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Let me say right off the bat, Troy Denning is a fantastic writer. He is excellent at characterizations and action. Two really important qualities to write a darn good Halo book (this is based on an action FPS shooter). And in this book, both aspects are very well done.
That said, nothing of relevance happens in regard to the story. Nothing that gets me excited for Halo Infinite.
No lore is advanced, aside from a tidbit or two here and there. We get a tad more on the Banished, but nothing mind-altering. We never even find out what the 'assets' are that Blue Team is sent in to acquire. Though anyone familiar with the Halsey Journals can make a fairly educated guess.
I don't have a problem with 343 and Microsoft making sure a book is not required reading to fully understand the story to an upcoming game, as is the case with the 2021 release of Halo Infinite. But, give me something. This book can easily be skipped. Read the teaser on the back of the book - that's it. You just read the book, essentially.
I would say that the only reason to read this is for the fans that want to be current with what's happening on the planet of Reach, specifically. If you are thinking of reading this because it's required to set up the new game, it really isn't.
I took only 1 point off since the story is no essential. It's better than a 3-star book due to the excellent writing, but the story is easily a 3 at best on its own.
Most in-depth characterizations and largest squad dialogue presence of Blue Team yet. The callbacks and references to other books, spanning 30-ish years of the timeline made me giddy. Had to dock off 1 star for no mention of finding Noble 6's helmet, but the bell was just as satisfying for bringing back memories of "Fall of Reach". Some pacing issues from time to time, but enthralling situations picked up the slack and the filler was mostly welcome. "Shadows of Reach" is up there with the best of the halo books and feels like a seamless continuation of Eric Nylund's work. Solid 8.5\10