I love a good space opera. You can keep your ‘who done it’ thrillers, cowboys and gunslingers, dukes and damsels, and quaint pastoral country sides. I want to read about lasers, robots, and evil alien invaders. So when a friend recommended Greg Bear’s Forerunner Saga I had to give them a shot. I wasn’t sure what to expect coming into the series as these are the first books based on the Halo franchise that I’ve read. I’ll admit that I had reservations about reading a series based on a video game, even as a fan of the games themselves. After all, books written to accompany, expand, or build on other properties usually have a rough reputation.
What I knew of Halo’s backstory I had gathered primarily from playing the games. An epic tale of Humanity versus a fanatic alien empire known as the Covenant, Halo is a first-person shooter video game series first released in 2001. Halo’s popularity grew quickly, and it remains one of the biggest video game and media franchises in the world with the latest game, Halo Infinite releasing earlier this month. I really enjoyed the lore and world building in the games and Bear’s trilogy of books did not disappoint.
The Forerunner Saga acts as a prequel of sorts to the events covered by the games. The Forerunners were once a highly advanced species inhabiting millions of planets in the Milky Way galaxy approximately 100,000 years prior to the events of the first Halo game. Worshipped as gods by the Covenant, the Forerunners left behind many technological wonders including the titular Halo array: a series of huge ring-shaped satellite weapons designed to stop the spread of a parasitic organism known as the Flood.
Halo: Cryptum follows the young and adventurous Forerunner, Bornstellar-Makes-Eternal-Lasting and his two human guides, Chakas and Riser. In search of artifacts on a primitive Human world, Bornstellar is unknowingly guided to an ancient stasis chamber known as a Cryptum. There he awakens the legendary Forerunner Warrior-Servant known as the Didact and is thrust into a conflict that began nearly 10,000 years ago.
Halo: Primordium unfolds from the perspective of Chakas after he is separated from Bornstellar and isolated on the rogue Halo installation 07 with a group of other captive humans. Chakas embarks on a journey to find his friends on an out-of-control Halo now run by a rogue AI known as Mendicant Bias and an ancient being called the Primordial.
Halo: Silentum chronicles the fall of the Forerunner empire as the Flood devastates and consumes world after world. Framed as a series of discovered Forerunner logs, Silentum follows several major Forerunner characters during the war with the Flood up to the firing of the Halo array.
Greg Bear’s Forerunner Saga greatly expands on Halo’s history and adds a wealth of concepts and context. I was initially concerned that diving into the history of the Forerunners would take away much of the mystique and great sense of scale that their artifacts and legacy imbue the franchise with. However, Bear does an excellent job of presenting an alien time and culture without killing the magic by trying to hammer every facet of Halo’s legacy into the story. With thoughtful pacing, great attention to detail, interesting conflicts, and epic scale, the Forerunner Saga is an engaging read that is sure to please both fans of the game and fans of science fiction in general.