Halo: The Fall of Reach Want to know the backstory behind Halo? This prequel should answer many of your questions.
By - Sal "Sluggo" Accardo | January 17, 2002
Its not often we talk books here at 3DActionPlanet, especially with the recent
glut of new consoles and great games for them. However, if you played through
one of this seasons most popular titles - Halo - you may have found yourself
intrigued by the story and wanting to know more about the conflict between the
humans and the Covenant.
Halo: The Fall of Reach, by Eric Nylund, does just that. A 340-page novel, the
book does more than provide simple background for the popular Xbox game. It
literally establishes a universe for an entire franchise, spanning 35 years and
numerous worlds, and makes it clear that theres a much bigger story yet to be
In The Beginning
If youre just joining us, Halo told the story of one super-soldiers fight
against countless aliens on a mysterious artificial ring-shaped world. While the
game story raises and answers numerous questions of its own, it leaves much
of the larger story untold. Who are these soldiers fighting youre fighting with
and for? Where did the aliens come from? And who is the hero known simply as
The Fall of Reach answers all of these questions (and more) in a story basically
presented in five acts. Set in the 26th century, you first meet the future
Master Chief as a six-year old boy named John, and follow the recruitment and
training of him as well as the rest of the elite SPARTAN soldiers.
The story then jumps ahead to the squads mid-teens, where they undergo a series
of experimental procedures that give them superhuman abilities (those of them
that survive, that is). The soldiers are further outfitted with an experimental
armor system, and hastily pushed into service when an alien threat known as the
Covenant makes first contact with the human race and systematically begins
wiping out any human colonies they can find. And as you may have guessed by the
title, the story climaxes with the destruction of a major human base on the
planet Reach, and the discovery of Halo.
One of the best things about the book is that it provides a good deal of
background information on all the major characters from Halo - Captain Keyes,
Cortana, and the Master Chief himself. While I questioned Keyes loyalties at
various times playing the game, the book makes it perfectly clear that he is a
lifetime servant of the UNSC.
Of course, its quite interesting to meet the mysterious Master Chief a six-year
old boy, and watch his life progress throughout the book. We first meet him as
John, and then Number 117, ascending rapidly through the ranks of the
military. We also get to see the evolution of the Spartans from the militarys
perspective - its obvious this is a pet project not liked throughout the
military, and theyre kept so isolated that its all other soldiers can do to
keep from staring when in Spartan presence.
Lots of small touches are inserted throughout the book, suck as background on
items like the Cole Protocol, which plays a large part in setting up the future
plot of Halo. At the same time, The Fall of Reach also has a number of
well-written action sequences. The Spartans engage in a number of missions
throughout the story, and there are a series of large-scale ship-to-ship battles
as well. It would be easy to see the book converted to a movie, or (even better)
a mission pack for the game.
No Poster Children
One of the more interesting aspects of The Fall of Reach is that it doesnt
paint a very pretty picture as far as the history of the Spartans. The children
determined to be the best candidates are literally taken away at age six and put
immediately into boot camp. By age fourteen, the children are bona-fide killers,
and are written about as if they were lifetime soldiers which, in effect, they
are. There are some moments where those in charge question the morality of their
actions, but never for very long.
Perhaps the best compliment I can pay The Fall Of Reach is that I was never
really sure if it was written afterward to explain away Halos universe, or
beforehand to give the game a rich universe to draw from. The book does a great
job of selling many of the less plausible parts of the game - frankly, it should
be included with every copy of Halo.
As you might guess, The Fall of Reach isnt going to win any Pulitzers anytime
soon. Its well written, and a solid page-turner, but its still basically an
action movie presented in book form.
When all is said and done, though, Fall is more than a simple prequel to Halo.
It presents Halo as only one chapter in a much bigger story, and really a side
story at that. While the games conclusion hinted at the possibility of a
sequel, The Fall of Reach offers no such ambiguity it makes it perfectly clear
that theres a war with the Covenant to be won or lost, and we can only assume
well be hearing more about it before too long.