The Forerunner Saga
The Forerunner Saga is a trilogy of Halo novels focusing on Forerunner life 100,000 years before the Human-Covenant War, written by Greg Bear and published by Tor Books. The series reveals a great deal of new information about the Forerunner-human interactions in ancient history, as well as providing additional background for the events in Halo 4 and subsequent media.
The first novel in the series, titled Halo: Cryptum, was released on January 4, 2011. The second novel, titled Halo: Primordium, was released on January 3, 2012, and the final book, Halo: Silentium, was released on March 19, 2013.
Originally known only as the "Forerunner Trilogy", the series was officially announced at the Emerald City ComiCon in Seattle, Washington, where its author, Greg Bear, made a guest appearance. The first book's working title was "Antediluvian". The word "antediluvian" means, "of or belonging to the period before a flood," hinting that the novel would take place prior to the Forerunner-Flood war. On October 11, 2010, the official name of the book was revealed to be Halo: Cryptum.
As the series was written back-to-back with the production of Halo 4 and shares many of the elements seen in the game, 343 Industries artists created a number of illustrations which tie in directly with the Forerunner Saga. For example, the covers of the first two novels are taken from pieces of Halo 4 concept art. Frank O'Connor has mentioned that these illustrations would eventually be released in an art book. A large number of the game's concept art was released in the form of Awakening: The Art of Halo 4 on November 2, 2012.
In comparison to the novels set in the Halo universe's "modern" era, The Forerunner Saga is written in a style more akin to a mythical epic; author Greg Bear has drawn parallels between the series and a Greek tragedy. Set before the Forerunners' end at the hands of the Flood, the series touches on the origins of humanity and the contacts with Forerunners and humans. Many elements about the Forerunners are introduced and explored, such as their political system, social structure and their various advanced technologies. All of the novels are framed with fictional devices as in-universe narratives by given characters and have no omniscient narrator. These records have been discovered by the UNSC in the post-Covenant War era, shedding more light into the history of the Forerunners and humanity.
Written concurrently with Halo 4, the series introduces many elements featured in the game. Among the first is the establishing of humans and Forerunners as a separate species and rival civilizations. The Forerunners are revealed to be an exceedingly hierarchic and culturally stagnant civilization, their society structured around several castes known as rates. The origins of the eponymous Halo ringworlds are also established as the work of a powerful caste of Forerunners known as Builders, political opponents to the Promethean Warrior-Servants led by the Didact. Humanity, while previously a great interstellar empire, has been devolved to a primitive state by the Forerunners at the time the novels are set as punishment for their war against the Forerunners. It is revealed that humanity fought the Flood before the Forerunners and helped sterilize the infection before its final wave reappeared in the galaxy and eventually necessitated the Forerunners' activation of the Halos. Recent anthropological findings inspired the inclusion of a number of different human species into the collective humanity featured in the series; Greg Bear particularly enjoyed writing about the Florian Riser, a diminutive but intelligent human character.
The characters of the Didact and the Librarian, introduced in the Terminals in Halo 3 and later encountered in Halo 4, are featured as central characters in the series. With the Didact returning as the primary antagonist of Halo 4, one of the goals of the Forerunner Saga was to give him a character arc portray his tragic transformation into the character seen in the game. The series also solves a discrepancy involving major differences in the Didact's actions between the Halo 3 terminals and Halo 4 by establishing a secondary Didact created by the original Didact through an imprinting procedure. 343 Guilty Spark, the principal monitor character from the games, is also heavily featured throughout the series, along with the revelation of his origins.
The series introduces multiple new elements and carrying themes which are explored as the story unfolds; one of the most prominent is the Forerunners' assumed legitimacy as heirs to the Mantle, a role of galactic stewardship they believe to have inherited from the even more ancient and powerful race known as the Precursors. The novels also introduce the Domain as the Forerunners' transcendent cultural and historical record and the perpetual mystery as to its true nature. These aspects are part of an overarching theme exploring the interactions and competition between various forms of life, encapsulated in the philosophy of Living Time.
Some of the content of the Forerunner Saga fed into the final version of the Halo 4 script and vice versa. The introduction of Forerunner mind transfer technology in Halo: Cryptum influenced the nature of the Composer as seen in the final game in a back-and-forth exchange of content between the two. Elements of the saga were also incorporated to the terminals on Halo 4, albeit in compressed and simplified form. The discrepancies between the saga and both the Halo 3 and Halo 4 terminals are given in-universe explanations, the former being manipulated by the rampant Mendicant Bias and the latter being hosted by the unreliable Domain.
Released January 4, 2011, Cryptum focuses on a young Forerunner known as Bornstellar Makes Eternal Lasting, a rebellious Manipular from a family of Builders, the highest and most politically powerful rate of the Forerunner. His father sends him to the planet Edom in a distant system known as Sol to work with the Miners to come to terms with his duty as a Builder. As part of the Librarian's far-reaching plans, however, Bornstellar is led to Earth, where he crosses paths with two humans, Chakas and Riser. They soon stumble upon the Cryptum of the ancient Promethean military leader known as the Didact, forever changing the fate of the galaxy.
The sequel to Halo: Cryptum was released on January 3, 2012. Primordium is centered around Chakas, one of the two humans who accompanied Bornstellar in the first novel. After being captured by the Master Builder during the events of Cryptum, Chakas finds himself marooned on an embattled Halo installation, where he is joined by two humans on a quest to find his companion Riser. During their journey and its eventual conclusion, revelations are made as to the nature of the Flood, the rampant AI Mendicant Bias and the mysterious Primordial, as well as the far-reaching plans of the Precursors.
Halo: Silentium is the third and last book of The Forerunner Saga. Released on March 19, 2013, Silentium ties in directly with Halo 4, elaborating on the stories of the Ur-Didact, IsoDidact, the Librarian and the end of the Forerunner civilization as the Forerunner-Flood war draws to a close. Mythology concerning the Precursors and the origins of the Flood is expanded upon and clarified, along with a number of elements and locales touched on in the previous Forerunner Saga novels.
Prior to the release of the novel, it was stated that there were "specific strategic reasons" as to why it would be released after Halo 4; namely, story elements that tie in heavily with the game. As part of 343 Industries' decision not to reveal the appearance of the Forerunners until Halo 4, Silentium's full cover - depicting the Ur-Didact and the Librarian - was not shown until after the game's release.