THIS STORY TAKES
SHORT STORIES IN THE
2010 STORYBOOK AND
THE NOVEL "AUTONOMY."
OFFICIAL BBC HARDBACK
RELEASED IN SEPTEMBER
The Chelsea Flower
Show – Hardly the
most exciting or
dangerous event in
the calendar, or so
the Doctor thinks.
But this is Chelsea
426, and the flowers
are much more than
Why is shopkeeper Mr
Pemberton acting so
strangely? And what
is THE Professor’s
They are close to
finding the answers
when a familiar foe
arrives, and the
get much higher.
The Sontarans have
plans of their own,
and they’re not here
to arrange flowers...
I had never come across author David Llewellyn prior to reading The Taking of Chelsea 426, and in fact, all three of September 2009’s Doctor Who novels have been penned by newcomers to the range (though not necessarily the series). Having now done
my homework though, I have learned that Llewellyn is a Welsh novelist with a couple of independent works to his name, as well as a handful of contributions to Torchwood’s spin-
“An immediate denial might have been just enough to spare your life.
Your silence is a challenge, Colonel. A challenge to which there is only one solution.”
Llewellyn’s first Doctor Who novel is certainly an ambitious one as it depicts a skirmish in the millennia-old Sontaran / Rutan War at – of all places - the Chelsea Flower Show (which by the 26th century has relocated to Chelsea 426, orbiting Saturn). The author portrays both races well - the Sontarans feel like they have just stepped off the screen, and there is even some unprecedented internal feuding between their militia and intelligence divisions. Their lesser-known rivals are fleshed out every bit as skilfully, Llewellyn taking the time to look at their motive for protracting the war when they are, in quite a lot of ways, so superior to the Sontarans and could end it at any time.
“Your children… They’re brilliant. Just brilliant. Did you know that?
Well, of course you knew that. They’re your kids. And they’re brilliant!”
The Doctor is equally well-depicted, although his role in the proceedings isn’t overtly exciting as he is just trying to keep thecolonists alive whilst the Sontarans find their Rutan mole. I also found it a little peculiar reading about the Doctor sharing an adventure with two young kids (and, on occasion, their parents); more the stuff of The Sarah Jane Adventures than Doctor Who, surely? Nevertheless, this unusual move is paid off quite nicely towards the end of the story as the children almost lose their mother. I think I would have preferred it if they actually had though; it would certainly have lent the climax a little more weight.
Additionally, I wasn’t dead struck on Chelsea 426 as
a story setting. Fair dues, Llewellyn portrays what he
wanted to well – an enclave for a world that’s gone; a
strictly regulated society of Misters and Missuses; or,
as the Doctor so succinctly puts it, “Boring-Upon-Twee”
- but the rub is, the society of 426 is so purposely pre-
cious and staid that it still irritated me in any case, as did its residents. Of them all, I only warmed to the old “what what” warhorse, ‘Major’ Whittington-Smythe, who appears to have been stolen from an episode of Fawlty Towers. Well, nearly.
Nevertheless, this book is not without its charm. Llewellyn has a keen sense of humour that permeates almost all of the book’s 241 pages; the Doctor especially is gifted with some extraordinary one-liners that you could just imagine David Tennant wrapping his tongue around on television. However, for a novel that boldly depicts a Sontaran in the throes of battle on its cover, and that has a title as brutal and as full of promise as The Taking of Chelsea 426, this one really lacks mettle.
Copyright © E.G. Wolverson 2009
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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