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Tanya Huff - The Confederation Series

Who: Tanya Huff
What: Confederation Series (4 books)
Genre: SciFi, Adventure, Mystery

I picked up a nice and thick looking scifi from the library and got hooked. The Confederation series starts out with Valor’s Choice and The Better Part of Valor. I only realized later that the volume I picked up, A Confederation of Valor was an omnibus of the first two books. To make this short, by the time I was finished with all four stories within the series I felt that I could have comfortably stopped at the end of the omnibus with only the first two stories, but I would have missed the storytelling of the fourth. The third was interesting, but not memorable in my mind for anything other than attempting to set up an underlying plot that the last three books worked on.

The books center around a strong, female protagonist; Torin Kerr, a Marine Staff Seargent in a Federation style army where the humans are by no means the best and brightest of the species. It is her wits and ability that everything revolves around.

As far as characters and the peopling of Huff’s scifi universe; Torin eventually comes across as a bit of a Mary Sue even as her character is given reasons to be such a hardcore marine. She’s given a feminine side as an afterthought, understandable being written as a marine first even though the first book starts off with her in bed with an alien being.

Huff did a very good job of creating a few other races to focus on, smartly limiting herself to three main warrior races found in the marines though several others show up in small parts as scientists or diplomats. It’s those warrior races that she expounds on; Human, Di’Taykian and Krai. The Di’taykian and Krai are given some very interesting and fun distinctions giving Huff the ability to have dry humor and adult jokes throughout. The banter between the alien species is lovely.

She leaves the enemy, mostly called The Others, as shadowy and unknown figures who hate and fight for no good reason for most of the series. It makes sense since they don’t figure greatly in the storylines of the actually books, but more as a reason for the marines to be.

Onto the plots:

Valor’s Choice: Torin Kerr is brought along with her troop to a new planet to assist in the wooing of another alien species, a warrior race of lizardlike beings. I couldn’t help imaging them all as talking velociraptors for some reason, though I’m sure they weren’t described completely that way, they did have tails.

This story sets you up for something easy then makes you fall into turmoil and eventually utter frustration, but in a good way. I found it a good read with memorable characters and well scripted action scenes, lots of booms and weapons and destruction.; it is a story about marines after all.

The Better Part of Valor: Torin Kerr is shipped out with a mishmash crew to investigate an alien ship.

This book does need to be read immediately after the first one, it’s smart to just get the omnibus if you can as they’re near seamless from the end of the first to the beginning of the second. The alien ship is a complex challenge to Torin’s abilities as she tries to escape with marines and scientists and journalists in tow.

I enjoyed this one, but found the introduction of a civilian love interest and a nosey reporter to be annoying. I’m sure they added to the story somehow, and after having read the next two books I resolved myself to tolerating them as required plot devices.

The Heart of Valor: Torin Kerr is sent to the Marine training planet with a group of rookies and things don’t go right.

This story was interesting, but I found it weak in the end. It was once more placed directly after the second story timewise and Kerr is under an onslaught of official meetings regarding her time on the alien ship from book two. She’s given a chance to go planetside with her old instructor and a freshly and majorly healed Major whose new limbs turn out to be a very foreseeable inconvenience.

Huff takes a bit of time in this book to explain a bit more about the Di’Taykian race using it as a plot device. Unfortunately it’s an annoying device and just added on frustration and bumps to the storyline.

Suffice to say, I knew what I would be reading about in the end within the first fourth of the book.

Valor’s Trial: Torin Kerr wakes up in a POW camp when she shouldn’t. Everyone knows that The Others don’t take prisoners so why is she now a prisoner?

This story follows her quest to bring herself and her marines out of a mysterious underground prison. It gets long and journeyish in places, but its an compelling read throughout. She adds more about the Krai race and even a bit about the enemy The Others, giving them a few faces.

This one kept me guessing and worried as to why and what and how until a bit before the end and then I was disappointed that she had used the same alien plot device again.

Fortunately, or unfortunately as the space marines were great to read about, Huff nicely tied up the series with this fourth book.

So, all in all I give this series 3.5 stars out of 5. They were good reads for a genre I don’t usually delve into, but I can’t say that I would read them again within the next ten years.

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