Review: “An Ancient Peace,” Tanya Huff

Pros: Still the usual amazing world-building and characters
Cons: Definitely read the Confederation novels first!
Rating: 5 out of 5

In Tanya Huff’s An Ancient Peace, the first book in her Peacekeeper trilogy, she returns to her Confederation world. This is wonderful military SF in which we follow the career of Torin Kerr, a space marine with a reputation for getting things done. Although this is a separate trilogy about Torin’s life after leaving the military, I highly recommend reading the Confederation novels first. Partly because they’re just that worthwhile, and partly because you’ll need the world-building background! No matter how good a job this book does reminding you of the basics, it’s still an incredibly complex and detailed world with galaxy-spanning wars, alien races galore, and amazing conspiracies. This book will throw you if you don’t have that background.

I’ve been busy with going back to school, and was foolish enough to take some hyper-accelerated summer courses (bio in one month! Gah!). This means I literally had no time to read for pleasure over the month of June, so, no reviews here. Finding I had time to read a novel was eclipsed only by the wonderful discovery that Tanya Huff had put out some Torin Kerr novels I hadn’t heard about before! I knew I was in for a good ride, which is a must when you have time to read precisely one book before jumping back into the grind.

Torin and her friends (her lover Craig, who was a salvage operator, an ally or two, and some of the marines that served under her) have become civilians after discovering that the big, important war they’d been serving in was based on one huge lie. They’re working for the Justice Department as a strike team, picking up criminals such as pirates in situations that might become too hot for the (traditionally alien) wardens. Even though they’re no longer in the military, the Corps Intelligence Service brings them in for a highly sensitive operation. H’san grave goods are being sold, and the only way the items could have been found is if the graverobbers had discovered the highly secret location of the H’san’s original planet. Why so secret? Well, because that planet was rendered uninhabitable when the H’san were in their warring days, and the weapons are believed to still be there! If one of the more violent Younger Races get their hands on the weapons–or are even known to be trying to find them–the Elder Races will have all the excuse they need to quarantine the Younger Races on their home planets, a measure that’s already been proposed.

We follow the story along on two threads. We see the grave robbers as they try to decode the location of the weapons while trying not to get killed by the H’san’s rather inventive traps. Then we follow Torin and her allies as they try to catch up to the bad guys and stop them. There’s some wonderful material detailing more about some of the Middle and Elder races, and we get to see a lot more about the (often-entertaining) sex-hungry Taykan and how their vulnerability to touch (or the lack thereof) isn’t always just fun and games. Torin and her friends also have to figure out how they’re supposed to reconcile their desire to uphold the law with the fact that they’re being asked to act as judge, jury, and executioner to these graverobbers–and whether the possibility of interstellar war merits the change in MO. The characters are wonderful as always, and there’s a ton of action, snarkiness, and wonderful SF goodness. I recommend all of Tanya Huff’s books on general principle, but I can say from experience that An Ancient Peace is well worth your time!

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