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Not quite combat ready,
This review is from: Heart of Valor (Confederation Novels) (Mass Market Paperback)
The third of Tanya Huff's Confederation series. For those who haven't encountered the series yet it's a boots' eye view military sci-fi, heavy on command structure but always viewed from the NCO/grunts on the ground perspective. Those looking for anything deep or meaningful should look away now. It has no noticeable political or philosophical agenda beyond war is hell but someone's got to do it. It follows the career of Torin Kerr, a female career military NCO. The first time we meet her in the first book she's already pretty much god on legs to the rank and file of Sh'quo Company. Imagine Ellen Ripley if she'd signed on with the Colonial Marine Corp rather than the Space Merchant Navy and add a few extra cans of kick-ass. She's good at what she does, quick thinking and dedicated to keeping her people alive.
The Confederation is at war with another bunch of aliens called The Others. Both groups are made up of many different types of aliens. The Confederation is a peaceful alliance of cooperation whereas The Others are made up of conquered species. Unskilled in the arts of war The Confederation recruits several species who can beef up their aptitude for combat. Top on their list of potential cannon fodder *cough* allies are a bunch of skilled bruisers called Humans. Also recruited are the di'Taykan who are sort of like sex mad Vulcans with emotionally influenced hairdos. Lastly are the Krai, an arboreal species who will eat anything ... apart from stones.
This one suffered a bit from its own plot set-up. In the first couple of books one of the most entertaining aspects of the book was Torin's talent at riding herd on the local wet behind the ears or glory seeking brass. This one has none of that. She starts off promoted to Gunnery Sergeant, pretty much bored to tears with endless debriefs and instructional talks to whoever the brass point her at, be it visiting officers or groups of raw recruits. She jumps at the chance to accompany one of her former Sh'quo commanders Major Svennson (reduced to a brain in a jar sometime before book one), as an observer on a 20 day Marine recruit training exercise. He needs to road test his new force grown body. Svensson's doctor, two drill instructors and 37 raw recruits make up the rest of the party, commanded by Staff Sergeant Beyhn (a di'Taykan acting weirder than Spock in `Amok Time'). The recruits never come alive in your mind though. Huff sticks to characterising only a handful but none of them spark and the snarky to and fro from the first two books gets replaced by some pretty stilted and repetitive dialogue. Lots of wide eyed recruits yelling `sir, yes sir,' repeatedly. The combat is a bit flat too, pitching AI drones, fliers and tanks against Torin's savvy is too one sided a contest. I'll not give up on the series yet but it had better be up for the fight next time.