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Halo: The Cole Protocol by Tobias S. Buckell
Review by Andrew Brooks
Macmillan Audio Audio CD  ISBN/ITEM#: 9781427205285
Date: 09 December 2008 List Price $39.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

Jonathan Davis, let me say up front, is a wonderful narrator. One of the best I've heard in quite a while. His accents, gender specific voice roles, pronunciation and energy are all top notch. Those qualities can make or break an audio book, especially since you'll be listening to the narrator for close to six hours. Unfortunately the book, Halo: The Cole Protocol, isn't a book you'll want to sit through for six hours. Reading the latest in the Halo mythos yourself most likely wouldn't take you that amount of time, however, so if you're trying to decide between the audio CD and the old fashioned words on paper edition, get the book. You'll thank me.

The Cole Protocol isn't all bad, although it's nowhere near as good as the books Nylund has contributed to date. It's nine years after the book Contact Harvest and Captain Keyes is given the task of keeping the location of Earth a secret from the Covenant. Oh, and there's also a plot line concerning the brewing Insurrectionist revolt. Also, some back-story concerning a major Elite Character. But don't forget there has to be some Spartans in the novel, and thrown in there too is a bit part focusing on an AI named Juliana. I'm sure I've forgotten something as the novel tries too hard to include varying sub and side plots, and doesn't handle any single one particularly well.

Is it horribly done? No, but the reader (or in this case, listener) never gets time to really connect with what's going on before being catapulted on to the next thing, and the character after that. There's not much focus here, nor character development, and that's too bad. Although most people unfamiliar with this franchise, in either it's videogame or novel incarnations, would assume all of these books to be poorly conceived media tie-ins, the Halo universe is quite fascinating and somewhat complex. Especially for those interested in military science fiction.

The book also kind of lies in territory non-dramatic. Anyone familiar with the time lines big events of the series will be surprised to find this novel is set between Contact Harvest and The Fall of Reach i.e. there's not much room for surprising revelations since you know what came before and what's coming after. The book serves as merely a connector between the two, and one in which the bridge is sturdy but uninteresting. I think I'm a victim of high hopes on this one. Tobias Buckell is a good writer, I've enjoyed every single short story of his that I've come across, but this book disappoints

Recommended for those addicted to all things Halo and well versed in the previous mythos, but all others should pick up one of Eric Nyland's entries in this series.

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