Archives: halo books

Ran – Ran – Random

Halo books_Fotu_December

As you can see in the picture above I have a lot of Halo books. I am still missing a few though, so just now I ordered the last missing Halo novels online: Envoy, Retribution, New Blood, Legacy of Onyx and Smoke and Shadow (pre-ordered).

And since I am an old school kinda gal, I am still missing the digital-only novels/short story Saints Testimony and Shadow of Intent. I will have to cave in and try to read them on a screen eventually.

After completing the Kilo-Five trilogy and loving it, I will now grab Troy Denning’s ‚Last Light‘, but only after I finished Tower Lord by Anthony Ryan. It’s part of a series which I really like. I am all about fantasy and sci-fi novels. When I was younger I only read serious books all the time. Sartre and Dostojewski and Kafka and all that good stuff. Franz Kafka is still my absolute favorite but when I got older I discovered the fantasy and sci-fi world and was hooked immediately.

Other than that, I am still very busy with being a mom and trying to game as much as I want to. I am playing Ghost Recon with two of my friends and it’s a blast. We are the worst in this game but I haven’t laughed so hard while gaming since this game. Other than that I am playing Hellblade, Brothers and Uncharted.

Hellblade is incredible and I will write a review on that once I am finished. But it’s hard to find the time. This is a game I only want to play with a headset and at least 2 hours time for myself. As you can imagine this only happens once in a month. But I have no need to hurry this.

Brothers ‚A Tale Of Two Sons‘ is pretty cute but a little tricky due to the gameplay. I get confused with playing 2 characters with 1 controller. It is unique though that is for sure. And the whole design and atmosphere of the game are just magical.

And lastly, I finished Drake’s Fortune. My first Uncharted game ever. I know, I know! Again I am late to the party, but I am so excited for this series. It is such a glorious feeling to know that you have 4 more games to play when you loved the first. And since I am aware of the love for this series within the gaming community I know I am bound for some incredible adventures and gaming greatness.

To conclude this random post, I apologize for not being active enough on this blog. I hope this will change soon, as I have some plans on how I want this blog to change in the future. Let’s just say it’s going to be less Halo and more gaming and geek topics. At least until Halo 6 comes out.

 

 

Book Review – The Kilo Five Trilogy by Karen Traviss

While reading the Kilo-Five trilogy all I could think of was, why haven’t I read this earlier? Halo 4 would have made better, if still not complete, sense and because it’s such a well written and satisfying read. So, naturally, I thought to myself, why not write a big ass article that no one will ever read? I love doing that!

Kilo-Five Trilogy_Fotu

Warning: If you haven’t read any of the books and plan on doing so, I would recommend that you don’t read this article now, but rather after. There will be Spoilers. In case you are not interested in reading them, this article could give you an overview of what the books are about, so that you can shine in the next Halo lore discussion.

Karen Traviss is an english author who also wrote for the Gears of War and the Star Wars series. She is the first female author to have written a book in the Halo series. The only other woman is Kelly Gay, whose book „Smoke and Shadow“ was released in 2016.

The Kilo-Five trilogy follows a variety of interesting characters, some that we already know, some that we meet for the first time and is set after the Human-Covenant War, directly after the book „Ghost of Onyx“ ends and after the events of Halo: 3.

I will be giving a short overview on Glasslands, the first book because all the characters are introduced here. From then on I will only write about some of the events in the books. So let’s head into it.

Picking off where Ghost of Onyx ends, Glasslands begins with Halsey, Mendez, Olivia and Tom, Fred, Linda, Team Saber and Team Katana (still in Cryo), trapped in the remnants of the collapsed planet Onyx. More specifically, in the Dyson Sphere, a Forerunner shield world which is locked in a slipspace bubble. From the outside, this bubble is a tiny speck within the universe and very hard to find. Inside, everything is normal sized. The Dyson Sphere was built by the Forerunners as kind of a safe house in case the Halo array was fired.

The trapped group searches the sphere for food and rescue. During that search, we witness conversations between Halsey and Mendez who fight over the moral issues of the Spartan program, Halsey’s regrets, and motivation.

The other plot story of this book revolves around Team Kilo-Five which is formed by Parangosky, head of ONI, to deal with the Elites who still oppose a threat to Earth. She fears that mankind is still in danger even after the end of the war and the peace treaty. Kilo-Five consists of Serin Osman, who is a former Spartan II who washed out during the program. Over time she became the successor to Parangosky. Then we have Professor Phillips, a specialist in Sangheili linguistics, three ODST’s (Vaz, Mal, and Devereux), Spartan II Naomi and of course Blackbox aka BB, the AI.

On the Elite side, we get to know several characters who play a big role later in the books. One being Telcam, a religious former shipmaster who is now head of the servants of the Abiding Truth. They believe that Thel Vadam, the Arbiter, has made a bad deal with mankind and has betrayed the beliefs of the Sangheili. He is accompanied by Jul Mdama, who is also against the Arbiter and his plans.

Meanwhile, on the Dyson Sphere, the group discovers a structure. Within it, they find Huragoks that were placed there for maintenance by the Forerunners ages ago. With the help of the Huragoks, they are able to make contact with the outside world.

This is where Glasslands ends.

The Thursday War is the book where the character of Jul Mdama is built. A character that is killed off in the first campaign chapter of Halo 5. I will write about that later. Jul ends up on the Dyson Sphere after being captured by Naomi during a weapons drop with Telcam. The UNSC is giving weapons to the Abiding Truth to feed a civil war within Sangheilios. Their plan is to keep the Sangheili distracted with a civil war so that they are unable to concentrate on getting back to their former technological power. During this book, Jul tries to escape the Sphere which is now called Trevelyan in honor of Kurt Trevelyan, Spartan II, who gave is life at the end of Ghost of Onyx. Eventually, Jul succeeds with the forced help of the Huragok Prone to Drift. Jul also learns on Trevelyan that the Ur-Didact may still be alive on Requiem. What struck me the most here was how much empathy I developed towards Jul. So far my opinion about Elites was ‚kill those bastards‘. After reading The Thursday War I will never encounter an Elite without considering that he or she has a family as well. Jul’s thoughts about humanity and what is right and wrong is very interesting. In this book, we also learn more about Jul’s wife Raia, a fearless woman who joins Telcam in search of Jul. This is very uncommon in Sangheili society. Women are usually in charge of the keeps and don’t go out with the warriors.

In Mortal Dictada, the last book of the trilogy, we experience the tremendous pain of the parents that lost a child to ONI and the Spartan program. Karen Traviss tells us the story of Staffan Sentzke, the father of Spartan Naomi. She was, as we all know, abducted when she was 6 years old.

No other book or story has done this so far. I mean, tell the story from the perspective of the parents who lost a child. At least as far as I know. The book starts with exactly the moment when Staffan and his wife are waiting for their daughter to get back home. To witness this horrible tragedy told from Staffan’s point of view is really intense: From carelessness, minding his own business, to wondering where his daughter is, to worrying and trying to explain her absence, to utter fear, to searching frantically everywhere, to facing his worst fears, to anger, to hopelessness.

All this was felt by every family who fell victim to this crime.

In the end, Staffan can’t go on living like before. His wife commits suicide and the clone is long dead as well. Staffan ends up on Venezia, an Insurrectionist community, that was a scene in the previous books as well. Sentzke gets his hands on a Sangheili battlecruiser, sold to him by a Kig-Yar.

Kilo-Five is sent to Venezia to get hold of the cruiser and to keep Staffan from taking revenge on Earth. Vaz and Mal try to infiltrate Staffans organization and while they first succeed they end up being captured. After Naomi frees them, she is confronted with her father who was with Vaz at that time. He is captured and Naomi and he meet for the first time. This is a very tough scene as well. You can relate so much to both their struggles and feelings. It is really well written.

From then on the events spiral towards the big final which takes place on the Covenant battlecruiser.

Overall:

The trilogy gives so much insight to the motivation of characters that we didn’t know much of before. It addresses the big elephant in the room of the Halo franchise: How the fuck is it ok to abduct children, replace them with clones and make them into war machines?

I wished I had read the trilogy before playing Halo 4 because then I would have been able to understand the plot. The UNSC Infinity, for example, is first introduced in the books and I loved that part so much. The grandness of this ship is described so well. And of course Jul Mdama. When he was killed off in the first campaign chapter of Halo 4, I had no clue about him. Imagine! What a great character he was! They could have done so much more with him and if they had to kill him off, at least, have the decency to give him a grand battle and some final words or something. Instead, he was just mindlessly slaughtered by damn Locke. Or was it Locke? I don’t even remember.

Karen Traviss brings a female aspect to the series. She gives the reader more in-depth studies of character, therefore creating more empathy in the reader. She shows the emotional sides and sheds light on the moral questions in the Halo universe. As a female reader, I could very much relate to this style. It was a welcoming change and a different read. The character of Raia was also very interesting. So far I did not know much about female Sangheili. That changed with the trilogy.

The evolution of the Kilo-Five Team is another fascinating part. From a band of strangers to close friends who rely on each other and value each other very much. The quirky BB adds so much wit and humor, he really is a bad ass character. And as we have seen in Cortana, as well as in BB now, is the confusion that is created for the AI’s when they are in close contact with humans. Artificial intelligence meets human emotions. BB often wonders about said emotions and sometimes feels like he can almost feel it himself. That is what we know of Cortana too.

I was also impressed by the picture Traviss drew of Sangheilios. The different factions after the peace treaty and what the war did to this proud warrior species. The fact that the Sangheili were thrown back to a rural time where they had to farm their own fields because the Unggoy/Jiralhanae were mostly gone. I would love to read a whole book about the everyday life of all the species in the Halo franchise. For real.

Now to conclude my review I challenge myself to pick only 5 words to describe what the Kilo-Five trilogy is about: Friendship, Morals, Ethics, Loss, and Love.

Halo: Retribution

Although I am still finishing the Karen Traviss trilogy right now, I am already hyped for the next installment of Halo lore. On August 29th Troy Denning’s Halo: Retribution will release. The cover art alone is just beautiful!

Fotu_Halo:Retribution_Cover

Here is the official summary:

December 2553. Less than a year after the end of the Covenant War, a string of violent incidents continues to threaten the tenuous peace in human-held space, culminating in the assassination of UNSC fleet admiral Graselyn Tuwa and the abduction of her family. It is a provocation so outrageous that the Office of Naval Intelligence must retaliate swiftly and ferociously—but only after its operatives identify her killer and rescue the hostages.

This mission will be the first for homicide-detective-turned-ONI-operative Veta Lopis and her young team of Spartan-IIIs, and something feels wrong from the start. The obvious suspect is an infamous Brute who leads the Keepers of the One Freedom, an ex-Covenant splinter group in fierce opposition to the UNSC. But Lopis and her team soon realize that the truth is much more insidious than they could ever have imagined, and with Fred-104, Kelly-087, and Linda-058 of Blue Team for combat support, they must stop a plan hatched in the bowels of the secret research station Argent Moon — a plan so sinister it could destroy all those still reeling from thirty years of intergalactic conflict…

I haven’t read Last Light by Troy Denning yet, but this seems to be kind of a successor to it. At least some of the same characters will appear. Most importantly Veta Lopis. I am really looking forward to her character and story and I will definitely read Last Light before Retribution.

The story is set in pre Halo 4 times, which is a little sad, because I am dying to read more Halo 5 era stuff like the one story in Fractures. Which one was that? The one where BB and Osman land on this secretive planet? Gosh, excuse my memory. It is the worst.

Hah! I just found out. It is Rossbach’s World. I really liked that story! And I would love to see more lore from this era. But that is a tricky part for 343 I guess. I don’t think they will make the same mistake as they did with Halo 4 and the Karen Traviss trilogy. Telling the complete pre story of the game in the books and the people who haven’t read that and only played the game (like me, back then) are completely lost. I don’t think that they would do that again, so I don’t expect much or any Halo 5 sequel lore soon.

But 343 could always extend the very weak plot of Halo 5: Guardians couldn’t they? They definitely could.

How to read the Halo books…

…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. 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 follow 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 let’s you understand the games even more. You should definitely re play 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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