Review: “The Better Part of Valor,” Tanya Huff

Pros: Riveting, pulse-pounding; great characters
Cons:
Rating: 5 out of 5

 

The Better Part of Valor (Valor Novel) (also available as the second half of the omnibus A Confederation of Valor) is the second book in Tanya Huff’s Valor series. The first book is Valor’s Choice, a fantastic, action-packed book, and The Better Part of Valor is every bit as good.

 

Staff Sergeant Torin Kerr made the mistake of getting on a general’s bad side, and now he’s separated her from her unit and sent her on a mission to check out a derelict alien spacecraft. Unfortunately she has to watch over civilians: scientists, the salvage operator who found the ship, and a few unexpected extras. On top of that she also has to babysit her glory-hog commanding officer, a political pick who’s more concerned with his public image than the marines serving under him. The alien ship soon proves to be something of a trap, and before long Kerr and her marines are fighting for their–and the civilians’–lives against a confusing and quite dangerous enemy.

 

The Valor series is brilliant military SF with a hearty dash of humor.

“And the moral of the story: never call a two star general a bastard to his face.”
Stretching out his regenerated leg, Captain Rose leaned away from his desk and drummed his fingers against the inert plastic trim. “I’m a little surprised you didn’t already know that.”
“You and me both, sir.” Staff Sergeant Torin Kerr stared down at the general’s orders on her slate. “You and me both.”

The plot of The Better Part of Valor twists and turns, and leaves some great questions hanging for later books. The action is riveting, pulse-pounding, and damn fine to boot. Not all authors do a good job with combat, but in the Valor books I’m totally enthralled with the danger and excitement.

The characters are fascinating. While there are certain stereotypes associated with the various alien races, the characters themselves come in a wide variety of flavors. They’re highly distinct and some of them definitely go against type. I really cared about what happened to them–even some of the annoying ones. I also found it easy to keep most of them distinct despite the large cast of characters, a sure sign that they have interesting and fully fleshed-out personalities.

Sometimes I forget just how much I love the military SF genre. Huff’s Valor books have reminded me of that, but they’ve probably spoiled me for most of the genre. I’m devouring the entire Valor series from the start, having come across book five first. I can’t wait to read the rest of the series!

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