The Truth of Valor [US][UK] is the fifth installment in Tanya Huff's tightly plotted military science fiction Confederation series (review). Narrower in scope than its predecessors, The Truth of Valor finds our favorite Gunnery Sergeant Torin Kerr madly in love with a deep space salvage operator and trying her best to learn a life that doesn't involve artillery barrages or assault rifles. Unfortunately for the new couple, space just isn't vast enough to avoid trouble... or pirates.
The Truth of Valor takes the Confederation series down to a more personal level, focusing on the relationship between Kerr and Craig Ryder as well as the emotional scars Kerr still bears from her previous adventures. For all of the novel's adrenaline filled last second escapes from certain death, it also showcases a deeper focus on the moral implications associated with the use of deadly force. While many of Kerr's battles have been both personal and emotional, they have always taken place in the context of a military hierarchy supported by the strongest of moral justifications. This time around, readers are given a glimpse of the real Kerr, separate from her military persona, but still kicking ass.
Don't let my lofty talk about the deeper issues distract you form the fact that The Truth of Valor is one hell of a ride. While the book is perhaps not the best in the series, it certainly hits many of the same high notes and is sure to delight any and all fans of military sci-fi. Tanya caters to her audience by relying on her strengths in this book. Readers familiar with the series will enjoy the cross-species interactions - and sex - as well as the playful banter and inner monologues emblematic of the Confederation series as a whole.
My main gripe, and the one I make about virtually every series i read, is that the book answers none of the series' meta questions. Much like Kerr, readers are in the dark as to the greater going's on in the universe she inhabits. No news about the war between the Primacy and the Confederation besides brief references to the fact that it is still going on. No news about the sentient poly-numerous plastic that controls the universe and instigated the war in the first place, besides a deus-ex moment at the end of the novel. I mean come on, I need some closure here!
If you haven't started on the Confederation series, none of this will be making any sense. Start with Valor's Choice and get back to me.
The Truth of Valor is your standard space pirate adventure where the good guys come close to loosing way too many times for comfort. The fast pace and low word count will make for a quick and enjoyable read. Torin Kerr is essentially the Bruce Willis of military science fiction... if Mr. Willis were a woman and lived in the future. They both always end up banged up at the end of their adventures, and the bad guys always go boom in a very satisfying explosion.
Highly recommended for readers of less lofty titles who enjoy action... in space.
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