Author: Joseph Staten
Publisher: Microsoft Corporation, 2007; Tom Doherty Associates, LLC
Rating: 5/5 stars
Amazon Price: $7.99 – $15.25
Contact Harvest is the origin story of the famous Sergeant Avery Johnson. Perhaps one of the most beloved characters in the Halo game series, here the Halo fan gains insight into Johnson’s military career at the start of the Human-Covenant War. If you’ve played the game Halo Wars, you know Harvest is where humanity first comes into contact with the alien menagerie who call themselves the Covenant. We get the same story in this book, except from the perspective of Sergeant Johnson and even some prominent Covenant characters. The reader learns why Harvest was a significant loss for humanity and Sergeant Johnson’s vital role in the battle for Harvest to prevent the Covenant from finding an important Forerunner artifact.
Harvest is a planet that is significantly agriculturally advantageous for humanity. Its loss, then, would punch a whole in humanity’s universal economy. The book starts off when a Covenant ship called Minor Transgression comes across a malfunctioning human cargo ship, which its coordinates in the ship lead the aliens to Harvest. These aliens are called Kig-yar, or Jackals, who are essentially space pirates. In their ship they have what’s called a Luminary, which is a Forerunner device they use to locate other Forerunner artifacts on various planets. If you don’t know who the Forerunners were, they were an ancient alien civilisation the Covenant believed to be gods. They also believed the Forerunners discovered some sort of transcendence in which they became gods, which would explain their sudden disappearance over 100,000 years ago. Their religion is based on discovering what this transcendence was so they, too, can become gods—what they call the “Great Journey.” Anyway, the Jackals’ Luminary on their ship activates and locates Forerunner artifacts on Harvest. With their narcissistic nature as space pirates, these Jackals want to take the artifacts for themselves, which is considered treason in the Covenant. However, the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) assimilated a QRF team (quick reaction force), which Sergeant Johnson was a part of, to repel what they thought to be a rebel Insurrectionist attack on the previous human cargo ship. Of course, on the QRF’s arrival, they discover otherwise, making first contact with an alien species.
This sets us up for the rest of the story, in which the Covenant leadership eventually finds out about not only the Jackals’ treason, but also this new planet called Harvest where Forerunner artifacts lie as well as a new species who call themselves humans. As the plot thickens, the reader also learns about how the three Prophets they are familiar with in the game—the Prophets of Truth, Mercy, and Regret—rise into the Hierarchy. We also learn of Tartarus’ rise to chieftain and how the whole Jiralhane, or Brute, society functions. For those unfamiliar with him, Tartarus is an enormous Brute who is fashioned with white fur and a somewhat humourous looking mohawk. He sort of looks like an angry grandpa.
Contact Harvest is rich in origin stories. Not only do we get that of the beloved Sergeant Johnson, but also the hated Prophet Hierarchs and Tartarus. I found the entire book was enticing as I read it. I couldn’t put the book down. This is one of the best Halo books that gives us additional insight into the Covenant’s religious fanaticism as the cause of their universal genocide against any who dare to oppose them. This is also the book where we learn the new Prophet Hierarchs—Truth, Mercy, and Regret—actually hold together a conspiracy they keep from the rest of the Covenant because of a truth an ancient and highly significant Forerunner AI revealed to them. What is this conspiracy? You’ll have to read the book to find out!