I’ve been hooked on Halo ever since I first played CE. I fell in love with the universe from the start with that game, left so full to the brim with rich potential, so mysteriously unexplained. What I loved about the original Halo is that it dropped you into the Chief’s story which was what felt like just one part of what this massive and complex universe just waiting to be discovered. It alluded to and implied an epic scale, and it managed to take itself seriously in an easily cliched genre. So when I finished the game I was hungry for more.
Then they released the first Halo books, one after another, in what would become an impromptu novel trilogy. I can’t stress enough, in a way that is not comparable to Halo book releases today, these books were huge for the time. Yes, there was a tsunami of support for Halo after CEs release, but the books, which were the only other Halo media at the time, contributed massively to both kindling the excitement and expanding the appetite for Halo content at a completely pivotal time to securing the legacy of Halo as a successful franchise.
Two novels in the trilogy, The Fall of Reach and First Strike, should take primary responsibility for the above, and they were both written by Eric Nylund (The Flood, which was the only book in the trilogy, was not very well-received). What I find most interesting about his work, besides from the incredibly entertaining prose, is how much of it is responsible for the Halo we have today. He crafted up so much of the world building that would later become Halo’s essence, from essentially nothing, only the crumbs and small details revealed in CE, escorting Halo successfully from a simple experience to a real place. I believe Bungie hired him to do specifically this, similar to how 343i hired Greg Bear to create the Forerunners. So in many ways Eric Nylund could be looked at as the secret architect behind the Halo universe.
Don’t get me wrong, Joseph Staten is The Man and we’re incredibly lucky to finally have him back (ahem* can we get a Contact Harvest spinoff game?), but without the setting that was first unveiled in the The Fall of Reach - the Spartan Program, first contact with the Covenant, human civilization as such, the lead-up to CE as well as additional background on various characters - Halo may look very different than it is today. His vision of Halo contributed massively to the military sci-fi/space opera genre set piece that the franchise is today, not to mention being the original creator of famous Halo characters who have been featured in the most recent installation (H5’s Blue Team).
Does anyone know why he left Halo after Ghosts of Onyx? Can we bring him back on board for another novel?