Halo is a military science fiction media franchise created by Bungie and launched in 2001 with the game Halo: Combat Evolved. Following the success of the first game, others followed and the strong sales led to the franchise’s expansion to other media. As part of Microsoft’s multimedia efforts, Microsoft Studios decided to create a tie-in novel for Combat Evolved–and even a TV show recently.
The story takes us in the 26th century, where humanity has colonized many worlds thanks to the development of faster-than-light “slipspace” travel before stumbling upon the hostile alliance of aliens known as the Covenant. They are composed of a diverse array of species united under the religious worship of the extinct Forerunners and their belief that the Forerunner ring worlds known as Halos will provide a path to salvation, known as the “Great Journey”. The Covenant is bent on humanity’s destruction and begins an interstellar war.
How to read the Halo Series in Order?
The first novel in the Halo book series was written by Eric Nylund and published in October 2001. Then, William C. Dietz turned the game itself was turned into a novelization. Nylund wrote additional Halo works and other writers joined: Joseph Staten, Tobias S. Buckell, Karen Traviss, Greg Bear, Matt Forbeck, John Shirley, Troy Denning, and Cassandra Rose Clarke. More than 30 books have been published.
Original Tetralogy in order
- Halo: 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.
- Halo: The Flood – 2552. Having barely escaped the final battle for Reach against the vast alien alliance known as the Covenant, the crew of the Pillar of Autumn, including Spartan John-117-the Master Chief-and his AI companion Cortana, is forced to make a desperate escape into slipspace. But their destination brings them to an ancient mystery and an even greater struggle. In this far-flung corner of the universe floats a magnificently massive, artificial ringworld. The crew’s only hope of survival is to crash-land on its surface and take the battle opposing the Covenant to the ground.
- Halo: First Strike – 2552. The theocratic military alliance known as the Covenant is showing no mercy as it continues to assault every human world it encounters, but in the way lies humanity’s greatest champion, the super-soldier Spartan John-117-the Master Chief. Together with his AI companion Cortana and the last remaining Spartans, the galaxy-spanning fight rages on two fronts following the destruction of the human military stronghold Reach by Covenant forces and the mysterious artificial ringworld known as “Halo” at the hands of the Master Chief. One faction-a squad of Spartans lead by Blue Team’s Fred-104 and Kelly-087-is trapped on the glassed surface of Reach, the only planet they’ve ever known as home. And beneath this ruined world, Dr. Catherine Halsey has discovered an ancient secret…one that could alter the course of the war.
- Halo: Ghosts of Onyx – The twenty-sixth century. Once considered clandestine, the Spartan-II program has now gone public. While the Master Chief defends a besieged Earth, and the myriad factions of the Covenant continue their crusade to eliminate humanity, an ultra-secret cell of the Office of Naval Intelligence known as “Section Three” devises a plan to buy the UNSC vital time. The planet Onyx is virtually abandoned and the perfect place to set this new plan in motion. But when the Master Chief destroys Halo, something is triggered deep within Onyx: Ancient Forerunner technology stirs, and fleets of UNSC and Covenant vessels race to claim it and change the course of the Human-Covenant War. But this reawakened and ancient force may have plans of its own…
Gray Team series in order
- Halo: The Cole Protocol – In the first, desperate days of the Human-Covenant War, the UNSC has enacted the Cole Protocol to safeguard Earth and its Inner Colonies from discovery by a merciless alien foe. Many are called upon to rid the universe of lingering navigation data that would reveal the location of Earth. Among them is Navy Lieutenant Jacob Keyes. Thrust back into action after being sidelined, Keyes is saddled with a top secret mission by ONI. One that will take him deep behind enemy lines, to a corner of the universe where nothing is as it seems.
- Halo: Envoy – It has been six years since the end of the Covenant War…and yet on the planet Carrow, a world on the edge of the Joint Occupation Zone, a decisive new battle suddenly erupts. Human colonists and the alien Sangheili have already been living a tension-filled coexistence in this place, with Unified Earth Government envoy Melody Azikiwe attempting to broker a lasting peace between their two species. But as civil war now engulfs the Sangheili, Melody must act on an additional covert assignment courtesy of the Office of Naval Intelligence: free the SPARTAN-IIs known as Gray Team, held in stasis since the end of the war by a cunning Elite fleetmaster consumed with vengeance. And none can anticipate the ongoing violence leading to the discovery of an even greater, unstoppable threat-one hidden for eons below the surface of the planet…
The Forerunner Saga in Order
- Halo: Cryptum – One hundred thousand years ago, the galaxy was populated by a great variety of beings. But one species-eons beyond all the 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, the next stage of life in the Universe’s Living Time. And then they vanished. This is their story.
- Halo: Primordium – One hundred thousand years ago. In the wake of the apparent self-destruction of the alien Forerunner empire, two humans – Chakas and Riser – are like flotsam washed up on very strange shores indeed. Captured by the Forerunner known as the Master Builder and then misplaced during a furious battle in space, Chakas and Riser now find themselves on an inverted world where horizons rise into the sky and humans of all kinds are trapped in a perilous cycle of horror and neglect. They have become both research animals and strategic pawns in a cosmic game whose madness knows no end. In the company of a young girl and an old man, Chakas begins an epic journey across a lost and damaged Halo ringworld in search of a way home, an explanation for the warrior spirits rising up within, and the reason for the Forerunner Librarian’s tampering with human destiny.
- Halo: Silentium – One hundred thousand years ago. Chaos rules the final days of the Forerunner empire. The Flood-a horrifying, shape-changing, and unstoppable parasite-has arrived in force, aided by unexpected allies, and internal strife has desperately weakened Forerunner defenses. Facing the imminent collapse of their civilization, the Forerunners known as the Ur-Didact and the Librarian reveal what they know about the relationship between the long-vanished race of the Precursors and the Flood. While the Precursors created many technological species, including those of the Forerunners and humanity itself, the roots of the Flood may be found in an act of enormous barbarity, carried out beyond our galaxy ten million years before. Because of that savagery, a greater evil looms. Only the Ur-Didact and the Librarian-husband and wife pushed into desperate conflict-hold the keys to a solution.
- Halo: Glasslands – It’s 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 30 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 supersoldier, 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.
- Halo: The Thursday War – It’s 2553. Welcome to humanity’s new war: silent, high-stakes, and unseen. This is a life-or-death mission for the Office of Naval Intelligence’s black-ops team, Kilo-Five, which is tasked with preventing the ruthless Sangheili, once the military leaders of the alien alliance known as the Covenant, from regrouping and threatening humankind again. What began as a routine dirty-tricks operation turns into a desperate bid to extract one member of Kilo-Five from the seething heart of a brutal civil war.
- Halo: Mortal Dictata – It’s 2553. With the 30-year-long Covenant War finally over, the Office of Naval Intelligence faces old grievances rising again to threaten Earth. Angry and bitter colonists – still wanting to settle scores from an insurrection put on hold for three decades – crave justice…as does a man whose life was torn apart by ONI when his young daughter was abducted for the SPARTAN-II program. Black-ops squad Kilo-Five now find its collective loyalty tested beyond the breaking point when the father of their Spartan comrade, still searching for the truth about her disappearance, prepares to glass Earth’s cities to get an answer. How far will Kilo-Five go to stop him?
Alpha-Nine series in order
- Halo: New Blood – While Spartans get all the glory, no soldier wins a war on his 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. 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 finally to 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?
- Halo: Bad Blood – Just hours following their climactic battle on the Forerunner planet Genesis, the Spartans of Blue Team and Fireteam Osiris find themselves running for their lives from the malevolent machinations of the now-renegade artificial intelligence Cortana. But even as they attempt to stay one step ahead, trouble seems to find Spartan Edward Buck no matter where he turns. A secret mission enacted by the Office of Naval Intelligence could possibly help turn the tide, and has Buck reluctantly agreeing to reform his old team, Alpha-Nine. Because if the band is really getting back together for this one, that means everybody – including the Spartan who Buck never wants to see again, the one who committed the ultimate betrayal of trust…
Ferrets series in order
- Halo: 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. And when Gao is revealed to harbor ancient Forerunner technology that could solidify the UNSC’s military supremacy for centuries to come, Insurrection loyalists within the planetary government will do anything – even align with a vicious faction of what remains of the Covenant – to ensure that never happens.
- Halo: Retribution – December 2553. Less than a year after the end of the Covenant War, a string of violent incidents continues to threaten the tenuous peace in human-held space, culminating in the assassination of UNSC fleet admiral Graselyn Tuwa and the abduction of her family. It is a provocation so outrageous that the Office of Naval Intelligence must retaliate swiftly and ferociously-but only after its operatives identify her killer and rescue the hostages. This mission will be the first for homicide-detective-turned-ONI-operative Veta Lopis and her young team of Spartan-IIIs. They soon realize that the truth is much more insidious than they could ever have imagined, and along with Fred-104, Kelly-087, and Linda-058 of Blue Team for combat support, must stop a plan hatched in the bowels of the secret research station Argent Moon-a plan so sinister it could destroy all those still reeling from thirty years of intergalactic conflict….
- Halo: Divine Wind – October 2559. With the galaxy in the suffocating grip of a renegade artificial intelligence, another perilous threat has quietly emerged in the shadows: the Keepers of the One Freedom, a fanatical and merciless Covenant splinter group, has made its way beyond the borders of the galaxy to an ancient Forerunner installation known as the Ark. Led by an infamous Brute named Castor, the Keepers intend to achieve what the Covenant, in all its might, failed to: activate Halo and take the last steps on the path of the Great Journey into transcendence.
Rion series in order
- Halo: 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?
- Halo: Renegades – All Rion Forge wanted was to grow her business and continue the search for her long-lost father, but her recent discovery of a Forerunner debris field at the edge of human-occupied space has now put her squarely in the crosshairs of the Office of Naval Intelligence and the violent remains of the Covenant. Each faction has a desire to lay claim to the spoils of ancient technology, whatever the cost, sending Rion and the crew of the Ace of Spades on a perilous venture-one that unexpectedly leads them straight into danger far greater than anything they’ve ever encountered…
- Halo: Point of Light – August 2558. Rion Forge was once defined by her relentless quest for hope amidst the refuse and wreckage of a post-Covenant War galaxy years spent searching for family as much as fortune. But that was before Rion and the crew of her salvager ship Ace of Spades encountered a powerful yet tragic being who forever altered their lives. This remnant from eons past, when the Forerunners once thrived, brought with it a revelation of ancient machinations and a shocking, brutal history. Unfortunately, the Ace crew also made dire enemies of the Office of Naval Intelligence in the process, with the constant threat of capture and incarceration a very real possibility. Now with tensions mounting and ONI forces closing in, Rion and her companions commit to this being’s very personal mission, unlocking untold secrets and even deadlier threats that have been hidden away for centuries from an unsuspecting universe…
A Master Chief Story
- Halo: 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. 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.
- Halo: Oblivion – 2526. It has been more than a year since humanity first encountered the hostile military alliance of alien races known as the Covenant, and several weeks after the United Nations Space Command’s devastating counterattack of Operation: SILENT STORM was deemed an overwhelming success. But the Covenant is not taking its recent defeat lightly, and is now fully determined to eradicate humanity from existence. If the UNSC has any chance of stemming the tide of the war, the Master Chief and Blue Team must drop onto an empty, hellish world in order to capture a disabled Covenant frigate filled with valuable technology. It has all the makings of a trap, but the bait is far too tempting to ignore-and this tantalizing prize is being offered by a disgraced and vengeful Covenant fleetmaster, whose sole opportunity for redemption lies in extinguishing humanity’s only hope of survival…
- Halo: Shadows of Reach – October 2559. It has been a year since the renegade artificial intelligence Cortana issued a galaxy-wide ultimatum, subjecting many worlds to martial law under the indomitable grip of her Forerunner weapons. Outside her view, the members of Blue Team-John-117, the Master Chief; Fred-104; Kelly-087; and Linda-058-are assigned from the UNSC Infinity to make a covert insertion onto the ravaged planet Reach. Their former home and training ground-and the site of humanity’s most cataclysmic military defeat near the end of the Covenant War-Reach still hides myriad secrets after all these years. Blue Team’s mission is to penetrate the rubble-filled depths of CASTLE Base and recover top-secret assets locked away in Dr. Catherine Halsey’s abandoned laboratory-assets that may prove to be humanity’s last hope against Cortana.
Battle Born: A Halo Young Adult Novel Series in order
- Halo: 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, 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.
- Halo: Meridian Divide – It’s been three months since the colony world of Meridian was invaded by the alien alliance known as the Covenant. Under the close watch of the military, Evie, Dorian, Saskia, and Victor have been put into an accelerated training program with ONI, the Office of Naval Intelligence. And to the teens’ surprise, ONI has a mission for them: Return to their hometown on Meridian and monitor the Covenant’s efforts to retrieve an ancient Forerunner artifact of untold power.
Halo Stand-alone Books in Publication Order
- Halo: Contact Harvest – It’s 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.
- Halo: Broken Circle – 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: Hunters in the Dark – It is 2555, more than two years after the Master Chief went missing-in-action following a decisive conflict on Installation 00 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.
- Halo: Legacy of Onyx – 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 are called to the mysterious and wondrous place known as Onyx, Molly vehemently objects. 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: Outcasts – 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.
- Halo: The Rubicon Protocol – 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.
The Halo Novellas in Order
- Halo: Saint’s Testimony – 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: Shadow of Intent – 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.
The Halo Anthologies
- Halo: Evolutions – Essential Tales of the Halo Universe – 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 11 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.
- Halo: Fractures – Launch once more into galaxy-spanning conflict and legendary heroism, shards of an ever-expanding journey where human and alien alike find their finest hours in facing their greatest challenges. These scattered stories span untold millennia, from the age of the ancient custodial race known as the Forerunners to the aftermath of the Covenant’s bloody war against humanity and even the shocking events surrounding the resurrection of the mysterious Guardians.
Want to read The Halo books in chronological order? You can consult the Halo Media Timeline made by LPPanther – Garrett Neeley, available on Google Docs to see where all the books and short stories fit in the big Halo universe. And if you like our article about the Halo series in order, don’t forget to bookmark it!