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Halo: The Fall of Reach (Halo (Tor…

Halo: The Fall of Reach (Halo (Tor Paperback)) (edition 2011)

by Eric Nylund

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Title:Halo: The Fall of Reach (Halo (Tor Paperback))
Authors:Eric Nylund
Info:Tor Books (2011), Edition: First Edition, Mass Market Paperback, 448 pages
Collections:To read, Favorites

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Halo: The Fall of Reach by Eric Nylund



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Like I said in my review of the movie based on this book, I've never played any of the Halo games. I got this because I'd heard that the franchise has some good AI-human interaction. Starting with the first Halo novel seemed like the best way to go.

This book covers the origins of the Master Chief, the series protagonist. Dr. Catherine Halsey selected John for the SPARTAN-II program when he was only 6 years old, arranging for him and many other children to be kidnapped from their homes and put through intense training and brutal modifications. It's all hugely unethical, but the end result is something humanity turns out to sorely need: a group of super soldiers known as the Spartans, of which John-117 is the best. Their first mission pits them against human rebels, but it's not long before they find themselves fighting a much deadlier enemy, mysterious aliens known as the Covenant.

I really wanted to love this book, but unfortunately it never really gelled for me. Nylund cared a lot about things I didn't, and didn't care much about things I did. As a result, there was a lot of jargon-heavy space and ground warfare, and not much focus on characters as people with relationships and feelings. Dr. Halsey felt some guilt about what she put the children through, but her focus was on her larger mission. John was upset when his fellow Spartans died, but his focus, too, was on his mission. Character emotions and deaths rarely had much impact. I barely felt a pang when characters I'd basically known for hundreds of pages died, because they were more like collections of combat skills than people.

I also would have liked more and meatier AI scenes. Cortana was the most interesting of the bunch and she, sadly, didn't show up until the last third of the book. I was a little peeved that the very first reasons Cortana gave Dr. Halsey for choosing John as her Spartan all had something to do with his looks and general attractiveness (it was also a bit weird because Cortana was essentially Dr. Halsey, and Dr. Halsey was sort of John's mother figure). However, I still liked her overall. I would have loved to see more of her and John learning to work together.

Which brings me to another issue I had: the pacing was kind of choppy. It felt like Nylund spent ages on John's first few years in the SPARTAN-II program. Then I was briefly confused as the Spartans were sent after rebels who were never mentioned again and who turned out to be little more than combat practice. The Covenant swooped in, and suddenly everything became periods of nothing much, with sprinkles of foreshadowing, followed by long, intense battles I wasn't always able to follow. I didn't mind the ground warfare scenes, but the space scenes were kind of boring, and I'm pretty sure there were more of them.

I was usually able to understand what was going on fairly well, despite not being very familiar with the franchise, but I still felt like there were areas where newbies were at a disadvantage. For example, Nylund's descriptions were terrible. Here's what he said about the Grunts: “They reminded the Chief of biped dogs, not only in appearance, but because their speech – even with the new translation software – was an odd combination of high-pitched squeaks, guttural barks, and growls.” (15) So I googled Grunts and got a bunch of pictures of things that looked like some kind of squat, bipedal cross between a turtle and maybe a shark. Even seeing them in action via YouTube videos didn't make me think “biped dog.”

Although this didn't work for me, I'm not writing off the books just yet. Partly because I have several of them sitting in my TBR, and partly because there's always a chance that a different author or different storyline will give me more of the stuff I'm really interested in. Like more and better AI scenes, for starters. Crossing my fingers.


- 27 pages of related fictional documents - The documents: a transcript of an interrogation of one of the aliens; a Covenant document (the one time in the whole book that we get a peek at the Covenant's perspective); a human transmission relating to the Covenant document; a letter about a Spartan named Ralph who apparently survived the modifications but didn't ultimately cut it as a Spartan; a transmission from Captain Keyes to Vice Admiral N'Singile; communication between two regular soldiers, talking about the Spartans and other stuff; and the Winter Contingency declaration supplemental orders. I'll be honest, this section was confusing for me. The documents didn't seem to be arranged in chronological order, and some of them referred to things that I hadn't recalled being mentioned in the book. A bit of googling told me that Ralph comes up in other Halo-related stuff, but it was weird that a document mentioning him was included in a book in which he didn't have a single significant appearance (or any appearance at all?). As far as the stuff relating to Dr. Halsey went, a bit more googling told me that that would probably have had a lot more meaning for someone with greater familiarity with the games. Or maybe it'll have something to do with the next book, since this one ended with a great big "to be continued."

-Various illustrations - Unfortunately, they were all black-and-white copies of what I'm guessing were originally full-color images. The contrast was terrible, and so the images were usually just giant blobs of darkness.

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.) ( )
  Familiar_Diversions | Oct 6, 2016 |
A fun, combat-detail heavy, read. Not a master piece, but it's still pretty cool. ( )
  Braden_Timss | Jul 17, 2015 |
This is actually a really good book. Good characters, good story and good action. If you like the game this is a bit of fun to go with it ( )
  areadingmachine | Jul 6, 2015 |
This book is a fun extension of the Halo universe for fans of the record breaking game series. The novel is a fast read aimed at teens and tweens. Though the universe lends itself well to world building novels, this story includes little of the overall political/social/economic situation, instead focusing on the Spartans' training and actions. In the earliest sections I found it difficult to suspend my disbelief while reading Halsey's attempts to justify her own actions (especially given Cortana's markedly different response to learning the history of the Spartan project). The early training does not come across as believably as that described in Ender's Game, but the early life of John-117 and his fellow Spartans is skimmed through relatively quickly. The plot of the novel revolves mainly around the early Spartan missions and the battles for Sigmas Octanas and Reach.

The military action is well written; the characters are sympathetic and fun to read. Captain Keys steals the scenes he is in, while the inevitability of many of the military encounters makes the characters and group moving, adding a slight gravity to an otherwise light read. The reader gains significantly more insight into Keyes, Cortana, and John as they see the characters and the universe through a different lens. I am happy to continue reading the series though I enjoyed the novel purely as a popcorn story (it does that well, and it never claims to be anything else). ( )
  Ailinel | May 3, 2015 |
This book follows the first Spartan program and the fall of the Planet Reach, one of the first planets to fall by the Covenant. If your a fan of the Halo series then this book will be a treat for you. It answers a lot of questions that the video game series doesn't answer. ( )
  Remy_Ferrell | Nov 28, 2014 |
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Prologue - 0500 HOURS, FEBRUARY 12, 2535 (MILITARY CALENDAR) / LAMBDA SERPENTIS SYSTEM, JERICHO VII THEATER OF OPERATIONS - "Contact. All teams stand by: enemy contact, my position."
Chapter One - 0430 HOURS, AUGUST 17, 2517 (MILITARY CALENDAR) SLIPSTREAM SPACE - UNKNOWN COORDINATES NEAR ERIDANUS STAR SYSTEM - Lieutenant Junior Grade Jacob Keyes awoke. Dull red light filled his blurry vision and he choked on the slime in his lungs and throat.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0345451325, Mass Market Paperback)

As the bloody Human-Covenant War rages on Halo, the fate of humankind may rest with one warrior, the lone SPARTAN survivor of another legendary battle . . . the desperate, take-no-prisoners struggle that led humanity to Halo--the fall of the planet Reach. Now, brought to life for the first time, here is the full story of that glorious, doomed conflict.

While the brutal Covenant juggernaut sweeps inexorably through space, intent on wiping out humankind, only one stronghold remains--the planet Reach. Practically on Earth's doorstep, it is the last military fortress to defy the onslaught. But the personnel here have another, higher priority: to prevent the Covenant from discovering the location of Earth.

Outnumbered and outgunned, the soldiers seem to have little chance against the Covenant, but Reach holds a closely guarded secret. It is the training ground for the very first "super soldiers." Code-named SPARTANs, these highly advanced warriors, specially bioengineered and technologically augmented, are the best in the universe--quiet, professional, and deadly.

Now, as the ferocious Covenant attack begins, a handful of SPARTANs stand ready to wage ultimate war. They will kill, they will be destroyed, but they will never surrender. And at least one of them--the SPARTAN known as Master Chief--will live to fight another day on a mysterious and ancient, artificial world called Halo. . . .

Bungie, Halo, Xbox, and the Xbox Logos are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and/or other countries. Used under license. (c) 2001 Microsoft Corporation. All Rights Reserved

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:00:40 -0400)

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Before the Human-Covenant War engulfed Halo, the planet-colony Reach came under attack by the Covenant, and Earth's specially trained and augmented warriors, code-named SPARTANs, stood alone to fight for humanity's survival.

(summary from another edition)

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