An Ancient Peace (Peacekeeper #1)
By Tanya Huff
DAW Books (432 pages, $7.99 paperback, $1.99 eBook, October 2016)
I love seeing characters in new contexts. An author creating a character who’s rounded and nuanced and thrilling to read about is something really special – characters like Harry Dresden, Millie Roper, Sira di’Sarc, or Logen Ninefingers. When an author can take that character, spin the world around them and let them thrive in an entirely changed environment – that’s something else entirely, and it’s phenomenal to see done well. Like moving Morgan to Fear the Walking Dead or Worf to Deep Space Nine.
And that’s exactly what Tanya Huff has done with Torin Kerr, formerly the star of the Confederation novels and now one of the central characters to the recently-concluded Peacekeeper trilogy. I’m a little behind the game in that I’ve only just read the first novel, An Ancient Peace, but damn if it wasn’t even more exciting and compelling than the previous Torin adventures I’ve read. In any long-running series, there are bound to be books that stand out and others that comparatively don’t measure up (much as I love The Dresden Files, not all fifteen are actual magic) but so far Huff consistently makes each novel even better than the last.
Why? Because even though the Confederation and Peacekeeper books are SF action/adventure, they’re also very character focused, and it’s the development of these central characters who survived the war with the Primacy that’s so compelling. I particularly enjoy the evolution of Torin and Craig’s relationship, which gets special highlighting throughout Ancient Peace. Not in an overt way, but in the subtle way they always maintain close contact with each other, in as simple a form as having their knees touch sitting at a table or laying a casual hand on the other’s shoulder. If you’ve read the previous Torin novels you can understand why they feel the need for physical contact with each other, but even without that context the tenderness between them is poignant. I have a tendency to root for couples who have been through a lot, and Torin and Craig are among my favorites.
The other piece of this novel that Huff handles really well is the idea of what happens after a galaxy-shattering event like the end of a massive war, specifically what happens to the soldiers who no longer have to fight. The entire point of An Ancient Peace seems to be trying to find your place: Torin and her comrades are doing that, but they’re adversaries are, too. And the fact that their adversaries are former soldiers just like Torin and company, and arguably just as lost without a war to fight, adds a much more complicated dynamic to the story than just “our side vs their side.”
I’m excited to play catch-up and read the next instalment, A Peace Divided. And if you’re ahead of me, the final Torin Kerr novel, The Privilege of Peace, was released last month (I say bittersweetly) and can be checked out here. Happy reading!
An Ottawa teacher by day, Brandon has been published in On Spec, Pulp Literature, Electric Athenaeum, and elsewhere. Preorder Timeshift: Tales of Time, featuring short fiction by him, Cat Rambo, Kevin J. Anderson and more here. You can also follow Brandon at brandoncrilly.wordpress.com or on Twitter: @B_Crilly