Next up: “Valor’s Choice”, “The Better Part of Valor”, “The Heart of Valor”, “Valor’s Trial”, and “The Truth of Valor” by Tanya Huff
The first two books can be found as a compilation called “Confederation of Valor”. I like the cover-art better for it than for either of the two separate, honestly. There is also a 6th book that’s technically billed as a new series, but uses the same characters and takes place after “The Truth of Valor”. I haven’t read that one.
This series follows Staff Sergeant Torin Kerr, a Human Marine. Kerr is a member of the Confederation military, a battle-hardened woman who is a quick and competent soldier and leader. The series is largely about Kerr standing against impossible odds, though the exact situation changes from book to book.
The universe of the series is interesting. The Confederation is composed of two halves, more or less– the Older Races and the Younger. The Older Races were the ones who had originally composed the Confederation; they were advanced and peaceful races until the Others began to attack. The Older Races then decided that they needed to create a military, and to do so they had to accept more species into the Confederation. Enter the Younger Races, which included Humans. The military is composed solely of these Younger Races. This interesting divide creates some questions and tension throughout the series, though it’s usually a side-plot more than anything.
The first book is somewhat inspired by the Battle of Rorke’s Drift, a battle between the British and the Zulu Nation in the 1800s in which a much out-numbered British force held off a large number of Zulu warriors. Of course, since the book takes place on a different planet with lots of aliens, some liberties have been taken with the history. What remains the same is that Staff Sergeant Kerr and her ‘men’ (assorted species and genders) are trapped in hostile territory and must hold out against a force that massively out-numbers them.
The other books carry the reader through several different situations, and places, developing the universe and characters.
I really enjoyed the aliens in these books. They’re very diverse and interesting, and make the universe truly feel like it’s a wide open ‘world’. It always kind of disappoints me when scifi aliens are all super humanoid. At least try, you guys, come on. Huff’s aliens have diversity in form, in manner, and in life-cycle. It’s interesting on its own, and it’s interesting to see these disparate peoples work together. I really loved the interactions between the Marines, and between Kerr and her soldiers. There’s a part in the first book where some of the Marines are talking during a little down-time, and one starts berating the other for doing quintessential Hollywood military movie things, like talking about his wife and kid and how he’s only two weeks out from finishing his tour or duty. You know, the things that usually herald that character dying in some spectacular and tragic manner. It’s a little meta, and made me chuckle.
I like the development that occurs in the universe through the first four books– something is discovered that sort of changes the playing field (or the battlefield, I suppose). It’s exciting and interesting, and I can’t say much about it for fear of spoiling the surprise.
I will say that the series starts off a little oddly, with Kerr waking up after a one-night-stand with a di’Taykan alien. It’s strange because nothing more really happens, there’s a hint that it might cause tension later, but it doesn’t, and the characters don’t really interact much at all for the rest of the book. I’m not sure what it does for the story? It isn’t like Kerr goes through the series having one-night-stands a bunch, so it seems more like an exception to her character than anything, which makes it a strange choice for an introduction to her and to the series. It’s more like an introduction to what di’Taykan are like. A strange choice for an opening scene, but eh. Whatever.
After the fourth book, “Valor’s Trial”, the series kind of changes in tone (highlight for spoiler: Kerr retires and we step out of the genre of military scifi). I’m not really sure that I like it? It changes the books, and takes away some of the things that I liked about the first few. I’m probably not going to read the ones after “The Truth of Valor”, unless the series does another tonal change.
Some sexuality (lookin’ at you guys, di’Taykan), but nothing really explicit. It’s more the violence that needs a warning.