Michael Cavacini

An award-winning arts and culture blog.

Review — Halo: The Fall of Reach

Since 2001, there have been more than 30 Halo novels, with another — Halo: The Rubicon Protocol — coming out in June. That’s 20 years of Halo video games, as well as novels expanding on the universe that fans love. With Halo having just celebrated its 20th anniversary, I’m going to listen to and review all of the Halo novels, starting with, of course, the first — Halo: The Fall of Reach by Eric Nylund. Read on for my thoughts on this book.

Publisher’s Summary

The New York Times best-selling origin story of the Master Chief – part of the expanded universe based on the award-winning video game series Halo!

The 26th century. Humanity has expanded beyond Earth’s system to hundreds of planets that colonists now call home. But the United Earth Government and the United Nations Space Command is struggling to control this vast empire. After exhausting all strategies to keep seething colonial insurrections from exploding into a full-blown interplanetary civil war, the UNSC has one last hope. At the Office of Naval Intelligence, Dr. Catherine Halsey has been hard at work on a top-secret program that could bring an end to the conflict…and it starts with 75 children, among them a six-year-old boy named John. And Halsey could never guess that this child will eventually become the final hope against an even greater peril engulfing the galaxy – the inexorable confrontation with a theocratic military alliance of alien races known as the Covenant.

This is the electrifying origin story of Spartan John-117 – the Master Chief – and of his legendary, unstoppable heroism in leading the resistance against humanity’s possible extinction.

My Thoughts

I listened to Halo: The Fall of Reach using the Downpour audiobook store and app, which is run by Blackstone Audio. It’s a great, affordable service that offers a wide array of audiobooks, including the Halo series, in various formats (i.e., M4B and MP3). So, I fired up Halo The Fall of Reach on my phone, put my headphones on, and gave it a listen.

Halo: The Fall of Reach is Master Chief’s origin story. At a little more than 11 hours in length, this audiobook is densely packed with action, lore, and science fiction for fans of the Halo franchise to enjoy. Considering how much happens in this book, it’s definitely worth listening to multiple times to pick up on all of the details. I’m very impressed by the author’s ability to take on such a complex subject matter, and deliver a story that’s true to the source material.

This novel originally came out on October 30, 2001, less than a month before the first Halo game hit Xbox in November of the same year. So, to build anticipation for the game, this book was released, providing fans with a taste of what was to come. It’s a brilliant idea, and clearly it worked. Years later, Halo: The Fall of Reach was adapted for comics by Marvel and a 2015 3D animated miniseries.

Todd McLaren narrates this audiobook, and he did a fine job. Sometimes the audio levels wavered, but 99% of the time Halo: The Fall of Reach was a pleasure to listen to, with the narrator bringing characters to life and heightening emotional moments with the cadence of his voice. This is a very difficult book to narrate because it’s science fiction, meaning there are a multitude of words that aren’t part of everyday societal parlance. Taking this into consideration, Todd McLaren delivered a solid performance.

Halo: The Fall of Reach is a story that’s meant for fans of Halo. While I do think those who’ve never played the games might be intrigued by the premise, it’s much easier to digest if you can visualize what’s being described in the book, and those who’ve played the games have a leg up in that department. If you consider yourself among the Halo faithful, then I strongly encourage you to buy Halo: The Fall of Reach. It’s an action-packed, mystery-riddled adventure worthy of the Halo name.

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