Quick View: Just when Traviss started to redeem herself with Thursday War, she utterly and completely disappoints us with this sad excuse of a novel. My 8 yr old Nephew can write a more compelling Halo Story than this.
Full Review: Oh, where to start. Where to start with this one. I don’t know what’s worse, the utter disrespect for almost every character in the novel or how pitiful the novel is in comparison to the previous two. If you have read my previous reviews of Karen Traviss’ Kilo-5 trilogy, then you know I’m no huge fan. Traviss is known for playing with the lives of characters, and is infamous amongst Star Wars fans for killing off of Mara Jade Skywalker in her novel Sacrifice. Mortal Dictata is the final nail in the coffin for the Kilo-5 trilogy, and
drives home the point that no matter how skilled or established an author is, not everybody is fit to write a Halo novel.
Where do we begin in this “story”? Well, Traviss proves that nobody is beyond cliches when she takes a character with an established backstory thanks to Nylund’s SPARTAN II trilogy and disregards everything about them. Naomi, the only active SPARTAN II member of Kilo-5, suddenly has all of the exposed emotions a regular person might have. Traviss gives her a sense of humor, attraction, as well as renegade feelings for her relatives. Whether her father is the member of the insurrection or not, a SPARTAN II would feel no remorse no difficulty in carrying out a mission to defeat that person. The spartans were raised together from an early age to fight or die. They were programmed to be the perfect warriors. Because of this, they are incredibly introverted, and only really socialise with their fellow spartans. Now, I can understand if she begins to socialise with her fellow soldiers of Kilo-5. I can even accept if she begins to have feelings for one of them. But, I will not accept that she will let her feelings about a father she barely knew intervene with her mission to end the insurgency.
The world building is non existent, as Traviss uses the same barren, run down planets from her previous novels, and only expands on the already established worlds. All I can say about it is it seems to be a mix between Mad Max and Firefly in terms of scenery, except for when we follow the terribly dull Kig Yar segments of the book. I actually had to skip entire sections of the novel because I couldn’t stand the plotline of the Jackal pirates. I felt no attachment to them, their purpose, or their plight. This book felt more like a SyFy one off tv show than a Halo novel, and it shows throughout the book.
At the end of the day, the parts of the story that are redeemable fail to shine through the dirt and debris that is this books attempt at entertainment. Too many contradicting signals and a failure to mesh with the other Kilo-5 books, let alone other Halo novels, signal the death of this series. I sincerely hope 343 learned their lesson with risking their franchise with Traviss, and judging by Hunters in the Dark and New Blood, they certainly made better decisions in who to write for Halo. Overall, it’s still Halo, and has done more with the insurrection than other novels.
Final Score: 4/10