Thursday, October 1, 2009

Valor's Choice

I have been a fan of Tanya Huff's fiction ever since I read her short stories back in the 1980s. I am currently rereading her "Blood" series, and I absolutely adored her recent book, The Enchantment Emporium. I discovered that this, the first book in her science-fictional Confederation series, is available through Audible, and I've heard so many good things about it that I had to give it a try.

The story is set in the distant future, when Earth has joined forces with a number of species from other planets in the Confederation, an alliance against a hostile alien group known simply as the Others. Staff Sergeant Torin Kerr has just returned from a harrowing assignment with her platoon, in which her commanding officer was killed. She is surprised when she is assigned a new second lieutenant, and their first mission turns out to be a diplomatic one, instead of their usual grueling combat assignments.

They are to go to a new planet as an honor guard for a multi-species group of Confederation ambassadors, who are trying to recruit a new species, the aggressive, lizardlike Silsviss, into the Confederation before the Others manage to win them over to their side. What starts out looking like a mind-numbingly dull mission turns into an action-packed adventure when their ship is attacked, and they crash in the midst of a remote part of the planet, where Silsviss adolescents are battling out their hormone-induced aggression. Have the Others moved in to sabotage their diplomatic talks? Has a faction of Silsviss decided to strike against the Confederation? Torin begins to suspect that there is more to their situation than meets the eye - but she has too many immediate worries - the primary being to ensure their survival - to spend much time thinking about it.

This was a highly enjoyable novel with fascinating characters and nonstop action. There are several alien races represented here, each with its own fascinating characteristics and customs. Torin is an immensely sympathetic protagonist, strong and fast-thinking, and with an exceptional ability to see the strengths and weaknesses in people - and use them to the situation's best advantage. She has a lot on her plate in this novel - she's brought her platoon onto an unfamiliar planet to interact with an unknown species, plus she has a new second lieutenant to "break in" - it is fun to watch her subtly manipulating her new boss in order to help him be the best officer he can - and even more fun to see him turn the tables on her. It was refreshing to see the Silsviss portrayed as coming from a planet of sentient beings with different countries, opinions, politics and cultures - so often in science fiction an entire planet is depicted as completely homogeneous, which makes no sense at all - particularly for a planet that has only just discovered life beyond its solar system.

The narrator of this audiobook did an excellent job, giving each alien species its own inimitable way of talking, so that following conversations was definitely more entertaining than it would have been just to read the book on my own. I'm looking forward to seeing what kind of trouble Torin will get herself into in the next book of the series, because it sure is fun watching her extricate herself.

Books in the Confederation series:
1. Valor's Choice
2. The Better Part of Valor
3. The Heart of Valor
4. Valor's Trial

Valor's Choice
(#1 in the Confederation series) by Tanya Huff; narrated by Marguerite Gavin (Tantor Media, 2008)

Have you reviewed this book? Please leave a link in the comments!

Reviews of other books by Tanya Huff:
Huff, Tanya - The Enchantment Emporium
Huff, Tanya - Blood Price
Huff, Tanya - Blood Trail

5 comments:

  1. I think I'm more picky than usual when it comes to audio books, especially if I've read the story before and that wasn't the voice I was imagining or the tone of voice I thought the story should have. Did you read the book before, or is the audio book version the first time you encountered this novel? It sounds like you enjoyed it!

    --Sharry

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  2. Sharry - This was my first time with the book, and it worked really well. But I've had the same experience - and with books to movies, as well!

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  3. I recently finished the Blood Books and enjoyed them immensely. I had no idea she wrote stories like this, which does sound like an adventure. I'll have to go and see what else I'm missing.

    cjh

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  4. I tried her Blood series because I was missing the show so much but I guess it was too soon afterwards because I couldn't get into it. Wish I would have read those first...

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  5. CJ - She has written so many kinds of fantasy and SF, and I've honestly enjoyed everything she's done. I think it's because her characters are so compelling. I'd love to hear what you think if you try this series!

    Ladytink - That's too bad. I haven't seen the show, but I'm planning to watch it after I've reread the books. I hear it's pretty good!

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