The novel “Border Princes” by Dan Abnett was published for the first time in 2007.
Torchwood team is busy looking for the Amok, an alien artifact that can heavily influence the minds of human beings. They need to get it to safety as soon as possible because in Cardiff streets chaos is breaking out among the people in a state of confusion.
Captain Jack Harkness is concerned about a possible connection between the Amok and an alarm given to Torchwood 108 years earlier and must solve the problem. He too, Gwen, Owen, Tosh, Ianto and James suffer from the Amok’s influence and this makes the situation more complex. What does a strange diner at a Cardiff restaurant have to do with that?
“Border Princes” is part of a series of novels connected to the TV show “Torchwood“, a “Doctor Who” spinoff. The size are the same as the”Doctor Who” books starting from the Eleventh Doctor but the font is smaller so they’re longer despite having the same number of pages. Given their contents, “Torchwood” novels are aimed at an adult audience, just like the television episodes.
In “Border Princes” Captain Jack Harkness’ team must recover the Amok to prevent its influence on people’s mind from wreaking havoc but Torchwood agents suffer its effects too. The mission seems accomplished but the situation doesn’t go back to normal and it starts getting complicated in a more subtle manner.
These premises lead to the development of a story that includes parts that initially seem unrelated to the plot about the Amok and only in the course of the novel the subplots start converging. Mainly it concerns this alien object’s influence on the members of Captain Jack Harkness’ team.
Torchwood agents start behaving in an abnormal manner, sometimes with small symptoms such as wrong words, in other cases in more obvious ways. Personal relationships are affected too and from the beginning that means a new development in the relationship between Gwen and her fellow agent James.
“Border Princes” can be a strange reading for the protagonists’ abnormal behavior. Reading it after watching the whole TV show, the plot might seem even stranger and some readers might not like it. The theme of an alien influence on the characters is a classic of science fiction, in this novel is mixed with other narrative elements.
The plot is complex and perhaps becomes even convoluted trying to put together everything that concerns its protagonists and especially James and his relationship with Gwen, the Amok, the space-time rift in Cardiff and the story of the strange diner in a city restaurant.
It’s the kind of story that requires some patience because only in its second half the various elements start coming together. There are various revelations and twists but the fact that the protagonists and their actions are somewhat distorted by the Amok’s influence makes it difficult to follow the various developments.
All this gave me mixed feelings because I’ve seen some elements that make “Border Princes” indeed Torchwood story but in some ways it’s not the kind of story I like. The abnormal behavior gave me almost dreamlike sensations because for me it was like watching the protagonists as in a dream and this didn’t help me to appreciate the story. There’s also a strong romantic element but I had very little interest in it.
Due to its characteristics, “Border Princes” seems to me like a novel that can cause very different reactions in its readers. For this reason, I recommend reading it to the people who want to have the complete collection of Torchwood novels and to those who appreciate this kind of story.