Halo: The Cole Protocol is one of the later books in the Halo novel series to feature characters from the games. Later books focused more on aliens from the distant past. Still, the book is more than five years old, and I’m only looking at it because I read it after picking it up second hand, not because it’s relevant.
I’m going to try and not focus on the story, because the whole thing sounds silly when you say it out loud; and to avoid confusion, as I’m not the most up on the Halo lore. From what I understand it is cannon, but sometimes it seems to not be.
The book is written decently, though it seems more like a draft. There are some very clunky transitions, and a spelling error here and there. The narrative does flow, and I’m not sure whether I’m just enthralled with the Halo universe, or the book is super good, but I read fast and didn’t want to stop.
It doesn’t interfere with any of the established Halo lore, so people infatuated with the franchise wouldn’t be frustrated reading it. Even so, it deals with quite a bit, and jumps around so much that one-page chapters are more frequent than I’ve seen outside of the work of Michael Crichton.
The point of view is interesting and the narrative compelling. I liked many of the characters, perhaps even the ones I wasn’t supposed to, and empathized with them, but maybe that’s me and not the writer at work. It looks at the world of Halo from a variety of perspectives including that of an alien enemy. Still, it isn’t anything more than a video game tie in. The Spartans of Grey team and the Covenant Elites aren’t any more flushed out or dramatic than their video game counter parts. It’s really just mindless fun (kinda, a lot of characters die, something else similar to Crichton).
If you’re a fan of Halo and missed this one it’s worth at least a look, though new I’m not sure I’d go for it. It was fun, but there isn’t much there. Beyond that I could only really see it appealing to more dedicated science-fiction fans who read any sci fi book they can get their hands on. Anyone looking for a serious book won’t find it here, but if they were looking, they’d be looking in the wrong place.