character, and becomes something more than the bland shadow he is in the earlier chapters.

Theme-wise Toy Soldiers succeeds in portraying the brutality of war by the deliberate counter-pointing of children as soldiers in the most barbaric and desperate of human situations. It also illustrates the futility and propagandistic nature of war in an almost satirical manner.

Ultimately it is a struggle to read Toy Soldiers, with the key culprits being the flow and writing style, which plods along without providing any real incentive to turn the page.

This item appeared in TSV 46 (January 1996).

Index nodes: Toy Soldiers