Review: The Better Part of Valour / Author: Tanya Huff / Publisher: Titan Books / Release Date: Out Now
Returned only a short while from her previous recon mission, Staff Sergeant Torin Kerr finds herself being sent into combat once more. Having insulted a superior officer, her well-earned leave turns into a reconnaissance mission of the worst kind. A massive UFO of unknown origin has emerged far across the galaxy. Paired with a glory-hungry superior, her task is to ensure the survival of a scientific expedition boarding the derelict. A task which increases in danger with every passing minute.
Despite a much more interesting premise than Valour’s Choice, The Better Part of Valour proves to be the weaker of the two novels. While the humour, characterisation and other elements which made the previous tale fun to read remain, the end result is much more flawed.
One cause of this is the near-total change of all the supporting characters. When there’s an established ensemble to build upon it tends to be best to make use of that, and while the new characters are a good match for the first it really is like going back to square one.
What is much more unfortunate is that the environment and combat don’t hold up. While it’s good that the novel does not opt to openly rip off Space Hulk, there really isn’t enough done to impress upon the reader the alien nature of the craft. Similarly the combat feels oddly neutered and lacking in description compared to the first. This is exacerbated by a tale which feels as if it has skimped on the inciting incident in order to make room for a very irritating addition to the ending.
The good news here is that, for all these weaknesses, the novel does continue to build upon the universe around it, with some interesting moments of world-building which never get in the way of the narrative.
Many of the strengths of the first tale remain, but this is clearly the weaker of the two. If you want a novel with no heavy lifting and with plenty of enjoyable elements, take a look, but don’t expect anything special.