Since first appearing in Galaxy In Flames Nathaniel Garro has become something of a fan favourite, as well as the poster boy for the ever-growing range of Horus Heresy audio dramas. James Swallow’s latest contribution to the Heresy series, Shield of Lies is the fifth audio to feature Garro and finds the first of Malcador’s Knights Errant on the orbital plate of Riga, in pursuit of an Administratum scribe who has stumbled across a deadly secret. A small cog within the vast Departmento Munitorum, Katanoh Tallory has paid a heavy price for her hard work and now finds herself caught between the menacing inhumanity of Riga’s mechanical guardians and the uncertain mercy of Garro.
At 130 minutes (across 2 CDs for the physical release, along with a third disc of wallpapers and the script), a similar length to Sword of Truth, the decent running time means that unlike many of the shorter audios the story really has time to breathe and develop. It’s nothing like as action-packed as many audios are, including previous Garro tales; Tallory takes centre stage for much of the time as she talks Garro through the events that saw her fleeing from her duties and her colleagues, and pursued by Mechanicum automatons. When the cohorts of the Mechanicum do inevitably catch up with them however, the action is typically exciting and satisfying, the physicality and power of Garro highlighted by Tallory’s frailty.
As with the preceding audios this continues to keep Garro’s story arc separate from the main Heresy novels, although here he’s moving in a slightly different direction. Now that the Knights Errant are assembled there’s a sense that Swallow is speeding up Garro’s forward motion and taking him a considerable step closer to whatever his final fate is going to be. With a nice link back to the events of Flight of the Eisenstein, there appear to be interesting times ahead for Battle Captain Garro.
One of the most prolific of Black Library’s audio drama authors, James Swallow seems in fact to be something of an audio specialist these days. He clearly understands the audio medium, and consistently turns in high-quality stories that actively make the most of the format. Here he has produced a slow burning but well-written story that’s matched by the cast of BL audio regulars who turn in typically strong performances. Very much a character piece with a clever plot and plenty of the usual Heresy foreshadowing, it’s a fine addition to both the Garro series and the Heresy as a whole.