The Fall of Reach / Part I

Office of Navel Intelligence headerOFFICE OF NAVAL INTELLIGENCE/SECTION 1


1400 HOURS, June 20, 2012



>> 00281-11224-KC // LT CONRAD, KEVIN GEORGE



ATTACHED: Initial RE if needed

STATUS: The Fall of Reach / Eric Nylund / Section I, “Reveille” (pg. 11-34)


My thoughts on the first section of The Fall of Reach; please direct any questions to the bottom of document.

The first section is titled “Reveille,” and I can only speculate at the significance – a wake up call, but for who? The future Master Chief? The UNSC itself? I’m not sure.

> > > > > > >WARNING< < < < < < <


Chapter One

August 17, 2517 / UNSC diplomatic shuttle Han / Slipspace, near the Eridanus Star System


With that brief encounter, their roles and the rules of conduct crystallized (15)

This first encounter between Lieutenant Junior Grade Jacob Keyes and Dr. Catherine Halsey is a short but memorable one, each exiting their cryo-tube at roughly the same time.

Not only do these two main characters get seeing each other naked out of the way, but in a few seconds set the ground rules for their relationship – as in she sets the rules, and he follows them.

We know that over time the relationship between these two grows to be much more than this starting point, but even in this chapter the barriers between them begin to be broken down, i.e., her choosing him for this mission based on knowing his past and the trust she places in him encouraging Keyes.

These two will rely on each other more than they know; to see them first come together in this way sets the stage for greater things to come.

> …INTEL: Some key words and phrases in this first chapter stress the good Dr.’s femininity. I thought it was interesting how just a few details here and there really drive the point home: pale skin, her dark hair clinging to her neck, lovely, striking, blue eyes, slender, her hair in an elegant knot, fingers dancing (pages 14-15).

Much like the “chess cue” (an upcoming detail in Chapter Two) to help us remember that John is smart, these are meant to remind us that Dr. Catherine Haley is female.

I think Nylund gives us those details to further add to Halsey’s character, but in the opposite way he did with John. With John it was to remind us of the mental, with her it’s to remind of us the physical; both characters need this part of them or they wouldn’t be who they are.

And we know that’s true because it’s there in the book 🙂


Someone trusted him again (21)

After the incident with his commanding officer during Officer Candidate School, a stranger’s trust meant a lot to Keyes.

It’s amazing what even a little encouragement can do for the weary, and I don’t believe it’s an overstatement to say that Halsey’s faith in him at this moment goes a long way towards Keyes becoming the commander we know he’ll be.

Chapter Two

August 17, 2517 / Eridanus Star System, Eridanus II, Elysium City


Yeah, but they made me play chess last week. That got boring. It’s too easy to win (27)

After seeing John take out of few boys in a game of King of the Hill, Halsey moves in for a closer examination. While he favors gravball, I think this quote about how easy it was to win at chess was interesting among the other information in this chapter designed to get the reader to see how special John is.

We’re told (and given examples in this chapter that) he’s fast, has exceptional eyesight, is physically strong for his age, etc.; but this quote points not to his physical attributes but his mental ability.

Easily winning at chess is supposed to make the word “SMART” flash in our mind in bright letters, and I also believe’s it’s to plant the seed in the reader’s mind that this kid is more than just brawn – he’s brains as well.

Throughout the novel this (the concept that John was extremely intelligent) was something I kept coming back to. Whenever the Chief’s answers to questions or situations were not, in my opinion, the most nuanced, this “chess line” was there to reminded me that he was smart – and probably a few moves ahead of me.

Much has been made of the Master Chief’s luck, but his intelligence cannot be forgotten – and easily winning at chess is there to point that out..


The sun reflecting off the asphalt felt too hot, and she suddenly didn’t want to be outside. She wanted to be back in the ship, where it was cool and dark. She wanted to get off this planet (29)

This sudden desire from Halsey to get off Eridanus II follows directly after she calls John by his name. The sudden closeness they have when she acknowledges him as a person makes her uneasy; he supposed to be a “test subject.”

This tension is present throughout the novel, and Halsey’s resolve to follow through with the SPARTAN-II program despite her misgivings can be summed up as “ends justify means.”

> …INTEL: I didn’t know Keyes was there from the Master Chief’s literal beginning. It put the opening of Halo: Combat Evolved in a whole new light, to know that thirty-five years earlier Keyes had watched John reach out to catch a quarter at his elementary school.

These thoughts of the first time he saw John had to go through his mind even then, as he ordered the Master Chief out of cryo to meet the Covenant threat attacking the Autumn.

Chapter Three

September 23, 2517 / Epsilon Eridani System, Reach, Reach Military Complex

////: One month, six days from previous chapter

> …INTEL: When we meet Déjà for the first time, Dr. Halsey marvels at the ability of AIs to chose their own unique form; a Greek goddess dressed in robes in Déjà’s case.

Thinking back over the AIs I’ve met in the novels so far – Sif, Mack and Loki in Contact Harvest and Toran and Déjà (and later Beowulf and Cortana) in The Fall of Reach – it is interesting to think of how/why an artificial intelligence chooses the form it does.

There’s is an existence where everything initially is pre-programmed, so for one of their first independent decisions to be the form they will address their creators in is significant.

> …INTEL: As Halsey gives her “welcome speech” to the 75 newly-arrived children, she sees John and IDs him as the first one she had “confirmed as a viable candidate” (33).

What would have happened if that initial meeting with John had not gone well? If he had failed in any perceived way, or shunned her advances and not played her game – what would her reaction have been, not to mention her superiors?

Before all of humanity’s hopes were on the Chief’s shoulders, it seems the future of the SPARTAN-II program was resting on them as well.


Not all of them would make it. “Acceptable losses,” the Office of Naval Intelligence representative had assured her. None of it was acceptable (34)

Ladies and gentlemen, the enigma of Dr. Catherine Halsey. She mourns the life she’s condemned them to, but her life’s work has made that condemnation possible.

As she looks at the children while she gives the speech, she hates herself for the part she’s played in bringing them to Reach – yet she’s there with them. Hands-on. She does not dictate the responsibility of her actions to others, but takes it upon herself.

I believe there are several reasons for this (in no particular order):

  1. Lab coat – she’s a scientist, and as the SPARTAN-II Program is her brainchild it’s up to her to see it through. This is her chosen profession, and valuing it as she does means she needs to be in the process to make sure everything is up to her standards
  2. Redemption through fire – when we do something that goes against our moral code, our conscience is eased when we suffer for it. That is to say, “what I’m doing may go against what I believe in, but I don’t feel good about it. I’m not enjoying it or anything.” Why would Halsey put herself through this? I believe it’s out of a sense of purging – a way to ease the guilt by a form of suffering
  3. From on high – while we’re not given all the details, I believe if she had tried to opt out of running the program herself she would have been ordered to do so. This is Halsey’s show and it only makes sense from a delegation standpoint that she should be on scene for it, if only to have someone to blame if anything goes wrong. When you run a top-secret program that uses abducted children from your own citizenry, best to have people that can be held responsible if needed

> > > > > > >PART I CONCLUDED< < < < < < <

Part II to come soon, per SATCOM function.

As always, many thanks for your continued support.


[All images (and much knowledge!) courtesy of Halopedia unless otherwise noted]


  1. Thanks for posting this! It always awesome to see the novels through a fresh set of eyes. You haven’t got to my favourite scene though!

    The thing I appreciate from the Nylund books is the humanity he brings to not only The Chief but to all the other characters who appear in the games. Keyes becomes a Hero rather than an annoying guy I have to try and save TWICE in Halo CE. Cortana (who I loved anyway) becomes such a deeper character as we get to know both her AND her creator better.

    Reading the Nylund novels makes everyone and everything in the Halo universe feel more compelling.

    Seeing the little details that you highlight here gives me an even greater appreciation of that. You point out things I’d only noticed on a subconscious level before.

    This not only helps bring me even further into these stories but I think it may even make me a better writer!

    Thanks again!


    1. Woaf,
      Rest assured that I will probably skip your favorite scene, or worse write about it and come at completely opposite conclusion 🙂

      My future mistakes aside, I really appreciate the post – I’m always looking to hear your feedback on the fiction.

      Nylund had the difficult task of bringing these characters to life in a setting – the novel – where they had to be more fleshed out, and I think he made that happen.

      And I agree – the book does make the characters more compelling, more real to you as you play them in the games.

      Thanks again man, and I’m working on Part II!


  2. Excellent. Really made me see things i havent before. Now i can really appriciate your hard work. Still havent read your Haverst analyses, however i finally got my print of Contact Harvest and will read trough very soon. Right after i will jump on Reactive Bias analyses !


    1. Hemlax,
      Great to see you man! Thanks for the comment and I’m really glad you were able to actually read my thoughts on a Halo novel this time 😉

      I’m excited for your read-through of “Contact Harvest” – the building blocks it lays down for the universe really start you out at a good spot.

      Thanks again for the comment!


  3. Reactive Bias,
    Just wanting to say that I am new to your site (heard of it through Waypoint and DaE).
    This analysis is really well written and I find myself agreeing with everything you have said.
    Really looking forward to part 2!!!

    (Loved your Podtcast with CruelLEGACEY by the way)

    Keep up the awesome work, you’ve just found yourself a new fan!!!

    Thanks again!


    1. Dodger,
      Thank you for the kind words – I really appreciate it! This is just the kind of feedback I hope to get.

      If you told me my writing was terrible and all my conclusions were wrong I would have also appreciated the feedback … just not as much 🙂

      Glad to see a fellow DaE fan on here! Because of this, your awesome level has already risen in my mind. Impressive.

      Thanks for the love on the Modcast! I was an honor to do it, and I was grateful CL just went down the list of stuff I wanted to talk about. He is the man for many reasons, but we can add “listen to DayandJKnightly ramble on” to the list as well.

      All the best man and I’m working on part 2 – looking forward to seeing you around! 🙂


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