Gail Carriger Reviews Valor’s Choice & Courting Magic (Miss Carriger Recommends)

So my recent book tour, Gentle Reader, involved a great number of 1-2 hour plane rides. This, in Gail’s world, means… READING. I had a number of things on my docket: a few ARCs I’d been slipped on the down low, not to mention March’s book pick… Valor’s Choice.

I hope you all enjoyed this novel and manged to get hold of it. There is a print version but only as an omnibus of the first two, A Confederation of Valor, and because I mainly read ebooks now, I didn’t notice, so I didn’t post about this when I picked the book. My bad. I did say something in the Goodreads discussion.

Anyway, if you liked the Paradox series you should enjoy Torin’s adventures, although they are a little more violent being as they take place during galactic wartime. The Valor series is military space opera written by a woman who really knows what she’s writing about. Marvelous characters and alien races, extremely snappy dialogue, an endearing heroine, and lots of fast action. I am a particular fan of this book (the first in the series) because it opens with a post sex pheromone hangover and ends with a battle based one of the early moments in the Zulu War (late 1870s).

“He laughed at her overly indignant reaction, and she carried the sound away with her, adding it to her armaments.”

Torin Kerr is one of my favorite main characters ever written. “She’ll build a ship and kick it off this planet with her own dainty foot before she lets us rot here.” She is tough without being mannish, hard to write (particularly from authors who themselves have no experience being a woman in a position of authority). I’ve found that many authors cop out by having their female bad-ass swear within the first 10 pages. Not that I object to swearing, I just think its weak characterization when a writer resorts to it as way of showing how “cool” and “down” and “tough” a warrior woman is. Yawn. Anyway, Huff never does this. Torin is a professional soldier without being abrasive, at times she is even kind – in a gruff military way.

“What was that, Staff?” 
“Just talking to myself, Ressk.” 
“The only way you can have an intelligent conversation?” 
“Don’t step on my lines, Private,” she advised with mock severity. “It makes me cranky.

Also Huff’s universe for the Confederation series is such fun. I love the idea of elder races that have basically forgotten how to fight, so they must recruit younger ones to do their dirty work, as a kind of member mercenary force. Reminds me of the 8th-12th century Caliphates with their Turkish garrisons, one entirely separate culture fighting for and supporting the older’s stuck up status quo. And yet Huff writes the younger races as intrinsically vicious and rather cheerful about violence. She says: the elders “convinced humanity to throw its military apparatus into space where they took to interstellar warfare the way the H’san took to cheese.” Also I love the other two young races: from the way they are described to the ideas behind their cultures to their interaction with humans.

“Military structure inadvertently encouraged gossip and di’Taykans practically considered it a competitive sport.”

Which brings me nicely to my favorite section in this book, possibly one of my very favorite quotes ever written.

“There are those who say you can judge a civilization by how much respect they grant their dead.”
“Really?” He pulled a handful of soft fruit off a vine as big around as his wrist, wiped off a few splatters of mud against his vest, gave them a thorough sniff, and popped them into his mouth. 
“If the dead has a large family, an internment on Dornage can take many days.” 
Kleers took another three steps and reached for some more fruit.
“Can’t say as I’m surprised.”
“How do the Krai treat their dead?” 
“We cook them and we eat them.” 
Thinks Deeply walked in silence for a moment or two. “And that is a sign of respect?” she asked at last. 

“Well, I’d have to say that depends on who does the cooking.”


And then there are supporting characters. Much as I love them I have learned with Huff not to get too attached because she writes war unflinchingly and people will die. Still, it is hard to resist when she writes about them with such affection.

“Wonder why he’s looking so cheerful.”
“He’s a morning person. It’s one of his least endearing traits.”
“The clips are interchangeable, Haysole. Or were you paying less attention in basic than I thought?” 
He grinned up at her, and it almost masked the gray shadows on his face.
“I don’t think that’s possible, Staff.”

“I don’t think so, Private. We need that latrine dug before the Silsviss attack, and you,” she added wryly, “are a galaxy-class master in the fine art of looking like you’re working when you’re really doing piss all.”
“It’s a skill,” he admitted smugly, looking pleased with himself.

After finishing Valor’s Choice I purchased the second one, The Better Part of Valor to take with me to New Zealand and reread there. I may have also read the third one, but my memory is getting worse and worse in my old age. It looks like there are 6 in the series (3. The Heart of Valor, 4. Valor’s Trial, and 5. The Truth of Valor) with 6. Peacemaker possibly due out this year (that’s Goodreads rumor, so who knows). I’ve no idea if Peacemaker is the last in the series or not. Because of this lack of information, I’m not sure how devoted I am to Torin to be able to resist fearing the unknown. I will buy the rest of the series, but I may wait to read them until I know what Huff’s endgame is. I get very nervous when I don’t know if an author is going to stick the landing, delay the finish, or fade away. Fingers crossed.

For a total shift in mode I then read Courting Magic: A Kat, Incorrigible Novella which I LOVED.  I picked Kat, Incorrigible for the book group a little while ago and liked it very much but I think it was just a little too young for me. There was also some discussion on the book group over the shifting tone. However, Kat’s character was nothing but a delight regardless, and this novella is the perfect age update, giving Kat her own romance.

 “No!” he muttered. “Don’t be stupid. I’d never dishonor you.” 
“Well, I thought not.” There was a tiny, inconsequential quiver of disappointment in my belly, but I did my best to ignore it. “So—” 
“But that doesn’t mean I don’t want to,” he muttered.

See? See! How could you not want to read that? The tone is spot on, perhaps a little melodramatic but that’s what I want from someone Kat’s age in an Austen setting as a romantic novella.

There was nothing to be done, so nothing was amiss, and I would simply have to accustom myself to the gaping hole inside me where everything bright and colorful and right had ever been.

I adored the love interest so much, I decided I had to go buy the rest of the Kat, Incorrigible series to read the story of how Kat and Alexander met.

“I remember every moment I spent with you five years ago,” he murmured, so softly I could barely hear him. “How could I forget? I spent the last five years waiting to meet you again.”

Not to mention some feels for a few of the new side characters who had hinted at back story that I now really want to know more about.

“Fortunately for you,” I said brightly, “from the way she’s already been surrounded by suitors, I expect she’ll have a marriage proposal within a week. Then she won’t be your concern at all, will she?”
The Marquess let out a noise that sounded like a muffled roar.

Anyways, I think you could read and enjoy this novella even if you hadn’t read the series, it is a blast of fresh air, pure romantic joy.

While I am away, the group is reading Jasper Fforde whose first novel is a work of comedic genius. Trust me, it is.

{Gail’s read along for April is The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde}


Your Moment of Parasol . . .

via   cupofeternitea tumblr

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

Ladies at Tea  facesofthevictorianera tumblr

Your Tisane of Smart . . .
This Is What A Cup Of Tea Looks Like In 22 Different Countries

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  
Red Ink In the Trenches: A Copyeditor’s Perspective

Book News:
Wicked Little Pixie says of Prudence:

“Gail Carriger is also great at developing characters. None of her characters in Prudence come across as two-dimensional or as filler characters. Each one has a well-rounded personality, with qualities that make them very genuine.”

Quote of the Day:

“And I was engaged in weaving him what Miss Bethel refers to as The Usual Tissue of Pleasing Lies. You can hear the capital letters when she says it.”

~ Karen Memory by Elizabeth Bear

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  1. Crystal Yoner said:

    I got an e-copy of Valor's Choice from the library, read it in about 6 hours, and loved it so much I bought the omnibus this weekend (along with Prudence, and then got Karen Memory from the actual library; I have a lot of reading to do lol) 😀 The quote above about respecting one's dead was one of my favourite moments in the book. I adored Torin for the same reasons. I can't wait to get into the other books. I'd never read anything of hers before, though I did discover that I purchased another book some months ago that I forgot about, and I'm really looking forward to reading more 😀

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