Even better than the first in the series (Valor’s Choice). Torin Kerr and her three-species space-going marines lead a team of civilian scientists and a pain-in-the-ass reporter into an enormous alien vessel they call Big Yellow. Their only handicaps are a glory-hound commanding officer the brass want to shine so as to placate his species’ representatives in the galactic Parliament, and, uh, oh yes, the enemy ship that unexpectedly shows up, loaded and ready for bear. Turns out they’ve got people on board Big Yellow, too. It’s like a haunted house story, only, you know, on a big, sentient banana with transmogriphic powers, with nothing but the cheery presence of absolute zero and fighters exchanging missile fire on the other side of the hatch.
The dialogue is what makes this series so much fun to read, both the spoken and the unspoken. On their shuttle detaching to make the initial journey to Big Yellow:
“Torin had long suspected the Navy pilots of feeding sound effects through the comm system. In a universe that included furniture in a tube and spreadable broccoli there was no other reason for the clamps to sound as though they’d been broken off rather than released.”
Spreadable broccoli puts you right down in the place and the time, doesn’t it? Whether you want to be there or not.
Note: I have read all five of the Torin Kerr books now (Valor’s Choice, The Better Part of Valor, The Heart of Valor, Valor’s Trial, The Truth of Valor, and they are all uniformly excellent. Huff’s characters talk like you’d think Marines would talk and her alien voices are just as good if not even better. The alien reporter character, Presit a Tur de Valentrisy, is one of the all-time great comic voices, and her, uh, friendship with Torin plays out in must-read dialogue:
You are still being recorded.
I are not giving a damn.
A must-read series, no lie, with the sixth (Peacekeeper) due out sometime soon, I hope. Go get ’em.