Book Review: Valor’s Choice

valors choiceAuthor: Tanya Huff
Genre: Military Sci-Fi

Synopsis: SSG Torrin Kerr is a soldier in the Confederation, a galactic civilization of different races that have banded together to fight the mysterious race of creatures simply known as The Others. SSG Kerr and her soldiers have recently been assigned a diplomatic mission to impress an emerging spacefaring race of reptile-like creatures called the Silviss in hopes of bringing them into the Confederation. The diplomacy goes well until someone decides to shoot down Kerr’s transport in the middle of a game reserve filled with raging adolescent Silviss. Now it is a fight for survival on an unfamiliar planet.

Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5 stars

I personally don’t read a lot of Tanya Huff’s work so I came into this novel without any preconceived notions about prose or writing style. After writing my own military sci-fi, my mother recommended that I read the book as she thought it was good and would give some insight into other military sci-fi novels. Even without expectations (other than good ol’ mom’s recommendation and she is no slouch on books), I was hoping for a good read and something to gain inspiration from. I thought that it was a good novel, yet, unfortunately I was also a little disappointed.

The world building was simplistic, yet well constructed. It was interesting to find that humans are not at the center of the universe like many other novels. Humans are just grunts in a galactic army along with the di’Taykan (i.e. Elves) and a variety of other exotic alien races. The author does not take a lot of time explaining these other aliens races, she instead gives you just enough to know what is different about them before moving on to the plot.

The main problem that I had with the characters was that their names were all just too similar and since her writing is simple, it was difficult for me to keep straight who was which race. The di’Taykan were the lone exception to this as they unique alien characteristics were constantly being brought up for better or worse.

The scenes and other random things in the story were again simple without a lot of detail. It was really up to the read to fill in a lot of the little details of what was going on in their head to assist in imagining the story. The dialogue, however, was very good and believable. It was the one main shining point of the story was the character’s ability to express what was going on through the dialogue. Of course, there is one exception and that is some of the random banter of the marines (more on that in a moment).

The story itself was, again, a simple affair of survival with a twist ending. Though the author tried to have some suspense on whether or not this ragtag group of marines with thousands of adolescent reptiles hungry for their flesh, the sense of despair that these marines should have had about their impending death was virtually nonexistent. While it is true that marines should be able to hold themselves together in the face of death, they still think it and the exposition should have delved much deeper into those feelings. In doing so, the author would have been able to heighten the impending death by this massive horde to greater degree. Instead, we have joking marines, random banter, and a “just another day at the office” attitude that ruined the mood for me. There was a somewhat touching death scene for the

There are some reviews out there that did not care for the ending of this book, stating that the character should have done the right thing. I am not one of them. Perhaps it is the fact that I like the darker aspects of human nature and the hero that isn’t always the shining knight. The main character is left with a choice of being the white knight who stands up for what is right, or do they make the choice of backing the military that she is apart of in their black schemes to force an alien race to join them through trickery.

Times have changed since the days of the white knight who could do no wrong and managed to fix everything by being a perfect virtue of humanity. Society today has balked at this kind of character as unrealistic and even boring. You know that they will win so what is the fun in reading the book? Characters now are a bit darker or have a touch of gray to their nature that allows them to make the tough choices that are ultimately for the greater good, but people get hurt or killed in the process. These characters are more realistic to the way our society is now and helps the reader identify with the character on a more person level and therefore, enjoy the book more.

When I was 3/4’s of the way through this book, I was not overly happy with. By the time I finished it, my views on the novel changed because of the twist ending. A lot of the plot elements that seemed odd or whimsical now suddenly made more sense to me and partially changed my view on the novel overall (though I still dislike the random actions or dialogue of the support marine characters). Overall this is a good novel that, despite having some issues, I think military sci-fi lovers will enjoy.

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