26 Apr

Halo: Envoy Ask the Author (spoilers in comments)

Gray Team fans:

Here’s an open thread to talk about Halo: Envoy and to ask me questions about Oasis, Envoy, or even The Cole Protocol and Dirt (keeping in mind those were written 8 years ago!).

I’ll do my best to answer questions over the next 48 hours.

31 thoughts on “Halo: Envoy Ask the Author (spoilers in comments)

  1. Welcome to the blog! I’ll be taking questions until Friday evening, when I’ll be traveling to Reader Riot Book Festival.

  2. Fantastic book. Please stick around and write more for the series. Some questions:

    Can you confirm whether thorn beasts are native to Doisac or not?

    What were Dahlia, Danzer, and the other residents of Sandholm up to while all of these events were going on.

    Are there any smart A.I.s in Suraka? I thought the absence of any AI presence in the book was noticeable.


    • Fantastic book. Please stick around and write more for the series. Some questions:

      >>Can you confirm whether thorn beasts are native to Doisac or not?

      TB: I cannot confirm for sure, but given how we used it, let’s say I *strongly suspect* so. But I know as much as you for sure on that.

      >>What were Dahlia, Danzer, and the other residents of Sandholm up to while all of these events were going on.

      TB: In Oasis she was headed for cover. There is an essay I linked to talked about her strong interest in survival, my instinct is that there is a place somewhere out in the desert where she’s holed up and well-armed. I’d like to imagine one of the Jiralhanae running off in the desert stumbled across their new home and… maybe she saves its life and pays things forward… or maybe it tries to kill them for food and she holds it off and kills it. Either way, she is the one who is one step ahead and living on her own terms.

      >>Are there any smart A.I.s in Suraka? I thought the absence of any AI presence in the book was noticeable.

      TB: You know, there’s some strange stuff going on with the A.I.s in the Halo-verse right now. One, I think Suraka was pretty stretched for resources, so they didn’t have one yet, and after seeing some of the rampancy going on they opted to just tough it out without one.

    • Such a good question. We all batted around some ideas, like maybe *that* being the story I wrote for Fractures. Ideas never made it to the book, alas, so I don’t have a strong answer. 🙁

  3. What made you think to bring back -redacted because spoilers- from “Conversations from the Universe” back from Halo 2’s limited edition?

    I admit I wasnt expecting to see them return at all? But here you are going above and beyond with us obscure lore.

    • The -redacted- idea was an early idea that Jeremy Patenaude of 343 threw out there when we were brainstorming a very basic idea of what the novel could look like. I jumped on it right away because I’d always wondered ‘what if’ about them, and then set out to come up with what made them dangerous and their history. They liked the stuff I came up with, though since this was a big addition there was some back and forth. I’m pretty happy as we were able to come up with something new for the Haloverse, not just write around already existing stuff!

  4. What culture or cultures did you base the Sangheili on when you worked on this novel?
    Could you elaborate upon the spilled blood and loss of honor?

    • I nicked some stuff from various honor codes from all over history. But my favorite chunk of it came from reading about Norse warrior culture. That’s where I got the idea for Sangheili having closer uncle/aunt connections.

  5. Did Hekabe and his forces have an idea of what he was looking for on their desperate mission to the Ark, or did he find the Sharquoi control device by accident? If the former, how did he come to learn of the device?

    • I’d like to believe he picked up the information somewhere else and this was why he was on the desperate mission to the Ark.

  6. What language is the term “Sharquoi”? Is it simply transliterated from a Forerunner term or does it mean anything in Sangheili? Any relation to the “uoi steaks” enjoyed by Kig-Yar?

  7. Can you confirm what generation of armour Gray Team was wearing? Shielded, and the timeline of events leading up to them going into cryo means it potentially could have been Mark VI.

    Any insight into where Ignatio Delgado is and what he’s up to as of 2558?

    • re armor: Gray Team has a habit of picking stuff up that they think is shiny 🙂

      re Delgado: I have not thought about what he’s up to at this point.

  8. Greg Bear has spoken about what a pleasure it was to work with 343i’s franchise directors, as opposed to, er, certain other franchises he’s had to deal with. How was your experience, and are you able to tell us an example of something you suggested that, rather than vetoing, 343i encouraged and improved?

    • It was a pleasure to work with 343. They were very collaborative. I have not worked with other franchises, so I have no idea what to compare it to. 343 basically gave me a great big slate to work on, and it was more like a writer’s room than a formal veto/no go process, where we worked together to boost ideas or steer some things in a slightly different direction.

      One thing that was sort of new was the idea of Sangheili and humans having cities on the same planet, which hadn’t been done before. But they encouraged Oasis, and they worked with me on how to make that fit within the politics of the universe and particularly with timelines.

      They also took an idea I had for Gray Team’s trauma background and turned into the Glyke incident. So they were always game to really work with me.

  9. I have a few questions:

    1-What was Rojka ‘Kasaan’s military background during the Covenant War?

    2- What kind of colony was Glyke? Was it a military stronghold like Malurok or a remote backwater colony?

    Great book by the way! Victory to clan and kin!

    • >>1-What was Rojka ‘Kasaan’s military background during the Covenant War?

      TB: He was mainly relegated to being in charge of the shipyards. There was a fall from grace, but he used that position to be able to get refurbished and salvage ships to Carrow and start over.

      >>2- What kind of colony was Glyke? Was it a military stronghold like Malurok or a remote backwater colony?

      TB: We conceived of it as something in between. Not a backwater, but a major military target of interest to UNSC command, enough to order it destroyed. It would have had major shipbuilding ability, as that is Rojka’s background and expertise, and likely why he kept a position as keeper of mothballed ships and salvage.

      >>Great book by the way! Victory to clan and kin!

      TB: Thank you!

  10. I don’t know if you’re still taking questions but great book really enjoyed it and certainly glad to see gray team back however I would like to know did you base Gray teams experience with Glyke (and their subsequent moral dilemma of did they do the right thing) on any real world incident.

    • No, not any one incident. I was thinking back to some of the debates around larger bombings of cities in WWII, like Dresden, Tokyo, etc, and the heavy weight and PTSD that humans in war come home with. ON KILLING is a solid read about that stuff.

  11. I have so many! This was such a good book!

    To begin with, do you think Melody’s negotiations with Rojka about Grey Team’s release would have gone smoother with Jat at his side? Jat seemed to be a lot more mellow when it came to working with humans. Would he have been a voice of reason to Rojka, or was his mellowness mainly due to the fact that Dahlia saved his life? Did Jat and Rojka even know each other that well in order for Jat to be that sort of influence?

    You were the author who first gave us a look into who Thel was before Halo 2, and well… he was a pretty awful person. Now in Envoy, to some extent, you’re exploring the effects of his change of heart(s) on the galaxy at large and specifically this colony in the JOZ. In fact, what is happening on Carrow feels like a microcosm of what happened to the galaxy as a whole during the Great Schism. Was that intentional – the microcosm effect? And did you have any thoughts on how you wanted to portray Thel, even in absentia, since he’s so very different now than in your first outing with him?

    One of my friends had noticed that “Jai” was a common Indian name. Is Jai Indian?

    Is Thel aware that the people he is formally pardoning is the same team that he fought with at the Rubble?

    Did you know that revenge, and the rejection thereof, was going to be a common theme in the book when you started, or did it start growing on its own as you wrote?

    Did you have a favorite character to write for?

    Do you have plans to come back to continue Gray Team’s journey, now with an interspecies team? I know that this would depend on 343 Industries as well, but is that something you would want to do?

    Not a question, but I just about burst into tears of joy when Rojka said “I will be your envoy.” Both in terms of the novel and the larger Halo Universe, that was such a powerful moment.

    (Also coming on here and seeing my essay linked twice on your blog made my whole week!!)

    • 1) Jat was cool with humans because he was on the ground a lot. Had he lived, he would have been able to help, but I doubt halt, the oncoming fight.

      2) Microcosm is right, I’m taking a closer, intimate look at how the large story plays out on a personal level.

      3) Jai, in my own headcanon, likely has Indian family roots as well as others.

      4) Thel is likely not aware.

      5) I knew revenge would be the theme I built around Rojka’s story line.

      6) I really liked writing Melody. I tend to enjoy explosions and fast pacing in my writing, but since Melody’s tools are conflict resolution and negotiation, while also being really good at getting shit done, I found it a challenge to keep the plot moving quickly while also making her deft.

      7) I have some nascent ideas for how to continue Gray Team that are hinted at by the end, but as you say, it depends on how well this book does and what 343 would ever want. But yeah, it’s fun.

      8) I just about burst into tears of joy when Rojka said “I will be your envoy.” — thank you, I really had that in my head as a line to write towards. Halo: Envoy isn’t just about Melody being the envoy, but about Rojka going from becoming a dangerous warrior to a proud and capable envoy as an evolution.

      Oh, you wrote about Oasis. Thank you so much!!!

  12. This might be a little too specific for an answer, but i figured it was worth a shot asking.

    1) How fast was Adriana sprinting when she decked(pun intended) an Elite “fifty meters” across the deck of a ship?

    It’s a cool feat but it doesn’t go into any specific details.

    2) Is Grey team in Mark V armor in Halo: Envoy?

    • 1) Oh dear, yeah, I wrote that scene 8 years ago and can’t recall a specific speed.

      2) Everyone asks about the armor. It’s more likely Mark IV, but Gray Team has a habit of nicking shiny things, so I can’t say for sure on a canon level 🙂

      • You wrote a scene for Halo: Envoy 8 years before it was released? OR is it more like, “I thought of this cool halo moment with no context 8 years ago and now i have a chance to give it context” sort of thing? If it’s the latter question then that’s awesome.

        • Argh, I botched that, was just replying to someone about detail from TCP from 8 years ago and the 8 stayed in my head, I meant to write I wrote the Adriana scene 1 year ago but my brain farted.

          Alas, I don’t remember the speed I was imagining and I apologize if I don’t give you enough detail in the book.

  13. Maybe to specific or I am just asking irrelevant questions but it’s worth a shot.

    1)Did 343i provide you with any insight into the Sangheili language from Halo 4? I was confused at first because Suraka sounded more like a Sangheili word than Rak did.

    2)Regarding Glyke:
    a)Did it have more shipyards than Sanghelios?

    b)How many billions lived there?

    c)Do the Swords of Sanghelios know about its destruction and who did it?

    d)What star system was the planet in. And finally

    e)How would you envision the climate and the architecture on Glyke?

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