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Original book cover
|Genre||Military science fiction|
|Published||March 19, 2013 Tor|
|Media type||Print (Hardcover), E-book, Audiobook (7 hours 42 minutes)|
|Preceded by||Halo: Primordium|
Halo: Silentium is a military science fiction novel by Greg Bear, based on the Halo series of video games. The book was released in March 2013 and is the twelfth Halo book (the eleventh novel) and the last book in the trilogy of novels focusing on the Forerunners, called The Forerunner Saga. Silentium was released in hardcover, e-book, and audiobook following 2012's Halo: The Thursday War, the second book in the separate Kilo-Five trilogy. Silentium concludes the efforts of the Ur-Didact and the Librarian to stop the Flood from destroying the universe. The book reached number eight on the New York Times Bestseller List for Hardcover Fiction.
Greg Bear posted on his site on May 3, 2012 that the third book of the Forerunner trilogy would be released in January and had a working title of Halo: Silentium. The book had its title, first cover and release date announced by Tor Books on July 11, 2012, with a release date of January 8, 2013, for the hardcover, e-book and audio book. On August 25, 2012 Bear stated the book was complete and in revision. On November 8, 2012 Bear stated that he had finished writing the book. Release was later moved off to March 2013 until the release of Halo 4 to avoid revealing any plot details about the game. From February 13, 2013 to the books release, encrypted messages were sent out from the halo waypoint website that allowed fans to unlock additional halo content, and were also included in the paperback and e-book versions. A week before the books release, an excerpt of the first chapter was posted on the publishers website, and the second was on the Halo Waypoint website.
Bear used the Forerunner designs and images from the Halo video games as an inspiration, and it showed him there had to be an emphasis on builders within the Forerunner civilization. The books cover was designed by Sparth, in a collaboration with Gabriel Garza, and with design help for the Didact sphere provided by Glenn Israel.
Silentium takes place approximately 100,000 years before the present day in the Halo universe, telling the story of the Forerunners before their disappearance. This specific book takes place during the final years of the Forerunner empire and sets the stage for what occurs during the events that take place in the Halo 4 video game.
The Ur-Didact and the Librarian must find a way to stop the Flood corrupting the infecting universe.
Like the first two novels in the Forerunner Saga, Silentium is framed with an in-universe conceit, being presented as a series of Forerunner logs under investigation by ONI in the modern era. The files in question are said to have been extracted from two sources: the carapace of a deceased Catalog (designated Forerunner remains #879) and a damaged monitor. Both the "Bornstellar Relation", the fictional document that encompasses the narrative of Halo: Cryptum and ONI's recovery of 343 Guilty Spark which acts as the framing device for the plot of Halo: Primordium, are referenced.
In the opening chapter, a Senior Juridical sent under the orders of the Master Juridical meets Haruspis, the guardian of the Domain. He demands to be granted access to classified information pertaining to the Precursors and crimes against the Mantle, but Haruspis refuses him, telling that no one has such authority. Just as the Juridical tells Haruspis that he does have the authority to bypass him, the Domain itself suddenly requests to testify to the Juridical, who is quickly overwhelmed by the sheer amount of knowledge the Domain forces into him.
On Erde-Tyrene, Catalog observes the evacuation effort of the planet. Catalog is here to investigate the Battle of the Capital, which resulted in the deaths of the entire Old Council, and demands a testimony from both the Librarian and her husband - the IsoDidact, formerly Bornstellar Makes Eternal Lasting. However, a warning of an approaching Flood fleet results in the IsoDidact having to leave to defend the territory, so Catalog is sent off with the Librarian. While it accompanies her, she tells it about the events that led to her becoming a Lifeshaper, and her growing split from the original Didact due to their differing opinions about humanity.
Over a thousand years earlier, shortly before the Ur-Didact went into exile, he and the Librarian gathered together at their estate on the world of Nomdagro. An associate of Haruspis visited their home and helped guide the Ur-Didact in the Cryptum's preservation process. After the Didact's exile, things continued to deteriorate on the Forerunner political scene. To remain seen as an asset to the Master Builder, the Librarian proposed an expedition to a local galaxy known as Path Kethona to learn about the Flood's origins. Legend dictated that 10 million years ago, ancient Forerunners journeyed to Path Kethona, but actual records detailing this journey had long since vanished. The Old Council approved of this venture and the ship Audacity was constructed for the long journey to Path Kethona. The crew consisted of the Librarian, a Builder named Keeper-of-Tools, a Miner named Clearance-of-Old-Forests, and two Lifeworkers named Chant-to-Green and Birth-to-Light. Arriving at Path Kethona, the crew of Audacity would find it seemingly completely devoid of life. However, they discovered that Precursor architecture existed this far out of the Milky Way. Amongst the artifacts was a vast fleet of ancient Forerunner vessels of war. The Librarian and her crew scanned the Forerunner vessels and found nothing of true interest; any records inside had been destroyed thousands of years ago, as they were uploaded in binary.
Eventually, the Librarian, Keeper and Chant discovered a planet with a civilization of primitive Forerunners confined to the planet and lacking any form of advanced technology; however, the planet's ecology is completely based upon Forerunner genetics. The crew land on the planet to encounter the natives in person. As the Librarian meets the locals in person without armor, an old female, Glow-of-Old-Suns, suddenly bites her. However, this has a practical purpose: the microbes in her mouth allow the Librarian to understand the natives and opens up their history for her. The Librarian queries Glow-of-Old-Suns about the origins of her people and is taken to a valley where she learns that the history of the natives is contained within a vast growth of moss - an organic Domain. By accessing this information reserve, she would learn that Warriors drove the Precursors to Path Kethona during the Forerunners' genocidal campaign against their creators ten million years earlier, and that the planet's inhabitants were descendants of Forerunners exiled there as punishment for refusing to partake in the destruction of the Precursors.
Back in the present, we are reunited with the Ur-Didact as he emerges from a stasis-bubble on a broken-down Builder hulk drifting in a Burn, the designation for a Flood infected star system. Also on-board is a former Promethean named Sharp-by-Striking, another Catalog and a Builder named Maker-of-Moons. We learn Sharp lost favor with Faber and Maker was going to give Catalog testimony against Faber, so all three found themselves on the broken ship as well. Their destination is a Flood-infested world called Uthera Midgeerrd. Eventually a Precursor artifact with slithering star roads appears and threatens to destroy the ship. The Ur-Didact, willing to confront whatever lies in the Precursor artifact, remains on the ship while the others escape; only Catalog stays to accompany him.
The Ur-Didact and Catalog are captured by the Gravemind and the Ur-Didact's sanity is severely shaken by the resulting encounter. The Gravemind then reveals the true nature of the Precursors. They did indeed reject Forerunners for the Mantle and intended for humans to hold it. The Forerunners did not accept this and drove the Precursors from the galaxy and beyond. Some Precursors survived by going dormant, others became powder that could regenerate their old selves in time, but time rendered it defective and it only created sickness and disease. The Precursors vowed that none of their creations would rise against them again and that all life would suffer and be in perpetual agony, through their new form as the Flood.
Back in the Orion complex, Forerunner defenses continue to fall as formerly dormant Precursor artifacts across the galaxy begin to reactivate, with their immense power bolstering the Flood's already enormous forces. The Master Builder is revealed to be alive and well. He rescued the Ur-Didact, who was given power once again. A meeting occurs on Nomdagro between the IsoDidact, Ur-Didact and Librarian that does not go well. Arguments ensue and the Ur-Didact reveals the Gravemind drove him mad and that he would not let humans attain the Mantle. The Flood arrives and ravages Nomdagro as the Audacity and Mantle's Approach leave towards the greater Ark, now the last bastion of the ecumene.
On the greater Ark, Omega Halo is there in anticipation for a Flood assault. A power struggle ensues between the IsoDidact and other Forerunner commanders who think the Ur-Didact should instead lead them. The Master Builder manages to regain control for him and the IsoDidact by revealing that the Ur-Didact is being used as a pawn for the Gravemind; after Faber had recovered him, the Ur-Didact conveyed him a sadistic message from the Gravemind which had absorbed Faber's family.
A massive Flood fleet led by Mendicant Bias arrives and chaos erupts. In that confusion, the Ur-Didact uses a Composer to compose human populations being stored on Omega Halo and retreats towards Requiem. The Librarian follows behind him, grieving for the loss of her humans. Monitor Chakas is tasked with saving the rest of the humans on the Ark and taking them to the lesser Ark, still hidden from the Ur-Didact and the Flood. The IsoDidact and the remaining Forerunner commanders with Faber in tow go to the Halo and activate it to buy time. Although the pulse destroys some of the Precursor star roads and part of the Flood fleet, both the greater Ark and Omega Halo are soon destroyed by the star roads. Faber remains behind while IsoDidact and the other commanders attempt to escape, but they begin to plummet to their deaths as the Halo is torn apart. Chakas manages to save the IsoDidact and takes him to the lesser Ark via Faber's personal slipspace portal.
At the lesser Ark, the remaining six Halos are assigned their monitor caretakers in preparation for their distribution across the galaxy, Installation 07 having been deployed years prior. The IsoDidact has a brief conversation with Chakas, in which he gives him his new designation, 343 Guilty Spark, and assigns him to Installation 04. The IsoDidact then asks Chakas if he would fire the rings, were it his choice, but receives no response.
On Requiem, the Librarian sneaks aboard with the Audacity by trailing behind the Mantle's Approach. Requiem's defenses also view her as a friendly and let her in. The Librarian finds Endurance-of-Will, a Promethean and former love interest of the Ur-Didact. Endurance reveals that the Ur-Didact is using the essences of the composed humans and Prometheans to build an army of mechanical Promethean Knights, with which he plans to defeat the Flood and eradicate all species who might challenge the Forerunners in the future. Despite resenting her for being chosen by the Ur-Didact instead of her, Endurance is eventually convinced to help the Librarian take down the Ur-Didact and seal him in a Cryptum. Once done, the Librarian tasks Endurance to watch over the Didact for as long as she can. As she leaves Requiem for Earth, the Librarian is confronted by a large group of Knights and wonders if Endurance chose to become one herself.
The Librarian then draws the Flood towards Earth to allow the IsoDidact to fire the seven Halo rings. She sends Chant-to-Green off to the lesser Ark with the planet's remaining humans and passes her title of Lifeshaper on to Chant while remaining on Earth herself. During her last days on Earth, the Gravemind sends down ancient human essences, including the Lord of Admirals, to reveal that the Domain was created by the Precursors as the collection of wisdom from over 100 billion years of knowledge and that it was ingrained in Precursor architecture for safekeeping. In short, the Domain is the mythical Organon. Sadly, the Librarian realizes that the Halos will destroy all of this, and that without the Domain, the Ur-Didact will spend the eons to come in complete silence, dwelling on his own rage and madness. As she watches the Portal's construction, she sincerely hopes humanity will one day inherit the Mantle.
At the lesser Ark, the IsoDidact activates the rings while Offensive Bias fends off Mendicant Bias' fleet, allowing the rings to fire before the latter can reach the Ark. In the end, 343 Guilty Spark reflects on the Halos working their power throughout the galaxy. In that instant, he receives the first signals of a young, previously unknown civilization, which is swiftly extinguished by the Array's pulse. Compartmentalization processes then erase large portions of Spark's memory and he forgets his old life.
A code to a hidden audio epilogue, titled "Rebirth", is included in the form of Forerunner symbols featured in some of the chapter headings for the novel. The code can be used on Halo Waypoint to unlock a forty-minute narration by Greg Bear, describing the reintroduction phase from the perspective of Riser. Having survived the destruction of the greater Ark, Riser, Vinnevra and other humans are relocated on Installation 00 among many other species, where Forerunners watch over them until they are returned to their homeworld. At Riser's request, his people are relocated on a series of islands. Riser meets with the IsoDidact one last time before the Forerunners leave and the humans begin settling in their new home. Days after, a new code was revealed, adding 5 additional minutes to the epilogue, describing the trial of Mendicant Bias after its defeat at the Battle of the Maginot Sphere.
Release and reception
The book debuted at number eight on the New York Times Hardcover Fiction Bestseller list and number thirty-five the following week. On the New York Times "Combined Hardcover and Paperback Fiction" List it was listed at number twenty four for the week of April 7. The book entered USA Today's Top 150 books on March 28, 2013, and peaked at number 128.
On July 14, 2012 at San Diego Comicon, Greg Bear signed books from the Forerunner Trilogy and a fan won a poster of the book cover. The day the book was released, Bear signed copies at the University of Washington, and three days later at the Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore. The book was one of Barnes and Nobles March 2013 "Bestseller's Picks" On April 12, 2013 Tor Books ran a promotion giving away the entire book trilogy to one participant.
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