[created by Masterbuilder 471 and moved over here] Given that they've returned to the spotlight with Escalation, I figured it would be a good time to talk about the Jiralhanae and their potential future in the lore. I've thought for a while that this race got kind of a bad rap. There are some fans who have such a high view of the Sangheili (pre-Kilo 5 at least) that they actually adopt the Sangheili's views toward the Jiralhanae "Brutes." We hear them described as savage, selfish, stupid, animalistic, etc while the many atrocities of the Sangheili are swept under the rug. I'm not saying most posters here have this attitude, it's just something I see pop up occasionally. First, their "savagery." Yes, the Jiralhanae are a brutal and warlike race, who place a strong emphasis on martial skill. But are the UNSC or the Sangheili any different? Take for example the Brute practice of becoming Chieftain by killing the reigning one in single combat. This strikes me as actually more honorable than the Sangheili custom of sending assassins to kill a new Kaidon. The practice of eating their enemies is also commonly used as a cudgel against the Jiralhanae. But for a carnivorous, predatory species that evolved to live in packs, feasting on the slain after a victory makes a lot of sense as a bonding mechanism. The victims are dead anyway, and it isn't cannibalism. Would scalping them or decapitating them or publicly displaying their bodies be any more civilized? Chieftain Lydus in the next Escalation preview takes pride in hunting with his kind. There's clearly a lot more going on with this custom than just "I'm hungry nom nom." And despite their affinity for war, we see in that comic that they are capable of diplomacy and negotiation when the big picture demands it. Their tendency for infighting is another related criticism of the Jiralhanae. But this also seems rather unfair, seeing as both humanity and the Sangheili have internal divisions and civil wars. The Covenant's dissolution meant that each race would inevitably have to reckon with itself, and of course different factions would arise. The Arbiter was almost defeated by rebels on Sangheilios, and the UNSC had to deal with the Insurrection even during the Covenant war. Finally, there is the view that the Jiralhanae are relatively dumb and that this is the reason they were more devoted to the Prophet's religion. But there is an alternate explanation here. Acting devout was a successful political strategy by the Jiralhanae to usurp their Sangheili rivals. It endeared them to the Prophets and allowed for their gradual promotion within Covenant society, to the point where they appeared at least to Truth and Mercy to be viable replacements for the troublesome Sangheili. I doubt all of the Jiralhanae were cognizant of this political strategy, but surely some were. The most prominent Chieftains at least Now that I've made my defense of them, what role will this race have in future Halo games, books, etc? Will we see them as allies? Will the Didact try to bring them into his coalition against humanity? Will the Arbiter salvage his negotiations with Lydus?
I liked their character designs in Halo 3 and ODST, but looked like shit in Reach. Now in terms of actual lore, the Jiralhanae show to be pretty simple-minded and Brutes like Maccabeus and Lydus were more than likely a rarity amongst them. They weren't "acting" devoted to the Great Journey, they truly believed in it, and when the Prophets and their centralized leadership vanished, the entire species collapsed; even though the Sangheili were locked in their own civil war, they never put more emphasis on that than, say, food and were still able to gain an upper-hand against the Jiralhanae. Speaking of food, we also know from dialogue in Halo 3 (Crow's Nest if i'm not mistaken) that they don't always wait for their enemies to die before they begin eating. Let's not forget that they're likely called savage because they're the only Covenant race that will literally drop its gun in a middle of a fight and charge with the intention of tearing you apart with it's bare hands. Now with all of that being said, they are very similar to the Elites which is more than likely why a rivalry has been present between them for so long. Regardless, the Jiralhanae have a bad rap because they kinda put themselves in that corner. War is a lot more important to them than anything else and even if the Arbiter manages to salvage negotiations with Lydus (which he likely will) whose to say that other Chieftains of other powerful packs would be so willing? If an allied faction does rise from the Jiralhanae, it'll only be a small number compared to the overwhelming number of traditional, anti-Human/Sangheili tribes.