40 of 43 people found the following review helpful
on October 2, 2012
Glasslands wasn't my favorite book in the Halo book series and i think a lot of people would agree and i wasn't expecting much from this book but boy was i wrong. The writing was well done of course easy to read and smart, the plot was also very interesting this time around a lot more action is always a plus. i think what got me really excited though was the little clues and foreshadowing of the events that will come to light in Halo 4. being a HUGE Halo fan that got my hairs sticking up especially the last few pages. Now this wasn't the best halo book of all time but nonetheless this was a great halo book and a great bridge to fill the gap between Halo 3 and Halo 4. I recommend every Halo fan give this a read especially to those who keep asking why the covenent is still attacking humans, this book answers all that. AN ANCIENT EVIL AWAKENS
29 of 33 people found the following review helpful
on October 3, 2012
Being an avid Halo fan, I would've been pleased with reading the general outline given to Traviss by 343 Industries. I was more excited to hear about the tidbits sprinkled throughout that give hints to Halo 4 than for any continuation of the Kilo-Five storyline.
My personal opinion is that Karen Traviss' insistence on not being a fan of the IP's that she writes for steps on a lot of toes and rankles too many fans of those series. There are many capable authors out there who would show more respect for the prior foundations and not throw such obvious inconsistencies into the fray. I'm also a biased Eric Nylund fan and while Traviss is an able and at times a very clever writer, she does not possess the technical knowledge and background that I ask from a sci-fi novelist. Especially one writing for a sci-fi universe that I thoroughly enjoy.
All that being out in the open...this was a good read. My main problem with Traviss' characterization in Glasslands centered upon her take on established characters and her disregard for previously fleshed out relationships. Yet even in that first novel, she managed to create a mostly charming cast for Kilo-Five with BB being one of my favorite characters introduced to Halo in recent years. With The Thursday War following this team more closely and avoiding the areas I felt she struggled with on the last attempt, it's no surprise to me that I felt this story fit into its place in the lore much more smoothly. Though I was uncontrollably rolling my eyes by the THIRD time she explicitly called Dr. Halsey a "bitch" in this novel. I'm truly puzzled as to why she continues to beat this drum and it's beyond exhausting already. I do not look forward to its inevitable continuation in the third act of this trilogy.
While I'm bored with the location of Onyx (at least from her descriptions of hardly anything in the environment but some grass and what sounds like the same gold towers from Glasslands), the Jul story had a nice pacing with the reveals of not only ONI's plans but also of the lead-in to Halo 4. And BB's little mannerisms were quirky and hilarious as usual. Easily the two best parts of the tale.
To summarize, I feel that this novel improved upon the first by sticking with Traviss' own characters and storylines instead of wrapping up other authors' works. It's an enjoyable read about the Halo universe, even if it doesn't delve into the sci-fi parts that typically define Halo novels. And it quenched a bit of my thirst for all things Halo in the lead-up to November 6th.
20 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on October 4, 2012
I must say that I love the storyline in this book; it combines action with a great story. The reason I did not give it 5 stars is that one thread that started in glasslands and continues in this book really bugs me whenever it comes up; persecuting Dr. Hasley does not make any sense. The basic premise for persecuting her is that she stole kids from their parents and replaced them with clones, which I agree is terrible, however seeing as how Spartans turned out to be amazing weapons that kept humanity from being destroyed, I am sure people would overlook the fact that she had a dark smudge in her past. Furthermore, seeing as how ONI likes to get their hands dirty and thinks of things in a massive scale where individual lives do not matter, it makes even less sense for them to dislike Dr. Hasley.
18 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on October 7, 2012
Having read glasslands, I can definitely say the story is better. There is more action, more twists, and more tangible links to Halo 4. But what kept me from really enjoying this book were the characters aboard kilo-five. The crew is tasked with creating a civil war between factions of Sangeilli, an enemy alien race, ideally so that the aliens will wipe themselves out. But as the crew further interacts with the Sangeilli, they discover that they have more in common with the aliens than they originally thought.
The problem is that while the reader is meant to empathize with the Sangeilli, the characters aboard kilo-five yield no sympathy for the aliens nor do they ever harbor remorse for killing them. What makes this worse is that many of the crew, like Vaz and Osman, seem to follow very strict moral codes, often persecuting Dr. Halsey and the Elites for their morally ambiguous actions. Stunningly, the hypocrisy between the crews judgements and their actions is never brought up. Not only does this make the characters hard to empathize with, it makes it hard not to hate them. These are meant to be the protagonists, and while their jobs cannot be done without doing bad things, if Karen Traviss wanted us to like them, she should have made them learn remorse. This story would have been better told from Admiral Hood or the Arbiter's perspective.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
I love Sci-Fi and the series of Halo books were top class action books that were continuous action and war strategy in defending mankind from a group of alien races banded together. The first books were spectacular and I not only read them but purchased and listened to them on Audio CD and Audio book format multiple times. I have never played the video game.
Then along comes the last two books by Karen Travis. I don't believe she has ever read the original Halo books or understands what the books meant to the readers of the Halo series. She has turned the Halo characters upside down and turned the story line into a tedious political espionage story with greatly reduced action and a long of pages of drudgery reading. I felt no kinship or relationship with any character in the books and honesty felt that the book Glasslands and The Thursday War were a waste of my money.
Her first Halo book, Glasslands, was not well accepted by Halo fans for many valid reasons. This book hit the market with a ton of positive reviews so I thought I would try it and unfortunately it is another weak attempt at carrying on the Halo saga. This book carries on the persecution of Dr. Halsey even to the point that an artificial intelligence computer doesn't even like her or respect her.
Karen should spend more time writing a good story than blasting the genre that many readers like and hold dear to their hearts. She is a good writer and perhaps she is writing what the game developers want her too but she is capable of much better story telling than these last two books. There is far too much dialog in this book and characters worrying about who their parents are after decades of being separated from them. If you are a true Halo fan you may want to read this only to see what is going on but if you are just starting the Halo series of books then follow my list of books that are shown below.
If you are interested in the Halo books then these other books that I have read are much better and I liked them all. The ones written by Eric Nylund are the best:
Halo: First Strike - Eric Nylund
Halo: Fall Of Reach - Eric Nylund
Halo: Ghosts of Onyx - Eric Nylund
Halo: The Flood - William C. Dietz
Halo: The Cole Protocol - Tobias S. Buckell
Halo: Contact Harvest - Joseph Staten
Halo: Evolutions: Essential Tales of the Halo Universe - Compilation of many Authors
10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on October 21, 2012
Thursday War is a "typical" Karen Traviss novel from what I've read of her books. I believe she has a problem placing her major plot points and her pacing of the story is often bad. She'll spend way too much time focused on the characters sitting around doing nothing, which neither progresses the story, nor adds to their development. I think she continues to get jobs writing for popular sic-fi/fantasy/video games titles because there is a fan base that is going to purchase the book no matter what because of the Star Wars or Halo title, not because of the author.
When I purchased Glasslands I wasn't paying attention to the author. I was very pleased with the character development and general pacing of that story; lots of sneaky spy stuff, but a decent amount of action. I was surprised to learn that Traviss was the author because of her "track record." The Thursday War is back to the regular Traviss. She'll start by finishing the climax she left in the previous book, lull the reader along to another mini-climax, lull along even more until she gets right up to the major climax of the book and end it, leaving the reader wanting more, but frustrated the have to wait for the next book to lull through more garbage.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on February 19, 2013
long in content and short in tooth. if you expect halo artifact teasing, this is it. if you expect halo combat and concise action, don't hold your breath.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on April 29, 2013
There's not much to say about this: it's very "Tom Clancy in space" to me. There's a lot of double-dealing, conspiracy, and sudden twists. It's not bad because of that, but I have to say that I'm not quite a big of fan of Traviss' contributions as I was Nylund's and other author's earlier works, but part of that relates to a significant decline in action.
That said, the first real look into Elite (Sangheili) society the books offer is fantastic, and almost makes the books worth buying by itself.
Edit: I've gone back and re-read the books, the ones that I still have that are intact, at least. I find myself reconsidering Travis' contributions: while I stand by my "Tom Clancy in space" comment, I have to say that it's not nearly as good as what Clancy could have written. One particular failing is Travis' insistence on pounding in moral lessons (except where the icky aliens are concerned), as well as her apparent and utter failure to familiarize herself with the rest of the universe: my personal biggest gripe is that the ODSTs and Naomi (the Spartan) continue to say "sir" where they should say "ma'am". The characters seem bipolar at times: they go from raging about Halsey's suddenly hated actions to plotting **mild spoiler** their own genocide of the Sangheili/Elite race.
I still say that the insight the book offers into Sangheili society makes the series worth reading, but overall I'm quite disappointed by the departure of the technical, much more assured approach of Nylund. Travis spends too much time trying to make her characters human when, in some ways, they're not; most of all, as another reviewer said, she spends far too much time making moral arguments, especially with characters like Parangosky who should, logically, be the ultimate in realpolitik but act more like a repenting sinner; this in a universe where, while under Nylund, had little moral compunction against the Spartan-II program.
I don't regret buying the books, but I do regret how Travis has written them.
12 of 17 people found the following review helpful
REVIEW SUMMARY: Interesting premise, poor execution, vital to understanding Halo 4.
MY RATING: 2 Stars
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: The black ops squad Kilo-Five has a staggering revelation but there is no time to consider the implications because one of their operatives goes silent on a hostile world. As civil war erupts on Sanghelios, the UNSC Infinity prepares to undergo a test run using live targets and live munitions. And ancient evil waits to be awakened.
PROS: Great ideas, essential to understanding what is going on in Halo 4.
CONS: Flat characters, repetitive character descriptions, not very engaging.
BOTTOM LINE: Recommended for Halo fans exclusively.
An hour into playing Halo 4 I found myself asking a lot of questions. Who is this Didact fellow? What is Requiem? Why are the Covenant suddenly attacking me - didn't we have a truce at the end of Halo 3? How did the UNSC build a 6 kilometer long space ship? It's a good thing that I play the Halo games for the shooting and not the actual storytelling. If I want to learn anything about the Halo universe I just turn to the tie-in fiction that has done such an amazing job of expanding the lore. Authors like Eric Nylund, William C. Dietz, Tobias S. Buckell, and Joseph Staten have written wonderful novels that support this monolithic franchise. Two new authors have been added to the roster, the much celebrated Greg Bear (whose Forerunner novels I have yet to dig into) and Karen S. Traviss, an author with much tie-in fiction experience. Halo: The Thursday War is the second entry in the Kilo-Five trilogy, which is itself an indirect sequel to Eric Nylund's Halo: Ghosts of Onyx. Relating to the canon, Halo: The Thursday War takes place just prior to the events of Halo 4. So how does it stack up compared to the rest of the family?
Not well. And yes, I realize that every book should be judged by its own merit and not compared to the works of others (great in theory, less practical in reality), but this is especially difficult with multiple authors working within an established series. Halo: The Thursday War builds off of the work that comes before it, most noticeably Nylund's Halo: Ghosts of Onyx. The Human-Covenant War is over. The Covenant is no more, with the separate alien races that composed it going their separate ways. The UNSC has begun work rebuilding the infrastructure that was so thoroughly dismantled by the alien menace. The UNSC fleet is being upgraded with Forerunner technology and the aid of the engineer-slave race called the Huragok. The UNSC Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) is hard at work in the shadows, fomenting a civil war on Sanghelios in order to remove the threat posed by the Elites. Doctor Catherine Halsey has been detained as a criminal. The anti-Earth terrorists are starting to come out of the woodwork again. Things are no longer as black and white as they were during the war. Now is a time of moral gray. Humanity has a manifest destiny in the stars and it is Admiral Margaret Parangosky's job to eliminate any threat to said destiny, through any means necessary.
It's an excellent setup! Officially the Human-Covenant conflict has come to an end. Unofficially it has just entered the Cold War phase. I love the epic scale of Nylund's novels. Who doesn't enjoy an intense space battle? But there's something darkly appealing about a post-war Halo story. After all, the Spartan program was originally created to combat the anti-Earth, human terrorists. Cloak and dagger. Moral ambiguity. Plotting and assassination. It's enough to get the blood pumping. I think that's what makes Halo: The Thursday War so disappointing. I haven't yet read Halo: Glasslands (the first book in the Kilo-Five trilogy) but I figured I could catch up on all the important stuff as I went along.
For the most part I was right. Halo: The Thursday War begins immediately where Halo: Glasslands left off, or so I would imagine. It took a couple pages to catch up since this was a direct continuation of the plot but it wasn't rocket surgery. The Kilo-Five civilian contractor and Sangheili specialist, Evan Philips, has been stranded on Sanghelios with all communications cut. Kilo-Five's Spartan II, Naomi, turns out to be the daughter of a notorious terrorist. These are the primary plot threads, though only one gets resolved by the end of the novel. Halo: The Thursday War is told from multiple perspectives, including the director of ONI, a failed Spartan, two ODST marines, a civilian contractor, two Sangheili, and Kilo-Five's 4th generation AI. It's a diverse cast to say the least, though perhaps that is part of the problem.
The characters are flat. Paper thin really. I'm willing to offer an extra half a star on the rating since I haven't read Halo: Glasslands. Maybe Kilo-Five is drawn out really well there and this builds off that in some manner. The only characters with any measure of depth are the civilian contractor, Philips, and the captured Sangheili, Jul 'Mdama. Philips isn't quite the emotional robot that his teammates are and Jul's hatred for humans is understandable. The only way to tell the difference between Mal and Vaz (Kilo-Five's ODSTs) is when Mal gets all stereotypical Australian, mate. The Pelican pilot Devereaux has no discernible qualities or personality. I see untapped potential in both the leader of Kilo-Five, Osman, and Naomi, one of the few remaining Spartan-IIs. Raia, a female Sangheili is a broken record, repeating the same inner monologue each time her perspective pops up. I understand that Kilo-Five's AI, Black-Box (or BB for short), is supposed to be a witty and sarcastic AI but only because that's what I'm repetitively told.
There is a heavy dose of repetition in general. I'm pretty sure that Kilo-Five has the same exact conversation relating to what to do about Naomi's terrorist father at least half a dozen times, without ever finding a solution. Naomi's personality is described in the same way, multiple times. The same can be said of BB. There is, of course, Raia. I kept my fingers crossed hoping that Raia would bite the bullet so that I wouldn't have to read her perspective again.
And how could I go without mentioning the continual abuse of Doctor Catherine Halsey. I understand from what I've read about Halo: Glasslands that the novel contains no shortage of Halsey-hate. This doesn't offend me the way it might some fans - it seems logical that Halsey would get thrown under the bus. She's a scapegoat, plain and simple. And it's not like Halsey is a saint anyway. What does bother me is how unbelievable it is. Morally correct or not, Halsey's work saved humanity from extinction. It was also work condoned by ONI. But here we have the Admiral Margaret Parangosky, who fashions herself to be the ultimate Ice Queen, and yet she is appalled by Halsey's actions. This is the woman that is fostering a civil war on a planet that Humanity has a treaty with. This is a woman playing both sides and working without any oversight. And she thinks that Halsey is a monster? Were it just one character I could write it off as a personality defect. People are hypocrites right? It happens. But it's not just Parangosky. It's every character in Halo: The Thursday War, including the ODSTs. ODSTs, mind you, that are all in favor of a complete and total Sangheili genocide. It's all very heavy handed.
Halo: The Thursday War suffers from being unbelievable. Obviously to read a Halo book you're going to have to suspend realism. That doesn't mean that the book shouldn't be believable. You should be able to swallow the logic as it relates to the world it relates to. I often found myself unable to accept the things presented in this book. I am not convinced that Kilo-Five is a legit black ops unit, they certainly don't act the part. I am not convinced that Serin Osman would even be considered to command a project of such importance. I am not convinced that Jul 'Mdama would be taken as a prisoner rather than killed for knowing highly damning evidence of UNSC involvement regarding the civil war on Sanghelios. I am not convinced that Jul's containment would be so lax given the nature of what he knows. A lot of it exists to move the plot forward but that can't be a valid excuse.
So if we set aside the characters if Halo: The Thursday War any more enjoyable? Barely. There are a lot of cool things going on at one time. There's a Sangheili civil war on for Chief's sake! It's the inaugural voyage of the UNSC Infinity, a true baptism by fire! There's a black ops group infiltrating an enemy world on a rescue mission. A black ops group with a freaking Spartan in it! And not one of those lesser, later model Spartans either. A true blue, Spartan-II. Halo: The Thursday War should be rife with excitement. It should bleed from the pages. I should fear opening the front cover for fear of being smacked by an Elite with an energy sword. It's just...not. Most of the action is in the periphery. There's a fight scene or two. I think? They weren't all that memorable. . Which is fine. This doesn't have to be an action packed war novel - so long as the espionage and subterfuge are interesting. Instead we get a lot of exploring Forerunner architecture. Yawn.
And despite all of these criticisms I still have to recommend Halo: The Thursday War to Halo fans. It did answer a lot of the questions that popped up while playing Halo 4. This should probably even be considered mandatory if you expect to understand what the hell is going on in that game. Plus there is some exploration of Sangeheili culture and Lasky from Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn makes an appearance. If you are not a Halo fan but looking to get into the books avoid this. Instead go pick up Eric Nylund's Halo: The Fall of Reach.
on July 27, 2014
This will be the first Halo book I’ve read since starting this reviewing thing, but for a while I was on a real bender. I read all of them that were published, and then waited impatiently for this one to be released. Once it was, it sat unread on my shelf for a year and a half for some unfathomable reason….I’ve always appreciated the depth of the world created for the Halo games. It goes way deeper than any I’d encountered before when I first discovered it, way back with the prequel novel to the first game, The Fall Of Reach by Eric Nylund. I’d never even played the game at that point, but that book so gripped me and pulled me in that I’ve been hooked ever since. There have of course been some ups and downs, including the necessity of avoiding the cutting edge of the ongoing plot between the release of Halo 2 and Halo 3 to avoid spoilers, but on the whole it’s been a fascinating universe to visit in these novels. So when I heard that they’d hired Karen Traviss to write a trilogy setting up Halo 4 I was ecstatic. Karen Traviss happens to be one of my favorite writers of the Star Wars Expanded Universe, second only to Timothy Zahn, and even there I waffle back and forth at times. She no longer works with Lucasfilm after a very public falling out over some idiotic restrictions they placed on what she could and couldn’t do in the final book of the series she was writing,* but I’ve kept an eye on her work ever since. I’m looking at powering through the Gears Of War tie-ins she’s written in the near future as well.
Okay, so here’s the world of Halo: five hundred years from now (give or take) humanity has colonized the stars under the authority of the United Nations Space Corps. (UNSC), spreading across the galaxy the way we’ve done since the dawn of time on our own world.** Eventually, we ran up against the Covenant, an expansionist theocratic empire composed of a number of different alien races. The Covenant worship the Forerunner, a vanished ancient civilization that left behind a wealth of artifacts and installations strewn across the galaxy. Humanity found itself locked in a brutal war against an enemy that believed our annihilation was their god-given duty. On the ground, humanity could hold our own with the Covenant. In space they hold most of the cards, and having lost a ground engagement can simply pour plasma fire into the planet’s surface until it’s uninhabitable. Colony by colony, the UNSC lost ground. The tide was stemmed somewhat when the Spartan II’s joined the fray, super-soldiers kidnapped as kids and put through a series of genetic and surgical treatments on top of the most rigorous training program that could be devised. But even the Spartans could only do so much, and soon Humanity faced a far more dangerous threat. According to the Covenant Prophets, the Forerunner ascended to another plane of existence by activating the Halos, a series of artificial ring-shaped worlds. What really happened, as discovered by the Master Chief (the player character for the core Halo games), is that the Forerunner were facing the annihilation of all intelligent life in the galaxy by the Flood, a nasty parasitic organism. They built the Halo arrays as a weapon of last resort, hiding specimens of every species inside the massive Ark installation far out of reach of the Halo arrays. They planned to retreat to a shielded world themselves, then activate the Halos to purge the Flood from the galaxy. They never made it to the shield world. Somehow, the Halos were activated and the Forerunner perished alongside the Flood. The Covenant tried to activate the Halos, hoping to follow the Forerunner into godhood. The Master Chief was able to thwart them–twice–and in the process certain elements of the Covenant learned the truth about the Covenant, causing a violent schism. The Arbiter, an Elite warrior who had been instrumental in the discovery, led a revolt against the prophet overlords and allied himself and his followers with the humans, working together to thwart the Prophets’ final plan to fire all the Halo arrays. It worked, but the Master Chief was lost in the attempt.***
Such is the state of things at the end of Halo 3: the Covenant is defeated and splintered, at least for the time being. Humanity is triumphant, and the Elites are our new allies. All is well, yes? Not so much, actually. The end of the war with the Covenant means that the old tensions between Earth and the colonies are heating back up without the more pressing threat to keep the Insurrectionists at bay. Then too, how much do we trust the Elites? The Arbiter himself seems honorable, so far as that goes with a species whose culture we barely understand, but we spent a generation fighting each other. Even if we can trust the Arbiter to keep his word, he won’t hold onto power forever. Eventually, we’re going to have to fight the Elites again, and it would be in Earth’s best interest if they weren’t allowed to regain their former power before we do it. Both of these issues fall under the purview of the Office of Naval Intelligence, or ONI–the UNSC version of the CIA, but with even more dirty tricks up their sleeve. The head of ONI puts together Kilo-5, a mixed-bag strike team capable of dealing with both threats. There’s a Spartan, Naomi, a couple ODST Helljumpers, an expert on Elite culture and language, as well as the team leader who is being groomed to take over the entirety of ONI one day and a fourth-generation AI. Their mission consists mainly of spying on known Insurrectionists in between a series of “dirty tricks” operations to supply weapons to forces hostile to the Arbiter–ostensibly because ONI believes they’re more trustworthy, or at least more stable in the long term, than the Arbiter and his forces, but in reality just because it’s to our advantage to keep them fighting among themselves and too busy to come after us. Of course, it’s not all that easy. First, an overzealous underling discovers where his boss’s weapons are coming from. Then it’s discovered that Naomi’s dad is still alive, contrary to assumptions since his colony was glassed, but is now an Insurrectionist leader convinced that the government was behind his daughter’s kidnapping. It would be less complicated if he was wrong….but Kilo-5 doesn’t have time to worry about that now, because their expert on the Elites is stuck on their home planet in the middle of the suddenly-erupted civil war.
This was excellent–pure Karen Traviss at her best. There are few writers–or at least, few who deal with licensed properties–who can take in the world that’s been created by other authors in a variety of media and see the subtleties, the right places to poke and show you that the struggle you thought was black and white is actually composed of a rainbow of shades of gray. That the villains aren’t always evil, and the heroes aren’t always noble. That sometimes it comes down to people doing bad things for a good reason. There are obvious parallels to her Republic Commando novels, even beyond the Commandos/Spartans who share an origin rife with moral ambiguity. To some degree this is a departure from previous Halo stories in that it features an almost-entirely new set of characters, but that’s pretty much required by the status quo Traviss was handed, and I have no problem with that. Will this be confusing to people unfamiliar with the world of Halo? Yes, I fear it would, and you can’t get a good handle on the world without playing at least the second and third games (the first game has a novelization, but the second and third do not). I tried, back when I didn’t have an X-Box. Will this trilogy end leaving you somewhat unfulfilled? Probably not too much, given Traviss’ abilities, but certain plot threads are definitely being woven as a set-up for Halo 4. Bottom line: I loved it, but I’m already invested in this world. If you aren’t, this probably isn’t the place to start.
CONTENT: Mild language, PG-13 grade. Violence, occasionally gory. Mild sexual innuendo, but nothing explicit.
*Not very objective, am I? No, I realize that. Here’s the short version of my nerd-rage rant: Karen Traviss had a series she was working on featuring the Republic Commandos during the Clone Wars. By the later part of the series, almost the entirety of the action was set on the planet Mandalore, the culture of which she had managed to stitch together from a hundred disparate and contradictory threads into something that was actually cohesive (and incredibly awesome!) Just as she reaches the climax of the series, with one book to go, she’s told that she’s no longer allowed to do anything with the Mandalorian planet or culture because the Clone Wars animated series is going to be pulling a major retcon dealing with those topics. Frustrated for obvious reasons, Traviss left the franchise. Having read her series up to it’s final cliffhanger (that will now never be resolved) and watched the series at least that far, I can tell you without a doubt: Traviss’ vision was better. The show made the coolest warrior culture in the GFFA (in my humble opinion) into a bunch of pacifists! Really? Gah! Okay, I’m cutting this off before my nerd-rage erupts and embarrasses us all….
**There’s another series of Halo tie-ins I’ve yet to read that suggest Humanity has colonized the stars once before, only to devolve back into the stone age, but I’m ignoring that here for simplicity’s sake.
***Not dead–lost. He was in the wrong section of a ship that got cut in half when a portal failed. The UNSC presumes him dead, but we know he was last seen entering cryosleep as what’s left of the ship drifts through the void….