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Following the cessation of hostilities between the Confederation and the Others, an uneasy peace has settled across the galaxy. Unknown, and hidden, a group is trying to unearth H’san artefacts: weapons of such power that they could spark another intergalactic war. Torin Kerr and her band of mercenaries take on work that official channels cannot and they are engaged by the military to find out who is digging up artefacts and shut them down...
An Ancient Peace: A Peacekeeper Novel (2015. 337 pages) is a military science fantasy book by Tanya Huff.
This book has a massive, and for me a fatal, flaw. Subtitled Peacekeeper: Book 1, one would expect that this is the beginning of some new series, in fact it is book six in the Confederation Series and the world building is already well established. Now it’s not unusual to get random books sent which do not represent the first book, at that juncture your looking at how well does this book stand or fall as a stand-alone novel.
Another aspect of any novel is that if you don’t grab you reader in the first couple of paragraphs, they are unlikely to commit to reading the rest of your book. An Ancient Peace opens with an undercover operation and a bit of a firefight. Sounds exciting, but as a first time reader I have no idea who these people are and no frame of reference for why they should be doing this.
Huff writes as if all this information should already be known and no doubt for fans who have read the previous five novels this seems like an interesting, dynamic opening. Once past this sequence the next part spends much time with Torin Kerr soul searching about her past losses, losses which would be unknown to a first time reader. Unfortunately, my overall feeling was that I knew little about the characters and by this point in the book cared less.
Had I not been reviewing the book I would have stopped at this juncture. However, ploughing on Huff has delivered a fast paced military science fantasy book.
The story is told from two perspectives. Firstly we have Torin and her crew. Here Huff is able to show the affection that these people feel for each other, both in Torin’s concern for her crew, collectively and individually but also the humour they share, indicative of their long association. Secondly, we get the grave robbers, once again the characters are well drawn, but it would be unwise to care too much about them as you know Torin will win.
The universe that Huff has created bares more than a passing resemblance to that in Babylon 5. You have older races which have turned their backs on actually, personally fighting a war preferring to do it by proxy through the younger races. Torin and her crew seem to find the dig site way too easily, at which point the book turns into a hunt through caverns.
Overall it’s not a bad book, on the plus side it is a fast paced, well written adventure, but it never really offers anything other than entertainment and the choice to start in the middle of an event killed the rest of the book for me. Certainly one for fans of the series, but do not expect to get the best out of Huff if you start with this novel.