Set two years following the UNSC-Covenant war, the novel follows a joint excavation between human and sangheili remnants as they attempt to uncover the relics of the Forerunners. As things quickly spiral out of control, threatening the tenuous peace, and something far worse than anything they imagined awaits them in the halls of the dead...
Past novels have focused almost exclusively upon humans combating the Covenant. As such, the point here of showing both sides in a tense uneasy truce for the first time is incredibly refreshing, as are its main characters. Both Luther Mann and Usze 'Taham are very atypical members of their kind, having escaped or overcome the distrust on both sides. With one a scientist and the other a warrior, their thoughts prove to be just as interesting as the book’s core mystery, especially surrounded by those embittered by the conflict. Peter David manages to rapidly establish an even focus, voice and memorable characteristics without the book feeling rushed.
The crux of the action stems from situational pressure and the fractious nature of two former foes having to work together. As such, while it takes time for the bullets to start flying, even prior to that the tensions of dealing with Forerunner technology and a conspiracy within sangheili ranks is enough to get most readers hooked.
Unfortunately the novel is often far too direct in presenting events. Much of its structure is one which would far better benefit a comic or more visual medium. As such, beyond an excellent introduction to Mann, there are many sections where it feels as it if has been written with visual panels in mind. As such, the book doesn’t quite so organically develop as you might expect, and lacks some of lengthier character elements which would have seriously benefitted the storytelling here. What’s more is that the story has obviously been written for fans, and as such there’s very little effort made to introduce the universe to new readers.
As Halo novels go, it’s a decent outing with a few points of note. Fans who suffered through the misery of the Kilo-Five Trilogy would do well to give this one a try, and see the universe can still produce worthwhile tales.
INFO: HALO: HUNTERS IN THE DARK / AUTHOR: PETER DAVID / PUBLISHER: TITAN BOOKS / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW