After six audio dramas, and eight years after his first appearance in the Horus Heresy series, Nathaniel Garro is back in a new book entitled Garro : Vow of Faith, James Swallow’s first novella-length contribution to the series. Picking up where Shield of Lies left off, with Garro growing increasingly dissatisfied with his role as Malcador’s Agentia Primus, it sees him putting that role to one side while he embarks on a personal mission to find the living Saint Euphrati Keeler. While he searches for her trail, agents of the Warmaster are also on the hunt for Keeler, aiming to disrupt the defences of Terra with her death.
In the years since he was first introduced to the series, Garro has gone on to be an enduringly popular character, his missions across the galaxy to recruit Knights Errant for Malcador showing him to be a loyal, honourable man and a fearsome warrior. Here we see a new side to him, his doubts and worries serving to humanise him, as emphasised by his spending most of the story out of armour and without his usual authority. Where before he was as unwavering in his purpose as in his loyalty, now we see a vulnerability in his uncertainty that makes him even more interesting as a character. It’s clear that his doubt serves a narrative purpose, but it’s a crossroads for him that feels satisfying despite its inevitability.
The Garro audio dramas are all notable for being well-crafted, complete stories that feel balanced in themselves as well as furthering the wider arc, and this is no different. It’s balanced, well paced and nicely written, with vividly drawn locations both on and off Terra, and draws together characters and story arcs from elsewhere in the series with an impressively deft touch. At its core is a fairly simple plot – man on a mission, save the girl – upon which Swallow hangs a personal search for meaning that’s symbolic of what the Imperium as a whole is going through, and indeed is going to go through in future. It’s surprisingly powerful stuff that touches on some core concepts of what makes both the Heresy and 40k settings so interesting.
After an impressive start it could be argued that the Knights Errant arc had become a touch fragmented and diluted, but this provides a real boost of interest and moves forward not just Garro’s story but the whole thing. No Heresy story would be complete without the usual hints and suggestions of what’s to come, which are all present and correct here, but all of a sudden there’s a sense of momentum starting to build here. All told it’s easily one of the best of the Heresy novellas, and combined with the beautiful presentation of the physical edition it’s a fascinating addition to the series.