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An Ancient Peace
by Tanya Huff
Genres: Military Science Fiction
First in the Peacekeeper military science fiction series and sixth in Huff’s Confederation series. The focus is on the ill-assorted crew under Gunnery Sergeant Torin Kerr.
Huff is using An Ancient Peace to push Torin, Craig, and their team onto a new career path. It’s one of the longest set-ups I’ve ever read, and Huff does a great job of it. It takes a bit before I got caught up on the backstory, and I’m still missing some bits, but Huff’s storytelling is as enthralling as ever.
The world of Torin, Craig, and company is the weirdest world — those di’Taykan crack me up. They serve up so much innuendo, they make me look like a piker.
“My yasha told me that when you remember someone they never really die.’
‘Yeah?’ Werst snorted. ‘My jernil said my jernine repeated on her for days.'”
The Krais attitude about food also provides plenty of room for laughter.
Okay, okay, it’s not just the di’Taykan and Krai who are funny. It’s also a good indication that no matter your species, we all pretty much share a common sense of humor:
“‘You need to depress it,’ he repeated.
‘Tell it it’ll never amount to shit,’ Wenn snickered.
‘Tell it it’s weak,’ Keo laughed, flexing her exoskeleton.
‘Tell it it’s all alone,’ Nadayki said, voice and hair flat. ‘It’ll always be all alone.'”
That begins to tell you about the Confederation. There’s so much more with the relationships between the Elder, Mid, and Younger Races; the creative cultures Huff has dreamt up; the plastic aliens that were all over the Confederation series; and, how similar we are in our political maneuverings, emotions, and prejudices.
It was fascinating how much information the team picked up in Abalae just by wandering around and observing, and yes, hitting the bars, *grin*. They also uncover how far behind they are technologically, which only raises more questions about the Elder Races.
Hmmm, I am not going any further with that speculation about coincidences…such as Presit showing up when she did. It seems like a loose thread. That or Huff is doing some foreshadowing.
In spite of most of what the H’san do and set up with their defenses, I do appreciate that they built things to last…wow…sure wish we could get half of our “stuff” to last twenty years let alone millennia. That said, I gotta agree with Broadbent about that “epitaph” on the H’san plinth: “We stand with you until we are needed.” Yep, I think it means they run off if they come under attack too.
“‘I’d have died a hero. Isn’t that a Marine thing?’
‘Dead heroes are a Navy thing,’ Werst growled, ‘Marines prefer live heroes; none of that single-use shit.'”
I certainly wouldn’t want to go to battle under Sujuno’s direction or expect any aid from her. Nor does she like herself. Can’t blame her. I don’t like her either. She has a lousy attitude toward anyone not her.
At the end, I can’t tell if they’re leaning toward taking Nadaykin on or not as part of the team. And this type of confusion does crop up at different times within An Ancient Peace. The “confusion” over ranks for several characters (and at least one character whose name kept dropping and adding an n was annoying. I do wish someone had paid more attention to this in the proofreading process.
The Younger races are barely tolerated by the Elder races, and the thieves hunting for H’san weapons will only increase the prejudice and incite war. Again.
It’s up to Tori and her crew to find the grave robbers and put them down without anyone knowing.
The very famous ex-Gunnery Sergeant Torin Kerr is known for bringing her people back alive. Craig Ryder is a salvage operator who got caught up in action with Tori. Now they’re a couple, and they use Craig’s ship, the Promise, to move around. Binit Mashana had been a sniper in the Corps. Alamber, a very young career criminal, is di’Taykan and damaged. His emotional growth was stunted by his lover and the situations she dragged him into. His computer skills, however, are beyond great. Ressk, ex-Corps with mad computer skills, and Master Corporal Werst, a former Marine with unarmed combat skills like Tori, are a bonded Krai couple.
“Alamber grinned. ‘I like feeling naked. I like feeling you na…’
‘And that’s why we keep the guns locked up.'”
Tinartin Hur Tain is a Valinstrisy ship, Presit’s family name. Presit a Tur durValinstrisy is a dogged Katrien reporter who is friends with Torin and Craig, especially if that can lead to a story. A strectasin is the head of the matriarchal clan; an armenai is either a mother or grandmother. I couldn’t tell from the context.
…the space station where the Justice Department is located. Justice hires on Tori and her crew to clean up messes. One of four such crews. I get the impression that Justice is comprised of Elder Races?? The Wardens seem to be the police side. Dr. Major Ito is the psychologist Tori has to see. Master Corporal Tresk is Dr. Ito’s current admin.
The military side includes General Morris, a two-star, is Torin’s personal pain;
Lieutenant Captain Stedrin is his aide. Lieutenant di’Miru Harym escorts the team to a military intelligence meeting with Major Alie, a di”Taykan, and Colonel Hurrs, a Krai.
Sutton’s is a bar on the station where Gunny will always be welcome; Elliot Westbrook is the grandson of the original Sutton owners.
Lanh Ng, the only Human Justice, is based in MidSector Seven at Berbar station. The Dornagain clerks there have some really odd names: Meticulously Records Every Detail and One Who Examines the Facts and Draws Conclusions are two of them.
A benny is a BN-4, a tight-band laser with a molecular disruption charge. The Marine’s weapon of choice where a projectile was a bad idea.
Di’Taykan are in almost constant need of touch and sex is definitely touch. Their hair looks like colorful tubes, but are protein-based sensors whose motion gives a fairly good indication of a di’Taykan’s emotional state. Qui seems to be when a di’Taykan reaches adulthood or the di’Taykan equivalent. I think thytrins are family members.
“When the di”Taykans discovered that their pheromones worked on all mammals and some nonmammals more powerfully than they worked on other di”Taykan, they took that to mean the universe intended them to have sex with most of known space.”
Krai have all-encompassing appetites, i.e., they’ll eat absolutely anything, although they do consider Humans particularly tasty.
Susumi space is a mathematical construct that causes ships to define their own reality?? So, I suspect that a Susumi engine is one that helps you traverse through said space.
The Mid Races include…
…Rakva who give birth via eggs, Niln, and Katrien who look like beavers.
The Elder Races include the…
…H’san, the Eldest of the Elder Races who founded the Confederation, and they dragged the Younger Races in to fight the war against the Primacy because they no longer knew how or wanted to fight. Zegazt is a H’san title. Other Elder Races include Ciptran and Mictok (giant spiders).
…a Trun planet. Everyone refers to the Trun as zi and zir, as if it means s/he, him / her, I, and ?? Bufush sells used goods over and under the table.
The Mercenaries are…
…under contract to find the H’san weapons. Jamers a Tur fenYenstrakin is Katrien, and a dependent of Presit’s house. Jamers is doing the driving. Major Sujuno di’Kail, the leader of this expedition, is a repressed di”Taykan obsessed with registering a progenitor so she can resurrect her family name. She really hates Torin. Professor Dion is a self-proclaimed expert on all things H’san. Lieutenant Verr is a Krai Marine pilot and ex-lieutenant. Wen / Wenn, a Krai with an obsessive love for explosives, is her bonded. Sergeant Yasha Toporov is not very clever even if he is solid and dependable. Nadayki “Pirate” di’Berinango is di’Taykan and touch-deprived. The Human Corporal? Private? Broadbent does well at following orders. Corporal Katherine McKinnon, formerly Corps of Engineers and the team medic, was first into the dust-filled room. Lieutenant? Private? Timin di”geirah was thinking of signing on to Sujuno’s new house. Corporal Srey Keo is a heavy gunner with an excellent exoskeleton.
Human’s First is…
…a hate group against all other species. Yeah, Tori has a lot to say about that misplaced apostrophe, lol. Of course, they’ll kill Humans if they see a need to. Interpret this widely… Richard Varga is a spokesman for them and typical of politicians who “know” all about war without ever having served.
The Cover and Title
The cover is a haze of purplish pink reminiscent of the H’san halls which Gunnery Sergeant Kerr, hefting one big gun, clad in a black T and pants — her combat “suit” — with a belt full of ammunition and more, and her hair cropped to curl under at her shoulders, is preparing to storm the necropolis. It’s Werst behind her with his own suit and bigger gun and their crashed shuttle behind them against a tangled mass of jungle.
The title is an anomaly. For the H’san went peaceful millennia ago, An Ancient Peace, and yet, they will keep their weapons.