Friday, July 7, 2017

James Review -- Halo: Envoy

This week I decided to review Halo: Envoy by Tobias S. Buckell. The story is set six years after the end of the war between humanity and the Covenant. After the end of the war, surviving human colonists who had evacuated the planet Carrow returned to rebuild their homes only to discover that a number of Sangheili, commonly known as Elites by humans, are already building settlements on the planet. The two species' settlements are far apart but tensions are beginning to rise. Even though the human settlers are independent the United Earth Government has sent envoy Melody Azikiwe to help negotiate a truce between the two sides.

When the book begins forces loyal to Sangheili Fleetmaster Rojka 'Kasaan, who wishes to co-exist with the humans on Carrow, are under attack by a dissident Sangheili fleet led by 'Kasaan's relative Thars 'Sarov aided by a Jiralhanae, commonly know as Brutes, squadron led by Chieftain Hekabe. Rojka's forces are losing the battle with a boarding assault on his flagship imminent, so Azikiwe tries to convince him to awaken Gray Team, a trio of Spartan-IIs held in stasis on his vessel, to aid in the defense. But 'Kasaan refuses stating that the Spartans, whom he refers to as the Demon Three, dying with him will be the one thing that makes his death worth it. Azikiwe sets out to liberate Gray Team, succeeding, but is badly wounded in the process and knocked unconscious The Spartans take her and flee the ship, using the life boat they had been recovered from by the Sangheili, and flee to Carrow. This leads to 'Kasaan crash landing his cruiser on the planet to pursue and destroy Gray Team.

In Suraka, the primary human settlement on Carrow, Governor Ellis Gass is working to rally what's left of the population, the settlement's militia, and the few remaining armed sublight merchant ships of their fleet, after devastating damage suffered in 'Sarov's opening attack. They begin drawing up plans to drive the occupiers from Suraka, using their ships and a number of illegally obtained heavy weapons. And Hekabe launches an attack of 'Sarov's forces before setting out to reach his true objective, an ancient Forerunner installation hidden on Carrow.

Azikiwe and Gray Team reach an Office of Naval Intelligence outpost on Carrow where both groups decide to reveal what they know. Gray Team explains why they are so hated by 'Kasaan and every other Sangheili on the planet.

Azikiwe reveals that the United Earth Government knows why Hekabe wants Carrow's Forerunner base. The Sangheili and Humans discovered the Sharquoi, a type of super soldier created by the Forerunners. One was awoken accidentally and killed dozens of human soldiers before being killed. Sharquoi aren't very intelligent but the Forerunners created a unique device which allows the user to telepathically link with and control any Sharquoi in range. Hekabe obtained the control device during the fall of the Covenant and has discovered that Caow's Forerunner installation contains thousands of Sharquoi in stasis which he intends to unleash as his personal army in a war on any who stand in his way. When Hekabe unleashes the Sharquoi, Azikiwe is forced to launch a desperate attempt to create an alliance between 'Kassan's loyalists, Gray Team, and the remaining Surakan defenders to stop Hekabe before he gains the means to take the Sharquoi to other worlds.

I give this book 9 out of 10. It has some very interesting characters, a nice variety of battles, and some very interesting problems that the characters must face. Really, my only complaint is that I wish it was a little longer and covered Thars 'Sarov's initial attack on the Surakans and the full battle between 'Kassan's fleet and the alliance of Hekabe and 'Sarov rather then starting late in the fleet battle.

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