It’s been a while since I did a book review, I think the last one was Gene Simmons’s autobiography which was really good. But I’m trying to read more often now. The Halo books have come across my table many times, but I never really committed to them because most of them were part of the lore that didn’t interest me. As soon as I took interest in the Forerunners after being exposed to them in the terminals and falling in love with the Ur-Didact, I set my sights on reading Halo books again on them and on the Sangheili.
The Forerunner Saga I couldn’t put down, now I’ll share my thoughts with you in 3 mini reviews on each book.
My brother had this book, and while I was helping him with his homework I saw it and asked him what it was about. He said the Didact and at that time I was still learning about him, so I borrowed it, sat down in my room that following evening and read it for hours. At first, a few things were really confusing because I was introduced to an entirely new area of the Halo universe, so I had to recap a few times, by reading previous chapters whenever I started a new chapter, just to understand what was going on. Bornstellar-Makes-Eternal-Lasting interested me at first, and I wondered why he was travelling with two humans: Chakas and Riser. Let alone, I had no idea that humans had different species themselves. Manipular, Miner, Lifeworker, Warrior-Servant, Builder, it took some time for me to realize that those were all Forerunner rates and Manipular is where you start. The book got even more epic once Bornstellar and the humans found the Didact’s Cryptum hidden on the island. I tried to imagine the “Revival” track playing as Bornstellar opened the Cryptum. It seems like he gave the Didact a spa treatment to revive him!
Anyway, as soon as the Didact came into the story, he was completely different than what I was used to when I think about him. He was calmer, more noble and serious. But from there, he was more of a character, and I liked that right away. In fact, I now use “Aya” as my phrase of acknowledgement or another way of saying yes thanks to him saying it a few times in this book! I understood what was happening from then on, up until the Didact, Bornstellar, and the humans were captured by Faber-of-Will-and-Might the Master Builder. After that, I had to recap again. I really wanted to know what happened to the Didact, but it then went to just Bornstellar who slowly began to transform into a second Didact after the original mutated on him. It got really tense. A lot of times you’re wondering, is he becoming more like the Didact as each chapter passes? By the time I reached the end of the book where he meets the Librarian, then I knew for sure that he was now the IsoDidact.
Cryptum, once you understand it, is a good start to the series. You probably didn’t know Bornstellar, but you definitely know Shadow-of-Sundered-Star. I liked where it was going and I was eager to find out what happened to the Ur-Didact, and even Chakas and Riser which brings me to……
Now, Primordium is a slow read and some things that aren’t very interesting to you, seem to go on for a while until something exciting happens. I could easily picture Chakas landing on the rogue Halo controlled by Mendicant Bias and meeting Vinnevra. To be totally honest here, this book confused me the most, all I knew at first was that Chakas was trying to find Riser and get back home. This happened simultaneously as the time when Bornstellar was sent to the Capital and then it was under attack. Vinnevra had geas implanted in her from the Librarian and Chakas, along with Gameplar were following her. There were a lot of phrases and things I didn’t understand, or that surprised me as I read. “The Palace of Pain” I soon learned where humans were experimented on for the Forerunners to learn how humanity was able to resist the Flood. The really interesting parts started to happen in my opinion, when Chakas met Genemender-Folder-of-Fortune, we get a nice recap on the Human-Forerunner war, and then Riser rejoins us and a big ape named Mara.
I knew something was eventually going to happen to Chakas, especially after I read the first chapter. Vinnevra has geas from the Librarian, and Chakas has the conscience of Forthencho the Lord of Admirals inside of him, just like Bornstellar had the Didact inside him before he woke up to fully mutate. The novel didn’t get really exciting until the very end when Chakas saves the Halo from crashing into another planet by entering the Silent Cartographer, Forthencho communicates with Chakas one last time, the IsoDidact encounters the Primordial (which we now assume is a Gravemind) and seems to have killed it. But sadly, poor Chakas seemed to be undergoing composition during his connection with the Cartographer so now it looks like he’s been composed and the truth is that he is actually 343 Guilty Spark now. I still think the conscience of Forthencho still exists inside him, even after being blown up in Halo 3.
I’ll finish this review off by noting that there is one part I really loved and that was a flashback of the Ur-Didact speaking with Forthencho before he was composed and became Chakas’s conscience.
Last but not least, Silentium. I swear, this book was so good I couldn’t put it down. It may seem to confuse you at first because the chapters are strings told from perspectives of different characters, there is no set one, and they cycle between them. At first the end of the Forerunner empire is nearing quickly and we find out the truth, and finally get to read things about the Didact and the Librarian. Catalog I often pictured as a floating carapace when he meets with the Librarian and the IsoDidact (who she has now accepted as her husband.) But there is more than one Catalog as they are collecting testimony from both Didacts, Faber, and the Librarian of crimes against the Mantle. I really wanted to know what crime that was. Reading about the Librarian’s last meal with the Ur-Didact before he enters his Cryptum I try really hard to picture what their estate on Nomdagro looks like because I am writing a sequel to my original Didact fanfiction, and most of it takes place there. I am glad the Ur-Didact refused to stop making shield worlds and submit authority to Faber. Superweapons don’t always have to be the answer right? Plus, he believed it went against the Mantle.
Now, the one part that makes things really interesting, is that we go back forth for the next several chapters of the Ur-Didact and the Librarian in different times. Right after the Ur-Didact enters his Cryptum, the Librarian goes to Path Kethona to learn the origins of the Flood, and met with prehistoric Forerunners. This part really confused me, so I’m reading about it on Halopedia as I type this. Most of the time I’m absorbing myself in the Ur-Didact’s history when it comes to the Forerunner-specific part of the lore! But I’ll say, I know that the Librarian learned something: Precursors were chased to Path Kethona after Forerunners rebelled against them.
Now, I got so excited when I got to the chapters from the Ur-Didact’s perspective, taking place simultaneously as Bornstellar’s time home then the Capital, and Chakas on the rogue Halo. Stranded in a Burn, he, Catalog, Sharp-by-Striking, and Maker-of-Moons gotta escape because of incoming star roads and Forerunner vessels that may be Flood-infested are approaching. Maker I never liked, but Sharp still remained loyal as a former Warrior.
I really had a heavy heart as the Ur-Didact and Catalog stayed behind and upon entering the star road, they encountered the Gravemind. I couldn’t stop reading once I read about the Ur-Didact describing what he saw and it ends with “Stop this! Stop the pain!” and that was the last I ever read from his POV.
Things get really emotional when we cut to the Forerunners losing ground to the Flood as it infects them and spreads throughout the galaxy. The IsoDidact is back and one really suspensful chapter would definitely be Faber talking to the Master Juridical about how he saved the Ur-Didact.
The one thing that bugs me, is that when the Ur-Didact, IsoDidact and the Librarian meet at the estate on Nomdagro. There was never any mention in the book that the Ur-Didact had those failed experiments that changed his appearance, so I assumed it had already changed when he meets with his duplicate and his wife. Reading the meeting part is proof that he has gone mad, and abandons them at the Greater Ark to compose the human colony on the Ark’s Omega Halo. I was like, YES when the Librarian eventually said that the Ur-Didact is no longer her husband. MINE!!! (sorry not sorry)
I should probably wrap this up because this one’s going longer than I thought! I’d say that by the time this book came to an end, the most exciting chapters were when the Librarian confronts the Ur-Didact and locks him in his Cryptum on Requiem. She even enlisted the Ur-Didact’s former lover Endurance-of-Will to help her, despite her loyalty to him. Also, the remaining Forerunners make the choice to fire the Halo Array from the Lesser Ark to stop the Flood. The IsoDidact almost died but was saved by monitor Chakas, then to be named 343 Guilty Spark and guards the Halo Installation 04. Surprise surprise. But I almost cried because just about all the other Forerunners die including Faber and the Librarian who went back to Earth to draw off the Flood.
But Rebirth is a fresh bonus to learn that Riser is still alive as well as Vinnevra and Forerunners including Chant-to-Green, Growth-Through-Trial-of-Change and the IsoDidact. I was relieved to see them all at peace together celebrating before they leave the humans to restart their lives on their new home.
I was really excited to read Silentium because fans told me it was amazing and it is. Best out of the three books.
So to finish this off, I absolutely loved this series and couldn’t put the books down. The ending was really sad but that’s sometimes what makes a book series good. You know that I am an Ur-Didact fangirl so upon reading about him in this series, I have to say that this is the way I wish he was portrayed in the games; more of a major role. The way he is in the books eventually leads to his madness in the games, just like the terminal vids to the same thing.
I love the Halo lore but I tend to only focus on parts of it that I really like: the Forerunners and the Sangheili and I’m hoping to read Halo books that focus on the Sangheili next, like Broken Circle, Glasslands, Thursday War and Shadow of Intent (coming out at the end of this year and God I hope it’s about Rtas ‘Vadum because I’ve been dying to learn more about him!)
Writing about this makes me wanna read this series again, and hopefully someday I will get around to doing that because right now I have some other books I have to tackle and read.
So be it, aya and aya again.