Posts Tagged ‘Halo’

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The latest book to join the Halo universe, New Blood by Matt Forbeck, is also the shortest. It details the story of Sergeant Edward Buck in his own words, and his experience as an ODST (Orbital Drop Shock Trooper for those not familiar with Halo lingo) before volunteering for the Spartan-IV Program. The book kind of acts as a little bit of a prologue to Halo 5, where Buck is already a Spartan, but the main focus is to add a little bit of depth to someone who’s really just a background character.

Forbeck does a pretty good job of making Sgt. Buck stand on his own as an interesting character. However, the story is somewhat generic. There’s really nothing new here in terms of the universe. At just under two-hundred pages, this is a short read for the really intense fans of the Halo extended universe. If you’re just a casual fan, I would say leave this one on the shelf.

The Verdict for Halo: New Blood:
3 out of 5

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Until next time,
Stay nerdy, my friends.

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Halo: Last Light takes place almost primarily in an underground cave system on an independent planet known as Gao that has tenuous ties to human insurrectionists. Citizens of the planet have been going missing, and recently, some bodies have shown up in the caves, leading to an investigation, and a chase for whoever might be committing the crimes. The Office of Naval Intelligence has deployed a team of Spartans to the planet to “help” in the investigation, which usually means there’s something pretty serious going on under the surface (no pun intended).

Troy Denning writes somewhat of a rarity in the Halo extended universe. This novel is almost completely self-contained. Yes, it makes references to other characters and events from the universe, but were it not for those, this could have easily been a random sci-fi mystery. However, with that being the case, I still enjoyed this novel a lot. The characters are interesting, the plot is interesting (even if predictable at times), and the story takes us to a place we haven’t been to before.

The plot moves along at a pretty swift pace over the course of a few days, but leaves enough calm and quiet scenes peppered throughout to keep from feeling rushed. We get appearances from a few Spartans (Fred, Linda, and Kelly) that have been in previous novels as well as some new faces from the short-lived Spartan-III program. Gao Inspector Veta Lopis is a feisty new addition to the universe who manages to hold reader interest, despite not being a soldier, let alone a Spartan.

Overall, I enjoyed this novel. It has crisp writing, which makes it one of the better novels to come out of the Halo extended universe since the Kilo Five Trilogy a few years back. It might not add a whole lot to the universe, but realistically, none of the books do at this point. Microsoft and Bungie leave the big stories for the games, but that’s understandable, and it doesn’t mean we can’t still have some fun with books like this.

The Verdict for Halo: Last Light:
4 out of 5

If you like this review, or any of my others, don’t forget to subscribe!

Until next time,
Stay nerdy, my friends.

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One of the more recent entries in the Halo universe, Hunters in the Dark, by Peter David, focuses on a joint task force of Sangheili and humans who make their way to the Ark, the ancient Forerunner structure that assembled the Halos, in order to prevent the rings from firing after they were mysteriously activated once again. The story takes place a couple of years following the end of the Human-Covenant War and shows us the consequences of the actions taken by the characters at the end of the Halo 3 video game.

Peter David tries his best to craft an interesting story here, but at the end of the day it just comes across as bland. Sure there are tremendous consequences at stake if the characters fail, but realistically, it just never seems that interesting. Certain characters are introduced, only to fall by the wayside and be forgotten. The whole effort just seems a little shallow for a novel in such a rich universe of content. It’s missing the heart of Eric Nylund’s Halo novels, and the gravity and personal nature of the Kilo Five trilogy. However, It’s not all bad, there are some genuine moments throughout, and some of the new creatures introduced are pretty interesting, but ultimately, unless you’re a really big fan of the Halo universe, I’d say  you should probably skip out on this one.

The Verdict for Halo: Hunters in the Dark:
3 out of 5

If you like this review, or any of my others, don’t forget to subscribe!

Until next time,
Stay nerdy, my friends.

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Halo: Broken Circle by John Shirley is the 13th original novel in the Halo universe, and it’s the first of those novels to feature and all alien cast.  That’s right, there’s not a single human in this book.  I thought an all Covenant cast would provide an interesting break from tradition, and an even more interesting story, but that wasn’t quite the case.

The book is divided into two main parts.  The first part takes place over 3,000 years before the events of the original game and describes the struggles of the Covenant in its infancy, when it was just the two alien species of San ‘Shyuum (Prophets), and Sangheili (Elites).  The second part acts as a side story to the events of games Halo 2, and Halo 3 in that it describes what was happening behind the scenes to cause the (Spoiler Alert for a game that’s been out more than seven years) collapse of the Covenant.

The first part of the novel is by far the more interesting half of the story, as there is a genuine personal struggle between a Prophet leader, Mken ‘Scre’ah’ben, trying to ensure the future of his species and the newly founded agreement to form an alliance with the Elites, and an Elite rebel, Ussa ‘Xellus, who views an alliance with the Prophets as a form of surrender, which is completely unacceptable in his culture.  These two characters are interesting, engaging, and you understand each of their perspectives and what they’re working toward.  Mken fights his physical battles against Ussa, as well as political battles against members of his own species to make sure that the Covenant is built on a solid foundation.  Ussa just wants a place in the universe where he and his people will be left alone and not be forced to surrender to another species.  As I said, their motives are pretty clear, and it’s not difficult to agree with each of them, which in turn makes it difficult to root for one side or the other, and sometimes those are the best kinds of stories, because the line drawn between the protagonist and the antagonist becomes blurred to the point where it’s impossible to determine who the hero is, and you’re forced to really consider both sides of the argument.  I definitely feel like this is where Shirley’s writing is at its best.  It’s smooth, it moves a a quick pace, and most important of all, it’s entertaining.

The second part of the novel is where we hit a few snags.  This section of the story deals with the descendant of Mken, Zo Resken, about 3.400 years later as he uncovers a dangerous conspiracy within the Covenant.  This part of the story is much shorter, much less detailed, and much less interesting.  None of the characters are quite as fleshed out here, and the whole thing just seems like it was pretty hastily thrown together.  Honestly, a part of me wonders if it was never the intention of the author to include the second half of this story, because it just doesn’t quite fit with the first half, and it’s not written nearly as well.  Not to mention, all promotional material for the novel, including the back cover description, really only stress the emphasis on the early days of the Covenant.  Also, I’m not sure if it was on the part of the editor, the printer, or Shirley himself, but there were a few glaring grammatical errors that I noticed while reading through the back half of Broken Circle.  Which again, leads me to believe this part might have been a little rushed.  Also, Zo brings up a really interesting question very early on in this part of the story regarding why humans were never assimilated into the Covenant, which never even comes close to being answered.  I was actually looking forward to finally finding out, but after it was brought up, that was the end of it.  It was a little frustrating.  In my opinion, I feel like it would have been more prudent to scrap the second half of this book entirely, and focus more on the early stages of the Covenant.

So, with all of that being said, I kind of want to recommend this novel because the first half is pretty good, but honestly, the second half just isn’t worth it to me.  If you can find a copy in a library, or you want to spend an afternoon or two in a book store, pick this one up and read through the first section, but put it back on the shelf before starting the second.

The Verdict for Halo: Broken Circle:
Meh…

Upcoming reviews:
Squarriors #2
East of West, Volume 3: There Is No Us TPB
The October Faction #1-#6
Wytches #1-#6
Avengers: Age Of Ultron (Movie)
Secret Wars #1

Until next time,
Stay nerdy, my friends.