Blood Price by Tanya Huff

Tanya Huff’s Blood Price, the first novel in her Victoria Nelson detective series, was the first book I read this year. There are five novels in the series and they are the basis of the (possibly defunct) Lifetime television series Blood Ties. I read Blood Price because a reading group I was participating in chose it. As an entry in the now innundated urban fantasy/detective genre the book seems sort of lackluster and cliched. I had to remind myself that it was written almost 20 years ago, and what is cliche now was fresh and new then, sort of. Still, while they must have gotten better for a tv series to be based on them, I think I would reccomend P.N. Elrod‘s Vampire Files or Jim Butcher’s Dresden novels over the Blood set for readers looking for a series in this genre.

That said, Huff is at the top of her game in the recently released space Marine saga which starts with Valor’s Choice and continues in The Better Part of Valor; These were combined in an omnibus edition called A Confederation of Valor. Her most recent novel was released in the summer of ’07 and is called The Heart of Valor. * These are really great books. I enjoyed them just because they are good reads. Tight pacing, witty banter, realistic human behavior and interactions set in a compelling space age situation – it’s a win-win situation! If you need more than that to reccomend them, well, I would imagine they would appeal to fans of Star Trek, anyone who enjoyed David Feintuch’s novels, or even readers with an interest in military history or stratagems.

Valor covers the “sci” in the sci-fi/fantasy category, but Ms. Huff has also written a lovely set of fantasy novels. It has been several years since I revisited the “Quarters” books, but I remember them fondly. With as many books as I read a year, this alone is a telling compliment. Sing the Four Quarters is a stand alone novel set in a fantasy realm with a bit of magic, lively elementals called kigh and a music based type of religion which employ them. I’m a big fan of music in general and religion in books. It doesn’t matter what kind, just that having any sort of middle age fantasy setting based upon our own seems to fall flat without acknowledging some sort of religion. I also like it when authors incorporate smells, hunger and bodily functions into their books, so maybe I’m a little weird that way. I digress: my point was that Sing the Four Quarters started with a hook that appealed to me and got better the further I read. Apparently Tanya Huff enjoyed playing in that world, too, as she gave us three more novels exploring it. Fifth Quarter and No Quarter follow the same set of characters in their own intriguing story in the same part of the world as the first novel. The Quartered Sea turns things on it’s ear, taking the reader and a formerly minor charater on a heartwrenching journey into unchartered territory. These have also been collected as two omnibus editions.

All in all, I really do reccomend Tanya Huff as an author, but would direct readers to other works than the Victoria Nelson Blood series.

*In looking up the links for this I discovered that a fourth Valor novel is coming out this summer, as well. Glee! Valor’s Trial just got added to my “to read” list!

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