Halo: Cryptum and Primordium
I am a sucker for good expanded universe stuff. I have played all the Halo games and dig the story in all of them, and have read all the books that are centered on the Games timeline from Contact Harvest to Ghost of Onyx and recently the Halo: Grasslands which picks up after the events of the Fall of Reach and Halo 3.
So when I heard that Bungie/343 had decided to bring in a well known author to work on a series of books that would be set back in time when the Forerunners were at thier peak I was very interested. Gregg Bear's style is very different from that of the other authors that have written books in the Halo universe. He tends to focus more on the relationships between the characters with a "sci-fi" bubble that quite large. He never seems to get too technology focused. I am finding it a very appealing style and a nice contrast to the other Halo books.
Cryptum and Primordium are sequels in the core sense of the word. The events of Primordium pick up right after the end of Cryptum and do something you don't ofter get in books a series like this, which is answers to questions that are posed or supposed in Cryptum. The expansion of the universe in these two books is amazing. The linkages to things that are referenced in both the Halo games and other books is striking because it not simple references but expanded and deep references in to character attributes and events that you never could have imagined and done so seamlessly you never feel like Bear is reaching to make the connection. Its almost as if he wrote the whole story in advance and we only picked up on the story about 6 books into the series.
The characters are very well fleshed out, and the relationships with each other are very complicated but I never felt I like I was missing anything. Bears ability to take you from one end of the galaxy to the other without ever lapsing into techno-babel or filler is impressive and he weaves his plot lines together so well and at the right pace that you feel like you getting just enough information about those lingering questions just about every page you turn. There is one section of Primordium which is paced a little slow but you are still getting rich character development through that section which make you want to see where the relationships will go.
In Cryptum you follow the adventures of a Forerunner who is following a quest to a planet inhabited by ancient Humans. In the second book you are following the adventures of one of the Humans which accompanies the Forerunner from the Cryptum book. One criticism is that the first person voice of the main character in Primordium is very raw and choppy as the books starts. This is clearly done for affect because the young human grows in knowledge as the book progresses but its tough going in the genning with the choppiness of the dialog.
If you are a sci-fi fan I would say you could pick up both of these books and have a good read. If you are a Halo "story" fan these books will be a must read as the exposition of the plot and back story and connections to the events in the Master Chief universe are fantastic and only served to draw me in that much more. If you are only a fan of the games and never really paid much attention to the story or expanded universe I would say you won't get as much out of it. I will say though that there is a pretty cool ending to Primordium that if you know Halo in any capacity, has the potential blow your F-ing mind!
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