Review: “A Peace Divided,” Tanya Huff

Pros: Wonderful character development; gorgeous world; excellent action
Cons: A bit slow in one chunk; a lot of characters to keep track of!
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Now that my Anatomy I class is over, I can fit a few books in before my Fall classes start! Naturally, after reading An Ancient Peace (book one in Tanya Huff’s Peacekeeper series), I had to read book two: A Peace Divided. I absolutely love Huff’s Torin Kerr novels, both her Confederation/Valor novels and her Peacekeeper novels. I’m a fan of military sci-fi, and Huff’s work is original, engrossing, funny, poignant, and pretty much every other positive adjective I can think of.

In the latest installment, Torin and her strike team have been made full Wardens by the Justice department. They’re having to adapt to being non-military, to having rules about not killing anyone unless absolutely necessary. (And oh, the paperwork if those rules get broken!) After cleaning up a group of gun-runners, they’re sent after a new target. A group of mercenaries has landed at an archaeological site and taken a bunch of scientists hostage. They’re trying to find a weapon that might be capable of destroying the sentient “plastic” that manipulated both the Federation and the Primacy into a long and horribly destructive war. Sure, everyone would want to get hold of that weapon, but Torin’s job is to save those hostages. Complicating matters is the fact that the mercenaries have members of the Primacy in their group, and Torin’s forced to take along some of the former enemy on her own team. Luckily she already knows most of them from her experience on the mysterious prison planet (be sure to read the Confederation novels before the Peacekeeper trilogy–you’ll need the background!).

After the initial wonderful battle with gun-runners, things get a little slow as we follow the archaeologists and their captors. This made it a little harder for me to get into the story at first, but it pays off later with character development. There are a lot of characters in here: Torin’s strike team, the Primacy members joining her, the mercenaries, and the archaeologists, and it’s hard to keep track of them all. Thankfully Huff is very good at developing strong individualistic characters, so even though I don’t have the best memory I was able to hang on by my fingernails. She succeeds at bringing new alien races to life, something she’d been doing for the Federation races before. This is a tribute to her fantastic world-building skills. I find her complex web of races, characters, and history a delight to read about.

Once Torin and her people get to the planet where the archaeologists are, the action picks up and it sucked me right in. Huff manages detailed strategy and tight fight scenes that capture the imagination. I never get tired of Gunnery Sergeant Torin Kerr, either. Even after so many books she still has growth as a character–as a former NCO, she’s finding she misses the security of having an officer to keep their eye on the bigger picture for her, and she has to learn to stand on her own in that arena. Don’t worry, though–she’s still a source of much attitude and amusement as well! She manages to be super-confident and skilled without ever coming across as a Mary Sue. She’s a fantastic strong character with good reason to be that way.

On the one hand, I’m so delighted to have come across more Torin Kerr novels to read. On the other hand, one more and then I’ll have run out! Oh no! I may have to fit one or two other books in the middle just to draw out that moment a bit longer.

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