Halo: Divine Wind - Halopedia Reviews

From Halopedia, the Halo wiki

Cover art of Halo: Divine Wind.
The cover of Halo: Divine Wind.

We at Halopedia are happy to present our very first review of a Halo novel, a series that we plan to continue with each new release. In this article, we will share our thoughts Troy Denning's latest novel, Halo: Divine Wind. While the novel did release over a month ago and we allow any of its content to be posted to the site, we’ve endeavoured to ensure the half of the review will be spoiler-free, so you can safely read if you haven’t completed the novel yet!

If you have yet to get the novel, you can find it at Amazon (UK or US), Forbidden Planet, Simon & Schuster, Waterstones, WHSmith.

Given that collaboration between people of varied opinions and backgrounds is core to the concept of a wiki, we’ve decided to format our reviews by laying out a number of talking points and having multiple of our editors give their thoughts and responses. This time, we’ve got Halopedia staff members CIA391, Dab1001, Sith Venator, and TheArb1ter117 on, to give their opinions!

Please note that 343 Industries were kind enough to provide us with three review copies of the book, though our opinions are still our own - we weren’t asked to produce this review, nor asked to promote or praise the book.

Spoiler-Free Questions

Question 1

What are your overall thoughts on Halo: Divine Wind? Was it what you expected? Were you pleasantly surprised?

CIA391: The novel caught all my expectations in the best way possible, as I know Denning is familiar with the Halo Universe and the characters he writes, I trust him to write stories that are interesting and consistent!

As always with the recent Halo novels, I absolutely love the deeper ties to the fiction, and Denning and the lore team at 343i did it again. With Halo: Divine Wind having some very surprising stuff from what some would call “obscure” media getting mentioned throughout the novel in a natural way, but in a way that if you knew, you’d get excited reading all about it.

Overall I really enjoyed the novel and so so so want more!

Dab1001: Halo: Silent Storm remains probably my favourite Halo novel of all time, and Troy Denning is undoubtedly one of my favourite Halo authors. Thus, I was absolutely looking forward to Divine Wind, and I would say it delivered - to be honest, I’m not sure if it would be possible for Denning to write a bad novel even if he tried. Divine Wind is broadly speaking a character-driven story, juggling the perspectives of half a dozen characters, each with their own personalities and agendas, in that way that Denning does so well. It maintains that devotion to blending large-scale worldbuilding with an attention to fine-grained detail and respect for plausible realism (Forerunners and slipspace aside) that, for me, uniquely characterises Denning’s Halo work. What’s more, it kept me guessing as to the motivations of certain characters right up until the end, which is something I can rarely say for Halo novels. A thoroughly enjoyable read, all around.

Sith Venator:I really liked it! In fact it might be my favorite novel from Denning so far! It was probably roughly what I expected, but I was still surprised by how much I enjoyed a lot of the characters’ turmoil and their triumphs.

TheArb1ter117: Going into Divine Wind, I was extremely excited. I had enjoyed Troy Denning’s previous novel, Halo: Shadows of Reach, immensely, and I was looking forward to seeing that story continue. I remember when the novel was announced earlier this year in a Canon Fodder post and all the speculation surrounding the characters in the cover art - namely the strangely thin alien in the back of the artwork. Halo fans coming together to share their theories is one of my favorite things about interacting with the community. Thankfully, the speculation didn’t end there. Denning kept me guessing throughout Divine Wind. There was one character whose loyalties were incredibly difficult to guess, and I was on the edge of my seat until the end of the story waiting to see what they would do when it hit the fan. Much like Dab, I think that Halo: Silent Storm has remained my favorite Halo novel, but Divine Wind has definitely reached my top five. It’s a great read especially if you’re a fan of Castor, Veta Lopis, Spartan-IIIs, or the Halo Wars series of games.

Question 2

Is there any other Halo media that you think fans need to play or read before picking up Halo: Divine Wind? Or any that you think would enhance a reader's experience?

Dab1001: Halo: Shadows of Reach comes to mind first and foremost, as it is the book which directly set up this one. You’ll definitely also want to read the Sacrifice short story that was bundled in to some Shadows of Reach copies - if yours doesn’t include one, it has since been released for free; you can find a copy on Halopedia itself, here. Besides that, I would also advise playing Halo 3 and Halo Wars 2 first, given that this story has narrative ties to both. Finally, it would probably be a good idea to read Halo: Last Light and Halo: Retribution first too, to get the back story on Veta Lopis and the Ferrets, this book’s main characters. If you’re looking for extra reading beyond the above, I’d suggest giving Halo: Shadow of Intent a go, to familiarise yourself with the concept of Prelates, and potentially Halo: Hunters in the Dark for some more lore surrounding the Ark in the post-war era - though these two are by no means required reading for Divine Wind.

Sith Venator: Pretty much what Dab said, but I’d really recommend Awakening the Nightmare from Halo Wars 2. Great DLC that introduced my favorite pair of Jiralhanae brothers. I really enjoy their dynamic there and Denning was able to translate that dynamic very well for Divine Wind.

TheArb1ter117: There’s not much that I can add to Dab’s response, other than that Sacrifice and Shadows of Reach are a must-read before picking up this novel. Halo Wars 2 is very important to this novel’s plot as well. I won’t specify why, but playing the Awakening the Nightmare DLC would also be a good idea for some extra background.

Question 3

Halo: Retribution (2017) was the last novel to follow Veta Lopis and her Ferret team. Did it come as a surprise that fans would receive another novel following them after four years and three other novels written by Denning? Were you glad that their story was resumed?

CIA391: I loved seeing the Ferrets get a major focus again, I know a lotta fans (and you lot know you are, I am one of them also) wanted more from the rowdy Gamma Spartans and their “mom” Veta Lopis. After the Ferrets appeared in “Halo: Shadows of Reach”, I almost expected the Ferrets to become characters that pop up in fun ways in other media like how a lot of the Star Wars Legends Expanded Universe treated characters like Kyle Katarn at times. But I am very glad I was wrong there, as I said above I wanted to see more of the Ferrets and this pulled me in and took me for a ride.

Dab1001: Not after Halo: Shadows of Reach, no. Another story following the Ferrets seemed inevitable after the setup presented in that book, and so it was no surprise to me when one was announced earlier this year. Before reading Shadows of Reach, though, I had feared they might slip into obscurity like so many other characters from older Halo novels (remember Ignatio Delgado? Admit it, you don’t - I didn’t either). I’m glad to be proven wrong, though, with both the Ferrets and Keepers returning for another story in Divine Wind.

Sith Venator: I was not at all surprised that Veta and the Ferrets would get more books. While the young Blue Team books are nice, it was time to get back to the “present”.

TheArb1ter117: I was pleasantly surprised to see Veta and the Ferrets make a brief appearance in Shadows of Reach, especially given how much time had passed in-universe since their last appearance: Halo: Retribution was set in late 2553, with the events of Shadows of Reach occurring in late 2559. Perhaps my second favorite Halo novel is Halo: Last Light, which also features Veta Lopis, Ash-G099, Olivia-G291, and Mark-G313, so of course I was very excited to see more of them again. While I love getting to read or play through the stories surrounding Spartan-IIs and Spartan-IVs, I was itching to get more Spartan-III content, and Denning certainly delivered.

Question 4

Without giving anything away, what did you think of the expansion of the Second Ark Conflict in this novel?

Dab1001: The expansion given to the conflict by this and Sacrifice is certainly very interesting. It’s difficult to discuss without giving anything away, so this response will likely be relatively brief. The conflict now has a whole extra dimension, with the addition of a certain new faction to the proceedings, as well as the introduction of the portal that was created in Halo: Shadows of Reach, which creates a massively strategically significant location that all factions will be striving to hold on to. It makes me wish we could experience some of this in the framework of a Halo Wars game, but alas, it was not to be.

Sith Venator: The Second Ark conflict is becoming the ultimate battle royale and I’m all for it. You like this faction? Good, because they’re on the Ark trying to get a piece of the Forerunner pie.

TheArb1ter117: Given the ultimate importance of Installation 00, the Ark, it certainly makes sense that it would see some of the fiercest conflict (its big sister, the Greater Ark, certainly did). I’m glad Divine Wind was able to double-down on the scope of this massive, prolonged battle. Then you toss the Keepers of the One Freedom into the mix and the conflict has a whole new dimension. I don’t imagine the Ark will see peace any time soon, and I’m glad.

CIA391: I found it really interesting, it added depth to areas I never thought about when I played through Halo Wars 2 and read through Sacrifice. To quote Dab1001 it “has a whole extra dimension”. With so many factions on the Ark now, you feel like no one is safe from each other, and the Ark itself.

Question 5

This is the fourth Denning novel to heavily feature the Keepers of the One Freedom. What do you think of them as a faction and how they are written in this novel, as well as any of Denning's previous works?

CIA391: The Keepers were always interesting to me, a faction that was similar to the Covenant in that they followed its religion but the big difference being that they considered the Prophets as false. I always liked seeing how the Covenant remnants took to the Covenant essentially breaking up as realistically not everyone would just follow what the Arbiter was trying to do. The development that they get in this novel pushes the faction to the limits, I’ll say this much Denning definitely is able to show how far the Keepers will go in a realistic way for their beliefs.

Dab1001: When they were first introduced in Last Light, I didn’t have many strong feelings on the Keepers - they simply appeared to me as just another Covenant remnant faction introduced for the purposes of spicing up the conflict on Gao. However, as time has gone on, and they have featured in several successive books, they’ve been delved into and explored much further, to the point where I’d consider them among the most developed Covenant remnant factions we’ve seen. I also appreciate how we see the faction as it changes over time, starting fairly strong in Last Light and Retribution, but coming upon harder times in Shadows of Reach, being forced to ally with the Banished for protection after a devastating conflict with the UNSC. It gives the impression that they are a living, breathing organisation, rather than being a static entity that just exists to provide an antagonistic force in the story. Along with all this, we’ve also gotten more development on the leadership of the Keepers, primarily focussing on Castor, but also including his direct subordinates and close friends. This has helped to humanise the Keepers a lot, I feel, when compared to other remnant factions.

Sith Venator: I mostly think the Keepers are kind of tragic. They’re clinging onto their beliefs from the Covenant as best they can in a galaxy that has largely caught wind of the Hierarch’s lies. They mostly suffer and cause suffering for others for these beliefs.

TheArb1ter117: I used to not care about the Jiralhanae as a species. They simply never interested me. That is, they never interested me until I read Last Light. The idea that there were some Jiralhanae still clinging to the Covenant faith (and that they would welcome humans into their ranks) was intensely interesting to me. With the Jiralhanae being absent from the past few Halo games, it was nice to see the species get some time in the spotlight. As one would expect, my favorite aspect of the Keepers has got to be Castor. He’s just so well-written, and his character was a highlight of both Halo: Retribution and Halo: Shadows of Reach for me. Thankfully, he’s also very enjoyable in Divine Wind.

Spoiler Questions

Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow.

Question 6

Were there any specific moments, characters or elements of the book that you particularly enjoyed or want to highlight?

Dab1001: ‘Gadogai. Do I even need to explain? While he was first introduced in Shadows of Reach, he really comes into his own in this book, and was absolutely the standout for me. I thoroughly enjoyed his dry and intelligent wit and his generally cool and calm demeanor, no-matter the situation. He’s a significant break from the typical depiction of Sangheili in Halo lore, and I thoroughly enjoy it. One particular highlight for me would be his verbal sparring with Intrepid Eye - I was definitely grinning while reading their first exchanges. I also very much liked his motivation; throughout the whole book, I was certain that he’d eventually end up betraying Castor, given that he knows the truth about the Halo Array. Instead, he sticks by him despite it all, out of friendship. It’s certainly not the most complex motivation, but it is certainly fairly unique for Halo as far as villain motivations go, and was definitely a surprise to me - and, in an odd way, wholesome. I would have one piece of advice for him, though: friends don’t let friends unwittingly kill everyone in the galaxy.

Sith Venator: I’d really like to highlight Pavium and Voridus. Are they protagonists or antagonists? Supporting characters? Comic relief? Guess that’s up for the reader to decide. I really enjoyed their goal of trying to get the Long Shields back into the limelight after the events of Awakening the Nightmare. Pavium probably goes back and forth if Voridus’ genius and drive are a blessing or a curse. As I’ve said before, Voridus has high intelligence, but low wisdom. They even helped save the galaxy from Intrepid Eye’s plans, at least a little bit. Denning really nailed what they’re all about: Just a couple of goof ball Chieftains.

TheArb1ter117: I’d have to agree with Dab. Inslaan ‘Gadogai was definitely my favorite character in Divine Wind. I already loved him in Shadows of Reach, and by the time I had finished the first chapter of Divine Wind, I knew that I’d grow to love him even more. When the Keepers were nearly done with the slipspace transit to the Ark and realizing that they were about to reenter real space in the midst of a plasma strike, Castor ordered everyone to strap themselves in. Yet, ‘Gadogai stood on the Lich’s bridge saying, “I prefer to die here, where I can see it coming.” It’s not often that a book can make me laugh out loud. I also really loved the Ferrets and the dynamic between them and ‘Gadogai. He’s suspicious of them from the start and he resolves that they are trying to sabotage the Keepers long before anyone else, yet he keeps it to himself. I fully expected him to team up with the Ferrets to stop Castor, but my expectations were pleasantly subverted. I can’t wait to see what’s next for this peculiar blademaster.

CIA391: As I said in the non-spoiler section, I really loved seeing all the obscure stuff getting mentioned! One very obscure thing was the return of the Facilitator-class ancilla, this specific class of artificial intelligence was first introduced in the Halo 3 marketing campaign Iris in a one off line. To me it showed attention to detail that was cool to catch. I don't know many series that would pull the weird and interesting from marketing that no one would have held against 343i or Denning from ignoring, but it's very much something that was appreciated.

But that pales in comparison to learning that a San’Syuum flotilla escaped the Flood infestation of High Charity during the confusion the Dreadnought’s departure brought, and not only that but they were were eonroute to a Shield world named the “Cloister”. That single piece of fiction sparked many theories and discussions (Notable mentions Haruspis and Halo Canon) and has even made me think about how that affects the wider Halo fiction, and the fate of the San’Shyuum that were originally stated to be in the thousands after the great schism.

Question 7

What were some of your favorite bits of Halo Wars fanservice that Denning inserted into the novel?

Dab1001: Honourable mentions have to go to the appearance of the Gremlin, and the subplot involving Pavium and Voridus, trying to regain their stature within the Banished after the catastrophic events of Awakening the Nightmare, but for me, the best piece of Wars fanservice would have to be Cutter’s discussion with Lopis at the end, where he attempts to console her after Mark’s death. While not explicitly specified, I’m certain he was speaking of Sergeant Forge when discussing past losses on-board the Spirit of Fire. This, in my view, is how fanservice is usually best done; a humble and vague callback to past events, innocuous enough to be unnoticeable to someone unfamiliar with the source material, but rewarding to anyone who has and is able to connect the dots.

TheArb1ter117: It was cool seeing Pavium and Voridus again and getting more lore on them and their clan. However, I am a simple man who loves military vehicles, so my favorite bit of Halo Wars fanservice has to be the return of multiple unique vehicles from those games. Vultures, Sparrowhaws, Shortswords, Elephants, and even the freaking Gremlin! I was sure that that particular vehicle would never see the light of day again. Out of these vehicles, my favorite is the AV-22 Sparrowhawk by far, and it was great to see them kicking ass at the start of this book. And while technically not a vehicle, nor part of the Halo Wars series, I need to mention how happy I am that the Type-48 Weevil got some love, even if we didn’t actually see them in the book. Covenant artillery pieces seem to get the short end of the stick too often.

CIA391: I honestly loved seeing the outcome of Halo Wars 2’s Awakening the Nightmare Campaign expansion. Honestly I was not expecting to see that get a direct follow up with Voridus and Pavium losing their status in the Banished due to Voridus’ rash actions during that expansion that lead to the Flood getting released.

Question 8

Given the events that took place, how do you think the Second Ark Conflict will develop in the future?

Dab1001: I think it could go any number of directions from here, depending on where 343 wants to take it. I can’t see the Spirit of Fire leaving the Ark through the newly-created portal any time soon, given that doing so would mean abandoning it to either the Covenant loyalists or the Banished, neither of whom are factions that Cutter would want the Ark to be under the control of. Likewise, the Banished are unlikely to surrender their foothold either. The Covenant loyalists, meanwhile, could potentially leave to seek out Cloister, though that will depend upon where the authors wish to take that plot thread. Of course, it also can’t be ignored that the portal works both ways, and we could see the addition of yet another faction to the conflict: the Created. I doubt Cortana would pass up an opportunity to secure the Ark. This all assumes that the portal is permanent, of course, which it may not be. We’ll have to wait and see...

Sith Venator: I’m guessing eventually some Created forces will reach the Ark. Add even more chaos to the battle. Maybe the Banished and UNSC will eventually find some common ground and stop trying to kill each other. Probably not, but we’ll see! The loyalists are probably going to try to dip and head to the Cloister though.

TheArb1ter117: Even after the events of Divine Wind, so many factions are left on the Ark. The UNSC Spirit of Fire and the Ferrets, the Banished, the Covenant loyalists, wildcards like Castor and ‘Gadogai, and possibly Forerunner constructs and the Flood. I’m very interested to see what Dhas Bhasvod and his forces do next after the failed attempt to light the rings. The Second Ark Conflict has been going on for almost a year at this point, and the Banished and/or UNSC will have to start running low on manpower eventually. The conflict can’t go on forever, and I think that one of them will either be defeated or need to flee the Ark soon enough unless reinforcements arrive. However, the biggest unknown in my mind is the Flood. They were simply contained within the ruins of High Charity, and we all know how they love to break containment.

CIA391: Hmmm where do I see it going? The Spirit of Fire has such a varied crew; and the Banished and the surrounding cast have a wide arrange of character there that it's near impossible to say anything solid. Though what I would like is to see how the Ferrets fit into the family that is the Spirit of Fire crew, and how that dynamic grows over time.

Question 9

What did you think about a certain character's death at the end of the novel?

CIA391: One word “Wow”. I legitimately was not expecting Mark to outright die. A few weeks prior to reading the book I said this line to the Halopedia staff “By armor alone Mark is my fav.” and that made that moment hit harder for me. And made it even more sad was, Mark fought to the end and didn't make a dent while his killer Dhas Bhasvod went for the kill.

Dab1001: I think that Alice-130 really needs to work on her bedside manner. On a more serious note, though, I’m not usually one to get particularly attached to characters, so I don’t really have too much to say here. Mark’s death mostly serves to remind us that these characters we’re following aren’t invincible or immortal, I feel, and to that extent, it certainly served its purpose. I will also admit to being surprised by it, as I didn’t expect the book to kill off a main character in such a sudden and abrupt way - although admittedly, he had been direly wounded beforehand, which was likely a significant factor in why Dhas Bhasvod was able to defeat and kill with relative ease. Something I am wondering about, though, is the fact that Pavium and Voridus are the only ones to have (presumably) witnessed his death - I wonder if that’s going to play into future events?

Sith Venator: Mark is actually the first Spartan-III to die since Halo: Reach, and the first Eric Nylund created character to die since The Impossible Life and Possible Death of Preston J. Cole. So it’s a death I welcome if not just to remind the audience that these characters aren’t unkillable. It was also a very haunting death I won’t soon forget. Props to Mr. Denning on that scene.

TheArb1ter117: I applaud Denning for being willing to kill off a Spartan with a sizable amount of lore behind them. That must not have been an easy decision, but it was a necessary one. Far too often, Halo media treats Spartans as unbeatable demigods, leading to many fans simply assuming that their favorite Spartan will somehow come out unscathed even when facing the most overwhelming odds. Once Mark-G313 had been so injured that some of his intestines had begun falling out of the gash on his stomach, I knew it was over for him...I just didn’t know when the end would come. I assumed that he would go out a hero, killing Bhasvod or Castor or ‘Gadogai right before they lighted the rings, as would be the cliché. Instead, he survived that climactic encounter and was bested by the Prelate who simply snuck up behind him and snapped his neck as he waited for a rescue team that wasn’t far off. It was tragic and abrupt. Not every hero is fortunate enough to get a hero’s death. I liked Mark, but truthfully I’m just glad it wasn’t Olivia, who is by far my favorite of the group.

Question 10

If a sequel novel to Halo: Divine Wind were to happen, what are some characters/plot points/locations that you would like to see?

Dab1001: Whatever follows Divine Wind, I think we can be fairly confident that the Cloister and surviving San’Shyuum will be involved - that was too conspicuous a setup to be ignored. I would imagine that, with Intrepid Eye destroyed and the Keepers now out of the picture, this will be the next major plotline in Denning’s novels. However, ‘Gadogai and Castor are still players in the conflict, and while they’re only two people, I think their exchange at the end of the book certainly indicates they’ll be back for the next, which is something I’m glad of - as I said earlier, I very much enjoyed them and their interplay in this book, and am curious to see where they go next. As far as things I’d like to see, I think it would be very interesting to see the remaining Ferrets deployed alongside Red Team, as the dynamic between the two Spartan teams, I think, would be fairly unique and enjoyable - especially given that Red Team is effectively a time capsule from 2531.

CIA391: I agree with Dab1001 that the Cloister seems to be a major plot point that is to major of a plot point to ignore, and with other media (Halo: Shadow of Intent) having Rtas ‘Vadum hunting for San’Shyuum, the pieces of the puzzle are coming together nicely there! As I said above in the previous question however, I’d love to see how the Ferrets settle down in the Spirit of Fire crew and how that dynamic grows over time. Whatever the case however, I can’t wait to see what Troy Denning gets up to next!

Sith Venator: An interesting take on a potential Red Team-Ferret dynamic for a sequel could be the Ferrets taking the lead. Have them be the ones to teach Red Team some things about the new state of the galaxy they find themselves in. A nice parallel to Blue Team somewhat mentoring the Gammas in Ghosts of Onyx, Glasslands, and Last Light. I’d also really like to see some other Halo Wars 2 characters like Colony and Kinsano get some attention in a sequel. Perhaps Castor and ‘Godagai could find Yapyap and his little rebellion to join.

TheArb1ter117: For a sequel to Halo: Divine Wind, I’d love to see more of Red Team, Captain James Cutter, and Isabel. Some of the smaller characters like Morgan Kinsano would be great to get more content for as well. But mainly, I want to see the interactions between the Spartan-IIIs and the Spartan-IIs, who have never even met Spartan-IIIs before. The Ferrets sharing stories about their experiences with Blue Team would be great, especially in that it would be an opportunity to give more lore on Red Team and their history with the other Spartan-IIs, of which we know very little about at this point. A sequel to Divine Wind would also likely tie into Halo Infinite in some way. Perhaps it would set the stage for a campaign DLC that takes players to the Ark, possibly resulting in the end of the Second Ark Conflict and the return of the Spirit of Fire to the galaxy. Whatever the case may be, Troy Denning’s next novel is sure to be another masterpiece.
Spoilers end here.

That concludes our first book review! We hope you enjoyed it, and found it useful or interesting. We intend to continue this with future Halo book releases, starting with next year’s Halo: The Rubicon Protocol (hopefully in a more timely manner next time), so any feedback on the format and content of these would be welcome!

We’ll leave you with our pitch for Divine Wind 2, entitled Pavium and Voridus’ Excellent Adventure:

(Call us, 343. Our rates are very reasonable.)