Tina S Beier
Book Review: A Peace Divided
by Tanya Huff
Torin Kerr's newest mission is to rescue hostages from a situation on an archeology dig. But there is a twist - the hostage takers are looking for a hidden weapon on the planet and Torin must work with her old enemies, aliens of the Primacy, to prevent this from happening. This iteration of the series follows a similar format to previous novels. Torin and her team kick ass and take names in a hostile environment. While it was exciting and fun, it was a little lackluster.
There are some heavy-handed themes about bigotry, gun-control* and veteran care. While I appreciate the effort to include real-world issues in the novel, they weren't subtle enough to not weigh down on the plot.
All the favorites are back, but having “known” these characters for several books now, I can’t tell you any of their hobbies or much about their pasts. I was hoping that each book would give a little more detail on one of the characters, like how each species gets a focus in the first few of the Confederation books. Unfortunately this is not the case.
There was also a distinct lack of banter. Most of it in previous novels comes from the Di’Tayken, so it’s possible this was missing because there were not a lot of them this novel. Alamber jumps in now and then, but I was missing weird alien sex jokes.
My biggest letdown was how flat the Primacy aliens fell. We are given almost no description as to what they look like. We haven’t seen them since Valor's Trial, but we aren’t given a refresher. Compared to the Confederation species, which are very well-drawn with unique societal traits, the Primacy are bland. We learn nothing about the Druin society and very little about the Polint and Artek. I did enjoy the banter between the two Artek, but the other Primacy characters blended together.
There are some great sections of the novel. The narrative around Arniz, the Niln, was a fresh take due to her non-combat role and her “old lady” antics. She was both amusing and a source of emotional resonance.
There was a part with a toddler wanting to hug the Artek (which look like giant bugs), which was super cute and quite funny. There are other little episodes, usually in the form of comedic relief, which were a joy.
Unfortunately, the plot felt drawn-out and the motivations of the antagonists were flimsy. While I did understand what they were doing on the planet, there was a discernible lack of tension.
Overall, I did enjoy reading it, but it was not my favorite in the series.
*the arguments around gun control aside, it did not make sense to me that Torin's team would have no idea what a pistol is. Handguns and firearms of all types are so ingrained in our collective culture I don't think we could have "forgotten" about them in a few hundred years. Did we forget about trebuchets and siege towers? Clearly not. I also always assumed Torin had a handgun with her as a backup but had no cause to use it. I'm fairly certain military personnel today have a sidearm for closer range combat, and because you go through the ammo in an assault rifle extremely quickly.