Review: The Heart of Valour / Author: Tanya Huff / Publisher: Titan Books / Release Date: Out Now
If there’s anything to compliment about Tanya Huff’s progression through this series, it’s that she never takes a step back with her books. While certain themes will certainly arise time and again, usually problems with ranking individuals, it’s always presented in some new way and methods are found to develop her universe.
Following on from the events of the last book, the recently promoted Torin Kerr has found herself sidelined in the war. Bored to tedium with the constant briefings and paperwork, she jumps at the chance to participate in a number of training scenarios when given the opportunity by an old friend. Unfortunately, the initially easy assignment is soon proven to have more problems than teaching grunts to shoot down training drones.
Away from the confines of a massive starship, the book feels like much more of a return to form. The environments and setting are somewhat closer to those which the first book featured and lack the issues which plagued the last book's milieu. The training environments prove to be something genuinely new to the series, offering great variety, and they are integrated into the plot far better than the starship was.
Furthermore, these grounds serve as an excuse to show just why Torin has managed to build up a small legend around herself, storming through these situations which should be stacked against the wet behind the ears trainees she is accompanying. Seeing her in part through the eyes of others in this way helps to better introduce her abilities before they really come into play against a true foe.
There is also a much better use of the various races here and their radically different biologies. Even after cultural integration there are problems which simply cannot be overcome.
Oddly, it’s the character interaction which is weaker here. While some characters stand out well, there’s only so many times that the recruits can come across as inexperienced before it becomes grating. This is something only made weaker by the occasions where Huff opts to dump information upon the reader rather than showing it.
While not as great a tale as Valour’s Choice, The Heart of Valour is a step up from The Better Part of Valour and still a fun read. If you’re after some great science fiction military action, with a good sense of humour, then give this one a look.