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Books based on games: Halo

Posted on 20th Apr 2010 at 10:10 by Antony Leather with 34 comments

Antony Leather
Before you start your ranting, if you don’t know already from my mercenary attitude to buying hardware, anti-fanboy and anti-Apple attitude, then please don’t think of me as just another Xbox owner who goes all giddy on the day a new Halo game has launched.

In fact I’ve never owned an Xbox and never played any Halo games on one. I’ve only ever played Halo: Combat Evolved on the PC but while I did think it was a very enjoyable game, especially online, that’s not why I’m here. Being a Sci-fi nut, I love most things futuristic. I’m also pretty keen on warfare and action in general (in fiction!) so when by accident I picked up a book called Halo: The Fall of Reach, being quite into Halo Combat Evolved at the time, it turned out to be one of the best books I’ve ever read.

Most people raise their eyebrows when I’ve said that I’ve read the Halo books but what they don’t realise is there’s a fascinating story behind the games - and it genuinely makes me wish that someone could make a film about it. Indeed at one point they were going to, with no less than Peter Jackson named as producer and scripts and millions of dollars changing hands at one point. Alas it was put back into development hell, although there's some prospect for the future.

The story starts when the human race, by this time exploring the galaxy in the 26th century, meets a race called the Covenant. They turn out to be world destroying bad guys who have discovered ancient technology made by a long dead, technologically advanced race, learned how to use it and proceed to search for more of it.

Books based on games: Halo Why I love Halo– now hear me out
Masterchief - if Oakley still makes sunglasses in the 26th Century, it probably made his helmet

Things get pretty dicey for the humans, so bad in fact they are forced to create biologically enhanced super soliders called Spartans. Picked by searching through DNA databases of children who will grow up to have the best physical and mental attributes of their species, the children are abducted into training and replaced with clones that later die.

The process of child to Spartan is fascinating and had me totally hooked. So much so that I’ve read the entire saga and eagerly await any new releases. They tie in brilliantly with the games, giving them much more purpose. For instance the Halo ring is actually one of many such rings, built by the ancient race to wipe the galaxy clean of life in the event the flood, who you would have encountered in Combat Evolved, got off the ring world and started to infest everything and everywhere.

Books based on games: Halo Why I love Halo– now hear me out
Every book had me gripped - so much so I even stayed in doors for days reading one whilst I was on holiday in Portugal a few years ago!

While I don’t know if the books would appeal to someone who hasn’t played any of the games (for instance you appreciate how terrifying it might be to come face to face against a hunter) the raw humanity of the stories, wide ranging time span and awesome action made the saga one of my favourites in the gaming world.

There’s even a site (halothemovie.org) dedicated to the movie and has some of the promotional movies that were made to generate interest.

Have you ever read novels based on a game franchise? Were they just as entertaining as the game or were they a waste of a perfectly good tree? Let me know in the comments!

34 Comments

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shokwaav 20th April 2010, 10:21 Quote
yes it does 'male' me to make a film.

fix typo pls :)
rmagro 20th April 2010, 10:23 Quote
I loved all of the xbox games, so might try out reading some of these books :D
proxess 20th April 2010, 10:23 Quote
You came to Portugal just to read Halo?! ZOMG! FAIL!
Blademrk 20th April 2010, 10:32 Quote
typo in the 3rd paragrapgh
Quote:
and it genuinely males me wish

I read the novel that accompanied my copy of Planescape Torment, which was really enjoyable

Edit: already pointed out, that'll teach me to refresh before posting
wuyanxu 20th April 2010, 10:34 Quote
i was a huge fan of Halo books when playing Halo 1 on the PC, read all first 3 and loved number 1 and 3 by Eric Nylund. the back story was told in a brilliant way.

but Halo 2 on PC sucked really hard, thus made me lost interest in the franchise. and started uni, so didn't have so much free time reading novels.
Kalcifer 20th April 2010, 10:35 Quote
+1 I've read them too and would <3 to see a "GOOD" Halo movie made.
BFT-001 20th April 2010, 10:49 Quote
Reading up on the backstory really opened up on the Halo Universe. If you truly appreciate the series and not just for its multiplayer experience then I really hope you take the time to read the books. It will really immerse you into the Haloverse beyond the campaign of any Halo game so far.
sotu1 20th April 2010, 10:56 Quote
Doom....I read the Doom Books. The first one (knee deep in the dead) was great, provided a kind of back story to the game and gave it a little more context. The rest of the books....not so great.

Off topic a little, but playing Dawn of War 2 made me want to read the Warhammer 40K books and I can very heartily recommend the Angels of Darkness novel. Great story, lovely twist and great insight into the background of the Space Marine Chapter.
interzen 20th April 2010, 11:50 Quote
Even though I'm not a fan of the games, I keep meaning to read the 'Halo' books but never quite seem to get around to it.

I did make a point of reading the two novels that tied in with "Dragon Age: Origins" though - not only did they fill in a lot of the back story to the game but were also mighty fine novels in their own right.
pullmyfoot 20th April 2010, 11:52 Quote
you know, there is one problem with abducting genitically superior human babies and replacing them with clones who die. This means that there will be no more genitically superior human babies for the next generation. So we are screwed.
badders 20th April 2010, 11:56 Quote
The Halo books are good, except "The Flood" which covers Combat Evolved - it's a walkthrough interspersed with macho phrases. This could be a characteristic of being written by a different author to the rest.

All the others I really enjoyed though.
Sebbo 20th April 2010, 12:45 Quote
I bought all the Halo books, and loved them too (at this point I had only completed the third game, gotten halfway through the second, and never touched the story on the first). There's alot of back story that you just don't know is there till you read them.

Gears of War is another game that I've enjoyed the novel of. The first book is called Aspho Fields (you hear a brief mention of the battle in the first game), and it really fleshes out the backstory and characters, as well as covering events between the first and second game (the book ends right where GoW2 picks up). The second book, Jacinto's Remnant, has only recently been released, but I'm really struggling to find a store that has it (I actually only came across the first by accident).
Farfalho 20th April 2010, 12:52 Quote
By the way you make the books sound, they sound interesting. A shame if you stayed indoors when you were in Portugal for holidays, I guess it was summer holidays so you have lost some good days. You could have enjoyed the weather and at night read the book.

Nevertheless, I'm a bit happy to see BT staff comes around here every now and then. Could you left hardware crumbles (new and good) so I can pick up where you've passed by?!
Bauul 20th April 2010, 13:04 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by sotu1
Doom....I read the Doom Books. The first one (knee deep in the dead) was great, provided a kind of back story to the game and gave it a little more context. The rest of the books....not so great.

+1

Knee Deep in the Dead was a fantastic little read, who knew they could turn the plotless Doom into a genuinely good Sci-Fi read?

Plus, any books written by a pair of guys called Dafydd Ab Hugh and Brad Linaweaver HAVE to be good.
samkiller42 20th April 2010, 13:38 Quote
Been interested in getting the books myself, but never bothered to actually buy them. Anybody care to tell me which order they are in so i can go spend more money?

Sam
wuyanxu 20th April 2010, 13:54 Quote
Fall of Reach, The Flood, First Strike and not sure about the rest, i think 4th one is Ghost something.

The Flood isn't worth reading though. Fall of Reach is the best one IMHO (out of 3 i've read)
xaser04 20th April 2010, 13:55 Quote
I have all the books pictures minus the cole protocol (I couldn't get it at the time).

I love them mainly for the same reasons that the author loves them (sci fi, war etc).

On a Halo theme, I am currently reading through the Ringworld books. I am having trouble getting my head around the scale of the ringworld itself (1 million miles wide, with walls a 1000 miles high). I need to find ringworld engineers now.
proxymoron 20th April 2010, 14:36 Quote
The Alpha Centauri novels are well worth reading.
Volund 20th April 2010, 14:42 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by wuyanxu
Fall of Reach, The Flood, First Strike and not sure about the rest, i think 4th one is Ghost something.

The Flood isn't worth reading though. Fall of Reach is the best one IMHO (out of 3 i've read)

Ghosts of Onyx- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ghosts_of_onyx
samkiller42 20th April 2010, 15:17 Quote
Ah, thank you chaps, didn't want to buy one, start reading it to find i've got book 2, instead of one, thus missing part of the story.

Sam
tron 20th April 2010, 17:17 Quote
I have never read the HALO books, but played the games since the first xbox and PC. I would be interested in a HALO movie.
l3v1ck 20th April 2010, 17:23 Quote
I was thinking about buying the book based on Baldur's Gate. But apparently it's rubbish, so I got some other Forgotten Realms books instead.
interzen 20th April 2010, 17:40 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by xaser04
On a Halo theme, I am currently reading through the Ringworld books. I am having trouble getting my head around the scale of the ringworld itself (1 million miles wide, with walls a 1000 miles high). I need to find ringworld engineers now.
Shouldn't be too hard - I'm pretty sure it's still in print. Don't waste your money on "Ringworld Throne" though. In fact, with that notable exception, pretty much all of Larry Niven's 'Known Space' books are good, old-fashioned hard sci-fi.
metarinka 20th April 2010, 19:13 Quote
read all the halo books, light and easy to get through in 1 or 2 days. All good books. "the flood" is a play by play of the first game, but does clue in some interesting back ground. Like the fact that the marines actually setup a base on the ring world and that they had managed to commandeer a covenant ship before blowing it up when they realized it was infected with the flood.
Fall of reach was good and ghost of onyx kinda went off the deep end plot wise but was still good. Have they release another one yet?
triprunner 20th April 2010, 20:40 Quote
Fall of Reach was pretty good, was surprised how well it was written actually (although i listened to the audiobook), really liked it although played Halo maybe few times on my mates Xbox.
The Flood (2nd one i believe) wasn't that engaging for me, i think because Master Chief's character differed a lot from the Fall of reach's MC.
If you like military sci-fi in vein of Starship Troopers, COBRA series (by Timothy Zahn) or Dorsai novels you will love Fall of Reach.
Volund 20th April 2010, 21:05 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by metarinka

Fall of reach was good and ghost of onyx kinda went off the deep end plot wise but was still good. Have they release another one yet?

Yep, Contact Harvest, read it a while ago, covers the first battles with the Covenant from Staff Sargent Avery Johnson's perspective.
wuyanxu 20th April 2010, 22:02 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Volund
Yep, Contact Harvest, read it a while ago, covers the first battles with the Covenant from Staff Sargent Avery Johnson's perspective.
nice, Sargent Johnson, the guy who can never die. i'll have to look into this book.
GiantStickMan 21st April 2010, 03:22 Quote
Might have to look into this series...
I recently read through the first Mass Effect novel, wasn't a bad read but did start out a little shaky at first.

On the topic of novelisations, I would highly recommend the Resident Evil series to anyone who has even a passing interest in the games pre-RE4, very well written (though you can skip "Caliban Cove" and "Underworld" which were original novels and kinda sucked).
Volund 21st April 2010, 03:37 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by GiantStickMan
Might have to look into this series...
I recently read through the first Mass Effect novel, wasn't a bad read but did start out a little shaky at first.

On the topic of novelisations, I would highly recommend the Resident Evil series to anyone who has even a passing interest in the games pre-RE4, very well written (though you can skip "Caliban Cove" and "Underworld" which were original novels and kinda sucked).

Thanks for the tip, RE is one of my favorite series, wasn't sure if I should go for the books tho :D ;)
Neophyte4Life 21st April 2010, 03:47 Quote
Tom Clancy's End War. Very short but it made a long car bearable.
Fractal 21st April 2010, 04:30 Quote
I agree. I didn't expect a novelisation of a game to be very good but read the first four books and was very impressed. The Halo storyline has amazing scope and some well developed characters.
A well produced movie would be excellent.
RSDeuce 21st April 2010, 04:39 Quote
I got emailed the books in PDF form back when I was working a pretty boring job and read them all. I can vouch that they were freaking great books. I have played the games and enjoyed them... But the first books are of a quality that I just didn't expect. The Fall of Reach would have been HUGE in the SCI-FI community if it was a standalone novel. Top notch.

They were good enough that I own the print versions now, had to buy them after that.

All that said, I haven't read past Ghosts of Onyx, and I concur with previous posters that The Flood was mostly a waste of time (it is just a mirror of the game with very little new stuff added.)
pizan 21st April 2010, 14:48 Quote
I never played the games on Xbox only the original PC game and tbh they seem overrated, but I really enjoyed the novels. The Fall of Reach and First Strike were good. I didn't really care for the one in between, but Ghosts of Onyx wasn't bad. I lent them to a friend...now if I could only get them back
Veles 21st April 2010, 15:50 Quote
I've read Fall of Reach and The Flood some time ago and have a few others on my massive pile of 'to read' books.

Really enjoyed Fall of Reach, was an excellent prequel novel giving loads of background information.

The Flood I didn't like so much, it was essentially two stories, that of Master Chief and that of everyone else. I liked reading about what everyone else was doing while you were running around as MC. But the MC parts were just plain boring IMO as it was literally just the game in book form without anything really added.

I've also read the first Diablo book some time ago, I found that quite an enjoyable read.
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