“An Ancient Peace” is the sixth book in the “Confederation” series. It follows straight on from “The Truth of Valor”. Despite this, the publishers have decided to list it as “Peacekeeper #1”. Don’t start here, you’ll miss all the fun. Start at “Valor’s Choice”.
“An Ancient Peace” is an entertaining mix of SF (ex-)Military and treasure hunt thriller, that steps beyond either genre by having a very non-martial view of the world (“kill the enemy” is replaced by “get the job done and get my people out alive”) and an unfailing ability to surprise.
The book bursts into action from the first page, with Torin and her team taking down a para-military hate group called “Human’s First”. It’s a nice action piece made better by Torin’s disdain for a group that thinks “Human’s First” needs an apostrophe.
One of the things I enjoy most about Tanya Huff’s books is her ability to produce a fresh version of a familiar trope. In “An Ancient Peace” she does this at least twice.
The early part of the book is a potential “Rambo” situation – ex-soldiers in peacetime being viewed as too violent and uncivilised to be in the company of those they fought and died to protect – except, in Tanya Huff’s version, the soldiers out-manoeuvre the local authorities, the unprovoked violence doesn’t escalate and yet you’re still left with the certain knowledge that ex-Staff Sergeant Torin Kerr’s small team are significantly more dangerous than Rambo. The situation also raises interesting possible future threads about how the allegedly n0n-violent “Elder Races” will treat the races they recruited to fight on their behalf, now the war is over.
The next trope is a sort of Lara Croft Tomb Raider theme – exploring the booby-trapped tomb of an ancient race in search of treasure, except in Tanya Huff’s version, the searchers are either desperate or mercenary or both and the race that set the traps is depicted as insane.
Once again, Torin Kerr faces hard decisions that have become more morally ambiguous and more personal now that she no longer has the weight of the Corp behind her. The results are quite surprising and kept me guessing right up to the end of the book.
If you’d like to listen to Marguerite Gavin reading “An Ancient Peace”, click on the SoundCloud link below.