Valour's Choice

Valour's Choice by Tanya Huff, Confederation #1 

In the distant future, humans and several other races have been granted membership in the Confederation--at a price. They must act as soldier/protectors of the far more civilized races who have long since turned away from war....

Valour's Choice is one of the latest titles to strengthen the science fiction line up of Titan Books. Tanya Huff's books have been out in the US for quite some time already and as with many other titles both US only and these of Tanya Huff and books by other authors, Titan Books is bringing them to the UK! Tanya Huff is an Canadian author who is well known for many of her books including The Silvered, the Confederation series of which Valour's Choice is the start and the Gale Women series, which also will be published by Titan Books. Her works feature different genres from Science Fiction to Urban Fantasy. I have heard a lot of positive news about Tanya Huff's books, so I couldn't say no when the opportunity of reviewing her works presented itself!

Like I mentioned above, Valour's Choice is the first book in the Confederation series. Confederation is a deep space, military science fiction series, if you look closely at the cover you see the main protagonist Staff Sergeant and for you alien fans, a big scary guy in the back. Valour's Choice features some of the classic space science fiction and military fiction elements but the story is far from standard. I was impressed with the prologue to the book, yes I know it is still fiction, but from the first sentence there is an air of seriousness surrounding this introduction, that inescapably gave a certain reality check. This prologue tells briefly of where the story currently stands and how the past roughly has played out. It already tells the readers about the alien races Krai and di'Taykan, but also doesn't spare a moment to introduce the "Others"  a species in battle against the Confederation. 

Right after this brief introduction you are directly thrown in the mix with the main protagonist Staff Sergeant Torin Kerr. Immediately I got the real science fiction vibe going on, you are introduced to a lot of techy stuff like communication implants and the like that had a high cool factor to it. But perhaps more importantly for the series and book itself you are introduced to a great protagonist. Torin Kerr is a female Staff Sergeant in the military, well if you just think about this can go either two ways, first she is bullied by a lot of her male characters or she is one of that that doesn't take any, how to put this nicely, lets just stick to: she doesn't take no for an answer. Tanya Huff has created a very strong en interesting protagonist with the female lead of Torin Kerr. Besides the Staff Sergeant there are other numerous secondary characters that make either a longer or shorter appearance, both from the human perspective as from the other Confederation alien races like the above mentioned Krai and di'Taykan. These perspectives be it the alien or the human ones are just perfectly displayed and each of these characters left me with an definite impression. I liked that the alien races got their own voice when it came down to telling the story, this really broadened the overall promise of the story. It comes to show that Tanya Huff knows how to create a interesting cast for her books, both with a strong lead and that this doesn't overshadow the rest of the characters. 

Storywise Valour's Choice starts of how you want a first book to start off. Tanya Huff takes her times to lay down the ground rules and nestle several characters and the world itself in the back of you mind. Laying down these rules helped to throw the story in a rapid later on. because this is what Valour's Choice is, after the halfway mark it's rapid fire, in very good way. Staff Sergeant Torin Kerr, hardened military veteran, is tasked with a diplomatic mission, trying to convince another alien race to join the Confederation before the Others can convince them. She travels with a delegation to the planet of the Silsviss, an reptilian alien race, but it soon proves that this mission has been underestimated for quite a deal. Resistance is met and Kerr and her delegation of marines is left to battle it out both in space and on the Silsviss land. Though there was a strong focus on the narration and characters of the story, the action in Valour's Choice still had this classic deep space sci-fi ring to it and maybe it wasn't what some enthusiasts want to see in military SF for me it was still top and fitted perfect in the storyline and idea behind the book. For me there was a perfect balance between action and the narration of the story.

The ending of the book is something that I wouldn't have guessed, when you have Kerr battling it out against the alien Silsviss, I hadn't thought of the possible plot twist that was sitting around the corner for me! The last talk between Kerr and the general that ordered this peace mission suddenly revealed the true intentions of the Confederation... and this pissed off Kerr quite a lot I think (I also think this is an understatement, but just to keep it nice for the sake of the review!). This debriefing again showed that Staff Sergeant Torin Kerr doesn't let people walk over her. 

Valour's Choice is a rapid fire military science fiction. It features everything that you want to read in this genre from the techy gadgets down to the intriguing and interesting alien races. There is a slight more emphasis on the narration of the story if you would compare it to the action that takes place. For me this wasn't a problem at all since the narration and the cahracters are just spot on and I always like a strong character driven book. Tanya Huff knows how to create an interesting world and great characters and the action when it takes place will leave you wanting more. If you are into military science fiction, make sure you don't miss out on Valour's Choice! This first has gotten me eager to see what other adventures Kerr will undertake but also has gotten me eager to explore the other works of Tanya Huff. 

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