I love video games. Halo specifically – all of them too, including Halo Wars (I have yet to play Spartan Wars, but I will). That being said I am also very skeptical of books written about or set in video game universes (Not so much movies as game are just an interactive movie – to me anyway). It has something to do with story line cannon and the possibility of ruining or creating alternate story lines for sequels. I tend to like my worlds set out in linear fashion. Prequels I have no issue with. I don’t mind reading things out of order, I just like to know that there is an order.
What I don’t like is when a book is written and then a video game made later and the both overlap and tell the story differently. I don’t really want to read the book of the video game I just played as I know the story, but I also don’t want to read a book where something happens one way and in the game it happens another. It’s just a tad annoying. If I was creating a game I wouldn’t want to have to follow a book on all key points, I’d want to tell my story and vice versa for writing a book.
Now that you’ve made it through that ramble, let me get to my point. I like the Halo books because I see correlation between the Greg Bear novels and Halo 4 and presumably 5 & 6. These novels are setting up the new series of games. It works amazingly well and I enjoy reading them.
Halo: Silentium is the last book in the Forerunner saga from Greg (may I call you Greg?). The style is interesting and takes a minute to adjust from reading narratives. You are essentially reading the chapters like a catalog and/or diary entries. It works well in that it sets the precedent (from the halo games) that we are not following the actual events, but reading through data files found in the ruins of their ancient civilization. It sets the tone wonderfully. So what happens?
Well, if you haven’t read the two previous novels you’ll need a touch of back story. I’ll simplify, but it goes like this. Forerunners waged a war with humans. The humans, while waging war with the forerunners looked to precursor artifacts to make and use as weapons. While digging and searching the human unleashed an ancient precursor experiment called the flood. The flood only attacked sentient life and assimilated all the consciousness into a hive mind mentality centralized in a gravemind. The humans were taken by surprise and were soon fighting two wars at once. Then the flood started going after forerunners and slowed their attack on humans. The forerunners assumed the humans had a cure. They were wrong. This is where the third novel steps in, the end of the forerunner-flood war. If you want more info, check out this link.
This novel focuses on, really, two things. First, the end of the forerunners. Second, the salvation of the human race. The forerunners are particularly egotistical. Their end story really started many thousands of years before this. They rose up and destroyed the precursors (their creators?) when they were told that they weren’t going to get control of “the mantle” (not important at this moment). The forerunners hid their treachery under the auspices that they were fighting against tyranny. The Precursors in their revengey sort of way created the flood to take over everything in the universe. It was a slow progression, but nonetheless worked. The forerunners built Halos which were capable of wiping out all sentient life in a certain area of universe. This was a last ditch effort to eradicate the flood and save all forerunners and wildlife (read animals and humans) that were left alive and who had also made it to a safe haven – the arc, or a shield world. The humans, genetically imprinted with their cultural history, by the Librarian, were collected and taken to the arc to survive, breed and grow back into the culture they were before they were “regressed” at the end of the forerunner-human war. This is so very super basic and probably takes the fun out of the novel, but honestly if you love sci-fi and gaming, then you’ll most likely enjoy this book and the series. There is not a lot of depth, but like I mentioned above, this seems to link directly into the new Halo games, so if anything it might be worth checking out for that reason alone.