Review: “The Truth of Valor,” Tanya Huff

Pros: Riveting military SF with a fantastic female lead
Cons: Can’t think of any…
Rating: 5 out of 5

Review book courtesy of Penguin Group

 

Torin Kerr is fresh out of the Marines and has joined up with her lover, Craig, as a salvager. She’s just starting to adapt to civilian life when pirates kidnap Craig and leave her for dead. As Craig knows, however, leaving Torin to die isn’t the same as Torin being dead—he has every faith that she’ll rescue him. He just needs to stay alive long enough for her to get to him. Torin finds that Craig’s fellow salvagers have no intention of joining her in trying to rescue someone who’s almost certainly dead, so she calls up a few old friends and allies and sets out to do it herself. When she finds out why the pirates need Craig, however, the mission changes. Now she needs to keep them from putting some powerful and dangerous resources into all the wrong hands.

 

The Truth of Valor is the fifth novel in the Confederation series, and the first that I’ve read. Tanya Huff does a spectacular job of providing enough information for new readers without bogging things down in ungainly info-dumps—while I was tossed into the deep end of the pool to swim, I never felt as though I was struggling to stay afloat.

The Confederation novels have a completely and utterly different feel to them (and are a totally different genre) than the Huff book I reviewed a few days ago, The Enchantment Emporium. What’s so amazing about this is that they’re both incredibly good books, each has an incredibly strong style and voice, but those styles/voices are entirely different. There aren’t many authors who can carry that off at all, much less with such consistency of overall quality. Where Emporium was breezy, whimsical, and light, Truth is militaristic, driving, tense, and dark. There’s plenty of action and danger, as well as a plethora of fight scenes that never feel repetitive or dull. Huff’s sense of pacing is deft and skilled, winding up the tension repeatedly, delivering on promised climaxes, and lightening the mood here and there as appropriate.

The characterization is, once again, one of my favorite aspects of her writing. Torin’s intensity and her spiral into dark places as she searches for Craig come across beautifully. There are enough members of each alien race that while each race has a sort of archetype or stereotype associated with it, individuals vary nicely. Characters aren’t too perfect and never lack for dimension. Ms. Huff provides some of the best examples I’ve seen of dark, nasty, and insane characters that aren’t cartoonish.

I loved The Truth of Valor enough that I purchased the first four books in the series just hours after I’d finished this one. It’s hard to give a stronger recommendation than that.

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