Back in January 2015, I wrote an article about how to read the Halo books in a chronological order. 3 years later, I wanted to put out a revised article because we have seen 10 more books come out in that time span.
Currently, there are 24 Halo books on the market. Out of the 24, 20 are novels, another 2 are collections of short stories and 2 are digital only media. Saint’s Testimony is a digital short story and Shadow of Intent is a digital novella. Smoke and Shadow by Kelly Gay was also digitally released in November 2016 but the paper version (My version!) just came out in January 2018. It is a novella as well and part of it was already printed in the short story collection ‚Fractures‘. The Halo books have 2 trilogies to offer. One being the Forerunner Saga by Greg the Bear and the Kilo-Five trilogy by Karen Traviss.
In this article, I will not include the comics and games. Just so you know. It is wholly about da books.
The first 3 Halo books were published by Del Rey (now Unbound Worlds), another 10 by Tor and the rest was and is published by Gallery Books. 343 announced that they partnered up with Gallery Books in 2014. Tor was the publisher from 2006 until 2014.
But let’s head into the interesting part. How do I start the „project Halo books“? How can I become a Halo lore expert? Well, I have the answer…
First off, you begin your journey with a trilogy. Not just one trilogy. THE trilogy. The Forerunner Saga by Greg Bear. No other Halo book compares to this Saga. It is completely different to the rest of them. But that is a good thing. Not because I don’t like the other Halo books. On the contrary, I love almost all of them. But because it suits the topic. After all, the Greg Bear books are about the Forerunners. A species we had next to no knowledge about before the books came out. Because it is such a mysterious topic, the writing style of Greg Bear suits it so well. It is strange and sometimes cryptic but it makes sense to me because we read about this ancient time and this ancient race full of mystery. But yes, to be brutally honest with you, you most likely will have a tough time reading the books. From my experience, it is totally worth it though. I will link you to 2 podcasts who have in-depth discussions about the books and that I highly recommend once you finished the books. It helped me a lot to fully understand everything.
Podcast Evolved – Cryptum
Podcast Evolved – Primordium
Podcast Evolved – Silentium
Halo Conversationalists – Cryptum
Halo Conversationalists – Primordium
Halo Conversationalists – Silentium
So now to the actual list of Halo books in chronological order:
- Cryptum by Greg Bear
- Primordium by Greg Bear
- Silentium by Greg Bear
- Broken Circle by John Shirley
- Contact Harvest by Joseph Staten
- The Cole Protocol by Tobias Buckell
- The Fall of Reach by Eric Nylund
- The Flood by William C. Dietz
- First Strike by Eric Nylund
- Ghost of Onyx by Eric Nylund
- Glasslands by Karen Traviss
- The Thursday War by Karen Traviss
- Mortal Dictata by Karen Traviss
- Last Light by Troy Denning
- Retribution by Troy Denning
- Shadow of Intent by Joseph Staten
- Hunters in the Dark by Peter David
- Smoke and Shadow by Kelly Gay
- New Blood by Matt Forbeck
- Saint’s Testimony by Frank O’Connor
- Envoy by Tobias Buckell
- Legacy of Onyx by Matt Forbeck
Because the collections of short stories ‚Evolutions‘ and ‚Fractures‘ have such a widespread timeline due to the many various stories in it, I think it is safe to say: read them whenever you like.
To conclude this article I just want to say, that there are of course many ways to go about the Halo lore business. My list does not claim to be completely correct when it comes to the chronological order of the events. But it makes sense to me. There are a lot of books where timelines collide with other books or there is one section in a book that has a retrospect. If you were to be a smart ass you could argue that you had to read said retrospect and then go to the book that fits in that timeline. Only after that, you could go back to the book with the retrospect. I don’t know if I make any sense at all now. I hope so.
My best advice at the end of this: Have fun with the books! It is a glorious thing to learn more about this amazing Universe. And remember to support your local bookstores. Go, be sociable before returning to your Nerdcave with a grand old Halo book.