Hi Mr. Bear,
Just finished Primordium, and off the bat I want to say that there were some parts of it that I sincerely enjoyed.
That being said, I felt like a majority of the book was simply... filler. The first half, the trek through Halo almost seemed as it had been written years before and was simply a stock story that had a few Halo references thrown in when it was decided to become a Halo novel. In contrast, I thought the Lord of Admiral's flash back was one of the most interesting parts of a Halo novel since the Nylund books. The problem was, it was so small in comparison, I felt rather offput.
While I know I, and I'm sure most other people as well, read the Halo books because we love getting back stories, there seemed to be a remarkable lack of action in the vast majority of the book. The pages and pages about them simply walking didn't really serve to enhance the characters or provide all the much useful or interesting information. I honestly felt as though it was simply there to add pages to the book.
Don't get me wrong, the parts involving the Didect and 'The Captive' didn't have a ton of action, but were highly interesting and captivating. But the lack of really even a single battle doesn't really belong in a Halo novel. I'm sure everyone would like to hear much, much more about both the human/forerunner war and the forerunner/flood conflict. Passing references to them (like the extremely brief, almost passing description of humanity's last stand) are less of a tease and more of an annoyance that we don't get to actually know details. In contrast, look at the novelization of The Fall of Reach. That is a truly amazing recollection of that important event. If it had simply been described in 3-4 pages, it wouldn't have had anything close to the enjoyment factor.
I've probably read Fall of Reach, First Strike, and Ghosts of Onyx around 15 times each. It doesn't get boring because it's an engaging tale that manages to tell a great story and keep it interesting. I don't really feel a desire to reread Primordium, I kind of just chugged through it for the information it provided, and was fairly disappointed at that.
Sorry for such a long response, and let me stress that I'm not trying to do a Nylund comparison, but I was wondering if the third book will contain more interesting elements and less 'they were walking... and they had to eat scorpions.... now they're cold... and they found some berries... and now they're walking again... and ooops, it's been 50 pages'. Will we ever get a good description of of some of those ancient battles?
From: Greg Bear
Thanks, Mike. Middle novels in trilogies serve as bridges to introduce a lot of salient details that will "explode" in the next novel. Volume Three is pretty dense with the sort of material you seem to like! Looking forward to your reaction when it comes out in January.