In the first, desperate days of the Human-Covenant War, the UNSC has enacted the Cole Protocol to safeguard Earth and its Inner Colonies from discovery by a merciless alien foe. Many are called upon to rid the universe of lingering navigation data that would reveal the location of Earth. Among them is Navy Lieutenant Jacob Keyes. Thrust back into action after being sidelined, Keyes is saddled with a top secret mission by ONI. One that will take him deep behind enemy lines, to a corner of the universe where nothing is as it seems.
This book, when compared to some of the other Halo novels, has a few advantages and a few disadvantages. Unfortunately, it is not a novel that can stand alone without the support of the franchise. There were things that I enjoyed about it, but it still took me an abnormally long time to finish it.
The best thing about this book is the fact that it spends more time on characters than many of the other books. It takes an approach similar to many “Armageddon” type stories with many characters that start out in separate situations and eventually cross paths. I like this format but it doesn’t seem all that suited to the plot of this particular story.
Additionally, although there is a strong focus on character the characters are not all that well developed. They start off a bit shallow and nothing happens to round them. Even the important character of Jacob Keyes seems no more important then an average civilian, when more time would have been better spent getting into his psyche.
However, I do enjoy the development of the alien species particularly the Covenant Elites. I felt like a lot of the Elite’s culture was unique and well thought out. This is the greatest strength of the novel. However, it doesn’t do much to make up for the fact that it’s just boring, the characters are shallow and nothing really important happens. Overall, it’s got some fun elements but not the strongest book in the franchise.