Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Book Review: Halo: Cryptum

    Greg Bear has been around for a long time.  His is one of those names I’ve seen on the sci-fi shelves whenever I’ve scanned them.  But I’ve only ever tried him once before, when I was a young lad when I read Strength of Stones.  Frankly, I didn’t like it, in spite of some awesome ideas.  So, when I saw that there was a new Halo book out, exploring the universe’s ancient past and the origins of the Halos themselves, I was very excited.  But when I saw Bear’s name attached to it, I became a bit wary.  I picked up the book none the less and gave it a go.

    This is the first in what is called The Forerunner Saga (not to be confused with Andre Norton’s Forerunner series, which I’m also reading), and deals with the mysterious race that built the Halo first discovered by man in the video game, and the others learned about later.  We learn about their culture, their religious devotion to something known as The Mantle, the corruption of that devotion, and the breakdown of a millennia old way of life.  And we see it all through the eyes of a spoiled brat of a rich kid, who grows up as his world falls down. 

    I find it interesting that Humans play a part in this history, and that even in this deep history, there is a deeper history going back countless ages.  That here, Humans have been active on the galactic scene before, having made something of an empire for themselves, before being crushed by the Forerunners and limited to their homeworld, which would become known as Earth.

    The book does take a while to really get going, and I found the narrator to be kind of a pain in the ass (though that is intentional) and the setting takes a bit to get a handle on.  But it’s worth the effort.  Once it does get on a roll, things move pretty fast.  There are some really grand ideas and images, some interesting characters, and a lot of stuff set up, hopefully to be explored in the next book.  Now that I’ve enjoyed this book as much as I have, I’m going to have to look back on some of Bear’s other work, and give him another go.

Halo: Cryptum
Author: Greg Bear
Publisher: TOR
ISBN: 978-0-7653-3004-8
Pages: 343

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