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How to read the Halo books – Revised Edition

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.

Fotu_Revised Halo books_2

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

and/or

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.

How to read the Halo books…

ATTENTION: There is an updated version of this article. Please click HERE.

…put on a self-knitted wool sweater, pour yourself a steaming cup of chamomile tea, find your favorite spot on the couch…nah, of course, I’m not talking about that kind of how to. When I bought my first Halo books 3 years ago, I wasn’t really sure which book to start first. I had no idea if there was a chronological order or not. All I knew was, that Fall of Reach was the most popular.

Since then I have made some research on how to read them best.

fotu_Halo_books

To date, we have 13 Halo novels. Halo: The Broken Circle written by John Shirley is the newest addition released in November 2014. In this book, we learn more about the time before the Covenant was created. A time were Elites and Prophets were at war over different interpretations on how to use or not use old Forerunner relics.

This topic puts the book at the beginning of the chronological order, right after the Forerunner Saga and before Halo: Contact Harvest.

But first we will start with a list of the books in order of their release date:

  • 2001: The Fall of Reach by Eric Nylund
  • 2003 (Apr): The Flood by William C.Dietz
  • 2003 (Dec): First Strike by Eric Nylund
  • 2006: Ghosts of Onyx by Eric Nylund
  • 2007: Contact Harvest by Joseph Staten
  • 2008: The Cole Protocol by Tobias Buckell
  • 2009: Evolutions (Collection of short stories from Traviss, Nylund, Buckell or Frank O’Connor)
  • 2011(Jan): Cryptum by Greg Bear (Book 1 Forerunner Saga)
  • 2011(Oct): Glasslands by Karen Traviss (Book 1 Kilo Five Trilogy)
  • 2012 (Jan): Primordium by Greg Bear (Book 2 Forerunner Saga)
  • 2012 (Oct): Thursday War by Karen Traviss (Book 2 Kilo Five Trilogy)
  • 2013: Silentium by Greg Bear (Book 3 Forerunner Saga)
  • 2014 (Jan): Mortal Didacta by Karen Traviss (Book 3 Kilo Five Trilogy)
  • 2014 (Nov): The Broken Circle by John Shirley

The first 3 were published by Del Rey, the other ones are all published at Tor Books. The latest one The Broken Circle came out at Gallery Books. If you are a die-hard Halo fan who read all the books when they came out, you’re definitely a very cool person. If you are like me, a die-hard fan as well, but slowly exploring and discovering the Halo universe, you should consider reading or re-reading the novels in the following order:

  1. Cryptum
  2. Primordium
  3. Silentium
  4. The Broken Circle
  5. Contact Harvest
  6. Fall of Reach
  7. Cole Protocol
  8. The Flood
  9. First Strike
  10. Ghosts of Onyx
  11. Glasslands
  12. Thursday War
  13. Mortal Didacta
  14. Evolutions (You can read these short stories at any point really. I choose to read them last.)

That is at least the order I’m going to read it in. Right now I’m at Fall of Reach. Gotta read it again since it’s been too long. And of course, I haven’t read The Broken Circle yet. I still need to purchase that book.

I began with The Forerunner Saga two years ago I think. I was very confused at first. The Saga is very different from the other books and it takes some effort to really get into the story. For me, not being a native speaker and reading it in English was very hard. All the specific terms and what not had my head spinning. But all in all, I enjoyed the books. Gives you a detailed look into the mysterious Forerunners, who of course had their grand appearance in the game Halo 4. So if you want to know more about the Didact and his wife, the Librarian and the story of the Forerunners, you should definitely read the Saga.

I also really enjoyed Contact Harvest, which tells you the story of Sgt. Avery Johnson and the first human encounter with the Covenant on planet Harvest. It gives you insight on the Covenant, on how the different races live together in High Charity. You learn more about the Prophets (How Truth plotted to become the leader), about the Grunts and Jackals and the Brutes. I loved this book!

So you have books like The Flood by William C. Dietz, that follows the story of an actual Halo game. In this case, Halo Combat Evolved. And you have others, most of them, who give you background info on events of one of the games or just general background info on the Halo universe. You learn so much more about the rich and fantastic story of Halo and lets you understand the games even more. You should definitely replay the games if you read all the books. Or! Or! You could be a real crazy nerdy ass nerd and follow this particular chronological order I found here: halodiehards.net

That, of course, includes all the games at the right point. So you would read a few books, some not even completely, play a game in-between and then go back to the books.

I would looooove to talk to one person who has done it that way. I really would. If you are one of them, please leave a comment.

Important: Support your local bookstore. If they don’t have your book in stock they can order it for you. With the following links you can quickly find a local bookstore in the US and UK:

USA

UK

And now pick up a Halo book and start reading!

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