In A Peace Divided, being released by Penguin/Random House June 6 2017, author Tanya Huff returns readers to the world or ex Gunnery Sergeant Torin Kerr and her team of ex-marines and civilian specialists who are working to maintain a delicately balanced intergalactic peace. After fighting a war which turned out to be an experiment conducted by a hyper-intelligent, organic plastic, shape shifting, super intelligent being, to see how various sentient beings would react under certain circumstances, most inhabitants of known space are just trying to pull their lives back together.
However, as Kerr and her team have discovered there are those who would rather take advantage of the ensuing confusion for either their own gain or to push forward a personal agenda. While The Confederation is made up of a incredibly mixed bag of species, ranging from humans to what is basically an intelligent giant spider, its not the big happy family the government wants everybody to believe.
There are those among the races who were brought into fight the war, (humans, di’Taykan – who are the most sexually indiscriminate race in known space and are said to have invented flavoured massage oil before the wheel – and the Krai, who can, and will, digest almost anything) who are feeling just a little pissed that no one figured out they were killing and being killed for no good reason and are looking to get a little of their own back. Unfortunately this resentment is also causing people to fall back on old species prejudices and blaming everybody else for their troubles.
With a whole lot of ex military, from both sides of the war, and military hardware now floating around there are plenty of opportunities for folk to create a little havoc. Hence the government creating teams like Kerr’s to try and put out fires before they can become infernos. In this instance a group of scientists doing an initial exploration of an ancient civilization have been taken hostage. Further complicating matters is the fact the hostage takers include both members of the Confederation and their former enemies (The Primacy) in the recently ended war.
In order to keep everybody happy, Kerr and her team are joined by former soldiers from The Primacy on this mission. (Those who’ve read Huff’s previous books about Kerr will recognize the Primacy soldiers from Valor’s Trial) As they’ve already worked together before integration of the two teams of ex-soldiers while not seamless, isn’t difficult.
Anyone who has read any of Huff’s previous books featuring Kerr, both “Confederation Books” and the previous book in this new “Peacekeeper” series , knows of her amazing ability to combine action, plot, and character into a wonderful melange that makes her books a joy to read. On top of this she also manages to seamlessly work in some subtle, relevant, social commentary. Nothing big enough to stand out, but casually so we can notice if we want; same sex partnerships or the lack of help for veterans suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder are just two examples.
This is what separates Huff’s work from others of the military/science fiction genre, there’s more to them than just find the bad guys and kill them. In fact she’s careful to distinguish between those who are genuinely nefarious and those who have been so badly damaged they are desperately hanging onto something familiar in order to retain their sanity. While damaged people can still be dangerous, they aren’t the problem. The problem is those who would exploit them for their own ends.
A Peace Divided is an intelligent, well written, and far more complex book than one would expect from the genre. However, it does live up to expectations readers have of Huff’s work. If you’ve read and enjoyed any of the previous books featuring Torin Kerr you will be thrilled with this one. If you’ve never read one, stop denying yourself the pleasure.