Tag Archives: Staff Sergeant Torin Kerr

*NEW RELEASE SPECIAL* Review of KINDLE Ebook A Peace Divided – Book 2 of the Peacekeeper series by Tanya Huff.

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I thoroughly enjoy Tanya Huff’s writing, and this series started with a bang in An Ancient Peace. So does this second book sustain the momentum?

Gunnery Sergeant Torin Kerr had been the very model of a Confederation Marine. No one who’d ever served with her could imagine any circumstance that would see her walking away from the Corps. But that was before Torin learned the truth about the war the Confederation was fighting…before she’d been declared dead and had spent time in a prison that shouldn’t exist…before she’d learned about the “plastic” beings who were really behind the war between the Confederation and the Others. That was when Torin left the military for good. Yet she couldn’t walk away from preserving and protecting everything the Confederation represented. Instead, ex-Gunnery Sergeant Torin Kerr drew together an elite corps of friends and allies–some ex-Marines, some civilians with unique skills–and together they prepared to take on covert missions that the Justice Department and the Corps could not–or would not–officially touch. But after their first major mission, it became obvious that covert operations were not going to be enough.

I really like the premise of this book. In this slice of the campaign against the mysterious plastic beings who have created so much chaos, an archaeological team discover what they think might be traces of plastic in a pre-industrial society. And that is enough to draw down some very unwelcome attention. In multiple viewpoint, the story structure is interesting – we have a flurry of action as the hapless archaeologists are overrun and then we are inevitably drawn into the political aspects alongside witnessing how the scientists on the archaeological dig are being brutalised by some very unpleasant mercenaries.

At this point, before Torin’s team are engaged, what keeps the storyline humming is the interaction between them and the politicking around the very sensitive subject of the plastic beings. At no time did my attention wander despite the fact I went into this book expecting lots of fighting and mayhem. Indeed, while there is certainly shooting and violence, there wasn’t the set piece battle I was expecting. As ever, Huff serves up something a bit different.
I particularly appreciated that when the inevitable body count starts to rise, it matters. We care about the people who die because the characters in the middle of the violence also really care. Other than Torin, who I love, my favourite character has to be Arniz, the spiky elderly Niln archaeologist who refuses to be cowed by the bullying Martin – a really satisfactory antagonist I loved to hate. As is often the case in this genre, the blood and gore goes alongside plenty of snarky asides between the team which lightens up the mood, often causing me to grin.

I also liked the fact we also get a real insight into the motivations of the mercenaries, as well as the main antagonist. It gives the story more emotional heft and stops it being merely a fight between the goodies and the baddies. That said, we do have a satisfyingly nasty baddie who is clearly going to continue to be a threat for a while yet as his motivation and strategy puts him on a collision course with Torin’s group, the Wardens.

On a practical note, inevitably, there are a lot of characters from a number of species which means a fair number of difficult names are flying around. I did my usual trick of just plunging in without bothering to look at the contents page – this time around I wish I had. Huff has thoughtfully provided an extremely good Cast of Character list at the back of the book which I would have used and recommend to any other reader. As for the ending, Huff, manages to successfully up the stakes such that I very much wish the next book was already available – did I mention how much I enjoy Huff’s writing?
8/10

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Review of EBOOK KINDLE edition An Ancient Peace – Book 1 of the Peacekeeper series by Tanya Huff

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If you’ve ever spent any time rootling around this blog (and many of you have – thank you!) you’ll have gathered I’m a huge fan of Tanya Huff. I haven’t yet read anything of hers I haven’t loved. She is crazily prolific and her writing anancientpeacecovers a wide range of speculative fiction – from her humorously wacky Enchantment Emporium series, see my review of the first book here – to her epic fantasy offering The Silvered here – while also revisiting one of her earliest books, Blood Price here. However, another series she has been writing for a long time, featuring Torin Kerr, The Confederation series – see my review of Valour’s Choice here – recently finished and then spun off into a follow-up series, the Peacekeeper series. An Ancient Peace is the first book in that series. Does it manage to sustain the high standard Huff sets in her writing?

The centuries-long war between the Confederation and The Others, a group of violent alien species, is over. Intergalactic peace is finally restored. Torin Kerr and her crew of ex-Marine friends have gone freelance – using their military experience as guns for hire. But this calm equilibrium cannot last. Someone is searching for the lost weapons of the H’san: powerful tools capable of destroying entire planets. Though the H’san gave up fighting long ago, the reappearance of their weapons would no doubt lead to a devastating war. It’s up to Torin Kerr and her team to fix this problem before it explodes. But the more Torin learns about the relationship between the Elder and Younger races, the more she fears war might be unavoidable…

The answer is yes. I haven’t managed to get around to reading all the Confederation series, though I should because I love Huff’s writing, and yet I very quickly got up to speed about what had been going on and why Torin and her gang of misfits were on the mission they found themselves on. Huff writes characters very well. I love the interaction between the group which is built on a number of adventures when they have all been tested in extreme situations. I particularly enjoy the spaces Huff leaves so the reader can come to her own conclusion about what is happening. It’s a neat trick that only a writer at the very height of her powers can successfully pull off, which is probably why you don’t come across it very often. Better still – it’s what we do when we are with people we are comfortable with and know well, so it feels natural.

But Huff also manages tension beautifully, as well. I actually dreamt of the alien dome where the trapped party were desperately trying to find a way out… So when the action kicks off, my heart was racing and my palms were sweating because it really mattered to me that certain folks survived – especially as Huff isn’t afraid to kill off a number of likeable, entertaining characters. All in all, this book is a wonderfully enjoyable read and if your taste runs to military science fiction – and even if it doesn’t – I thoroughly recommend it.
10/10

Review of Valour’s Choice – a Confederation novel by Tanya Huff

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I reread this military science fiction offering, first published in 2000, as a solid fan of Huff’s writing – see my review of her early urban fantasy offering Blood Price here and my take on her most recent fantasy series, The Enchantment Emporium here – would I still find this former favourite so enjoyable?

In the distant future, two alien collectives vie for survival. When the peaceful Confederation comes under attack from the aggressive Others, humanity is granted membership to the alliance – for a price. They must serve and protect the far more civilised species, fighting battles for those who have long since turned away from war.

Staff Sergeant Torin Kerr and her platoon are assigned to accompany a group of Confederation diplomats as they attempt to recruit a valor's choicenewly discovered species as allies. But the mission does not go according to plan…

That’s more or less the blurb – apart from the spoilers I’ve omitted. Staff Sergeant Torin Kerr is the main protagonist – and while she does have the occasional wobble, particularly around a certain R & R session near the beginning of the book, most of the time she comes across as near perfect a protagonist as I’ve seen – with the author getting away with it. Because Huff does. I kept waiting for Torin to annoy me, which she didn’t. I think it is because while she manages to always do the right thing, events slide so far out of everyone’s control so very quickly, I was caught up in the whole drama of the military encounter and willing the group to prevail. Huff is reprising a particular historical event with this book – points will be awarded if you can name the event before the end. As a result, some of the characters are loosely based on their counterparts in the famous film, which is why many of the soldiers are slightly clichéd. But this is intentional, as Huff lets us know. While it clearly annoyed some reviewers, I didn’t have a problem with it – mostly because I am aware that Huff is capable of depicting characters with far more edge and complexity. What helps to keep the characters sympathetic and enjoyable is the constant banter which continues relentlessly as the situation gets ever worse.

For me, this book is all about the pace and story arc. From the moment things start to kick off, the narrative ramps up a gear and doesn’t ease down until the very end – which also had an unpredictable twist I thoroughly appreciated. I am delighted that Titan Books have seen fit to republish this book and hope that in the process, Huff picks up more fans. Meantime if you enjoy military science fiction on any level, give this book a go – and see if you can work out which battle she based the storyline around.
8/10