Warning spoilers for Halo Smoke and Shadows, the spoiler tab will contain spoilers for Smoke and shadow and references/Minor spoilers to past halo works, notably Halo 4, Kilo-five, Last light and Spartan assault. do not click it if you wish have not and/or wish to read this novel unspoiled. my final thoughts will be posted below the spoiler.
Well first I would like to say I did enjoy the book, this is mostly me venting about small things creeping in to halo that are starting to get to me. Well first I would like to say that having the protagonist want to kill and will try to kill Gek but in Spartan ops Gek gets killed by majestic team around a year after the events of smoke and shadow, this causes the vendetta against Gek feel pointless since we know he will die by the hands of DeMarco, not Rion. another quip was that them not finding the spirit was predictable, sure its because plot but I feel that this sort of plot would have worked better before they announced HW2, (we all knew she was not going to get to the ark.) My third problem was that she really never learned that Sargent forge died, she saw bits of halo wars monster cut-scene, (just not as awesome as the version we saw in HW) but thats about it. now this one is more minor, her having a military grade slipspace drive, even if she is a successful scavenger, how did she get this? we also know that one of her crewman is an undercover oni operative and I doubt oni would enjoy a civilian getting their hands on a military grade slip-space drive. another thing is that they get the ai for the halo wars shield world and oni very uncharacteristic were not on them like a pack of dogs despite having an operative that knows about it.
Another thing is that I see halo feeling more like starwars than halo with this story. This started with Kilo five and Venezia and this book carried the torch, like I do enjoy the grey feel halo but I don’t really like this starwars feel, I mean starwars is great but I don’t like the scavenger sort of aspect in halo, it does not seem to fit for me. This leads me to another gripe about the current halo franchise, everyone knows about the forerunners, like I get all the aliens knowing about the forerunners but I feel that to many humans, to many civilians know about them. I feel that the UNSC would do everything in their power to keep the forerunners a secret, sure covenant would probably leak it (most likely a Kig-yar) but a normal human would think its so me weird alien religion and not real. A notable thing that is more to do with last light than Smoke and shadows is that when Arlo or someone who worked for him said that the 717th was only about forerunners, so how would he know that because that seems like something that the UNSC would keep secret so they don’t paint a target on the 717th and the artefacts they are retrieving, but I digress. These are mostly problems I have with Smoke and Shadow but also a bit of modern halo lore in general, so I hope you enjoyed reading this.
EDIT: I forgot but Rion said something that seemed to be referencing the banished, which helps it as promotional material for HW2, but it leaves the question, this confirms that the banished is known by humans has early as before H4 so, why havent we heard of them before.
Final thoughts: Smoke and Shadow was a good book and I enjoyed reading it but these were some of the few things that stood out to me, but all in all its a good book but I think we can all agree it was designed more a promotional poster for HW2 then a book like Last light or Cole protocol, its more similar to New blood, Hunters in the dark and Nightfall, promoting the next game (but those were building origin stories for osiris or in new bloods case [best out of all of them] explaining why buck was with osiris and not alpha nine.