Quick View: From the same woman who butchered the Republic Commando series and responsible for the murder of Mara Jade, halo lore gets dumped on and torn apart by an egotistical writer and her inability to adapt to a new universe of lore.
Glasslands is the first installment of Karen Traviss’ Kilo-5 trilogy, which follows the events of Eric Nylund’s BLUE TEAM trilogy. This novel attempts to replicate not only Nylund’s style, but the overall feeling of the Halo universe. This novel, although not the worst of the Kilo-5 trilogy, only really benefits from the inclusion of Blue Team and the other stranded Spartans from the preceding novel, Ghosts of Onyx. This book does a decent job of introducing new characters and events, but overall lacks the excitement and impression
that its predecessor left for readers. Considering that the previous novels are pretty much a necessity to understand this sequel, the lack of originality in the plot leaves out any uniqueness needed to successfully start a new trilogy can be found here in Travis’ pilot novel.
Glasslands splits its time from following the Kilo-5 team and the stranded spartans inside Onyx. Kilo-5 is a team made up of three ODSTs, one ONI scientist, one SPARTAN II, and a SPARTAN dropout and ONI agent leading the hashtag crew on a mission to sabotage the peace between the UNSC and the new Sangheili government following the end of the Human-Covenant War. Traviss tried her best to make these characters likeable and respectable, however, other than the lone spartan and ODSTs, as well as the alien engineers who later join the crew, any reader familiar with the Halo universe instinctively bears a small hatred for every ONI related character. This dislike for the character as well as their mission makes the book sometimes hard to read. Anybody who has played the Halo games feels a certain level of accomplishment for ending the Human-covenant war, and this book takes that accomplishment and tries to void all that effort for the sake of the Office of Naval Intelligence. Now, we’re all familiar with the designated “Hated” character and organisation inside of stories like this, but Traviss’ vain attempt to get the incredibly unlikable Serin to seem relatable to any degree ends up failings. Badly.
The world building is sloppy. Traviss relies too heavily on the cliches of the renegade space-pirate genre, with predictable twists and unoriginal action sequences. That said, she does offer some new and interesting ideas in regards to humanity after the war. Before the human-Covenant war, humanity was stuck in a conflict very similar to the American Civil War, which renegade farming systems fighting against the Central Earth Government. Her use of characters in regards to this conflict is pretty new in the halo genre, as she is the first to publish a novel taking place during this period. Again, this is more attributed to her being the first to do it rather than being good at it.
Overall, the story is only salvaged by Blue Team’s exploits in the forerunner world, discovering new things about the alien Engineers and their purpose, as well as the purpose of Onyx. The book ends in a fairly unsatisfying way, and to avoid spoilers, I’ll leave that open for any of you who wish to read this book for yourself. Overall, it’s the knowledge that so many of the other novels in the series are so well written, that this attempt to start a new series only goes to anger the fans rather that satisfy their need for more of Nylund’s work.
Final Score: 5.5/10