Halo: Shadows of Reach is the 30th Halo novel, released in 2020 and intended to bridge the gap between Halo 5: Guardians and Halo Infinite. It is written by Troy Denning, making this his fifth Halo novel, and the third book in the A Master Chief Story sub-series.
One year after the events of Guardians, much of the galaxy is under martial law enacted by the Created. Blue Team, under the command of John-117, are assigned a mission named Operation: WOLFE. They are to return to the ruins of CASTLE Base on Reach, which they have known since their early days in the Spartan-II program, and retrieve sensitive information that could turn the tide against the Created. Upon arriving on Reach however, they soon discover that an alien armada named the Banished have taken a foothold on the planet, and have their own interest in the secrets that lie within.
A limited edition version of the book additionally features a standalone short story, Sacrifice, which was written by 343 Industries staff and ties into Shadows of Reach.
- Continuity Nod: When Blue Team discover a container with the SWORD Base logo in Dr Halsey's lab, the Chief brings up NOBLE Team's mission to destroy the base, and wonders if there was something more to that mission.
- Early-Bird Cameo: The book features the first appearances of a few characters and equipment that later appear in Halo Infinite, including antagonist Escharum.
- Internal Homage: The book's cover art◊ is a deliberate throwback to the original cover◊ for Halo: The Fall of Reach.
- MacGuffin: What Blue Team are sent to retrieve from CASTLE Base: A trio of cryo bins and a container with the SWORD Base logo on it. The cryo bins are very heavily signposted to be Dr. Halsey's preserved cloned brains that she kept after using one to create Cortana. The contents of the container is much more of a mystery.
- Mythology Gag: The Banished's goal on Reach is to discover a Forerunner slipspace portal that connects the planet to the Ark. It turns out that this is the same portal that was previously depicted in the Halo: Reach multiplayer map "High Noon".
- Spiritual Successor: As the title implies, the book is a clear throwback to Halo: The Fall of Reach, with both books being set on the titular planet and acting as prequels to their respective games; on that front the fact that Halo Infinite is being pitched as being a throwback to the narrative style of Halo: Combat Evolved is a bonus.
- Stealth Sequel:
- To Halo: First Strike. The Forerunner crystal, a Plot Device which was established in First Strike but promptly forgotten about for the next 17 years, finally gets a payoff in this book.
- The Ferrets also get a surprise supporting role in this book, making this a small continuation of Halo: Retribution.