Valour’s Choice (Confederation, #1)

By Tanya Huff

Rating: 4 stars

Humans were given entry to the Confederation because the elder races had long since lost their ability to fight a war, and now one had come calling upon them. Staff Sergeant Torin Kerr and her platoon are assigned to a diplomatic mission to recruit a new race into the Confederation before the aggressive Others can get to them. However, the ceremonial role goes awry when their transport ship is shot down, and Kerr has to keep her people, and the diplomats, alive for the future of the Confederation.

I’m not normally a big reader of MilSF, but a friend whose tastes I trust heavily recommended this to me, and it was a lot of fun. From my limited reading in the subgenre, I don’t think it brings anything hugely new to it, although the protagonist is female, and there’s never any doubting that the women are any way lesser than the men in the Marines of the Confederation. Torrin is a likeable protagonist, as are the others in her platoon, from the new wet-behind-the-ears officer that she has to mould to the men and women she’s in command of. From fairly early on, I was playing Guess Who’s Going To Die – although the book is fairly smart and when one grunt is found by his colleagues wistfully looking at a picture of his young daughter, he gets yelled at for not knowing about the tropes.

One issue I had with the book was that the aliens didn’t really feel all that alien. The Confederation military has three different races in it, and apart from one of them being very fond of sex and the other being able and willing to eat just about anything, they could just be humans. The race that they’ve gone to recruit, the Silsviss, are more interesting, as their lifecycle forms a fairly important part of the plot. Still, this isn’t a hugely big deal for me as all the characters, no matter what their race, are interesting and usually quite fun.

Apparently the final battle was based on an early battle in the Zulu war, although since I’m not a military buff, I completely failed to notice this. But on the other hand, it wasn’t important to the enjoyment of the book nor to appreciate how tense the situation was, with Kerr’s platoon massively outmanned.

This is the first in a series and despite my misgivings about military SF I liked Kerr and the setting enough to definitely look out for others in the series.

Book details

ISBN: 9781781169667
Publisher: Titan Books
Year of publication: 2000

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