Tanya Huff’s “Confederation” series has a fabulous heroine, Torin Kerr. As the series begins, in Valor’s Choice, Kerr is a Staff Sergeant in some futuristic Marine Corps. In this opening yarn, Huff demonstrates good character development, better world building, and a wonderful flair for dialogue. While I really like other heroines of military sci-fi yarns such as David Weber’s Honor Harrington and Elizabeth Moon’s Esmay Suiza, those characters are officers. Huff’s non-com is gritty and more realistic than either of those officer-characters.
Recently, I purchased The Heart of Valor, the third installment in the series. Kerr has been promoted to Gunnery Sergeant after her exploits in books one and two of the series. Her new found fame is unwelcome, so she jumps at the chance to accompany a platoon and some observers to Crucible, a frozen planet where recruits complete their training. Kerr is there mostly to watch, but once the training platoon arrives on Crucible, there is a series of unfortunate events. A longtime drill sergeant becomes ill, the training drones are out to kill rather than test the recruits, and something odd is happening with the the single officer in their midst. Of course, Kerr works overtime to save her comrades, by using all of the knowledge she has accumulated in her career.
While not boring, this third installment seems rather predictable, until Kerr figures out why things have come unglued, and the plot becomes much more interesting. Unfortunately, that happens about two thirds of the way through the book. The suspense ramps up along with the action, and a three star book becomes a five star read.
I enjoyed The Heart of Valor, but I can’t say it lives up to the first two novels. Readers who like feisty heroines, humor, and lots of action should enjoy it, and the series continues with two more installments. I’m reading the next one now.