In the distant future, humans and several alien races have been granted membership in the Confederation—at a price. They must serve and protect the far more civilized species who have long since turned away from war. When her transport ship is shot down, a routine diplomatic mission across the galaxy becomes anything but, and Staff Sergeant Torin Kerr must fight to keep her platoon alive.
Staff Sergeant Torin Kerr has just returned from battle to find that she is heading into an even more unknown (and possibly just as dangerous) battlefield. The battlefield of Diplomacy! Kerr and her ragtag squad of Marines, including an untrained new lieutenant, must help the Confederation convince a war loving alien race, the Silviss, to join their ranks before the enemy convince them otherwise.
Tanya Huff takes quite a few gambles with this book, but thankfully, they mostly pay off. Firstly, there are many mentions of a galactic war being fought in the background of the story, but we never see it. Though this frustrated me at first, it does help add a level of intrigue to the events of the book and really made you feel like that Kerr and her team are only a small, albeit very vital, part of the war machine. There are many races within the new Confederation that the humans have joined (each with their own unique look and customs) and they are thrown at you in pretty quick succession. Though this might leave you slightly disorientated for a while, by the end of the book you’ll be pretty well acquainted with them all and be well on your way to being able to distinguish your Taykans from your Mictoks
The story follows Kerr as she assigned a new LT and sent to a planet filled with an war-loving alien who could greatly increase the Confederation’s ability to fight against an unseen enemy called ‘The Others’. The first half of the book focuses on the Marines and their integration in Silviss society as they help keep the peace during the first meeting of the Confederation and the Silviss. Though there isn’t too much action here, it does give you a good chance to get familiar with all the races and personalities within the Confederation (and as I mentioned above, there are a lot of them) and the marine unit itself. Things really kick off when their ship crash lands on a hostile part of the planet and they are attacked by savage Silviss. At this point the story turns into a sci-fi version of Rorke’s Drift (the battle which the movie Zulu is based on).
This is no bad thing however as it leads to a succession of tense and exciting battles that slowly depletes both the man power and ammo the Marines have at their disposal. Kerr is the star of this show and manages to both be a kick ass soldier yet also shows she can steadfastly hold the team together no matter how dire the situation looks. I also enjoyed how the ‘love interest’ storyline didn’t play centre stage, mainly because she’s already slept with the love interest (who coincidentally turns out to be her new superior officer, D’oh) before the book even begins.
The diplomats who are trapped with the Marines add an interesting element to the scenario as they are mainly pacifist species who must deal with the realities of war first hand, and don’t like what they see. The Marines on the other hand, could easily have become just another stereotypical, ragtag group of soldiers but as certain aspects of the stereotypes which you find in these kinds of stories about soldiers (the horn dog, the constantly hungry guy, etc) are actually species specific traits, this is actually one of the more amusing aspects to the story. It is also helped that there is a lot of genuinely fun banter between the the team, which is a must for any story dealing with comradery on the battlefield.
So why should you read this book:
- A strong lead in Torin Kerr
- An eclectic group of species and personalities
- The banter between the soldiers… especially as the situation worsens
- Tense battle scenes.
What’s not to like:
- Possibly too much information on species and races thrown at you too quickly to get to grips with them immediately.
- Slightly too predictable finale.
- Will most likely make you want to re-watch Zulu immediately after finishing.
Valour’s Choice is a strong opening story featuring the adventures of Staff Sergeant Torin Kerr and her Marine squadron. Set in an interesting Universe (filled with even more interesting species), this book not only features a good war story filled with explosive set pieces but also sets up Kerr as a heroine to look out for in her future adventures.
We give Tanya Huff’s Valour’s Choice 3.5 Nerds out of 5
Image source: Valour’s Choice