Friday, February 6, 2015

James Review -- Halo: Mortal Dictata

This week I decided to review Halo: Mortal Dictata by Karen Traviss.  This is the last ook of the Kilo-Five trilogy. Unlike book two, which focused primarily on the plot regarding UN military’s efforts to keep the civil war among the remnants of the Covenant going, this one focuses almost exclusively on the reborn colonial independence movement. Specifically, it focuses on Staffan Sentzke who believes, correctly, that his first daughter Naomi was kidnapped by the government and replaced with a clone who died less than two years after taking Naomi’s place. Naomi, who was kidnapped to become part of the Spartan-II program, survived the war and has now been attached to the trilogy’s namesake unit which has been assigned to deal with her father. Early in the book, Staffan obtains a former Covenant battle cruiser equipped with anti-planetary weaponry which he rechristens the Naomi. Meanwhile, while observing her father, a few of the memories that were suppressed during Naomi’s training arise. And a group of former Covenant personnel are seeking to reclaim the Naomi. After capturing part of Kilo-Five, Staffan begins negotiations to trade the battle cruiser for his daughter being offered the chance to leave the military, but  during the negotiations the former Covenant forces strike and both sides must unite to face their assault.
I give this book a 4.5  out of 10. The story is OK but adds nothing significant to the plot of the series. There are massive scaling issues like claims that the battle cruiser can wipe out a planet when earlier works have shown it taking hundreds of ships to do so. And the single biggest flaw--an all too common one for this author--is that she forms an opinion on something, then writes the books as if her opinion is the truth, even if earlier stories in the setting show otherwise. I don’t think anyone who has read the series considers the Spartan-II program, which kidnapped children to train as child soldier and replaced them with clones who usually died very swiftly, along with maiming many of the subjects, a good thing. But the author is convinced that the entire program was the fault of the woman who came up with the idea and that the government and agencies which approved and funded the project weren’t at fault for it. The story also implies that Doctor Halsey feels no remorse for the project when she’s been shown attempting to protect the Spartans and atone for the harm the project did to its subjects in multiple prior stories.


  1. I love the Halo novels, but I struggled with The Thursday War because of what I dubbed "Halsey-bashing." Your review suggests the Halsey-bashing is still in full force in Mortal Dictata--do you think it's worth a read, or will skipping it not affect the overall plot?

    1. If anything I think the Halsey bashing got worse. And no I doubt this book will have any major impact on any future novels. I don't feel that anything that seriously effects the big picture of the Halo universe takes place in it.