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on November 27, 2008
This book, taking place 9 years after the book Contact Harvest (also in the halo series) tells of Capt. Keyes and the designated Grey team of Spartans protecting the Cole Protocol to keep the location of Earth safe from the Covenant. I do have to hand it to The Cole Protocol for not tethering off new problems or destroying some of the fabrication in place in the Halo Universe, but overall the writing just isn't as good as Nylund's works in the series (Fall of Reach, First Strike, Ghosts of Onyx). Buckell knows the series and knows what he wants to do in this book while keeping sure not to add more bumps in the series with misplaced (cronologically) monikers, weapons, or the sort.

In short, if you are following the series, get this book. It is a good read. Much better than Contact Harvest, but not on the same level as some others, though still enjoyable.
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on January 9, 2009
I looked forward to this book with great interest from the moment I found out that it would be handling a major Elite character's backstory. Sadly, I find myself underwhelmed with it. Writing-wise, it's about the level one would expect from a spinoff book of a video game. Essentially, it's not well written, not terribly well-characterized, and extremely poorly proofread ("cyrogenic" jumps out at you right on the first page-- not only should a proofreader have caught that, but a spellchecker should too). Needless to say, you need to be quite well-read in the Halo mythos for this book to make a whole lot of sense, as The Cole Protocol assumes an array of prior knowledge. What matters, then, is what it does for the canon as a whole.

I mainly read Halo novels for the worldbuilding, and the back history of characters we've come to know and love through the game. I don't expect each author to do equally well with all aspects of the Halo world, and this book is no exception. Captain (here, Lieutenant) Keyes gets a turn in the spotlight, and he's kept in-character, with a properly Keyesian, out-of-the-box maneuver at the end. There's a part played by Spartan Grey Team, and while I (only a mild fan of the Spartans) was satisfied with it, people who are focused on them will likely come away disappointed. Still, their interaction with other characters (ordinary humans and the Elites (Sangheili)) is interesting more for what it says about the other characters than what it illumines about the Spartans.

Where Cole Protocol shines is its depiction of ordinary humans. Nylund's books give a good military/UNSC perspective on the Human-Covenant war, but Buckell gives you a sense of what it's like to live there and be a civilian trying to make your way through a series of completely sensible, but still extremely onerous laws. You get a better sense of the Insurrectionist perspective here, and the Rubble (a ragtag civilization built by refugees, Innies, and miners behind enemy lines) is well depicted. Delgado, a civilian pilot caught in the middle, is an interesting character and a nice counterpoint to Keyes and the Helljumpers. Buckell also carries on the tradition of novels exploring AIs in the Haloverse-- Juliana, an AI on the verge of rampancy, has a small part that I wish were a bit larger, because it seems right on the edge of really exploring the ramifications of rampancy for people who depend on the AI (and for the AI herself), but skates away before dealing the subject much more than a glancing blow.

Which is the main flaw of the storytelling in this book, it tries to tell a few too many stories, and ends up giving short shrift to most of them. This is, sadly, especially apparent with what should be a selling point of the book, that it delves further into the culture of the Sangheili and tells the backstory of one of the most important Elites in the universe (Thel 'Vadamee-- who will be a bit more familiar to readers by story's end). The previous Halo novel, Contact Harvest, developed rather well the backstory of Halo's nefarious Prophet Hierarchs, and I had hoped for something similar for 'Vadamee and the Sangheili. Instead, Buckell bounces off every "warrior race" stereotype known to military SF and fantasy and settles nowhere in particular. 'Vadamee gets a lot of attention in the story, but is only thinly characterized-- though the one exception is that some good attention is paid to conflicting notions of "heresy" and showing the fault lines already present in the Covenant. Considerably better is the depiction of the Kig-Yar (Jackals). I'd even go so far as to say that a Kig-Yar leader named Reth somewhat steals the Covenant side of the story away from 'Vadamee, at least for being a bit more unexpected and interesting.

In sum, it's worth reading if you're a canon completist, but falls well short of its potential. I think the Haloverse is complex enough to support a much, much better book, and I continue to hope that one day we'll see that book. Until then, enjoy Cole Protocol for the things it manages to do well.
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on November 27, 2008
Simply put, quite a good book. Although I will admit, this book is not for everyone. Essentially, if you like Halo, and the Halo book series, then you will like this book. I've also read Contact Harvest, the other three, and Ghosts of Onyx. For the uninitiated, this is not a book for you. The book makes references and allusions to other parts of the Halo mythos; so unless you are up to speed, the book would probably be ponderous, lacking in information, and probably not all that fun to read. For other people that have followed Halo, and liked the other books, go out and by this. Its not a difficult read, but a fun one. It reads like the books that came before it, and puts a human face on humanities struggle against The Covenant.
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Jacob Keyes is a Navy Lieutenant who is put back into action. He was being used as an instructor at the Academy after injuries took him off of active duty. He is given a secret mission that will take him back into deep space. He is to use a stealth spacecraft and enforce the Cole Protocol in the deep space colonies to make sure that the covenant does not learn the location of Earth.

The Covenant forces are attacking human ships and colonies trying to capture navigation equipment. They want the data that will lead the Covenant back to earth, the home world of all humans. A human asteroid base is attacked by Jackals who are trying to steal the navigation equipment that they want. Ignatio Delgado, a human, is saved by a Spartan of the Gray Team who swears him to secrecy not to expose the Spartans presence in the sector. He surmises that the Spartans are deep in enemy territory trying to protect the same navigation data that he was just fighting to protect.

Delgado, the man who was saved suspects someone in the leadership of the Insurrectionists is trying to sell the covenant the navigation data they want....

The book to me was OK. I love Sci-Fi and read the book after reading the books written by Eric Nylund. That is my problem since the books written by Eric were so first class and engaging I found this one to just average or a little above. I don't play the video game so I can only judge the books as to whether I enjoy them or not. Nylund was such a good author that he should have been selected to write all of the Halo books. This book is somewhere between a 3 to a 4 when compared to the other Nylund books which are all 5 star ratings.

Please don't take me the wrong way, I just enjoyed one author's writing style much more so it is hard to wipe that out of my memory when trying to rate this book. It is worth reading but it could have been more than what it developed into.

Read it for the genre of Sci-Fi and read it for the Halo insights, just don't expect the same consistent quality of storytelling.

This book is 3 1/2 stars for me.
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on January 28, 2016
It was okay, nothing special. I enjoyed it because I am a huge fan of the Halo series, but if you are not you probably won't like this book. It is a little slow at times, but learning about the Covenant in a way you haven't before makes the book worth reading! In addition, you get to learn about more of the origin of Captain Keyes that you don't get in the video games.
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on May 2, 2011
The richness of the Halo universe is developed even further in this amazing novel by an amazing author, Tobias Bucknell, who really seems to understand the tone and energy of the Halo lore. Having 100% completed all the Halo games and having read almost all of the novels and most printed works associated with Halo, the Cole Protocol is, in my opinion, one of the most gripping tales. Set in the time period directly after Admiral Cole set in motion the Cole Protocol, ultimately designed to keep the Covenant from reaching Earth and other vital planets, the story seamlessly weaves the lives of several individuals into a cohesive joyride of words. Prominent characters include the young Jacob Keyes, before he was the captain of the Pillar of Autumn, and a team of three Spartan IIs, and even an honor-obsessed Elite. My only regret is that I finished the book too quickly; I wish that the experience of immersing myself in the characters' struggles would have lasted a day or two more. Purchase without hesitation and enjoy a fun and fantastic book, like candy for your brain.
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on March 13, 2014
If there is any book in the Halo canon that you can afford to skip, it's this one. Basically an irrelevant side story trying to fill in some of Jacob Keyes back story, this takes place about 10 years before Halo: CE. The story telling is not horrible, but it's not on par with Eric Nylund or Joseph Staten's work, and the plot doesn't really feel important compared to the rest of the stories. It's not a horrible book, but by about half way through I just wanted to be done with it so I could read something else
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on August 5, 2013
I liked it. It's full of all the action that my 24/7-mus-have-things-now brain can comprehend, and it gives more insight into the Spartan-II's

If your into Halo, you need to pick this one up. Even if it doesn't really tie in with most of the other Halo universe, it's still a good read.

I'd also recommend:
Halo: Fall of Reach
Halo: First Strike
Halo: Ghosts of Onyx
Halo: Evolutions
Halo: Contact Harvest
Halo: Cryptum
Halo: Silentium
Halo: Glasslands (bite me)

And if you enjoy Science Fiction, check out the Mass Effect books.
If you like Game-based books, also check out the Bioshock ones.
And finally, Evan Currie's Oddysey series (except the most recent) are all fairly good.
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on July 28, 2014
The 343 related Halo books are in a different league from what went before. They open a whole Halo Universe that is really enjoyable, engaging, and fascinating in its own right, even if us game players never forget The Master Chief.
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on December 23, 2013
Depite what several folks have said, I find Mr. Buckell's skills to be up to par with Nyland's. The only thing that bothers me is the climax. If your enemies are sitting in a bowl of methane, just throw a match at them or something. Or anything that will catch fire on re-entry (the couch in the officer's lounge is getting old). That and when the ODSTs go in the Covenant fire plasma weaponry at them, while still in the bowl might I add. Oh well, if that's all I can find wrong with your book (i'm very good at complaining), then I'd say you did a pretty good job.
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