Quick View: This novel delivers a stunning story with great entertainment value. I Recommend this novel to anybody interested in Humans V Alien conflict, or super soldier hero stories.
Publisher’s summary: Reach fell, and when hope seemed lost, humanity stood face-to-face with the possible extinction of all life in the galaxy and lived to tell the tale. But that was just one epic battle, and the war rages on . . .
The Covenant shows no mercy as they continue to assault every human world they can find, but in their way lies humanity’s great champion, Spartan-117, the Master Chief. Together with his AI companion Cortana and the last remaining Spartans, the fight continues on two fronts.
One takes a crew of Spartans to the charred surface of Reach, the only planet they’ve ever known as home. But beneath the surface, Dr. Halsey has discovered an ancient secret…one that could alter the course of the war.
Meanwhile, Master Chief and Cortana head towards a gathering of Covenant warships because the UNSC’s worst nightmare has come true: the Covenant has discovered the location of Earth and is forming a massive fleet to destroy it…and all who oppose the will of the Prophets.
Full Review: Halo: First strike is the second installment of Eric Nylund’s Halo Trilogy based around the hit FPS game series from Bungie. I highly recommend anybody planning on reading these books to start with Halo: Fall of Reach, as it takes care of the majority of the world building and character development for the series. A knowledge of the plot of the game Halo: Combat Evolved is also needed to understand First Strike, however there is a novelization of the game called Halo: The Flood, which is a suitable supplement for the games story. This novel is down right brilliant, with its amazing array of characters and plot points, coming together to form a well written and very entertaining novel for an afternoon read. You’ll find yourself turning page after page just waiting to find out what happens next. That said, there is still some things that interrupted an otherwise seamless flow.
We start off during the end of the previous novel, where John-117 must make the decision to split his Spartans into 2 teams. In the prequel, We followed John on his mission and subsequent endeavor the the Halo ring. In this book, we follow the other team on their mission to defend the planet Reach. We jump back and forth between this team, and John following the events of Combat Evolved, with each story following its own path. It isn’t always easy to write a book which follows two different story-lines, buy Nylund finds a few clever ways to merge the two into one coherent story with plenty of twists and turns along the way. He continues the spot-on character development from the previous novels, allowing for more emotion to break through the SPARTAN’s hard shells and solid power armor. Their relationship between regular military personnel as well as Doctor Halsey gives insight into the minds of these unique individuals and the social anxiety that comes with being a augmented superhuman.
A lot of stories fall victim to repeating plot-lines or caricatures of previous installments, but Nylund does a great job at giving First Strike an original and entertaining story. I got into trouble in school for reading this book during class, which I blame on the page-turning, nail-biting aspects of the novel, and anybody invested in the characters and story will find a hard time putting this book down. The ending of the novel sets the stage for Halo 2 as well as Nylunds Final Halo Novel, Ghosts of Onyx. The places and the situations which everybody arrives to offers a satisfying end to the novel, allowing those who somehow manage to stay unimpressed with the series with at least an adequate feeling of completion.
Overall, the novel is well balanced, has great progression, and attention to detail. The one problem with the book is how Nylund gets some of the moral quandaries across. During battle, the SPARTANs are perfect soldiers, but instead of having to face morally questionable decisions during battle, he has these moments during the in-between sections of the story. During ship travel, mostly. These quieter parts of the plot is where we see the ethical breakdown of John and his friends in decision making. Although this gives them more time to ponder their choices, it doesn’t give the same type of influence as if they were making a snap judgement. Although he changes this later on in the series, First Strike is left to suffer with this seemingly care free approach. That said, it still gives great retrospect and insight into the quandary that’s required to fully enjoy this book, and how he manages to keep it impactful despite its execution makes his skills as a writer even more apparent. Overall the novel delivers on both entertainment value, and mental stimulation. I would recommend this novel to anybody interested in SciFi Humans V Aliens, Super soldier hero stories.
Reviewed by Jeo