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'Mortal Dictata', perfect end to a Halo saga

Feb 12, 2014

By John Powell - G4 Canada

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Halo: Mortal DictataIt is said that a father will do anything for his daughter. In Mortal Dictata, the third and final chapter in the Kilo-5 Halo trilogy, Staffan Sentzke wants answers and vengeance.

The father of Kilo Five member Naomi Sentzke, Staffan is a known terrorist and arms dealer. It would be simple to write him off as a deranged radical were it not for author Karen Traviss’ keen character development.

In the opening, we are introduced to the sympathetic origins of Staffan’s lifetime of rage and pain. As he patiently and lovingly assembles a hand-made doll house for a young Naomi, his reality becomes a living nightmare when she doesn’t arrive home after school. After an agonizing search, Naomi is found safe and sound but Staffan notices she is not the same person. There is just something different about his child. What Staffan didn’t know at the time is the original Naomi was kidnapped and enrolled in the Spartan training program in which children were replaced by “flash clones”; clones which have a limited life cycle.

Fast-forward to the present where Kilo-5 has been tasked with putting a stop to Staffan and his devious plans of retribution. As we catch up with Devereaux, Mal, Vaz, Phillips, Naomi and A.I. Black Box (AKA: BB.), Naomi quickly learns Staffan’s true identity and that of course complicates matters. As she comes to terms with and appreciates how her abduction affected her friends and family, she starts to question her role in the UNSC and the Spartan program itself. Her loyalties torn apart, she wonders if she can do what needs to be done in order to stop her father.

Through her work on the video game inspired novels in the Halo, Gears of War series and her Star Wars novels, Karen Traviss always gives readers more action than they can handle as well as curious glimpses inside the often complex mind of a soldier. 

Keeping her track record intact, ‘Mortal Dictata’ is the perfect balance of furious, kinetic action and comprehensive and often tortured psychology. The story itself is a very familiar narrative – prodigal son, daughter “comes home” to confront their family and their past - but what compensates for that in a major way is Traviss delving into the minds of the entire Kilo-5 team, bringing us closer to them than ever before. 

‘Mortal Dictata’ is a thinking man’s action novel, expanding and strengthening the Halo mythology and its universe of thoughtfully established and rendered characters. It is the ideal and impeccable conclusion to one of the best Halo stories that has ever been told.

‘Halo: Mortal Dictata’
Publisher: Tor Books
Author: Karen Traviss
Format: Hard cover, 496 pages
ESRB Rating: M for Mature
Official Site:

Rating: 8 / 10

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