Jan 24, 2013

Games as Lit 07: The Halo Books (Part One)

Games as Lit is marooned on the ancient ring-world Halo as we talk about The Fall of Reach, The Flood, and First Strike as we begin to tackle the Halo novel series!

Hosts: Travis Knight, Neale Rooney

Runtime: Approx. 1:25:00.

Music taken from Halo: CE and used without permission.

Games as Lit this week with the first part of an ambitious review project: we're going to begin studying the entire Halo novel series in packets of three, spread across several episodes. I have with me Neale Rooney, a standout gentleman, a remarkable off-the-cuff critic, and also an incredibly saucy young Irishman.

The Weaving Knight is on Twitter @WeavingKnight (I'm @TravisKnight127) and facebook, where you can check for weekly updates and random brain-dribbles now and then. We're also on iTunes under "Games as Lit," where you can subscribe for instant-access to the show. We love your support and contribution, so if you're interested, PLEASE reach out and contact me at travis[at]theweavingknight.com. I need more co-hosts! We have a lot really great books coming this year, and I need volunteers! Hit me up!


  1. Yuss! I'm all caught up and looking forward to this!

  2. I quite liked this review, but there was one misconception that bugs me.

    It wasn't just colonial children who were recruited for the SPARTAN-II program. at least one Spartan has explicitly been stated as coming from Earth in the Cole Protocol.

    While I'll also also agree that ethically speaking, the Spartan-II program was a Very Bad Thing, I'd argue that the flash clones weren't made for no reason, but to a)cover up the kidnapping of the future Spartans, and b)to provide the families with a measure of closure.

    Other than that, the review was very good and I'm looking forward to the rest of this series!

    1. Also, regarding Halo:Reach, they actually posted a bit on Bungie's website that explained that Noble were Spartan-IIIs that Kurt picked because they were up to Spartan-II standards and equipped accordingly, hence the Mjolnir armour. And they're older because they're from the earlier companies, rather than being new recruits. Although Carter did look rather old regardless.

      It's located in a rather obscure source, but it *is* explained.

    2. Hi Yvon, and thanks for your comment.

      I wasn't aware, or missed, that there was a Spartan-II from Earth. To be honest, I had such a hard time with that book from narrative and linguistic standpoints that it was an utter slog to get through. We discuss it at length in next week's episode, but to be totally frank, I'm not surprised at all that I missed something like that.

      Also, I'd heard that the S-IIIs in Reach were considered up to snuff with S-IIs, but that sounds like a deus ex machina to my ears; these are mass-produced soldiers lacking the same degree of enhancement and engineering of their predecessors, to say nothing of the much-lengthened training and tailoring. If that were the case, then Bungie ought to have been so bold as to make that claim in the game, not relegate it to obscura. If they said it, it's canon, but it's a piece of canon I patently disagree with, because it cheapens both the S-II program as an ultra-elite outfit, and dilutes the terror of a program like the S-IIIs by allowing them such a success.

      I really do appreciate that you bring the points up, though: that we can deliberate over the small facts like this shows the quality put into the books, and why I uphold them as benchmarks for other videogame spin-off novels. I'm glad you're enjoying the show!

  3. Reach's story is most likely a mess because the majority of the head story guys at Bungie switched over to their new game, Destiny, after 3 and/or ODST. Especially Joe Staten, who was the lead story-wise from 2 to ODST. Hell, Jason Jones moved on after Halo 2.

    If Staten was on the Reach team, the deaths might have been handled better and the big complaints about the Pillar of Autumn and seemingly long period that Reach took to be overrun would have been tweaked to work. At least some attempts to explain stuff were made with Halsey's Journal though.

    Can't wait until you get to the Bear and Traviss books as I haven't heard too much other than a Halo specific podcast and general forum discuss. I loved the Bear stuff, it got me reading his other books. Really hated Traviss' first book, but she did better with Thursday War. Silentium and it's terrible cover have been pushed back though. Isn't coming out until March.

    Great discussion overall. I'll keep an eye out for the rest of your Halo podcasts, but the only other game books I've read are the ancient, wildly non-canon Resident Evil series and the Mass Effect stuff. Even though The Flood is the weakest book, at least Dietz didn't drop the ball like he didn't on Mass Effect: Deception. Though that probably had a lot to do with Bioware.

    1. Hi Joe,

      I had a feeling that most of the writing crew had jumped ship after 3. Reach is easily the least-thought out of the game, showing what appears to be little chronological cohesion and narrative motivation. This might be argued to be intentional: Noble Team is, after all, one part in the grander war, right? Except that they discover the Covenant, they sink a cruiser, they blow a larger ship up, etc. We don't hear of other outfit's with similar feats, and so Noble falls prey to the same trap as Delta in Gears of War: these guys are winning the war, and so we ought to have more cohesion. Reach falls prey to the "war-landscape" style narrative common to shooters at that moment during the console generation--consider its contemporary Call of Duty and Battlefield competition for an easy example.

      As to our Bear and Traviss episodes, we'll be doing those over the course of this year. We'd found out after recording (and final mixing) that the third Bear book had been pushed back to March, so we've contacted Tor to get a copy as soon as possible, and they've agreed to help us out. Look for the Bear episode around June, I hope. The Traviss episode we haven't figured out, simply because the final book is not available and little information is, too.

      If you're interested, I'd recommend reading the Bioshock prequel that we covered in episode 2. It was surprisingly good, as was the first Gears of War book... but then, we haven't talked about that.... yet. ;)

    2. Yeah, I'll check out the Bioshock one eventually. I want to play at least BS1 before Infinite. Heard good things about Gears too, and possibly the Dead Space books.