The Top Halo Books in Chronological Order

XBOX controller with image of Halo Infinite game pictured behind it


In Halo Universe, we've seen many things happen. After all, it is a saga that has been around for more than twenty years and is full of memorable characters, battles, and wars. And now we have a new game out called Halo Infinite. So, like Star Wars, it can be challenging for a fledgling Halo fan to understand the whole storyline all at once.

You may be confused and want to know why you are killing all of these different types of aliens, where you are, and why there is a Halo ring around the world. If so, you might want to watch the Halo TV series, read a book, or even a Halo novella to gain a better understanding of the Halo timeline.

In this guide, we will go over many of the different Halo books and novellas. We've tried to list them in chronological reading order, but it varies depending on whether you plan on reading a novel series, a single book, or a short story. 

There are more than 40 Halo books to choose from. Deciding on which to read first is really only a matter of choice. However, when reading a book in a series, it is probably best to choose all of the books in that set to fully understand the story. 

The Halo Series

The place to start is at the beginning, and while you might think the Halo Series is old school, it does give you a back story of how it all happened and how Master Chief ended up leading the Spartans.  This four-book series explains the basic concept of what the Human-Covenant wars are about and why the Spartan teams are so important. 

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02/18/2024 08:43 pm GMT

Halo: The Fall of Reach

This is the first published Halo novel, and it contains a lot of background information about the Xbox game characters. It is an excellent beginning for people to get their feet wet and understand the basic storyline, so it is the first Halo book to read.  It was written by Eric Nylund back in 2002. Nylund actually only took seven weeks to write this first Halo book, yet it immediately hit the Best Seller list. The book was critically acclaimed, although critics did mention that the book’s list of characters was quite long.

The story is the ultimate Master Chief story. However, the first thing you’ll notice in this Halo novel is the huge number of varied scenes and characters. There are tons of planets, and ship locations involved, which should be expected as it takes place in the 26th century when humanity has finally discovered the transport portal called slipspace. The portal allows humans to travel throughout the galaxy and inhabit different worlds.

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02/18/2024 05:57 pm GMT

Halo: The Flood

The following chronological book is called Halo: The Flood, authored by William C. Dietz in 2010 and later adapted into the comic series Halo: Fall of the Reach. It was re-edited and released with new content in 2015. Again, it hit the Best Seller list and became a favorite of worldwide Halo fans. 

The story opens immediately after the Fall of Reach when we see the protagonist, the introverted Master Chief, being awakened from a deep cryo-sleep to help prevent the Covenant forces from attempting to attack the ship, the Pillar of Autumn. While trying to escape the Covenant, Captain Jacob Keyes must make a blind slipjump, and they end up on the Halo. The Master Chief and surviving members of the crew must find ways of surviving while trying to figure out where they are and how to get off the planet.  

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Halo: First Strike

Halo: First Strike is the third novel in the Halo franchise and the second written by Eric Nylund. It is a sequel to the Halo game and Halo: The Flood and details the events that happen after the destruction of the Halo, an ancient artifact left by the Forerunners.

The book fills in all the gaps between the games Halo: Combat Evolved and Halo 2. It explains why and how the Master Chief returned to Earth and tells the story of the characters that survived the war in Reach and Halo. This story also explains how Sergeant Johnson survives the Flood.

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02/20/2024 11:40 am GMT

Halo: Ghosts of Onyx

This book was written by Eric Nylund and is the last book of the Halo Series. 
The story outlines the Spartan-II project, its purpose, and its use. It is the tale of super-soldiers who protect humanity against the Covenant. As the war continues, humans are decimated. The Master Chief defends Earth, but the UNSC needs hundreds of soldiers and another Spartan to participate in their plan. The team visits Planet Onyx, the perfect place to start the project. But suddenly, Master Chief destroys Halo, revealing something on Onyx. The ancient Forerunner technology starts up, causing the UNSC and the Covenant to compete in trying to claim the newly revealed Forerunner secrets. It is an event that could change humanity forever. 

The Gray Team Series

Are you fascinated by the Spartans themselves? Do you wonder how they all came into being? If this is the case, you should read the two books that make up the Grey Team series. These novels explain the Spartans and in particular, how the Spartan-II gray team came into being and why they help fight with the UNSC. 

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02/20/2024 01:08 pm GMT

Halo: The Cole Protocol

The author, Tobias S. Buckell, focuses on the backstory of several Halo video game main characters. The story focuses on the Gray Team as they fight with the UNSC against the Covenant. 

Realizing that the Covenant could completely destroy Earth, the UNSC wants to safeguard the location and creates a new protocol preventing any ship from slipjumping to Earth or any other major colony. Lt. Jacob Keyes is one of the protagonists of this book, and through his actions, fans can better understand how the Covenant thinks and works. This story gives players an in-depth knowledge of the early intergalactic war that leads to the first Halo game. 

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02/18/2024 11:36 pm GMT

Halo: Envoy

Tobias S. Buckell sets the novel in the Halo Universe six years after the end of the Covenant War. The story begins on the planet Carrow, a world just on the edge of the joint Occupation Zone. The Sangheili and the humans live in constant tension. Suddenly, conflict erupts. The Office of Naval Intelligence uses the conflict as cover to send Melody to free the Spartan-IIs, also known as the Gray team. The team is in cryosleep, placed there at the end of the war. No one can anticipate that there is an even greater threat hidden below the surface of the planet.

The Forerunner Series

Throughout the Halo games, we hear of the Forerunners, but we don't really know who or what they were. We don't know of their relationship with humans, or even why they created the Halo rings. The Forerunner series is a three-book saga that focuses on the Forerunner life 100,000 years before humans began their conflict with the Covenant. Written by Greg Bear, the three books explain the Forerunner-human relationship in history. The book also gives the Halo game players additional background for the Halo 4 video game. 

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02/19/2024 01:42 am GMT

Halo: Crypton

The first novel in the Forerunner Saga is written by Greg Bear, who uses a first-person’s point of view to tell the story of the Forerunners and their relationship with humans. The main character is Manipular. As the story unfolds, we come to understand Manipular's relationships with other Forerunners, the Promethean military commander Didact, and the two humans called Chakas and Riser.

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02/19/2024 07:28 am GMT

Halo: Primordium

The second book in the series is also written by Greg Bear and takes connects with the Halo 4 backstory.  Again, he tells the story from the point of view of Chakas, one of the humans who accompanied the Forerunner and was a part of the events on Cryptum. The backdrop is the Installation 07, also called the Halo Ring. Even during this ancient age, the rampant AIs were the reason behind many problems. We can tell this because during this Forerunners time, the Halo ring is under the control of a rampant AI called Mendicant Bias. 

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02/19/2024 09:53 am GMT

Halo: Silentium 

This is the final book written in the Forerunner Saga by Greg Bear. It was released in both written and audio format in 2013. This story defines the last years of the Forerunner empire and describes the chaos that happens. It tells how the Flood parasite kills so many Forerunners, and when it is almost too late, they decide to investigate. Horrified by their findings, they must make an atrocious decision that may cause even more evil to prevent an evil even more dangerous from dominating the whole universe. 

A Master Chief Story

Here is another series of books that explains the story of the Master Chief, what his purpose is, and why he is important to the Halo Wars Saga. The three books were written by Troy Denning and were released from 2018 to 2020. 

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02/19/2024 11:08 am GMT

Halo: Silent Storm

Halo: Silent Storm is the first of the series and has a story that connects to Halo: Collateral Damage the comic book series

The year is 2526, and it has been a year since humanity encountered the alien races that make up the Covenant. There is a raging war, and the United Nations Space Command doesn’t know much about the formidable enemy. The one thing they do realize is that the Covenant intends on eradicating all of humanity and probably can do so. The only home is the Spartans, and John-117 is assigned to lead the Spartans. 

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02/18/2024 10:04 pm GMT

Halo: Oblivion

Set in the year 2526, a year after the first clash with the Covenant and just after the United Nations Space Command’s order to counterattack and its success. The UNSC decided to put faith in the Spartans led by Master Chief.  The Covenant is enraged and more determined than ever to do away with humans, brutally overturning the colonies they encounter. The Master Chief and his Blue Team must capture a Covenant frigate that has valuable technology needed to turn the war in their favor.

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02/20/2024 07:40 am GMT

Halo: Shadows of Reach 

This Halo novel was recently released in 2020. The story opens in October of 2559, a year after Cortana gave her ultimatum and subjected many worlds to martial law. The members of the Blue Team, The Master Chief, Frederic-104, Kelly-087, and Linda-058 are on the UNSC Infinity and trying to land on Reach, their former home. The planet hides many secrets, and their mission is to find these assets at the bottom of the Castle Base in the abandoned laboratory. It is humanity's last stand against Cortana. 

 Individual Novels

When you want to read about Halo but don't know whether you want to commit to a full series of novels an option is to read one of the individual novels. These narrations are individual stories about a particular character of interest, or sometimes it might be about a certain event or war. These are the individual books placed in chronological order.

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02/20/2024 09:12 am GMT

Halo: Contact Harvest

If you are a sergeant Johnson fan, this is the Halo novel you should read. This is his story and how he became involved in the war. The writer Joseph Staten was a film editor already at Xbox and he worked on the game development.  His efforts as an author stand out because he really focuses on telling the story for gamers so that they can become better Halo gamers. However, he also has a knack for writing for sci-fi audiences, so the book captures the attention of both types of readers. 

The story begins in 2525 and tells of the first encounter with the alien collective known as the Covenant on the planet called Harvest, an agricultural colonized world. The storyline describes the confrontations and the long human Covenant war that follows. The protagonist is Staff Sergeant Avery Johnson, a favorite Halo video game character. The setting begins with the UNSC sending Sergeant Avery Johnson and Nolan Byrne to investigate the disappearance of several ships around the agricultural colony on Harvest. The disappearances are revealed as attacks from the Covenant and how Sergeant Johnson confronts the aliens, killing many of them, but also suffering huge human loss. 

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02/20/2024 10:13 am GMT

Halo: Broken Circle

Fans across the globe can really identify with the Master Chief, but there are those fans who really want to know more about, or can really identify with the bad guys, the aliens from The Covenant. If the Covenant fascinates you then you will want to read the Broken Circle by John Shirley.

Here, Shirley narrates the story from the point of view of the Covenant through his protagonist the Prophet of Clarity. For half the book he focuses on the Covenant in its early years, somewhere around 851 BCE. Later he turns to the Great Schism.  The story starts long before the Human-Covenant War, but during a time with the Covenant has similar problems between the Prophets and the Elites. 

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02/20/2024 11:51 am GMT

Halo: Hunters in the Dark

When an award-winning author takes on a book from Halo, it is certainly worth reading, as in the case of Hunters in The Dark, written by New York Times bestselling author Peter David. 

In this novel, the author sets the stage two years after Master Chief went missing after the conflict on Installation 00 when the massive Covenant ship called the Ark appears. Needless to say, the war is over, and there is a tenuous peace between the Elites and the Humans. The plot thickens when an interesting scientific discovery reveals the question behind the Forerunner's origins and how the knowledge could change the fate of the galaxy. A team of Elites and humans must put their differences behind them to follow this covert mission that takes them back to the derelict Ark, a ship with many secrets, a place where very few return and many die. 

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02/21/2024 06:54 am GMT

Legacy of Onyx

Onyx, it's like a mystical place, a spherical construction made by the Covenant. It is the size of a solar system, a place where aliens of all types live. For some fans, Onyx inspires a questioning wonder. For these fans, the Legacy of Onyx by Matt Forbeck is a perfect read. 

The book’s main character, Molly Patel is wary of all aliens, and rightly so. She saw her parents die in the glassing of Paris IV.  Despite the relative peace between the Covenant and humans now, Molly has not forgotten the loss of her family. Now, nine years later, her adoptive parents want to travel to the wondrous Covenant construct, Onyx. Molly objects, but things are as they are. Once there she is faced with the Servants of Abiding Truth a violent ex-Covenant group who is attacking every human on the sphere.

Why Read Halo? 

Science fiction lovers will want to read Halo if anything because it is a highly popular science fiction saga, and some of the most famous science fiction authors have written some of these books. As a gamer, you may want to read a few Halo novels to get your head around the story and understand the Halo campaigns better.  So, choose any of these novels and spend a weekend or two reading about your favorite Halo game characters. 

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