Halo’s extended universe has gotten pretty expansive over the years, and as new movies, novels, games, and TV series are announced it shows no signs of slowing down. This can be overwhelming for some fans, so I wanted to create a list of the ten most essential pieces of Halo canon that would help you get prepared for the release of Halo 5.
I gotta warn you there may be a few minor spoilers in this article. Nothing huge, I do some quick plot summaries of a few pieces of Halo fiction, but you have been warned.
10 – Forerunner Trilogy
Greg Bear’s three part epic, set 100,000 years before the Human-Covenant war, reveals a great deal of information about the Humans and the Forerunners in ancient history. While the books may be a little slow at times, due in part to the writing style, I think the series really pays off in the end with Silentium. With the appearance of the giant Guardians in Halo 5 I think brushing up on your ancient Forerunner history could be very valuable.
9 – Halo: Last Light
The last novel set to release before Halo 5 is Halo: Last Light. I can’t be sure just how much this story will tie into Halo 5’s, but Blue Team has been confirmed to make an appearance. We know the novel takes place on Gao and is concerned with a series of murders in the planets underground caverns. We also know the discovery of ancient powerful Forerunner technology sparks a huge conflict on the planet. That’s pretty much all we know for now, until the novel is released on September 7th.
8 – Hunters in the Dark
Olympia Vale is a new member of Fireteam Osiris who has a special interest in the Sangheili and the Forerunners. This novel, written by Peter David, introduces Vale before she became a SPATAN IV, and tells the story of a covert operation she took part in to stop the Halo arrays activation. If you are interested in Vale, the Sangheili, Forerunners, or just looking for an entertaining read, you should check out Hunters in the Dark.
7 – Halo: New Blood
Nathan Fillion, who doesn’t love him? He’s definitely a member of the pantheon of nerd gods, and not just because he portrays one of the coolest supporting characters in Halo: Edward Buck. Since Buck is joining Team Osiris in Halo 5 I highly recommend checking out his short novel Halo: New Blood by Matt Forbeck. It isn’t too long, and the story of how Buck got his Spartan IV gear is pretty interesting. Plus I just can’t help but hear Nathan Fillion’s voice when I read his lines in the book, they really nailed the character of Buck and since the whole story is told from his perspective it makes for a great read.
6 – Halo: Nightfall & Forward Unto Dawn
Locke and Laskey are both going to play big roles in the story of Halo 5, to learn a little more about what drives both men you should check out the two Halo live action series Nightfall and Forward Unto Dawn. Nightfall’s plot follows Locke when he was an Oni agent sent to investigate a large piece of installation 04 that broke off after the events of Halo:CE. Forward Unto Dawn follows the story of a teenage Lasky, who is training at the Corbulo Academy of Military Science when it is attacked by the covenant. While neither series is critically acclaimed, both provide a decent amount of information about their respective characters. If I had to recommend one over the other, I would say Forward Unto Dawn is the more compelling of the two.
5 – Hunt the Truth
This one seems pretty obvious, but the hugely successful Halo audio series Hunt The Truth should be on everyones lore list. The series itself is very well done, and the plot genuinely surprised me at times. While a lot of the events it covers are more clearly explained in The Fall of Reach, it is interesting to see how ONI can manipulate peoples perceptions of events. I’m sure that some of the information in the first season of Hunt the Truth will be relevant to Halo 5, and if not then the second season definitely will. You will want to be all caught up in order to enjoy the new episodes this September.
4 – Halo: Escalation
With Halo 5 taking place eight months after the end of Halo 4 there have been some significant story events that are sure to effect the plot of Halo 5. If you don’t want to get all 22 issues you can grab issues 7 – 10 to catch up on Blue Team, 13 – 17 and 19 – 22 to find out whats happening with Jul M’Dama, Commander Palmer, and Catherine Halsey. If you are a Tanaka fan then you should bridge the gap between those two sections to get a little more background on this fearsome lady.
3 – Unyshek’s Halo Story Video
The most obvious source of Halo lore is the story in the games themselves, thats why next on my list I have Unysheks fantastic Halo Story Summary video. Not only will this video fill you in on every detail of the story of every game, but it also seals up the cracks with the small details you might have missed between games or when things got a little hard to follow. It’s a fantastic video and it definitely lays a good foundation upon which all of the other lore is built. Even if you are familiar with the story I highly recommend checking out the video.
2 – Halo: The Fall of Reach
With the upcoming animated series launching at the same time as the game, you need to check out it’s source material, the original novel that started it all, Halo: The Fall of Reach by Eric Nylund. I am sure the animated series will tell an exciting version of the events of the book, but as you have heard countless Game of Thrones fans cry “THE BOOKS ARE BETTER!” The Fall of Reach is a fantastic novel written by Eric Nylund that introduces the entire Halo universe and all of the major characters. Not only is it a great source of information about the Halo universe, but it’s also a very well written book. Even Greenskull, who says he hates reading long novels has read this book. If you haven’t read any other Halo lore you need to read this book first.
1 – Online Sources
The web is a great place to find Halo information of all kinds and I wanted to end this list with online sources because they are a great companion for when you have questions or want to know a specific bit of info. The Canon Fodder section of Waypoint and the Halo Cannon YouTube channel are both great resources, along with the R/HaloStory community on Reddit. Now I know the DJays out there are all like “wiki wiki what?” so halopedia.org is by far the best Halo wiki, and I highly recommend you use it when you just HAVE to know EXACTLY how much Dr.Halsey weighs (it’s 117 pounds, OH HOW CUTE!) Obviously there are a lot of Halo lore sources online so I can’t name them all here, if you have a favorite Halo lore community be sure to leave it in the comments.
Honorable mentions go to Ghosts of Onyx, and First Strike, two other great Halo novels by Eric Nylund, and the Kilo Five trilogy by Karen Travis. These are in no way important to the story of Halo 5, but they are awesome books you should definitely check out.
As I said this list won’t catch you up on EVERYTHING in the Halo universe, but it should definitely provide context on all the major characters and events that lead up to Halo 5. If I missed something don’t forget to leave a comment!