So, while I was revising my mss. recently, I re-read the Honor Harrington series. You know, David Weber’s nine-book military SF series. (I think it’s more than nine, now, but the original series was nine books.)
And then by chance, when I was done with the first ms. and taking a brief break before starting to work with the second, the books I happened to take off the TBR pile were Tanya Huff’s VALOR’S CHOICE and THE BETTER PART OF VALOR, which are also military SF. (And then instantly ordered the other three in this series.)
Well. Quite a difference.
I should say, I quite liked the Honor Harrington series the first time I read it. I know it’s a popular series. I still sorta kinda like it, but the reason I was reading it WHILE revising was that those books just aren’t compelling enough to distract me from doing my own work. Part of that is because I’d read them before, but a lot of it is that they just, well, aren’t that compelling. How do Tanya Huff’s books compare? Well, thus:
a) Infodumping. Weber’s series has huge, frequent infodumps. The classic kind where the action is totally stopped while the author forces characters to think about or discuss history and technology in GREAT AND EXHAUSTIVE (and exhausting) DETAIL. Huff doesn’t do this. Her background is worked in much more neatly in much smaller bits. Plus there’s just less of it.
b) Points of view. Weber has many, many points of view, including bad-guy points of view. Huff has one main point of view character. Other characters occasionally get very minimal point-of-view sections, but those sections are truly very minimal. That means it’s much easier to get emotionally attached to Huff’s protagonist because you’re not constantly being dragged off into somebody else’s pov.
c) Writing style. Weber’s style is stiff and clunky. (Sorry! It’s true!) Huff’s prose is smoother and unobtrusive.
d) Dialogue. Weber’s dialogue is stiff, predictable, and kind of boring. Huff’s dialogue sounds much more realistic and much snappier and is just more fun.
e) Believability of background and world and situations that happen in the books: Weber’s world really seems quite plausible. Huff’s . . . not so much.
f) Main character: Weber’s is the commander of the ship. Huff’s is a sergeant. A sergeant’s pov is so cool!
I hadn’t previously read many books by Tanya Huff and the ones I read didn’t stand out for me. These sure do! The four Valor stories I’ve read so far are SO GOOD and very exciting. Every one of them is excellent and I totally recommend ’em if you happen to like military SF. I’m really looking forward to the fifth . . . probably I’ll start it tonight even though I *SHOULD* be figuring out how to get this new laptop to do the things I want it to do.
I’m also moving the rest of Tanya Huff’s books to my pick-these-up-sometime list, ’cause if these are this good, then hey, definitely more interested in seeing what else Huff has been doing.