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Halo: Outcasts – Book Review


halo outcasts titan books
Halo: Outcasts is from Titan Books

Written by Troy Denning, the events of Halo: Outcasts take place in 2559 shortly after the destruction of Doisac by Guardians until the control of Cortana and just before the Banished attack Zeta Halo. In laymen’s terms that means this sits between the events of Halo 5: Guardians and Halo Infinite.

We are once again introduced to the Arbiter Thel ‘Vadam taking the scenic route to avoid suspicion when the vehicle he is travelling in is stopped by Forerunner soldiers, still under the control of Cortana. Immediately the tension is set as the Arbiter does the diplomatic thing to avoid any further bloodshed. Now weaponless, he and his entourage return to Vadam Keep.

It isn’t immediately obvious who the Forerunners were hunting, but Thel ‘Vadam is just grateful it isn’t him.

Returning Home

Returning home he has a message waiting for him; someone is arriving in the valley and they want to speak to him. When this turns out to be an Oath Warden by the name of Crei ‘Ayomuu, ‘Vadam only reluctantly agrees. What begins is another tense standoff as ‘Vadam struggles to get the information out of ‘Ayomuu that he is there to tell him. For a race of aliens, their conversation tactics of stalling and one-upmanship are remarkably human-like.

‘Ayomuu has gotten wind that someone on his planet of Sanhelios has been planning a trip to N’ba, a distant planet that means “World of death” in Sangheili. Unsure of why anyone would want to visit a place with a name like that, ‘Vadam pushes for more information. It turns out, N’ba – or Netherop as it is also referred to in the Halo: Outcasts book – may be the first planet where a Guardian met their demise. Suddenly, ‘Vadam is very interested in straight talking with ‘Ayomuu.

Guardians are the huge, hulking planet destroyers that are still under the control of Cortana. For one of those to be destroyed must take some doing. And then, having the knowledge of how one is destroyed could put ‘Vadam in a very advantageous position. With this knowledge, he may finally be able to unite all the Sangheilians.

Personality in abundance

Halo: Outcasts does a brilliant job of replicating the Arbiter’s personality in prose. His stoic, thoughtful demeanour is wonderfully represented, almost to the point where you can hear Keith David speaking the lines in your head.

Meanwhile, Olympia Vale, fresh from her exploits chasing down Master Chief as a member of Fireteam Osiris, has been monitoring the goings on on Sanhelios and is a bit on edge. Even more so when she receives a strange message ordering her to head to a secluded area. There she is reunited with Keely Iyuska, an old friend who may or may not have had something to do with the strange goings on around Vale. Her request is simple; she needs to get to N’ba too.

Thus a race begins for this so called Guardian killer between humans and the Sangheili. Not necessarily to control whatever it is, but more to protect it from falling into the hands of others. Least of all Cortana’s, whose presence is still massively felt across the universe.

Unlike the Halo you would know

Halo: Outcasts is very unlike the Halo games we are used to. It is much slower paced, and far more focussed on the political side of things, rather than pushing gunfights on every corner. That’s not to say they are completely absent, but this literature format is far more suiting to the story being told here.

And Troy Denning has a penchant for description and exposition. Even in the opening chapters you learn about where certain vehicles are manufactured and how, as well as Vale’s backstory as a child. Sometimes this does venture a little bit too far to be completely necessary, but there can be no denying his writing lacks depth here.

In terms of Halo lore knowledge, I have the basics down. That comes mainly from the mainline games, but my additional knowledge from spin-offs and various other medias is lacking. Halo: Outcasts goes full on in the opening few chapters, but a few searches in the Halo wikis helped, and after that the book, for lack of another term, ‘opens up’ and becomes more accessible for fans of all knowledge.

Perhaps at times, there is a bit too much exposition and descriptive writing on certain things, but that’s only because there is a collision course imminently between Vale and ‘Vadam; something that you just want to get to all the more quickly. But if a bit of pacing is the only real issue here, then Halo: Outcasts doesn’t have much to worry about.

Halo: Outcasts from Titan Books

If you like the sound of all the above, Halo: Outcasts is available now and can be found on the Titan Books website priced at £8.99.

Huge thanks go out to Titan Books for allowing us the chance to get hands-on with Halo: Outcasts.

Richard Dobson
Richard Dobson
Avid gamer since the days of Sonic the Hedgehog 2. Grew up with the PS1 and PS2 but changed allegiances in 2007 with the release of Halo 3.
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