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All the Halo lore books and the order to read them in

Halo: Shadows of Reach
Halo: Shadows of Reach (Image credit: 343 Industries)

The Halo series has an expanded universe chock-full of exciting stories, intriguing lore, and memorable characters. While the games cover a portion of it, the majority of Halo's expanded universe has been explored through novels. Ever since the first book was published back in 2001, Halo's book portfolio has swollen to over 30 complete novels and anthologies.

With so many different books out there, it can be tough for a curious Halo fan to know where to start with this side of the franchise. Don't worry, though, because we're here with an overview of every single Halo lore novel out there, listed in the optimal order that you should read them in.

Halo: The Fall of Reach

Halo: The Fall of Reach is the first ever Halo novel published, and it contains a wealth of information about the series' main characters and serves as an excellent entry point for people that want to get into the series' expanded universe. It's also one of the first stories in terms of chronological order as well.

Halo: Contact Harvest

Halo: Contact Harvest follows Avery Johnson (as seen in the Halo games) as he leads several UNSC Marines and other rag-tag resistance fighters against the Covenant on the planet Harvest, marking the very first battle of the Human-Covenant War.

Halo: The Cole Protocol

Halo: The Cole Protocol is an interesting novel that follows Jacob Keyes and Thel 'Vadam prior to their appearances in Halo: Combat Evolved and Halo 2, respectively. It also features the SPARTAN-II team Gray Team and the events of the story chronologically line up with Halo: The Fall of Reach.

Halo: Silent Storm

Halo: Silent Storm follows the Master Chief and Blue Team as they attempt to gather vital intelligence about the Covenant during the first year of the Human-Covenant War. Meanwhile, the human Insurrectionist faction attempts to intercept the Spartans.

Halo: Oblivion

Halo: Oblivion is the sequel to Halo: Silent Storm. In it, Master Chief and Blue Team attempt to steal a frigate from the Covenant while a ruthless Elite Fleetmaster tries to stop and kill them.

Halo: Battle Born

Halo: Battle Born follows four teenagers and a Spartan as they work with the rest of the UNSC forces on the planet Meridian to combat the Covenant's grueling invasion of the planet early on in the war.

Halo: Meridian Divide

Halo: Meridian Divide is the direct sequel to Halo: Battle Born, taking place a few months after the Covenant's invasion is over. The characters from the first story return to Meridian to monitor the Covenant's efforts to retrieve a piece of Forerunner technology on the planet.

Halo: The Flood

Halo: The Flood is, for all intents and purposes, a novelization of the first Halo game, Halo: Combat Evolved. Some interesting subplots are introduced alongside the Master Chief's perspective, fleshing out the events that take place in the game as a result.

Halo: First Strike

Halo: First Strike is set between the events of Halo: Combat Evolved and Halo 2, and tells the story of how the Master Chief managed to make his way back to Earth, encountering new friends and dangerous foes along the way.

Halo: Ghosts of Onyx

Halo: Ghosts of Onyx is a novel that focuses primarily on the secretive Office of Naval Intelligence and how the SPARTAN-III program began, while also following the story of a skilled and cunning Covenant Elite. Some of the plot also lines up with the events of Halo 2.

Halo: Broken Circle

Halo: Broken Circle is a deep and thought-provoking novel that focuses on when the Covenant was founded and provides amazing context for the series' infamous alien menace. Certain parts of it also line up with the events of Halo 2 like Ghosts of Onyx does. Overall, if you love the Covenant, this book is for you.

Halo: Hunters in the Dark

Set directly after the events of Halo 3 in the Post-War era, Hunters in the Dark follows a coalition of humans and Elites as they travel to the Ark to stop a mysterious activation of the Halo rings.

Halo: Glasslands

Halo: Glasslands follows up on story threads from Ghosts of Onyx while also featuring the secret ONI team Kilo-Five as they go undercover in Elite territory following the end of the Human-Covenant War.

Halo: The Thursday War

This sequel to Halo: Glasslands follows Kilo-Five as they get caught in the middle of an emerging Civil War being fought by the Elites on their homeworld, Sanghelios.

Halo: Mortal Dictata

The final Kilo-Five novel focuses on a rebel force on the planet Venezia that plans to threaten Earth. Additionally, one of the planet's most prominent arms dealers has an unusual connection to Kilo-Five's SPARTAN-II Naomi-010 that is explored in the novel.

Halo: New Blood

Halo: New Blood is the spiritual successor to Halo 3: ODST, focusing on the actions of the ODST squad Alpha-Nine during and after the war with the Covenant.

Halo: Last Light

This story is a detective-themed tale set on the planet Gao. The Spartans of Blue Team work together with investigator Veta Lopis to try and uncover the culprits behind several murders on the colony world.

Halo: Retribution

In this sequel to Halo: Last Light, Veta Lopis works with covert SPARTAN-IIIs and Blue Team to try and identify the assassin of a UNSC Admiral.

Halo: Envoy

Halo: Envoy is a dramatic action thriller set several years after the Human-Covenant War, in which humans and Elites attempt to negotiate peace on a colony world that both groups live on.

Halo: Legacy of Onyx

Halo: Legacy of Onyx follows teenager Molly Patel and her peers as they adapt to living on the Forerunner Shield-World of Onyx, all while a Covenant splinter faction threatens the safety of the planet.

Halo: Smoke and Shadow

Halo: Smoke and Shadow focuses on the daughter of Halo Wars' John Forge, Rion Forge, as she sets out to discover what happened to her father and the UNSC Sprit of Fire.

Halo: Renegades

This sequel to Halo: Smoke and Shadow follows Rion Forge as she and the crew of her ship, the Ace of Spades, continue to look for the Spirit of Fire. However, both ONI and Covenant remnant forces are on their tail.

Halo: Bad Blood

Halo: Bad Blood is the sequel to Halo: New Blood, taking place after the events of Halo 5: Guardians. The story sees Edward Buck, now a SPARTAN-IV, reform the ODST squad Alpha-Nine and go on a mission to discover how an Insurrectionist-controlled colony world has avoided detection by Cortana and the Created.

Halo: Shadows of Reach

Halo: Shadows of Reach follows Master Chief and Blue Team as they return to the glassed planet of Reach following Cortana's takeover of the galaxy. The Spartans' mission is to retrieve an important asset on the planet while being careful to avoid detection by the Created.

Halo: Evolutions

Halo: Evolutions is a massive anthology containing countless short-stories that focus on all kinds of eras, settings, and characters within the Halo universe. This is a book that every Halo fan should read, especially since some of the stories tie into the other books in this list.

Halo: Fractures

Halo: Fractures is the spiritual successor to Halo: Evolutions, as it's also a large anthology filled with plenty of interesting short stories. Like Evolutions, many of the tales are related to other Halo novels.

Halo: Cryptum

Halo: Cryptum is the first book in the Forerunner Trilogy of novels and follows both an adolescent Forerunner and the Didact during the Forerunner-Flood War, countless eras prior to the events of the Halo games and other Halo books.

Halo: Primordium

The second Forerunner Trilogy novel is focused on an ancient human known as Chakas. The story explores his journey across the massive Installation 07 Halo ring, also known as Zeta Halo. This is significant, as Zeta Halo is confirmed to be the primary setting for Halo Infinite.

Halo: Silentium

The final Forerunner Trilogy novel is centered around the closing years of the Forerunner-Flood War and how the Forerunners were ultimately forced to fire the Halo rings in order to stop the Flood.

Your thoughts

What do you think of the Halo novels? Have you read any? If not, are you planning on reading some? Let me know. They're a great way to pass the time while waiting for Halo Infinite! If you're looking for more on Halo's full story, don't miss my Halo Story Timeline series of articles that cover the major events in the universe at great length.

If you'd prefer to pass the time with a Halo game instead, look no further than Halo: The Master Chief Collection (MCC). It includes all of the pre-Xbox One Halo shooters as well as Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary and Halo 2: Anniversary, all for an amazing price. Also, the game greatly improved over the course of 2020.

The MCC is available for $40 on Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, Xbox One consoles, and Windows 10 PCs. You should absolutely try it out if you haven't already, as it has become one of the best Xbox One shooters over the years.

Brendan Lowry is a Windows Central writer and Oakland University graduate with a burning passion for video games, of which he's been an avid fan since childhood. You'll find him doing reviews, editorials, and general coverage on everything Xbox and PC. Follow him on Twitter.