Full Review: Halo: The Cole Protocol brings a new, very unique take on the halo universe, its tropes, the factions, and in the end, humanity as a whole. We see a new and original view of the relationship between the United Nations Space Command, the SPARTANS, the Rebels in hiding, and some humans and aliens caught in the crossfire as the Human-Covenant War finds its way into even the smallest and well hidden human colonies. Tobias Buckel does a great job stepping up to the plate and entering the ring with writers like Eric Nylund and Frank O’Connor, two people who have essentially created the Halo Universe. His story is dramatic, gripping, and offers a darker more serious tone to the already mature series. Buckle keeps a professional writing style throughout the book, and does his best to keep the presentation of the novel as good as the content.
The novel follows the story of a human rebel living on a large space station hidden in an asteroid belt. Before The Human-Covenant war, The outer colonies were terribly taxed by the inner colonies and sought revolution through war. This was led to the creation of the SPARTAN program, which was making quick work of the rebels before the Covenant began their genocide of the human race. Now, these former rebels have fled into the far reaches of occupied space, and are slowly being picked off as the Covenant hunt human life without bias. A team of Spartans and a ballsy young Lieutenant named Jacob Keyes help these suspicious rebels in saving the lives of all the humans living aboard this hidden station as the alien pirates they were trading with give up their location for profit.
The story has an enchanting rhythm to it, as every word of every paragraph of every chapter follows one after the other in a charming and poetic way. The formal writing style adds a level of maturity to the gritty sci fi adventure and the developing story of these vastly different groups of people coming together works wonders as Buckel creates a work of art out of a somewhat old and simple idea. Unlike previous novels, it's not all about the good guys as the rebels who have no sympathy for the lives of the UNSC put their past behind them for the greater good. In the other stories we see a lot of selfishness coming from the rebels who encounter the protagonists, and in stark contrast Buckle adds humility and humanity to the bigger picture.
The overall descriptive style and world of the novel fits with the darker themes Buckle was going for and meshes well with the established lore and understanding of the Halo universe. The original plot elements and progression are well paced. That said the novel does suffer from a lack of diversity. The majority of the novel takes place in the same place, and with a universe as large as halo, if it isn't on a halo, you gotta be everywhere. Now, some could argue that the story demands attention to the events that happen in this one place, but I beg the question, why must the group of people stay stagnant when they have all of Human occupied space as their playground. Beside that, the story really isn’t anything special. Sure, it's new and unique to Halo, but ultimately it's a pretty recycled concept overall. I still recommend reading it as it's a fun addition to the Halo series, but it's far from required reading.
Final Score: 7.5 out of 10