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on October 14, 2004
I've gone on record in the past of having disliked the first book in this series. I take it back. After having played the original Halo through to the end more than 10 times now, I now find these books irresistable.

Halo Book One - The Fall of Reach

The first book of this trilogy details the formation of the Spartan II/Mjolinar program, including the origination of the characters Master Chief, Captain Keyes and Cortana. "Fall of Reach" fleshes out the backstory. How did the Covenent happen upon humanity in the first place? What were our first encounters with the Covenent like? What does "glassing a planet" entail? And what is it that the Covenent is after?

The last question isn't answered completely, but this first volume does provide some tantalizing details that might give you a clue. You do, however, find out exactly what the Pillar of Autumn was up to prior to ending up in orbit around Halo.

Eric Nylund does a great job of injecting some humanity into the Spartans (yes, there's more than one) and some drama and strategy into fight scenes with the Covenent. If you find yourself liking this book, you may want to pick up Nylund's "Signal to Noise" or "A Signal Shattered". No matter how good Nylund's military sci-fi is, his hard sci-fi is better.

Halo Book Two - The Flood

Normally, I'd say "skip this" if you've already played the game. And if you have played through the game, then the plot points in this novel won't lend you any surprises. It is, however, a testament to William Dietz's prowess as an author that even Halo veterans such as myself can pick up this book and still be interested in the subject matter. As with "Fall of Reach", "The Flood" fleshes out the Halo universe even further. Not only do you follow Master Chief as he combats the Covenent, the Flood and Guilty Spark 243 on the Jovian-orbiting ringworld of Halo, but you get up close and personal with some of the ODSTs (Helljumpers, who will play a large part in Halo 2), marines and non-coms who are aiding Master Chief in the fight. You even get to see the fight from the Covenant point of view.

William Dietz was a fine choice for creating this novelization. Already an excellent military sci-fi author, he does great work here in turning a potentially lackluster novelization into something interesting and special.

Halo Book Three - First Strike

I don't really want to ruin this one for Halo fans. The most important thing about this book is this - it acts as a bridge between the events of first Halo game and Halo 2. "First Strike", again by Eric Nylund, picks up right where first game ended - with Master Chief and Cortana stuck in a non-FTL bomber in the dead space surrounding the remains of Halo. I won't give away anymore except to say that Halo 2 is set-up perfectly here.

The most impressive thing about the Halo books is this - the amount of backstory created for the Halo universe is stunning. If you've read anything about the new Halo 2 release and have read these novels, you'll understand what I mean. Plot points and military types from the first novel are being incorporated into or mentioned in Halo 2, ie - the aforementioned ODSTs. I have no idea WHERE this backstory came from - either from the imaginations of Dietz and Nylund or the impressive minds working at Bungie. It doesn't matter. Reading these books and playing these games, you become intimate with a well thought-out alternate universe. And its a great one to spend time in.

November 9th can't come soon enough!

Hopefully William Dietz is on the business end of that Halo 2 novelization, and this set will include four books in the future.
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on April 4, 2014
First off I will correct the cover chronology of the books, they go like this:
-Halo: The Fall of Reach
-Halo: The Flood
-Halo: First Strike

Just like the original Halo box-set, I was confused as of the order of the books, because there is really no order at all, but in any case, here goes my review.

The Fall of Reach:
To put it short, this is globally, the training and development of John and his teammates as Spartans, right from being kids to being massive, powerful war machines. An amazing narrative of their missions, and the burden they must learn to carry in order to save the entire human race, from retaliation, and beyond...

The Flood:
If you want no spoilers, then skip this one.
This book is the narrative of Halo: Combat Evolved. It literally narrates the game, just as it happened, plus three other stories from a group of Marines stuck on Halo, a struggling Elite that wants to prove himself worthy, and it warms you up for the next book.

First Strike:
This is one of my favorites, although many people disliked it for introducing too many new characters (because it does), it is quite enjoyable,

I recommend these to anyone that loves the games and/or love a good Sci-Fi book. But most of all, if you have NOT read Ghosts of Onyx, I invite you to read this trilogy, and head to read Ghosts of Onyx. In my opinion, it is the best Halo book written up to date, specially for Kurt's story... If you think Master Chief is the all mighty, invincible war machine that Bungie thought you, wait to read everything Kurt did.
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on December 19, 2005
i just got these 3 books yesterday...and i had time to sit down and read all three of them in a single day its a page turner for sure..highly addictive reading...these books flesh out all the backstory on the master chief and the spartins...yes he was one of a group of super soldiers :)..these books also tell us about the war with the covenant and how it came to start and what the covenant is actually looking for on the planet halo.... if your a sci fi reader or just like a good story loaded with action grab these books..oh and the box set is great for desktop display...cant wait to the halo movie that is going into production.. cheers
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on December 1, 2004
As a member of the US military, it is hard to find fictional military stories that combine sci-fi and a good solid storyline. These are the kind of books that I have been searching for. Worth the time to read and the money to buy.
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on June 1, 2006
At first, I was hesitant to pick these titles up for the simple fact that, while I am a "gamer," I'm not real big on sci-fi reading. I also feared that these books might add up to little more than fodder to lure more money out of the pockets of die-hard "Halo" fans by pandering to the already fanatical following the game has produced.

And I was wrong.

Halo's story successfully crosses the media lines in three amazing books that actually enriched my appreciation of the games.

I used to like the fact that the Master Chief was that quintessential tough guy: mysterious and unbeatable, eternally resourceful and cool-headed, cold and battle-hardened. And, if you've played the games, then you know the gimmick: you never see his face.

Well, these books unmask our beloved Spartan 117, literally and figuratively. Initially, I was a little jaded that these authors took it upon themselves to encroach upon the intergalactic man-of-mystery, but it wasn't long before I warmed up to learning his history and fighting his battles from a third-person perspective that's actually more "first-person" than even the game can offer. I learned to appreciate the depth of the human inside the helmet.

I also enjoyed learning about the other Spartans and the tight fraternal bonds they forge with each other: bred and trained for battle, loyalty and duty, though essentially ostracized, feared and misunderstood by their "normal" human counterparts; there are several points when it's said that the other marines see the Spartans as being as alien as the alien race their fighting against.

Most interesting, however, are the stories you get that the games never touch upon. There's many story-lines and characters introduced here that the games don't even mention, for obvious reasons- primarily because the games came out first. The first book takes place before (and sets up) the first game; the second book is pretty much the first game verbatim, from beginning to end, and the third is the detailing of events between the end of the first game and beginning of the second, Halo 2. In a lot of ways, it seems as if this console-to-page transition is similar to the efforts made a couple years back with the Matrix titles. In order to get the whole Matrix story, aside from the three films, one had to play a Matrix video game, watch a direct to DVD title and read Matrix books, all of which acted as vital arcs in the circle of events throughout the saga. Halo's last book, "First Strike" introduces a lot of loose ends that are left to dangle even throughout the second game. And we thought Halo 2's cliff-hanger ending couldn't get any worse! Now, I'm positively chompin' at the bit with anticipation of Halo 3.

I'd say these titles work on a number of levels. Most importantly, I believe that the success of these games and books somehow asserts and validates gaming as a rapidly growing and infections new form of entertainment capable of holding its own next to blockbusting movies and New York Times best-selling novels; video games aren't just "for the kids" anymore. The story-telling and intrigue found in a game can be just as compelling, if not more so, than most of the rubbish Hollywood churns out anymore- not to mention that you get to participate and enjoy a sense of achievement as the stories unfold.

I don't know if anymore books are in the making; perhaps they're waiting for Halo 3, but there's still a lot of story to tell, so I certainly hope I get the chance to read on.
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on April 13, 2006
Having experienced HALO: Combat Evolved and studying up a bit on the backstory I decided to risk a few bucks on these novels based on what previous reviewers have said. What did I think? Well, as a very picky and details oriented fan of military fiction and sci-fi I was pleasantly surprised and very entertained by these novels. The space combat scenes in The Fall of Reach and First Strike are simply fantastic. The action is believeable and creative. The technology imployed, whether Human, Covenant or other never seems too far-fetched. The Flood is a bit of a change of pace, as I had expected from reading other reviews, but it was no less entertaining or fun and intriguing. Also, the human stories are fascinating. While only a few characters are really developed in-depth they are dynamic in ways that the games could never get across. I personally found myself captivated by Jacob Keyes, Cortana, and especially everyone's favorite cyborg: John, Spartan 117.

All in all this is a great series of novels and they add a wondrous wealth of knowledge and depth to the HALO universe. It's what I wish more military sci-fi stories could be. If you're not yet a fan of HALO, but you like military sci-fi then this is a great place to test the waters of the HALO universe. If you're already a fan and haven't read these books you're cheating yourself. These authors and the people at Bungie studios have created a tale full of adventure, mystery and a good share of hidden treasures.

Revelation (John) 1:17

And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, "Fear not; I am the first and the last; I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive forevermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death."
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on April 10, 2014
I read the first one in a day it was so good and then within two weeks I finished the other two! They were amazing! Highly recommended for halo fans. However, if you have not played the games, it won't be as interesting.
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on September 5, 2005
I've read some of the other reviews here. Good thing I did that after I started reading the first book in this series so my reading wasn't influenced by the opinions of others. I didn't read this book with a critical journalist's eye like some negative reviewers have done. I didn't care about grammer and typos and what not.

I find the writer's description of the awesome space battles and the master chief's wild fights with the aliens truly nice. I got pure enjoyment out of reading this book, with my heart racing just following the hot adventures of John who later became the Master Chief.

Though I've read many books, I've never sat down and read a science fiction novel until now. I use to believe that I wouldn't enjoy a book based on a video game. I stand corrected. This book is a page turner.

. A warning to you commuters, who like to read while riding the train to work, be careful while reading this book for you might pass your stop. It has happened to me.
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on August 5, 2007
A very nice series that delvs into the very heart of the Halo games story, and fills out what you need to know.

1: The Fall of Reach
It is a good start to the whole story. You learn about the spartans (the group the master chief is part of) came into life, and how the war with the Covenant started... partly it is still not quiet clear. You get a good detail of the events years before the the halo game, and what happend just before it starts.

2: The Flood
A good recollection of the game, you trace the master chiefs moves as he did in the game, but get more of his thoughts and feelings as he battles across Halo.
In adition to telling the game again, you also get the story of the marines and the Covenant that you incounter several times in the game, and their fight on the ring. The book in this way closes a lot of holes produced by the game expirience, and sets your mind at ease and in ways makes the game better to think about.

3: First Strik
Happens directly after Halo has been destroyed by the master chief, and his struggle to find a way back to friendly territory. This book is the most surprising if you have read the others, you are constantly being thrown over by plot twist that you will hate and some you will love.

The books are overall great there are some things that still bug me personally. There are some Deus ex Machina (God in the machine), which saves the character from death or some other ill event. Though this is needed for the book, it some times deminishes the muthos that the books create in the start about the spartans.
But you would have to read the book to know what I mean.
Plus the books are very fast to read, so you have to absorb much information very fast and keep track of what happens now.
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on January 9, 2015
I purchased the other box set and posted a similar review. This is exactly what I wanted. the only problem is that although they are brand new, the corners of the books were slightly damaged. This would have been a 5 star review, but I highly would have preferred that these come in pristine condition.
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