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Contact Harvest (Halo) Paperback – October 30, 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
The battle for humanity continues in this latest addition to the bestselling franchise based on the mega-popular video games. Narration is split between Holter Graham and Jen Taylor, who each try their very best to make the material as urgent and important as possible. However, as good as Graham is, pushing the line between corny and downright brilliant in his delivery, Taylor jumps far over the believability line, overemphasizing every word as if the audience is incapable of understanding what she's trying to say. Her cheesy dialects and over-the-top accents detract from the tension and suspense that Graham offers.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.
About the Author
Joseph Staten started working with game developer Bungie Studios in 1998, and has since served as a writer and designer for Oni, as well as writer and cinematics director for Halo and Halo 2. He also works with Peter Jackson's game development studio, Wingnut Interactive, writing and designing in the Halo universe. Staten attended college at Northwestern University and earned a master's in military history and political science at the University of Chicago.
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After reading "The Fall of Reach", I was slightly disappointed. The book felt rushed and under-developed, and maybe targeted towards a less mature reading audience. "Contact Harvest" suffers from none of that, feeling like a much more developed story that takes it's time and shows rather than tells. I rate this book a 5/5, a must read for any Halo fan, and a great choice for any lover of science fiction that wants to start with the Halo universe.
Several ships have disappeared around the Harvest system and the colony wants to raise a militia to be able to defend itself against possible hostile insurrectionists. The UNSC and ONI Office of Naval Intelligence send Staff Sergeant Avery Johnson and Staff Sergeant Byrne to start up and train a militia at the request of the Harvest government. These two Sergeants are taken off the front lines of the insurrection civil war to teach Harvest to defend itself.
Unknown to the humans on Harvest, a coalition of aliens called the Covenant have several ships in the area. They are attracted by sensor readings that indicate the presence of cherished Forerunner relics on the planet's surface. Forerunner relics are the basis of the Covenant religion and provide much of the technology that is copied by the Covenants for their own use.
The aliens attack a ship carrying some relics which is actually a trap to catch the alleged insurrectionists. The ship is carrying Johnson and Byrne and they successfully defend the ship and are able to kill several of the Covenant invaders and they are shocked to discover that they are fighting aliens. The attacking ship is destroyed and a Covenant ship controlled by the Jiralhanae (Brutes) picks up a couple of survivors.
Under pretense of a discussion with the humans a meeting is arranged on planet side and the Brutes use the opportunity to kill as many of the leaders as possible. Harvest is faced with an alien force that has higher technologies and better weapons and stands no chance in an all-out war. What follows is one of the better sagas of the Halo story and one that you will enjoy.
This is the first and flawed contact with the Covenant that results in all-out war and hatred between the humans and the Covenant forces. I have read all of the books in the Halo franchise of stories and this is one of the better ones. Joseph Staten and Eric Nylund are the two best authors of books in the Halo series and I strongly recommend the books written by them. I certainly have enjoyed them and I believe you will also.
Right off the start, it is obvious that Joseph Staten does not have the same writing style or flare for action that some of the other Halo authors have (i.e. Eric Nylund and William Dietz), but he more than makes up for it with his attention to detail and descriptive passages. While less exciting than the books farther up the time-line, this is an excellent history of both the human culture (touching on colonization and the "Insurrection") and the Covenant (explaining how several of the major species came together). I always enjoy the alien perspective and we get a lot insights into the mindsets and inner-working of the Covenant hierarchy.
The action centers mostly on Sergent Avery Johnson, a soldier who is haunted by his time fighting against human Insurrectionists and the loss of a close family member, who is sent to the remote planet Harvest to train a local militia. Surrounded by some additional eccentric characters, including recruits who are more farmers than soldiers and several Artificial Intelligences, Avery is far less than ready for the unexpected arrival of the first Covenant ship.
This is worthwhile read and a good starting place if you haven't read any of the previous Halo books. My only real issue is the inclusion of a "intimate" scene that really added nothing to the story line.