Saturday, 28 January 2012

Halo: First Strike Review

I started reading the Halo novels last year with next to no knowledge on the games. But I was happy to see that you didn't have to have any to enjoy the books and gave Halo: The Fall of Reach (which is generally the starting point for these novels) a 9.0/10.
Recently I moved on to the not as good sequel, Halo: The Flood and lost a lot of faith in the series giving that one a 5.5/10 - So the question is, has First Strike restored my faith?

Yes, I think it has.
Halo: First Strike picks up directly where The Flood left off with the Master Chief stranded in space after the destruction of Halo. With nothing but Cortana and an empty asteroid field for company, things are looking a bit grim for the chief.
In the end he finds some survivors, all new apart from a couple of faces from the past. With this new gang the Master Chief begins a plan to get back home to Earth - but it isn't going to be easy.
Over the course of this book the Chief has so many stops and starts and springs so many traps it starts to get a little more annoying than dramatic - but this is only minor and you may not feel the same way.

Apart from these moments writer, Eric Nylund, does create a generally exciting and intense atmosphere - and proves that he will always beat William C. Deitz when it comes to Halo writing. Why? Nylund seems to have a much better grasp on the chief's character and abilities. I may have moaned a bit about all the bad things that happen to the chief and co. in the previous paragraph, but at least Nylund creates some kind of struggle for the chief. In The Flood, Deitz made everything seem easy for him in my opinion.

Something Nylund excels at is making you feel for the character's. In The Flood I felt nothing for the supporting character's or the chief himself for that matter - not the case here.
In fact I felt a lot for the character's here - and in moments of distress I actually found myself worrying for their safety! I really feel I got to know a lot of the character's in First Strike, and (without giving anything away) felt genuine sorrow when some of them passed on...

Although one thing that has haunted me since I started reading the Halo novels has come back again. Space battles. As I said at the beginning of the review you don't really need much knowledge on the games to enjoy these novels. The character's, environments, and ships are easy to imagine on your own - but the battles in space have always been something I've had trouble understanding. This may well be due to my lack of experience in the games, but it still annoyed me - especially in the final pages where I felt I was missing out on the build-up to the finale.

In the end though, Halo: First Strike is a good book. It has a lot of good action, and some great character's who I really enjoyed getting to know. Unfortunately though the space battles remain a bit difficult to understand, and sometimes things go so wrong for the Chief you can't help but get a little annoyed...


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