In my review of The Master of Mankind I compared it to a rich gourmet meal, sumptuous yet unfamiliar and challenging.
In comparison Garro is a pepperoni pizza, a great big greasy pizza that sadly is lacking banana.
Before tackling Garro though one must acknowledge exactly what it is; (apart from a Pepperoni Pizza) and that is an adapted series of audiobooks. As I own the script books for these audio dramas, released a number of years ago, I had a look to see a: how they were presented originally (I never listened to the originals) and b: appreciate the work that has gone into converting it to a cohesive written narrative. It would appear that although the story beats are present much work has gone into restructuring the perspective and I’m glad I have compared the two.
I’d be surprised if there was anybody here who didn’t know who Nathaniel Garro is but on the off chance, I’ll explain. Garro is the battle captain of the Death Guard who, upon witnessing the events of Isstvan III, where Horus attacks his own troops to purge the loyalist elements, escapes on board the Eisenstein in order to bring news of the treachery to the Emperor. All of this can be read in ‘Flight of the Eisenstein’ which is well worth checking out and due a re-read from myself (once the series is finally finished I’ll likely start it again from scratch)
This novel of collected stories picks up after he makes it back to Terra, whereupon he is appropriated by Malcador, the secretive and sinister regent of the Emperor. Garro is then sent off to recruit other members for Malcador and add them to the ranks of the ‘Knights Errant’. These early chapters are definitely the roughest, suffering from their shortness and poorly defined characters. Still, the emphasis on the edict of Nikea in these early stages is welcome. One does wonder though, how Garro manages to navigate the Ruinstorm (his first target is an Ultramarine) and why this secret isn’t shared a little more. To be fair though, I think that the Garro series has pretty much spanned the entire Heresy lifespan (thus far) and it’s probably quite hard to get it all to line up.
These early chapters really do read like stand alone stories. Kind of like episodes of a TV show, with a different adventure each time. With little space for development, the characters are largely rendered into caricatures with little subtlety although the plots of these 'shows' themselves are perfectly satisfactory. However, despite the good work that HAS been done in converting these from their audio book format their origins are very much visible. Some of the dialogue is also terrible but you can overlook the cheesiness of it. Just about.
There is no subtlety here and it must be stressed that the writing is of a pretty basic quality, a jarring experience after the class of ADB. That’s not to say it’s BADLY written, it’s just where the Gourmet Meal – Pizza comparison comes from. Sometimes you want Pizza I guess, but it’s never going to be as delicately poised as that Gourmet Meal.
Thankfully the back third of the book is much better as a cohesive narrative establishes itself and although the dialogue is still stilted the flow improves considerably. Much of this is due to the sudden emphasis on the Imperial Truth. The way that Mr Swallow handles this is probably the most in-depth we have had in quite some time and it’s great to see the focus back on this very important part of the lore. One thing I would say is that the common citizenry of the Imperium appear to be awfully aware of what exactly is going on with the Heresy so I guess that this is cannon now rather than the forced ignorance of previous iterations.
|Another Stunner from Mr Roberston. Just Wow. Looking forward to Vow of Faith..|
It’s nice to see the book encompass this level of the Imperium as well, distancing itself, at least in this final arc, from the mass space battles and Astartes focus of most Heresy tales. The focus on the more mundane and menial levels of the Imperium is most welcome and I can say without any hesitation that I enjoyed the latter section of the book a lot more than the establishing chapters. The book ends setting up the novella Garro: Vow of Faith which I haven’t read yet. However, if it continues the trend set by Garro, I imagine I shall enjoy it a great deal.
It’s a weird Pizza this book. First few slices you won’t really think that much of it but keep going and you’ll discover all sorts of additional toppings that will make you glad you carried on eating it. Make mine a Large.