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Halo: Cryptum: Book One of the Forerunner Saga [Paperback]

Greg Bear
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Sept. 13 2011 Halo (Tor Paperback) (Book 1)

100,000 years ago, the galaxy was populated by a great variety of beings.

But one species--eons beyond all others in both technology and knowledge--achieved dominance. 

They ruled in peace but met opposition with quick and brutal effectiveness.

They were the Forerunners--the keepers of the Mantle, the next stage of life in the Universe’s Living Time.

And then they vanished.

This is their story.

Bornstellar Makes Eternal Lasting is a young rebellious Forerunner. He is a Manipular, untried--yet to become part of the adult Forerunner society, where vast knowledge and duty waits. He comes from a family of Builders, the Forerunners’ highest and most politically powerful rate. It is the Builders who create the grand technology that facilitates Forerunner dominance over the known universe.  It is the Builders who believe they must shoulder the greatest burden of the Mantle--as shepherds and guardians of all life.

Bornstellar is marked to become a great Builder just like his father.

But this Manipular has other plans. 

He is obsessed with lost treasures of the past. His reckless passion to seek out the marvelous artifacts left behind by the Precursors--long-vanished superbeings of unknowable power and intent---forces his father’s hand.

Bornstellar is sent to live among the Miners, where he must come to terms with where his duty truly lies.

But powerful forces are at play.  Forerunner society is at a major crux. Past threats are once again proving relentless. Dire solutions--machines and strategies never before contemplated--are being called up, and fissures in Forerunner power are leading to chaos.

On a Lifeworker’s experimental planet, Bornstellar’s rebellious course crosses the paths of two humans, and the long lifeline of a great military leader, forever changing Bornstellar’s destiny …and the fate of the entire galaxy.

This is a tale of life, death, intergalactic horror, exile, and maturity. It is a story of overwhelming change--and of human origins.  For the Mantle may not lie upon the shoulders of Forerunners forever.   

Frequently Bought Together

Halo: Cryptum: Book One of the Forerunner Saga + Halo: Primordium: Book Two of the Forerunner Saga + Halo: Glasslands
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Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By fastreader TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is the start of a trilogy detailing the rise of the Forerunners in the Halo world. The first book is by Greg Bear as is the second.

In this start to the Forerunner Saga we meet a very young Forerunner named Bornstellar Makes Eternal Lasting who just can't sit still it appears. He is obsessed with the past and sneaks away to look for lost treasures.

Contrary to his Dad's instructions he strikes out for a planet called Erde-Tyrene where it is rumoured that ancient Forerunner and Precursor technology lies waiting to be discovered.

Bornstellar finds two humans that are willing to take him to a special place that is hidden from direct site either on land or from the air.

There the young Forerunner activates an ancient cryptum that contains a warrior who has been asleep for over a thousand years.

Soon Bornstellar and his two human guides are on a ship with the warrior and on their way to stop a plot to destroy the centre of Forerunner Technology. Along the way Bornstellar is linked to the warrior as he mutates to a higher state in the Forerunner hierarchy.

Great forces are at odds with the Forerunner political elite and we are introduced to not only Halo and what they were created for, but also the background to the Flood, and the Ark.

This book is a great start to describing in more detail how the Forerunner dominance of space occurred and who their enemies were.

I can't wait to get a copy of the second book which came out this month (January 2012)
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4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars Aug. 10 2014
Fan so the book is great. Great seller and delivery service. Thanks.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing story! for all Halo fans its a MUST HAVE Sept. 22 2011
I wasn't too sure comfortable with the story at the beginning, since its a Forerunner telling the story. But after a while it becomes really really interesting, I can't wait for the second to come out! I recommend it to all Halo fans! it answers many questions and it raises a lot more !!! you'll be hooked for life on the Halo Universe!
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Amazon.com: 4.1 out of 5 stars  238 reviews
72 of 82 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Begninning of what looks to be a very interesting expansion of Halo lore Jan. 5 2011
By Ross Bragg - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Greg Bear has a peculiar style, a sense of jumping right into the action and explaining later. Granted, I've only read Eon and Slant, but his peculiar take and writerly skill (apologies to Eric Nylund, but Bear is better at what he does) lends a feel more at home in Hard SF than MilSF. It works, too- Cryptum is an enthralling read and an extremely worthy expansion to the lore of the Halo universe.

In what reads like a last confession, Bear puts the reader in the shoes of Bornstellar Makes Eternal Lasting, a rebellious young Manipular who will advance to become a Builder, one who will be responsible for the grandest of Forerunner constructs. His journey rapidly morphs into one on which hinges the fate of the Forerunner civilization and galactic life itself. Bear draws his characters from the Terminals found on the Ark in Halo 3- Mendicant Bias, the Didact, and the Librarian all make appearances- and helps to put those in context, along with astonishing revaluations about the origin and history of humanity and the Prophets (San 'Shyuum as they are referred to in the novel) their earlier interactions with the Forerunners, and the origins of the Flood.

It's nice to have a non-militarySF take on the Halo universe, and doubly so to have that voice be Greg Bear's. Anyone who wants to get started on what's looking to be an excellent trilogy would be well-served to pick up this book.
24 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars short and sweet Jan. 13 2011
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Having grown accustomed to the tomes of Frank Herbert and Dan Simmons, Cryptum was a blink in comparison. That's not to say that it was bad however; quite the contrary. Being a connoisseur of Halo fiction, I can say with confidence the writing here is easily on a level all its own. Bear attempts to elevate Halo to a certain quality of literary fiction I've felt was long overdue for material with so much promise. Does he succeed? Almost. Maybe the action-centricity of Halo is too ingrained; maybe the story was just too short, but the personal quest didn't quite work for me. I can only report with surety that I never quite got the grandiose action I was hoping for, nor the deeply moving introspective revelation I was craving. Just when it was getting really good it ended. But of course this is to be a trilogy, so hold off on the judgements.

As a novel on its own merits, good but not great. As part 1 of a scifi opera, a very auspicious beginning. If you're a fan of Halo's fiction, this is the payoff to your dedication and the best reason thus for why we do what we do. With any luck part 2 will be something akin to Empire Strikes Back in its personal grandeur. I'm of the opinion Bear has the talent.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I read as a Greg Bear Fan, not a Halo Fan: loved it! Nov. 28 2011
By John L. Miller - Published on Amazon.com
I am a fan of both Greg Bear and Halo. I've never read any of the Halo fiction, and my interest in the universe never extended beyond the games (which I've played Halo / 2 / 3 / Reach / ODST). When I saw Greg Bear had a book I'd not read, I *had* to get it and read it, even though it happened to be Halo-related: I tend to stay away from game / tv fiction.

I was immediately at home with the writing. Like many of Bear's books, the story unfolds without much explanation, you're instantly immersed in the world. Despite knowing a fair amount about the Halo universe, most everything in this book was new to me. It's set well before the Halo games, and has more to do with the Forerunners and the Precursors than anything else. These races are almost mythical in the game, discussed only tangentially.

The story unfolds through the eyes of a young forerunner, eager to explore the universe for reasons of his own. Although it starts a little slowly, this lets you get at least a preliminary bearing in the universe. From there the story unfolds, and the relevance to the Halo universe becomes more clear.

I found the characters interesting, as well as the technology, and the mythology of the universe. The story unfolds in a way which almost makes me forget it's based on the Halo game universe. To me, this is a Good thing.

If you're not a fan of immersive science fiction (jumping straight into the universe without much in the way of explanations), this will probably be a hard read for you. If you DO like that sort of fiction, however, and you like Bear's other works, you'll be in heaven. And, even if you hate Halo, if you're a fan of some of Bear's other works, I suspect you will be quite happy to read this book.

Personally, I loved it and I'm happy we own a copy!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent! Almost forgot that this was a Halo book though Nov. 7 2012
By Jimmy Kim - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
An excellent installment in the Haloverse though a little vague and disconnected to what we are accustomed to. A little softer and gentle compared the constant actions and hyper descriptions of the other books.

I read this once over and in first impressions did not like the book because of how different and brief it was but then I reread it and realized the impact and subtly it had compared to the others and then began to thoroughly enjoy this new direction of the Halo world.

The book itself is thick but the pages are thick and the words big. You will breeze through this book in about a day or two.

I am a DEEP Nylund fan but I can also be a Bear fan too. I am looking forward to purchasing the next few books to this series.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An exemplary start to a great Halo concept Oct. 3 2012
By T. Hill - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Halo as a series has almost unlimited potential for compelling and interesting stories, but one of the areas most ripe with potential has largely been un-elaborated on. The wondrous Forerunners and their mythological legacy has always been one of the most fascinating and mysterious aspects of Halo. Up until now, the most we really got in terms of explaining what exactly happened to them was in the games' stories (the details of which were cryptic and mysterious at best), and in the form of obscure (but cool nonetheless) terminals in the games that added some detail to their demise. This book, Cryptum, is the first of a trilogy meant to finally explain what happened 100 millennia ago that lead to their disappearance. Great idea!

The book is written from the perspective of a young and rebellious Manipular (think Forerunner teenager) named Bornstellar Makes Eternal Lasting, who runs off to search for ancient artifacts from an even MORE ancient, powerful, and seemingly extinct race, the Precursors. Along with some human companions he has made the journey, they uncover and awaken a powerful, legendary Promethean (think super powerful Forerunner warrior) general named the Didact (recognize that name from the terminals of Halo 3 and Halo Anniversary?) who has spent the last thousand years in exile-by-slumber in a Cryptum. Needless to say, times are pretty tough for the Forerunners, who are now rumored to be struggling against the hideous flood in their border worlds. How fortunate, that they would find this legendary general at such a time! It's the start of a compelling and exciting journey, to be sure. This is merely a glimpse of the premise of the story, and obviously the book has many more interesting details to uncover.

Greg Bear is a fairly famous science fiction writer with a rather impressive resume and pedigree. It's easy to see why he has this reputation when reading Cryptum. His diction is undeniably compelling and elegant, and the flow of his writing has a major feeling of eloquence to it. Bear's writings from Bornstellar's perspective perfectly reflects the kind of elegance and higher-thinking you'd expect of the brilliantly advanced and enlightened Forerunners, as well as the kind of arrogance you may expect of a teen (but he grows up quite a bit throughout the story in ways both conventional and not). The story itself is fairly compelling and fast moving. It was very easy to just keep reading and reading and reading, 100 pages flash by in what seems like a few minutes. It's super engrossing. The characters are, for the most part, well written and the story surrounding them progresses quite naturally. It's very compelling.

Bear's intriguing word choice and flow also complements the overall Forerunner culture. Even after reading this book, the Forerunners still feel mysterious and details of their existence are still quite open to interpretation and speculation. Even the physical description they are given leaves some room for interpretation, and their technology still feels like magic. How does their personal armor/suits allow them to go without sleeping? How does it extend the lifespan so many thousands of years? Writing from the perspective of a Forerunner is pretty clever, as he describes the technology like it's common and the inner-workings and functions of it all is already understood, so no attempt to explain that stuff is made. So while we may read that a ship that assembled itself from a mechanical seed activating under a mountain, converting said mountain into raw materials and then into a massive monolith of a ship, we have no clue how it does so, keeping the sense of mystery and wonder at the Forerunners' ingenuity intact. Great job with that!

The only complaint I would make about this book is that, at times, it feels as if Bear was instructed not to say *too* much with regards to important details. This trilogy is being coordinated by 343 Industries, the company in charge of Halo's development, and as such, they have a large degree of control over what details go into each book. They have expressed that this trilogy of books will majorly resonate with the upcoming Halo 4 and the rest of the new Reclaimer Trilogy. Because of this, the book sometimes feels like major details are kept hush-hush and skimped over, and more minute, inconsequential details are fluffed up and stretched out more to fill-out the book, all in the name of keeping Halo 4's surprises, well, surprising. In fact, some "big moments" are so small in comparison to the build-ups of them, you'll be left wondering, "Wait, what just happened? Did I miss something?" As such, there are times when this book feels a bit like a tease, a dangling carrot on a stick that doesn't quite get the pay-offs or explanations you'd hope for after all the build up in the book. Again, I understand the information and details have to be rationed out because of 343i's agenda. Even so, these complaints are pretty small in comparison to the strengths of the book. Don't let it dissuade you from picking Cryptum up. It is, after all, the first in a trilogy and the future installments will undoubtedly answer questions this book doesn't.

Overall, this is a definitely solid start to a great idea for a Halo book trilogy. A lot of details that have been revealed in this book may upset a lot of people who thought they figured everything out about the Forerunner history. I was kind of shocked at some of the details this book revealed about not only Forerunner history, but also the history of ancient Humans, San 'Shyuum (also known as the "prophets" of the covenant), and the flood. Despite the "carrot on a stickery" at times, this book has *a lot* of relevatory details to enjoy. As one who loves the Halo series mostly for its awesome story, this is a fairly easy recommendation. Just don't go in with preconceived notions of what the story should be, and you'll be much rewarded with a well-written, fascinating look at the beginning of the end for the Forerunners.
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