Review – An Ancient Peace by Tanya Huff

Posted: December 5, 2015 in Military sci-fi, Sci-Fi
Tags: , ,

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I’m going to preface this review with a “why haven’t I heard of this author before?” I regularly compile lists of books I want to read or see recommended yet I’m confused as to why I haven’t heard of Tanya Huff before, because, she really is very good.

An Ancient Peace is all about robust dialogue, well defined characters and a rock solid plot that drives the story onward. I’m going to assume that Huff has been writing about these characters for a while and it shows. The dynamic between the main cast is brilliantly illuminated with choppy banter packed full of half said jokes and references. Equally, the structure of the universe Huff has built feels exceptionally well explored. As an example, the alien races we encounter are fascinating and far from any clichĂ©d humanoid that are so often shoehorned into sci-fi. This is intelligent, well written, character driven science fiction falling into that sweet spot between hard sci-fi and pulp action.

A mix of races, the main cast is an intriguing bunch but none more so than the lead actor, Torin Kerr, ex Gunnery Sergeant in the Marines. With war being ‘officially’ over (because it was a social experiment constructed by a weird, hive mind alien race), Kerr and her crew take on jobs that few others can do. Tasked by the military to undertake a secret mission, Kerr is sent out to stop the possibility of another deadly and wide reaching conflict; someone is robbing the graves of an ancient alien world searching for weapons of mass destruction.

The novel parcels out information about the nature of the past conflict and the wider universe effortlessly, avoiding info-dumps whilst filling in the blanks. As the narrative switches between Kerr and her quarry, the tension ratchets up a notch as the ex-Marines close in on the robbers. But, cleverly, Huff manages to cast a decent amount of grey over the proceedings and whilst Kerr and her team are obviously the ‘good guys’, the chain of command above isn’t so clearly de-marked. It’s part of what makes the book so interesting; not only are we exposed to all manner of detail regarding alien races and the political landscape at large, we also get to see how all this trickles down to affect each of the characters.

An Ancient Peace is subtitled Peacekeeper Book 1 so here’s hoping there’s more to come; the novel finishes with a nice concluding episode indicating that there is. Huff is a great writer and this is a great piece of science fiction. Using an assemble cast, it can be difficult to really nail the group dynamic but this author does. Similarly, there’s a lot of information revealed but the pace never slows and the action, when it kicks off, is deftly handled. In short, An Ancient Peace is an engrossing and engaging read.

Review copy
Published by Titan Books

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