Halo cosplay against a blue wall.

Halo Books in Order

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Caught up on the video game franchise but you still want a little more Halo in your life? Well, you’re in luck because there are quite a few Halo novels that will help scratch that itch.

With this series, there is quite a few different opinions on how to actually read it. So, I provided two of the options that I think are the best ways to enjoy this series.

As for reading options for these books, Scribd is a great platform. With a single monthly subscription, you’re able to read and listen to as much as you want within their library.  It’s a great option to get through a lot of these books without shelling out a huge chunk of change on the physical books.

Halo Novels in Release Order

The most popular way to read this series is in release order. Honestly, it’s the way most people recommend reading this series. So, I thought it only fitting that I start off this post that way. This can bring you into the same territory as Star Wars, where some people watch it chronologically and some people watch it in order of release.

  1. The Fall of Reach by Eric Nylund
  2. The Flood by William C. Dietz 
  3. First Strike by Eric Nylund
  4. Ghosts of Onyx by Eric Nylund
  5. Contact Harvest by Joseph Staten
  6. The Cole Protocol by Tobias S. Buckell
  7. Halo: Evolutions
  8. Cryptum by Greg Bear
  9. Glasslands by Karen Taviss
  10. Primordium by Greg Bear
  11. The Thursday War by Karen Taviss
  12. Silentium by Greg Bear
  13. Rebirth by Greg Bear
  14. Mortal Dictata by Karen Taviss
  15. Broken Circle by John Shirley
  16. New Blood by Matt Forbeck
  17. Hunters in the Dark by Peter David
  18. Saint’s Testimony by Frank O’Conner
  19. Last Light by Troy Denning
  20. Shadow of Intent by Joseph Staten
  21. Fractures
  22. Smoke and Shadow by Kelly Gay
  23. Envoy by Tobias S. Buckell
  24. Retribution by Troy Denning
  25. Legacy of Onyx by Matt Forbeck 
  26. Bad Blood by Matt Forbeck
  27. Silent Storm by Troy Denning
  28. Battle Born by Cassandra Rose Clarke
  29. Renegades by Kelly Cay
  30. Oblivion by Troy Denning
  31. Meridian Divide by Cassandra Rose Clarke
  32. Shadows of Reach by Troy Denning
  33. Sacrifice by 343 Industries
  34. Point of Light by Kelly Cay
  35. Divine Wind by Troy Denning 
  36. New: The Rubicon Protocol by Kelly Gay
  37. Outcasts by Troy Denning (releasing July 25, 2023)

Halo Books Grouped

Personally, I like to keep my characters together. So, this list is by release order but grouped by series so you can keep all your characters together. For each series, I will also include a summary of the first book.

Halo: The Original Series

Summary of The Fall of Reach

The twenty-sixth century. Humanity has expanded beyond Earth’s system to hundreds of planets that colonists now call home. But the United Earth Government and the United Nations Space Command is struggling to control this vast empire. After exhausting all strategies to keep seething colonial insurrections from exploding into a full-blown interplanetary civil war, the UNSC has one last hope. At the Office of Naval Intelligence, Dr. Catherine Halsey has been hard at work on a top-secret program that could bring an end to the conflict…and it starts with seventy-five children, among them a six-year-old boy named John. And Halsey could never guess that this child will eventually become the final hope against an even greater peril engulfing the galaxy—the inexorable confrontation with a theocratic military alliance of alien races known as the Covenant.

This is the electrifying origin story of Spartan John-117—the Master Chief—and of his legendary, unstoppable heroism in leading the resistance against humanity’s possible extinction.

Book Order

  1. The Fall of Reach by Eric Nylund
  2. The Flood by William C. Dietz
  3. First Strike by Eric Nylund
  4. Ghosts of Onyx by Eric Nylund

Halo Standalone: Contact Harvest by Joseph Staten

Now, we take a break to read this standalone when we’re going by release order.

Summary of Contact Harvest

2524. Harvest is a peaceful, prosperous farming colony on the very edge of human-controlled space. But humanity has unknowingly trespassed on holy ground—straying into the path of the aggressive, theocratic empire known as the Covenant. What begins as a chance encounter between an alien privateer and a human freighter soon catapults all of mankind into a struggle for its very existence.

But humanity is also currently locked in a bitter civil war of its own: the Insurrection. With resources strained to the breaking point, the ultimate survival of Harvest’s citizens falls to a squad of battle-weary UNSC Marines and their inexperienced colonial militia trainees.

Halo: The Gray Team

I kind of love the cover for Envoy, it’s just pretty.

Summary of The Cole Protocol

2535. It is the first, desperate days of the Human-Covenant War, and the United Nations Space Command has enacted “the Cole Protocol” to safeguard Earth and its inner colonies from discovery by its merciless alien foe. Many are called upon to rid the galaxy of lingering navigation data that could potentially reveal the location of Earth and ensure the destruction of humanity. Among those tasked with eliminating any trace of such dangerous information is Navy Lieutenant Jacob Keyes—now saddled with a top-secret mission by the Office of Naval Intelligence…one that will take him to a corner of the galaxy where nothing is as it seems.

Out beyond the Outer Colonies lies the planet Hesiod, a gas giant surrounded by a vast asteroid belt. As the Covenant continues to glass the human-occupied planets near Hesiod, many of the survivors, aided by a stronghold of human insurrectionists, are fleeing to the asteroids for refuge. They have transformed the tumbling satellites into a tenuous yet ingenious settlement known as the Rubble—and have come face-to-face with a Covenant settlement of Kig-Yar…yet somehow survived. News of this unlikely treaty has spread to the warring factions. Luckily for the UNSC, this uneasy alliance is in the path of the Spartan Gray Team, a three-person renegade squad whose simple task is to wreak havoc from behind enemy lines in any way they see fit. But the Prophets have also sent their very best—an ambitious and ruthless Elite whose quest for nobility and rank is matched only by his brutality…

Book Order

  1. The Cole Protocol by Tobias S. Buckell
  2. Envoy by Tobias S. Buckell

Halo: Anthologies

If you’re not one for anthologies, this can totally be skipped. But, I wanted to go ahead and include them nevertheless.

Summary

When humanity expanded beyond the safety of Earth to new stars and horizons, it never dreamed what dangers would be encounter there. When the theocratic alien juggernaut known as the Covenant declared war upon the fragile human empire, millions of lives were lost—but millions of heroes also rose to the challenge. In such a far-reaching conflict, not many tales of the brave have a chance to become legend. This collection of eleven stories dives into the depths of the vast Halo universe, not only from the perspective of those who fought and died to save humanity, but also from those who vowed to wipe it out of existence.

Book Order

  1. Evolutions
  2. Fractures

Halo Forerunner Saga

Summary of Cryptum

One hundred thousand years ago, the galaxy was populated by a great variety of beings.

But one species—eons beyond all others in both technology and knowledge—achieved dominance.

They ruled in peace, but met opposition with quick and brutal effectiveness.

They were the Forerunners—the keepers of the Mantle of Responsibility, the next stage of life in the Universe’s Living Time.

And then they vanished.

This is their story.

Book Order

  1. Cryptum by Greg Bear
  2. Primordium by Greg Bear
  3. Silentium by Greg Bear
  4. Rebirth by Greg Bear and Chloe Bear (this is the free audio epilogue, but it was added to later versions of Silentium.)

Halo Kilo-Five Trilogy

This series came out every other year with the Forerunner Saga, so while you can just read every other book, personally I like to stick to one series at a time.

Summary of Grasslands

2553. The theocratic military alliance known as the Covenant has collapsed after a long, brutal war with humanity that saw billions slaughtered on Earth and its colonies. For the first time in thirty years, however, peace finally seems possible. But though the fighting has stopped, the war is far from over: it’s just gone underground. The United Nations Space Command’s feared and secretive Office of Naval Intelligence recruits Kilo-Five—a clandestine team of Orbital Drop Shock Troopers, a Spartan super-soldier, and a diabolical AI—to accelerate the insurrection within the Covenant’s warrior species, the Sangheili, even as their notable defector-turned-leader Thel ‘Vadam—the Arbiter—struggles to stave off civil war among his divided people.

Across the galaxy, a woman thought to have died in the Covenant attack on the planet Reach is actually very much alive. Chief scientist Dr. Catherine Halsey broke every law in the book to create the Spartan program, and now she’s broken some more rules to save them. Marooned with Senior Chief Petty Officer Franklin Mendez and a Spartan team in a Forerunner slipspace bubble hidden in the destroyed planet Onyx, Halsey finds that this place has been guarding an ancient secret—a treasure trove of Forerunner technology that will change everything for the UNSC and mankind. As Kilo-Five joins the hunt for Halsey, humanity’s violent past begins to catch up with all of them as the disgruntled colony Venezia has been biding its time to strike at Earth…and its most dangerous terrorist has an old, painful link with both Halsey and Kilo-Five that will test everyone’s loyalty to the limit.

Book Order

  1. Glasslands by Karen Taviss 
  2. The Thursday War by Karen Traviss
  3. Mortal Dictata by Karen Traviss

Halo Standalone: Broken Circle by John Shirley

Summary

Centuries before the Human-Covenant War would rage across the galaxy, a similar conflict erupted between the Prophets and the Elites—two alien races at odds over the sacred artifacts left by the powerful Forerunners, who disappeared eons ago. Although they would eventually form a stable alliance called the Covenant, there are those on both sides who question this fateful union. From an Elite splinter group rebelling against the Covenant during the time of its founding…to a brave Prophet caught in the machinations of the new leadership…to the root of the betrayal that would ultimately shatter the Covenant many years later, this is the untold chapter of the most unexpected heroes emerging from a realm filled with shocking treachery and ceaseless wonder.

Halo: Alpha-Nine

Summary of New Blood

While Spartans get all the glory, no soldier―not even the legendary Master Chief―wins a war on their own. Gunnery Sergeant Edward Buck and his team of Orbital Drop Shock Troopers (ODSTs) played a major role in saving the Earth from all-out invasion at the end of the Covenant War―acts of bravery and ingenuity that did not go unnoticed by the United Nations Space Command.

Now, after many Spartans have been killed in battle and the Master Chief is listed as MIA, the UNSC decides to create a new generation of Spartans to defend humanity from threats both outside―and within. When they come to Buck with an extraordinary proposition, he is forced to make a life-altering decision. With the Covenant War finally over, is it time for him to finally retire to the sidelines for a life he could only dream about…or is he prepared to step up and become part of the military’s new blood?

Book Order

  1. New Blood by Matt Forbeck
  2. Bad Blood by Matt Forbeck

Halo Standalone: Hunters in the Dark by Peter David

Summary

It is 2555, more than two years after the Master Chief went missing-in-action following a decisive conflict on Installation 00—the massive, extragalactic Forerunner construct known as the Ark—as part of the final chapter in humanity’s bloody thirty-year struggle against the overwhelming forces of the Covenant. Now, as a tenuous peace exists between the humans and the Elites, a startling scientific discovery is made…and the riddle behind its Forerunner origins could very well seal the fate of the entire galaxy within a matter of weeks. In order to unravel these dangerous secrets, a heroic, hastily formed coalition of humans and Elites must attempt to overcome their differences as they embark on a covert mission back to the Ark—an astonishing, enigmatic place beyond comprehension from which few have returned and where mortal danger awaits them all…

Halo Standalone: Saint’s Testimony by Frank O’Connor

Summary

The military-grade artificial intelligence known as Iona has only one week to live. After that the UNSC will legally terminate her seven-year existence in order to stave off the threat of the data corruption phenomenon known as “rampancy”, a condition that will eventually take hold of her functionality and persona, endangering all those around her. In a last-ditch effort to save herself, Iona has successfully launched an unprecedented legal appeal against her own death sentence – a case being watched very closely not only at the highest levels of human government but by others with a very different agenda….

Halo: Ferrets

Summary of Last Light

It is 2553, and the three-decade long Covenant War that defined a generation has suddenly drawn to a close. Yet, in the remotest parts of human space, tensions remain that threaten to overflow into another full-scale conflict. Beneath the surface of the planet Gao lies a vast cavern system renowned for its therapeutic effects and rumored miraculous cures. But now Gao natives are turning up brutally murdered down there—violent acts that happen to coincide with the recent arrival of a UNSC research battalion protected by Spartan Blue Team, led by the renowned Spartan-II Fred-104.

Book Order

  1. Last Light by Troy Denning
  2. Retribution by Troy Denning
  3. Divine Wind by Troy Denning

Halo Standalone: Shadow of Intent by Joseph Staten

Summary

After decades of grim combat against the humans and then the traitorous Covenant Prophets, the Sangheili warrior Rtas ‘Vadum—the Half-Jaw—has earned a long rest. But not all of the Prophets perished in their holy city, High Charity, and now one of their fearsome Prelates has sworn his vengeance. This powerful threat has set a cataclysmic plan in motion—a plan to lure the Half-Jaw into a trap that will herald the utter destruction of the entire Sangheili race…

Halo: Rion Forge

Summary of Smoke and Shadow

Find. Claim. Profit. In a post-war galaxy littered with scrap, it’s the salvager’s motto. And with a fast ship and a lust for adventure, Rion Forge has certainly made her mark on the trade. When the discovery of a wrecked UNSC cruiser brings Rion’s past back to haunt her, stirring fresh hope into a decades-old wound, she’s hell-bent on finding answers: What really happened to her father and his ship, the Spirit of Fire?

Book Order

  1. Smoke and Shadow by Kelly Gay
  2. Renegades by Kelly Gay
  3. Point of Light by Kelly Gay

Halo Standalone: Legacy of Onyx by Matt Forbeck

Summary

Molly Patel was only seven years old when the alien alliance known as the Covenant destroyed her homeworld and killed her family. As one of the few to escape the glassing of Paris IV, and despite the United Nations Space Command winning the war on behalf of humanity, Molly never forgot how much she had lost.

Nine years later, when her adoptive parents—research scientists specializing in ancient Forerunner technology—are called to the mysterious and wondrous place known as Onyx, Molly vehemently objects. It’s not so much that Molly’s concerned about relocating to inside a spherical construct the diameter of an entire solar system, but the fact that she also has to live alongside members of the same alien species that murdered her family. And when the Servants of the Abiding Truth—a violent ex-Covenant sect under the guidance of the notorious Pale Blade—somehow makes its way inside this supposedly impregnable sphere, Molly is now forced to consider if she and her new parents have made a terrible and fatal mistake in coming here….

Halo A Master Chief Story

If you’ve been playing through the Master Chief collection (which, as of writing this is available on Xbox Live/Xbox GamePass), this may be the most exciting series for you. But, I think you’ll truly enjoy all of it.

Summary of Silent Storm

2526. It has been a year since humanity engaged in its destructive first contact with a theocratic military alliance of alien races known as the Covenant. Now the hostilities have led to open war, and the United Nations Space Command understands virtually nothing about its new enemy. There are only two certainties—the Covenant is determined to eradicate humanity, and they have the superior technology to do just that. The UNSC’s only hope lies with the Spartans: enhanced supersoldiers raised and trained from childhood via a clandestine black ops project to be living weapons. Their designated commander, Petty Officer John-117, has been assigned to lead the Spartans on a desperate counterattack designed to rock the Covenant back on its heels, and to buy humanity the time it needs to gather intelligence and prepare its defenses.

Book Order

  1. Silent Storm by Troy Denning
  2. Oblivion by Troy Denning
  3. Shadow of Reach by Troy Denning

Halo Battle Born Series

I think these covers are absolutely beautiful. Unfortunately, it appears that the third book in this series was canceled. So, we’ll see if it ever gets a resurgence.

Summary of Battle Born

Saskia, Dorian, Evie, and Victor aren’t exactly friends at their small high school on the middle-of-nowhere colony world of Meridian. Each has their own problems, from absent parents to supporting their family, getting into a good college to making the next hit holo-film. But those problems were nothing next to the threat now facing their world: The alien alliance known as the Covenant is laying siege to Meridian, for reasons that aren’t so easily explained. With their village in flames, the four teens find themselves stuck aboveground, locked out of the town shelter where the rest of the survivors are gathered. Together, Saskia, Dorian, Evie, and Victor are thrust into battle with nothing but a few scavenged weapons and an injured Spartan, one of the UNSC’s super-soldiers. What’s forged from the destruction will determine the fate of Meridian, and tilt the battle for humanity’s survival.

Book Order

  1. Battle Born by Cassandra Rose Clarke
  2. Meridian Divide by Cassandra Rose Clarke

Halo Standalone: The Rubicon Protocol by Kelly Gay

Summary

December 2559. Humanity has its back against the wall after the United Nations Space Command flagship Infinity drops out of slipspace into a devastating ambush launched by the Banished. As this fierce enemy alliance seeks to claim a mysterious object hidden within the ancient Forerunner construct known as Zeta Halo, the surviving UNSC corps finds itself compromised and its leadership out of reach—with remaining personnel forced to abandon ship and take their chances on the fractured, unpredictable surface of the Halo ring.

Now survival in this strange, alien environment—whether for Spartan super-soldiers or those who never thought they would see the battle up close—is measured day to day against a relentless and brutal adversary that always has the upper hand. Desperation grows, but the will to keep on fighting and enduring no matter the odds is never in doubt…even as the Banished seek to unleash a frightening new enemy that could doom them all…

Halo Standalone: Outcasts by Troy Denning

Summary

2559. Formerly one of the Covenant’s greatest and most fearsome warriors, Arbiter Thel ‘Vadam is now allied with his former human enemies while deeply entrenched in leading the Sangheili people to a new era of unification. But his aspirations are under constant threat, whether by the dangerous, warring factions of rival Sangheili keeps, or the relentless shadow of oppression spread by the renegade artificial intelligence Cortana​​.

An opportunity to break Cortana’s chains has suddenly presented itself through the rumored existence of an ancient artifact located on the hostile world of Netherop. Spartan Olympia Vale, trained with the skills to live and thrive among the Sangheili, also recognizes this alien prize as an essential means to aid humanity in reaching the same goal of freedom. But behind the scenes, both ‘Vadam and Vale are being manipulated by a mysterious figure with their own agenda. And to make matters worse, all involved are unknowingly placing themselves at perilous odds with forces beyond their comprehension…

Overall, whichever way you decide to read it, you’ll enjoy it. I think with the release of Halo Infinite, a lot more people are getting into the series as well so that should be exciting!

There are some theories about a chronological reading of these books, but without confirmed sources, I am not going to try and piece that together here. I personally think it’s a lot more fun to read books in order of release, that way you know the information when they want you to know it. Realistically though, you could start with all the individual novels and work your way through the series that way to see if you enjoy reading them instead of playing them.

If you like video games, come hang out with me on Twitch at BarelyBookish! I am a variety streamer and play a lot of different games over there.

Also, if you like books, I have a podcast where I talk about how classic books live up to modern readers, so check out Barely Bookish wherever you get your podcasts.

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