Audiobook Review: Halo: Mortal Dictata (Halo #12) by Karen Traviss
Series: Halo #12, Kilo-Five #3
Published by: Tor Books on 1/21/2014
Genres: Science Fiction, Video Game Tie In's
Source: Audiobook Purchase
View on: Goodreads
Grab it: Buy on Amazon
About the Book:
Wars end. But hatred, guilt, and devotion can endure beyond the grave.With the Covenant War over, the Office of Naval Intelligence faces old grievances rising again to threaten Earth. The angry, bitter colonies, still with scores to settle from the insurrection put on hold for thirty years, now want justice -- and so does a man whose life was torn apart by ONI when his daughter was abducted for the SPARTAN-II program. Black ops squad Kilo-Five find their loyalties tested beyond 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? And will he be able to live with the truth when he finds it? The painful answer lies with a man long dead, and a conscience that still survives in the most unlikely, undiscovered place.
Mortal Dictata is the third novel in the Kilo-Five Trilogy (Halo #12) by Karen Traviss. And to my surprise, I really enjoyed the story. Now, Traviss and I have a love-hate, hate-love relationship. Sometimes, her character lack depth and personality. In Mortal Dictata, her writing style seemed to work better for me than it did in her Gears of War novels, which somehow always left me wanting a little bit more. There’s no question that she can write solid science fiction and can portray gritty soldier with ease. But after reading a few of her books, I found them hard to jump into and I was usually less excited to pick them back up and finish. Still, if you are heavily into your video game lore (like I am), then you know these books are always a MUST read for side and backstory. Thankfully, I was astounded when I found myself genuinely enjoying Mortal Dictata and eager to put my headphones back on and listen to its wonderful narration.
Mortal Dictata follows the story of Staffan Sentzke, a man whose life is consumed by the idea that his daughter Naomi is in fact, not his daughter. Hell-bent on discovering the truth about his little girl who he believed was taken, Staffan decides to purchase a ship – Pious Inquisitor – and threaten Earth with glassing in order to get someone to confess the truth about what happened to the real Naomi decades ago. In the meantime, Malcolm “Mal” Geffen and Vasily “Vaz” Beloi – members of Kilo-Five – are tasked with infiltrating the militia and finding the ship. And yet another side character, Kig-Yar Shipmistress Chol Von, has plans to find the ship and unite the Kig-Yar navy. All the while the real Naomi is trying to decide what to do about her father, a man she doesn’t remember but is very curious about even though he’s considered a terrorist.
By this point, you should have a clear picture about the number of characters and viewpoints littered throughout the novel. For some, this may be a tab bit overwhelming and hard to follow given the various alien race names (like Huragok), the technology, the general “Halo” speak which is only known to those that played the games and/or read the previous books, and all the different storylines. However, for me it was intense. This may be due to the fact that I listened to this as an audiobook and the narrator did an excellent job switching up the tone and voice for all parties involved. It was like one big radio drama. The narrator added to my overall enjoyment of Mortal Dictata and had I gone the normal route and read this book, I might not have liked it so much.
Now, there is one thing I am uncertain about with this novel. There is a lot of Dr. Halsey hate, as in Halsey is the bane of everyone’s existence and most people want her dead. From the video games, it didn’t seem that everyone was this against Halsey and her work. Even in the previous Halo Novels, I didn’t gather that all these people wanted Halsey dead. Am I crazy? Did I miss something? I’m no Halsey advocate but I didn’t think this many people sided against her and the Spartan Program. In any case, this is really the only issue I had with the story. That some Spartans and ONI (among others) kept making her out to be this awful bad guy. Which, I do not believe she is nor do I believe it was ever her intention. Yes, it was wrong. But other people had a hand in the Spartan Program as well not just Halsey.
Overall, I loved Mortal Dictata. If you are a hardcore science fiction fan and/or have read/played Halo, then this is a must read. Do be warned though, there are many point of views so I advise proceeding with caution if having multiple narrators is not your cup of tea.
Edit: Totally forgot to mention the big revelation at the end. Didn’t see that one coming and I thought it was awesome.