The Forerunner Saga

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"ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND YEARS AGO, the galaxy was populated by a great variety of beings. But one species—eons beyond all the others in both technology and knowledge—achieved dominance. They ruled in peace but met opposition with quick and brutal effectiveness. They were the Forerunners—the keepers of the Mantle, the next stage of life in the Universe's Living Time. And then they vanished. This is their story."
Cryptum jacket description

The Forerunner Saga is a trilogy of science fiction novels by Greg Bear, set in the distant past of the Halo universe. Notably, the series is the first to focus on the life of the eponymous Forerunners and the intricacies of their civilization.

The first novel, Halo Cryptum, was released in January 2011, with others to follow. The story is told as a first-person narrative, from the perspective of Bornstellar Makes Eternal Lasting, a rebellious young Forerunner fed up with the social rules of Forerunner society. He is sent to a remote mining colony called Edom by his father to learn discipline, but instead he gets caught up in an adventure involving Ancient Conspiracy, Sealed Evil in a Can and Lost Superweapons.

The second novel, Halo Primordium, was released in January 2012.

Tropes used in The Forerunner Saga include:
  • Abusive Precursors: It is heavily implied in Cryptum that The Precursors created the Flood to be a last ditch "fuck you" to the Forerunner, their rebellious servants.
  • Adaptive Armor: The Forerunners wear extremely advanced suits of armor most of the time. These eliminate the need to sleep, indefinitely prolong the wearer's lifespan, offer first aid in case on an emergency, give access to near-unlimited data banks, etc. Also, a fully functional suit of armor can be built on just about anybody, as demonstrated by Chakas and Riser.
  • The Ageless: The armor Forerunners use effectively stops aging, apparently allowing them to live virtually forever.
  • Age Without Youth: In a Cryptum, a Forerunner's body will still age, becoming practically mummified. Fortunately, there is a procedure to restore the body to the point when they entered the Cryptum.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: It was already known prior to the novel, but the Forerunner AI Mendicant Bias turns against his former masters and assaults the Forerunner capital.
  • Alien Hair: The Forerunners are said to have fur covering at least part of their bodies.
  • Ancient Astronauts: Just about everyone. The Precursors, who may have had a hand in the evolution of both humans and Forerunners, the Forerunners themselves, and the ancient humans who had a spacefaring civilization.
  • Apocalyptic Log: Not exactly apocalyptic, but the ONI transcripts sprinkled throughout Primordium culminate with 343 Guilty Spark taking control of their vessel, sticking the crew in stasis, and taking off to parts unknown to seek the Librarian ...
  • Batman Gambit: The Librarian's plan to reunite with her husband involved millennial genetic commands given to humans, a self-constructing ship hidden under a mountain, manipulating multiple Forerunner officials, etc.
  • Better to Die Than Be Killed: The humans and San 'Shyuum resisting the Forerunner siege of Charum Hakkor during the Forerunner-human war kill themselves rather than surrender. Anyone familiar with Halo can see their perspective though: who wouldn't chose death over being sent back to the Flood?
    • At the time, they'd pushed the Flood back so it was not much a threat to them. What they feared were the inevitable punishments to the defeated foes of the Forerunners. The prospects of watching their once mighty empire dismantled, the children devolved clearly made death vastly preferable.
    • This mass suicide could also be seen as the last act of defiance to make sure the secrets to combat the Flood die with them.
  • Call Forward: Lots, such as personal Ancillas being described as a "blue woman in my armor" (clearly recalling Cortana) and with the San 'Shyuum having their leaders in wheelchairs and wearing "ridiculous crowns" (recalling the gravity thrones and mantles of the Covenant Prophets). The description of the Deep Reverence (the vessel used by the Confirmer to guard the San 'Shyuum) sounds like a description of High Charity.
  • Catapult Nightmare: This happens to Bornstellar not long after his brevet mutation, thought it's more of a Catapult Revelation than an actual nightmare.
  • Crap Saccharine World: At first, the Forerunners appear to be a Perfect Pacifist People, but on closer inspection, their society was actually full of corruption and hypocrisy.
  • Crystal Spires and Togas: Despite their lack of togas, the Forerunners definitely qualify, with their love of crystals and gigantic spires. The description of their culture given in the novel reinforces this.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Primordium's plot will involve a human traveling across a Halo fighting aliens, hostile AIs, and the Flood.
  • Evolutionary Levels: Humanity was apparently "devolved" by the Forerunners from its former state; though the precise nature of the "devolution" is not specified, it's said to be biological.
  • Fantastic Caste System: The Forerunner have this.
  • Final Battle: And what a battle it is. Involves planet-sized megastructures and starships, making it by far the largest-scale battle scene in the series.
  • Four-Star Badass: The Didact. Bornstellar, too, when he basically becomes the Didact. The Lord of Admirals.
  • Go Mad From the Isolation: Heavily implied with the Confirmer. Halo really loves this trope.
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: Humans who questioned the Prisoner about the Flood were so horrified by its answer that many of them killed themselves rather than live with the knowledge.
  • Hard Light: Used to a great degree, much more so than in the games.
  • Higher-Tech Species: The Forerunners.
  • Hobbits: The Florians, or Hamanune as they call themselves. Actually based on a real human species that used to exist, Homo floresiensis, who really are often referred to as "hobbits".
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: Pretty much how the Forerunners view the humans by the events of Cryptum, and for a reason. The ancient humans conquered several Forerunner worlds, though this was an act of desperation as the humans were on the run from the Flood that ravaged many of the worlds on the other side of their empire.
  • Humans Are Special: Prehistoric humanity was able to defeat the Flood, understand Precursor technology, and were pretty evenly matched with the Forerunners, only defeated because they were forced to fight a two-front war.
    • ... though, in Primordium, the Captive basically says outright that the Flood can choose to infect or not.
    • The Librarian believes this, leading to her preferential treatment of the various human subspecies after their empire's downfall.
  • Humans Are Warriors: Even the Didact seems to have a little respect for the humans' tenacity in battle.
  • Humongous Mecha: The Didact's War Sphinxes.
  • Hyperspace Is a Scary Place: Cryptum depicts Slipspace as being even more foreign to the physics of the real universe than before. This is particularly apparent when Bornstellar and co. travel to the Ark through the damaged portal near the end.
  • I Know Your True Name: Bornstellar's "inner Didact" uses Mendicant Bias' true name to briefly stun it towards the end of Cryptum, allowing him to escape.
    • At the end of Primordium, when the Didact arrives and frees Installation 07 from Mendicant Bias' control, the name seems to have more power, as it completely shuts Mendicant Bias down.
  • Insignificant Little Blue Planet: "This station was located on the system's third planet, known as Erde-Tyrene: a forsaken place, obscure, sequestered, and both the origin and final repository of the last of a degraded species called human."
  • King in the Mountain: The Didact was in suspended animation in his Cryptum for a thousand years.
  • Klingon Scientists Get No Respect: Warriors are a pretty low caste in the society, as they have an ideal of nonviolence. This doesn't stop the Warrior caste from repeatedly saving the citizens' collective ass almost every time it's threatened.

Bornstellar: Skill at war, however necessary at times, had always seemed to be the antithesis of my people's primary philosophy.

  • Meaningful Name: Most Forerunner names seem to have a meaning of some kind. Riser, or Day-Chaser Makes Paths Long-stretch Morning Riser also qualifies as their tribe's genetic command was to build paths of rocks to eventually avoid the traps surrounding the Didact's cryptum.
  • Power Crystal: Forerunner slipspace drives are powered by flakes of a larger crystal.
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: Forerunner Warrior-Servants, especially the Didact.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: This seem to be a major theme of Halo series.
    • The humans and the San’Shyuum successfully pushed the Flood out of the galaxy but their empire was too exhausted to resist the Forerunners' assaults.
    • With the fall of the human-San’Shyuum empire, Forerunners destroyed the last obstacle on the road to galactic domination but their enemy, in last act of defiance, destroyed most of the data about Flood to make sure Forerunners would be wide open to the Flood.
  • Puny Earthlings: Humans aren't held in a particularly high regard by the time Cryptum is set.
  • Rebellious Spirit: Bornstellar Makes Eternal Lasting in the beginning.
  • Rubber Forehead Aliens: The Forerunners: while their form changes with artificially-induced mutations, "first-form" Forerunners look very close to humans, only with patches of fur.
    • Hard subversion with the Precursors. The Prisoner of Charum Hakkor was described as having four arms, a head tail, and insectoid eyes.
  • Space Opera: Even more so than the games or the previous novels.
  • Sufficiently Advanced Aliens: The Precursors probably qualify, and the Forerunners to a lesser degree.
  • The Battlestar: Forerunner Fortress warships are around 50 km long and carry not only fighters, but also smaller warships inside.
  • The Obi-Wan: The Didact to Bornstellar.
  • The Reveal: The very nature and setting of the story makes these commonplace. Though some big ones are dropped near the beginning rather casually with little drama surrounding them, there are many universe-changing ones.
    • A particularly big one is in the very end: "We meet again, young one. I am the last of those who gave you breath and shape and form, millions of years ago. I am the last of those your kind rose up against and ruthlessly destroyed. I am the last Precursor. And our answer is at hand."
    • Primordium reveals that, apparently, Chakas became 343 Guilty Spark, or at least a backup copy of him. Also, the Forerunners did wipe out the Precursors, but the Precursors struck first.
    • The end of Primordium hints that The Librarian may still be alive in some form.
  • Translation Convention: This is actually explained in the beginning of the book, where all terms and idioms are said to have been translated to understandable words.
  • Voice with an Internet Connection: The Ancillas used by the Forerunners.
  • What Is This Thing You Call Love?: It's explicitly stated early on in Cryptum that the higher Forerunner ruling classes married mostly for a combination of political and social reasons whereas the lower classes married for love.
  • Worthy Opponent: How the Didact viewed the human race as a whole, and the Lord of Admirals in particular.
  • Written by the Winners: Even the young generation of Forerunners don't know their true history let alone modern civilizations.