The Cole Protocol (Halo) Paperback – Nov 25 2008
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About the Author
Tobias S. Buckell is the author of Halo: Evolutions, Sly Mongoose, Ragamuffin and Crystal Rain. His books have been finalists for the Nebula Award, the Prometheus Award, and the Romantic Times Award for Best Science Fiction Novel. He hails from the Caribbean, where as a child he lived on boats in Grenada and the British and U.S. Virgin Islands. When he was a teenager, his family moved to Ohio after a series of hurricanes destroyed the boat they were living on, and he attended Bluffton University in Bluffton, Ohio, where he still lives today. Buckell fell in love with science fiction at a young age, reading Arthur C. Clarke and Isaac Asimov novels when he was seven years old. He is now a full-time author and freelancer.See all Product Description
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In short, if you are following the series, get this book. It is a good read. Much better than Contact Harvest, but not on the same level as some others, though still enjoyable.
I mainly read Halo novels for the worldbuilding, and the back history of characters we've come to know and love through the game. I don't expect each author to do equally well with all aspects of the Halo world, and this book is no exception. Captain (here, Lieutenant) Keyes gets a turn in the spotlight, and he's kept in-character, with a properly Keyesian, out-of-the-box maneuver at the end. There's a part played by Spartan Grey Team, and while I (only a mild fan of the Spartans) was satisfied with it, people who are focused on them will likely come away disappointed. Still, their interaction with other characters (ordinary humans and the Elites (Sangheili)) is interesting more for what it says about the other characters than what it illumines about the Spartans.
Where Cole Protocol shines is its depiction of ordinary humans. Nylund's books give a good military/UNSC perspective on the Human-Covenant war, but Buckell gives you a sense of what it's like to live there and be a civilian trying to make your way through a series of completely sensible, but still extremely onerous laws. You get a better sense of the Insurrectionist perspective here, and the Rubble (a ragtag civilization built by refugees, Innies, and miners behind enemy lines) is well depicted. Delgado, a civilian pilot caught in the middle, is an interesting character and a nice counterpoint to Keyes and the Helljumpers. Buckell also carries on the tradition of novels exploring AIs in the Haloverse-- Juliana, an AI on the verge of rampancy, has a small part that I wish were a bit larger, because it seems right on the edge of really exploring the ramifications of rampancy for people who depend on the AI (and for the AI herself), but skates away before dealing the subject much more than a glancing blow.
Which is the main flaw of the storytelling in this book, it tries to tell a few too many stories, and ends up giving short shrift to most of them. This is, sadly, especially apparent with what should be a selling point of the book, that it delves further into the culture of the Sangheili and tells the backstory of one of the most important Elites in the universe (Thel 'Vadamee-- who will be a bit more familiar to readers by story's end). The previous Halo novel, Contact Harvest, developed rather well the backstory of Halo's nefarious Prophet Hierarchs, and I had hoped for something similar for 'Vadamee and the Sangheili. Instead, Buckell bounces off every "warrior race" stereotype known to military SF and fantasy and settles nowhere in particular. 'Vadamee gets a lot of attention in the story, but is only thinly characterized-- though the one exception is that some good attention is paid to conflicting notions of "heresy" and showing the fault lines already present in the Covenant. Considerably better is the depiction of the Kig-Yar (Jackals). I'd even go so far as to say that a Kig-Yar leader named Reth somewhat steals the Covenant side of the story away from 'Vadamee, at least for being a bit more unexpected and interesting.
In sum, it's worth reading if you're a canon completist, but falls well short of its potential. I think the Haloverse is complex enough to support a much, much better book, and I continue to hope that one day we'll see that book. Until then, enjoy Cole Protocol for the things it manages to do well.
The Covenant forces are attacking human ships and colonies trying to capture navigation equipment. They want the data that will lead the Covenant back to earth, the home world of all humans. A human asteroid base is attacked by Jackals who are trying to steal the navigation equipment that they want. Ignatio Delgado, a human, is saved by a Spartan of the Gray Team who swears him to secrecy not to expose the Spartans presence in the sector. He surmises that the Spartans are deep in enemy territory trying to protect the same navigation data that he was just fighting to protect.
Delgado, the man who was saved suspects someone in the leadership of the Insurrectionists is trying to sell the covenant the navigation data they want....
The book to me was OK. I love Sci-Fi and read the book after reading the books written by Eric Nylund. That is my problem since the books written by Eric were so first class and engaging I found this one to just average or a little above. I don't play the video game so I can only judge the books as to whether I enjoy them or not. Nylund was such a good author that he should have been selected to write all of the Halo books. This book is somewhere between a 3 to a 4 when compared to the other Nylund books which are all 5 star ratings.
Please don't take me the wrong way, I just enjoyed one author's writing style much more so it is hard to wipe that out of my memory when trying to rate this book. It is worth reading but it could have been more than what it developed into.
Read it for the genre of Sci-Fi and read it for the Halo insights, just don't expect the same consistent quality of storytelling.
This book is 3 1/2 stars for me.