Halo: Primordium (Novel) Reviewby Adam Dileva
If you're like me, you probably bought Halo: Primordium without any thought to the author or when it takes place in the Halo lore timeline because of the already established love for the series. Halo: Primordium is the second novel in The Forerunner Saga trilogy by Greg Bear. Preceded by Halo: Cryptum, those looking to pick up exactly where the first novel left off may be disappointed, as it takes a different approach with a change of pace, especially from the other Halo novels.
For those that didn't get to read Cryptum, it takes place 100,000 years before the events of the games and Master Chief's journey and focused around young Forerunner Bornstellar Makes Eternal Lasting (Bornstellar for short) and his adventure to Erde-Tyrene, which is now known as Earth. He meets two humans named Chakas and Riser who accompanies him on his quest and eventually become very important in the grand scheme of things. It's eventually revealed that Forerunners were actually created by the Precursors, who were thought to have been eradicated long ago. This isn't true, as it seems Timeless One has survived and wants revenge for his fallen Precursors.
Primordium is told in first person, though this time the protagonist is Chakas and some of the events of Cryptum are now told through his eyes. Interestingly, the Primordium starts with an ONI team finding and interrogating a Forerunner monitor duplicate, asking questions about the Didact and what happened during the acient war between Forerunners and Humans. The monitor reveals that it was once a human named Chakas, thus begins his story being told from flashbacks primarily set on Halo installation 07, the ring under control by rogue AI Mendicant Bias who assaulted the capital.
It turns out Chakas crashed on this Halo in his escape pod trying to flee the assault on the capital and awakes to find two other humans taking care of him, Vinnevra and her grandfather Gamelpar. He wants to find his friend Riser and all three take off on the journey. Vinnevra's geas leads the group in a direction near the edge of Halo, but it turns out she led them to one of the "Palaces of Pain" (Flood research facility) instead of safety, so they decide to turn around and go in the opposite direction.
During their lengthy journey, they notice that the planet they are nearby is becoming perilously closer and closer. Chakas is then tasked with making sure that Halo doesn't collide with the nearby planet, and to do so, he needs to navigate and rotate the installation so that the planet will pass through the Halo ring.
I won't go any further into the plot, as this is where it really starts to get interesting and pick up. Just be warned, the first three quarters of the book is very slow and mostly about the three main characters walking across Halo and describing things they see. The last quarter of the book is fantastic and really becomes interesting at this point, but you do need to endure the rest to even get to this point. I genuinely had a "oh my god" moment near the end of the book that now is making me anticipate the third and final book in the trilogy and even puts a different spin on what I think of the games.
As I said, be warned that the majority of the book is filled with nothing but the group wandering across Halo, and just as it seems something interesting might happen, it doesn't and they move on. Aside from describing things Chaka sees, the author leaves quite a lot up to your own imagination while describing a time where humankind is not near the top of the chain
While the last bit of the book saved it for me, it wasn't as fluid and constant as Cryptum was. After every few chapters I took a break instead of wanting to continue on, as reading about Chakas walking for a dozen or two pages can only be interesting for so long. What Primordium does do right is bring you deeper into the lore and ultimately gets you excited at the end and makes you anticipate the final book in the trilogy.
You'll need to be a diehard Halo fan to really enjoy this novel, and you might even need to learn some new vocabulary if you are newer to the series to fully understand what is going on. It's been said that the story will have "resonant connections" to Halo 4 coming out later this year, and after finishing Primordium, I believe I have a better grasp on what's going to happen in the grand scheme of things surrounding John-117.