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A Huge Disappointment
Let me begin by saying that I am a huge Halo fan. I love all the games and books, and I can find something to like even in the ones most consider mediocre or outright bad.

With that out of the way, this book is horrid.

It could have been a good book. I mean, it's the first major look we've got into the post-Halo 3 doings of the galaxy. Yet, with all the things Karen Traviss could've talked about, it seemed she had her sights set on one thing: the controversy behind the Spartan program. That, and... nothing else. No, really.

Alright, she does pay a bit of attention to the Elites, and it was fairly interesting to see them trying to rebuild (not to mention our first glimpse of what their females are like), but really, I can't tell if it was interesting because it really was interesting, or because I didn't have to read "Halsey's a monster who deserves to die!" and "Poor Spartans, I just wanna hold 'em and tell 'em it'll be okay!" every other line. Worse, oh so much worse, Travis not only basically retcons Halsey's entire attitude and reasons toward doing it, but she makes her an idiot who can't defend herself against those who accuse her. The same people, in fact, that helped her carry the whole thing out. And then did it again. And again. And again.

You don't remember the major plot points because it's overshadowed by people angsting over Halsey. The Conflict Ball that drives some of the plot is braindead stupid. The hypocrisy is insufferable. If you want to know what happens next in Halo, then fine, get this book. Or, preferably, check the wiki, because it doesn't have "Halsey sucks!" blazing out at you in big red flashing letters.
I've picked up that "die Halsey! "vibe too. Indeed, I haven't even read the book yet, only Halopedia's summary, and I still feel the heat of Traviss's "Halsey's a Complete Monster" tract.
comment #13868 Tuckerscreator 17th Apr 12
I wholeheartedly agree. The way the Halsey blaming and the Spartan-II project is made the single focus of everything makes no sense and seems to stem from the author's desire to somehow "correct" the setting to her own liking. I mean, I'm fine with acknowledging what Halsey did was wrong, but I don't need to hear it every other sentence.

Like you said, it's not just how the other characters act, it's also Halsey's Character Derailment from a genius into a spoiled, clueless schoolgirl and the general condescending tone where Traviss only lets one side speak and leaves the other completely flabbergasted by weak arguments and unable to defend themselves. Traviss' own pet characters are knights in shining armor, manly but gentle, ready to console the Spartans who are no longer stoic warriors, but emotionally scarred woobies.

Stuff that should've mattered, like the Shield World, is treated as a complete afterthought. It's like a bad Revenge Fic, only the author actually got paid to do it. Getting rid of Nylund was a huge mistake.
comment #13892 SpaceBee 19th Apr 12
Look up what she had to say on the Jedi. I saw this coming a mile off. I hoped I'd be wrong but no.
comment #14259 starman117 10th May 12
I just read the tropes and the summary and my only complaint about this review is that you're too nice to Halsey
comment #15134 erttheking35 1st Jul 12
CRAP! Typp. I meant Traviss
comment #15135 erttheking35 1st Jul 12
  • Typo. I'm having a bad day.
comment #15136 erttheking35 1st Jul 12
I couldn't even really finish it...I basically got to the part where Halsey got illegally arrested, read a little bit past it, and then I just couldn't go on. The pure bias and demonizing was too much for me to continue. I couldn't even *look* at the bit where the old retarded bat/hag was interrogating Halsey. One of my biggest complaint of the Halsey hate-fest in the book was how Traviss completely undermined who Halsey was (I'm not even going to call Traviss' depiction canon or regard it as such). In canon she'd totally be giving Mendez and Parangosky (or any of the other characters that are being used as Traviss mouthpiece and have interactions with Halsey) a counter "Shut Up Hannibal" lecture and given as good as she got, none of the simpering "oh woe is me...I'm such a horrible person, I deserve whatever happens to me" that was there. And not to mention it completely contradicted her previous characterization in other ways...Traviss honestly made the whole Spartan II project sound as if it was some sort of vanity project for Halsey. It really felt like Halsey and Parangosky had their characterization switched completely around...rather than being the mostly if kind/nice slightly withdrawn grandma-type Halsey is now what Parangosky was in Ghosts of Onyx, cold, calculating, evil, not sympathetic in the least and emotionally withdrawn from everyone and anyone.

And that's not even the worst part of the book, ok it probably is, but defacing the Elites is just as bad if not worse. If Halsey got character derailment then the Elites got a species wide derailment. I mean, from Halo 2 on (even if it was prequel material) we were shown that they were *not* religiously blind zealots mindless following whatever the Prophets said and having huge amounts of bigotry and hatred of humans, a great many respected humans at the very least and considered them worthy opponents very early on into the war and even wondered why they hadn't been invited into the Covenant when other species who'd put up less of a fight and been far weaker had been (Grunts, Jackals, Brutes, and Drones. Hunters actually gave a challenge and put up a good fight even if they were only on a single planet). Heck, promotional material for Halo 2 (or was it Halo 3?) said that most of the Sangheili youth, and a growing number of them, were some of the biggest supporters/likers of humanity. And let's not even get me started on how idiotic ONI itself is being (I've started calling it the Office of Naval Idiocy...or Incompetence, either of those works), I always saw it as rather like Cerberus before...but now it's pretty much a blatant ripoff of Cerberus and is functioning more like it's own autonomous entity than a subservient branch of the UNSC/UEG.
comment #15505 PrincessArien 23rd Jul 12
Heck, I only really got through it because of the "new Halo novel" thrill. I honestly can't read a single page of it anymore, because the worst aspect (the Halsey hate) is, once again, plastered on every. Damn. Page.

If I see anything that stinks of Halsey-hate within the first 5 pages, "new Halo novel" thrill very likely won't be enough.
comment #15612 OrKuunArQenByundis 31st Jul 12
There is one saving grace..., Halo GAMES overrule the novels,so hopefully, the games effectively make this non canon, who's with me! BTW Halsey was Out of character along with 99% of the cast.
comment #15758 alpha07 11th Aug 12
Yes, I was hoping some of it would be disregarded. Mostly the character rewrites.

The thing is, I can see Halsey getting locked up by Parangosky. The problem is, Parangosky is portrayed like a good guy and in the right for locking her up. It would have been better if that particular plot point was written more as a "captured by the enemy" moment for Halsey, instead of a "captured the enemy" moment for Parangosky, you know?

Eh, the trilogy's not over yet. Maybe she'll escape and get a Reason You Suck Speech against everybody else. We can only hope.
comment #15783 OrKuunArQenByundis 13th Aug 12
What bothered me the most is not even the fact that Traviss had a field day with established cannon, is was that she specifically targeted every single aspect of Halo that was good and tried to rip it to shreds. The characterization of the spartans, the moral dilemma of doing this when it is established as completely necessary, the religious manipulation of the Covenant by the Prophets, all of it. That was what halo was for me, centered around this great big uncomfortable problem. It would not be unfair to call the Spartan program evil. Yet it is unquestioned, that without the Spartans humanity would have lost the war a long time ago, and been driven extinct. Traviss left that part out, the part where we did something wrong and it saved us as a species, the part where we have been suffering and dying by the billions for a quarter of a century and the Spartan program put an end to that. And somehow, Parangosky who wants to go back to that war, who is antagonizing our only ally in an organization that still has the firepower to sweep every defense earth has aside is better than the woman who made the Spartans what they are. Halo canon has always been clear: We made the spartans into what we needed. Ignoring that need, the cold hard truths that made this universe so compelling is what makes the book so damn awful.
comment #16019 hotshot53 5th Sep 12
SPARTANS were required to supress the Johnny Rebs before they tore the human race a new one, It appears that C.S Ward, I mean Karen Traviss did not even research the story in the Frakking first place. Orignially Halsey was HIRED by ONI to do something about which was the SII program, we should boycott this book and the sequel.
comment #16071 alpha07 10th Sep 12
I genuinely love this book. I've read it three times now. Let me be perfectly clear on something however... The shield world segments with Halsey are the greatest failing of this book, and the two times I've gone back to reread it I've generally just skipped over them. The other parts of the book are simply amazing and actually work quite well without the Halsey segments in them.

That being said... I have to agree with the fact that Halsey should be arrested for her involvement in the Spartan II program. Even though what she did was necessary at the time, that doesn't mean that it still wasn't a contemptible thing to do. From the sense that I got reading it, this book is all about closure. Tying up various loose ends before we can move on to the next chapter (which apparently starts with Halo 4). Because of that, Halsey's comeuppance had to be done. Even though her actions were necessary, they were still [i]evil[/i]. In order for necessary evil to have any meaning, it must still be punished or else what was the point of it all?

I'm looking forward to the next book, and will gladly purchase it when I come across it. Am I gonna go out of my way to stand in line at the bookstore on the day of release? Hell on, the quality of the writing on Glasslands still left a lot to be desired. Odds are good it'll be a year or two before I even realize it's come out. But I'll still get a copy of it, and I'll still read it, because I'm genuinely interested in what comes next in the series.
comment #16120 Kajin 14th Sep 12
I'll keep my mind open for Thursday War. Although, from the excerpt leak they had a few weeks ago... things aren't promising.

*Cough*Parangoskynukes Sangheilios*cough*
comment #16197 OrKuunArQenByundis 18th Sep 12
Watch out, spoiler fail
comment #16198 OrKuunArQenByundis 18th Sep 12
Firstly, to Kajin. I can respect you think Halsey should be arrested, it's a legitimate position. But what about Parangosky, the woman who GREENLIGHTED THE PROJECT. For the accusations against Halsey to have any weight, they have to be made by someone who could plausibly be disgusted by the project. Nearly everyone who turns against her had a part in the damn thing Halsey was at least kind enough to be like a mother to the kids, even as she administered the injections that killed or crippled most of them. Parangosky just basically said "Let's do whatever works and let 'em get killed. i don't care."

Anyway, Glasslands is quite a terrible novel. I couldn't even read it. It was Traviss's work on GOW all over again....
comment #16817 Littlewiggle 9th Nov 12
Firstly, to Kajin. I can respect you think Halsey should be arrested, it's a legitimate position. But what about Parangosky, the woman who GREENLIGHTED THE PROJECT. For the accusations against Halsey to have any weight, they have to be made by someone who could plausibly be disgusted by the project. Nearly everyone who turns against her had a part in the damn thing Halsey was at least kind enough to be like a mother to the kids, even as she administered the injections that killed or crippled most of them. Parangosky just basically said "Let's do whatever works and let 'em get killed. i don't care."

Anyway, Glasslands is quite a terrible novel. I couldn't even read it. It was Traviss's work on GOW all over again....
comment #16818 Littlewiggle 9th Nov 12
To add on to what Littlewiggle said: Halsey even cared enough about the Spartans to work to resuscitate the one who died or repair the injuries of the ones who'd been maimed, regardless of whether they'd actually be able to serve on the frontlines and still be a Spartan or not. And she knew all of their names and could identify each and every one of them in their armor. What Littlewiggle said is spot on, if Traviss wanted someone to be criticizing Halsey over the Spartan program, she should have picked someone who had nothing to do with the creation of the I Is or later the even worse program of the Spartan II Is.

@Kajin: See, the thing is though, if Bungie, or Nylund had ever intended for Halsey to be treated like a villain and wind up with the same fate as what one would expect for one, they'd have done it before Traviss ever did, and Halsey would never have been treated like a good person or anything at all like that from the start. I honestly don't really care if you think Halsey should be arrested or not, or what you think of the character. What does annoy me however, is when people ignore everything about Parangosky and act like nothing should happen to her and instead focus everything on Halsey. ONI, and by extension Parangosky, are the ones who came up with the Spartan II program in the first place, they went to Halsey trying to recruit her, and whether she signed on or not it would have happened. Parangosky is also directly responsible for the even worse and more morally reprehensible Spartan III program where kids were being used as completely expendable suicide soldiers, Kurt and Mendez were the only ones who gave a crap about those kids and whether they actually lived or died, Parangosky and ONI were only focused on getting more suicide soldier cranked out to fight. And that's not even bringing up all of the loads of other crap Parangosky has pulled or tried to pull...such as the incident on the Mona Lisa, committing treason in the Glasslands Trilogy by actively working against the government and their goals, attempting or preparing to commit genocide on an entire species....the list goes on. If you're going to call for someone getting what they deserve, at least focus your ire on the right person(s) >_>
comment #16855 PrincessArien 13th Nov 12
In-universe, I'd probably justify it as needing a scapegoat. Out of universe, I'm going with the general consensus- Traviss did NOT do a good job.

...From what I've heard, at least. I haven't actually bought the books yet, so I'm going on hearsay for most of this. :P (Same with the Forerunner Trilogy, although I'm pretty sure I have a better idea what's going on with them, and I REALLY don't like it. But I digress...)
comment #16857 EndlessSea 14th Nov 12
I note that the primary target of criticism by ONI about the SPARTAN-II program is flash cloning, despite that being way down the list of morally reprehensible things that includes kidnapping, involuntary medical experimentation, use of child soldiers, acting as the arm of State Sec in the form of ONI, etc. Possibly because that's literally the only thing involved in the SPARTAN-II program that ONI does not do a whole lot.

Things ONI has done that Hasley was not responsible for: Experiments with the Flood(Illegal medical experiments, bioweapons research, risk of causing galactic extermination), deliberately concealing information on Forerunner artifacts in a manner nearly responsible for the firing of the Halos if Cortana hadn't managed to figure it out, leaving a fully-intact navigational database aboard one of their spy ships during the Fall of Reach that would have been recovered by the Covenant if not for the Spartans(Treason), direct jump from Reach to Earth in a Prowler despite possible risk of detection(Treason), embedding a secret security AI in the planetary AI of Harvest for the purpose of overthrowing the colonial government when it suited them, whatever the insurrectionists were angry about, the stuff they get up to in this trilogy(Treason, terrorism), and probably a lot more because they're notoriously secretive.

Where exactly is the head of ONI getting her moral high ground from?
comment #16909 nameheregrrer 19th Nov 12
Oh, and claiming the flash cloning was to soothe Hasley's conscience: What? No, that's idiotic. Secrecy was crucial to the success of the project, if it hadn't been kept absolutely secret it would have been actively counterproductive for the intended purpose.
comment #16911 nameheregrrer 19th Nov 12
@ Littlewiggle and Princess Arien

Oh, Parangosky is a complete bitch who deserves to burn in ALL the hellfire. Truth be told, in an ideal world an organization like ONI shouldn't exist at all. Pretty much everything I've ever read them doing has been one manner of war crime after another. While I believe that Halsey should be arrested for her involvement in the Spartan II project, the same could be said for everyone involved, including Parangosky herself. I liked Halsey's character in all of her other portrayals, but here she's treated with utter disdain by someone who clearly made no effort to keep her character up to code.

But like I said, those were the parts of the novel I hated. Most of the other parts I actually liked. The segments that showed the Elites trying to rebuild their shattered culture and military were hands down my favorite. Right after that would be the segments where Lucy gets separated from the group and has to try and communicate with the Hurogok. Definitely not the best, but still quite interesting, were the undercover segments that showed the sabotage and espionage. I agree it's a genuinely stupid thing to do, trying to undermine the influence the Arbiter, but regardless I did find those bits rather interesting to follow.
comment #16935 Kajin 22nd Nov 12
So to anyone who has read ''The Thursday War, how has that one shaped up? Was there any improvement?
comment #16944 Tuckerscreator 22nd Nov 12
Yes, I found it vastly better. Mostly because she kept any Halsey interraction to maybe 4-5 pages tops (which were irritating still, but I'll take it)
comment #17483 OrKuunArQenByundis 30th Dec 12
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