Friday, June 5, 2015

James Review -- Halo: Broken Circle

This week I decided to review Halo: Broken Circle by John Shirley. The story begins thousands of years before the Halo games and shortly before the founding of the Covenant. The San’Shyuum, later known as the Prophets, and the Sangheli, later known as Elites, are at war.  The conflict is sparked because while both groups worship the Forerunners, they disagree on whether the practical use of Forerunner artifacts is allowed. A San’Shyuum High Lord named Meken ‘Scre’ah’ben is overseeing the recovery of Forerunner relics when he comes into conflict with a Sangheli commander named Ussa ‘Xellus. Meken orders Ussa’s death then changes his mind, feeling that his opponent might be useful someday. After the battle, the story jumps to just after the end of the war. The  San’Shyuum, who are revealed to be the descendants of refugees who fled after losing a civil war on their world, and the Sangheli, have united. However, Ussa is now leading a rebellion against the new Covenant. But Ussa doesn’t have the strength to win in a long war so after one of his elderly followers reveals the location of a Forerunner shield world he had accidentally discovered long ago, Ussa takes his remaining followers there, hoping they or their descendants can someday liberate their homeworld. But while he discovers some of the secrets of the shield world, including the fact it was the final shield world completed and intended as an advanced prototype for a new generation of shield worlds, he must deal with growing dissent within the ranks of his followers. Meanwhile Meken must face the new Ministry of Anticipatory Security, headed by an old enemy. He must also undertake a dangerous mission to the distant and highly dangerous homeworld of his people, seeking both Forerunner artifacts and willing females due to the small Prophet population leaving them with severe inbreeding problems, or risk retaliation against him and his pregnant mate. But returning from this mission leads to him being sent to his final confrontation with Ussa, whose location has been revealed by a former follower who fled the shield world. After the confrontation, the story jumps forward to a point in the Human-Covenant War. Zo Resken, a descendant of Meken discovers a conspiracy by one of the highest ranking Prophets to strip the Elites of their rank within the Covenant. But when he refuses to aid the conspiracy, he finds himself slated for execution, only to be rescued by a group of Sangheli whom he had attempted to warn of the coming treachery. This leads to a journey which will reveal many secrets of his distant ancestor’s time and quests.      

I give this book an 8 out of 10. The book is mostly political maneuvering and such along with exploration of ancient relics but the few battle sequences are well done. In some ways though, I feel this would have been better as a two-book series, with one book set in the Covenant’s founding era and the other set in the covenant civil war and Human-Covenant War era. I think this would have allowed a lot more detail on such matters as how the Covenant had changed from birth to the war which I would have liked to see.

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