Tuesday, 23 November 2010

‘Garro: Oath of Moment’ – James Swallow (Black Library)

It could well turn into a bit of a ‘Black Library Week’ on the blog this week what with the direction my reading is taking me in at the moment. Well, that’s how I roll... Don’t listen to those people who mock tie-in fiction. The target doesn’t get hit every time but, if you’re after a well crafted piece of military sci-fi with a gothic edge, then you can’t go too far wrong with the Black Library’s ‘Warhammer 40,000’ fiction. Seriously, check it out if you haven’t already.
I was in the mood for something along these lines when faced with the prospect of coming back to work after a glorious three day weekend; if that prospect wasn’t bad enough my journey means that I have to deal with the trials and tribulations of the London Underground (a commute that can sometimes leave you without space to even hold a book let alone read one...) I was cool with that though as my Black Library fix was nestled comfortably on my iPod...

If you’ve read the Horus Heresy book ‘Flight of the Eisenstein’ then you will know of the disenfranchised Space Marines who, at the end of the book, were left imprisoned to await the will of the Emperor. Nathaniel Garro, formerly of the Death Guard Legion, was one such marine and now his time of imprisonment has come to an end.
Nathaniel Garro has now sworn a new oath to none other to Malcador the Sigillite himself, Regent of Terra and one of the most powerful men in the Imperium. Garro’s new mission will take him back into the stars where he will fight those whom he used to call brother whilst putting the Sigillite’s plans into motion. First stop, the embattled Ultramarine world of Calth.

With only a couple of notable exceptions, I’ve had a great time with the Black Library’s audio book output. They’re a great way to while away an hour or so and are always entertaining. Once again, this was very much the case with ‘Oath of Moment’.

After a brief period of wondering whether the series could do with a little more variety regarding the narration duties I came to the conclusion, a while ago, that Toby Longworth is in fact the man best suited to delivering high octane tales of warfare in a nightmarish future millennia hence. ‘Oath of Moment’ did nothing to change my mind in this respect. There were moments where I found myself wondering if Longworth had exhausted the range of different voices that he had for characters; some of them sounded suspiciously familiar to those heard in prior audio books... That to one side though (and seriously, could any one actor really populate a fictional universe with characters that all sounded different...?), Longworth is most definitely the ‘voice of Warhammer 40K’. His rough tones really cast the Imperium in the light that it’s meant to be cast in and I’m looking forward to more from him in the future. Moving away from the narration, ‘Oath of Moment’ is very clearly a well produced piece with music and sound effects carefully placed to enhance the mood rather than drown it out.

I did wonder what would happen to the likes of Nathaniel Garro and James Swallow very kindly lets us know with the opening chapter in a side plot to the Heresy that looks like it could well run for a while. It doesn’t feel like there’s a lot of room to actually get to know the characters all that well (although you may already know Garro from ‘Flight of the Eisenstein’) but Swallow works well with the space that he has, giving us a keen look into the minds and motivations of Garro and the Ultramarine Rubio. Rubio’s character in particular is fascinating to follow as he fights to find some middle ground between the demands of duty and the consequences of the edict that arose from the Council of Nikea. The outcome is perhaps a little too obvious but what’s thrown at Garro and Rubio, in the meantime, more than makes up for it. The climactic scenes well and truly deserve that title.

‘Oath of Moment’ may be short but it’s very sweet at the same time, an intriguing opening chapter for the continuing adventures of Nathaniel Garro. The detail of the Sigillite’s orders makes this a series that I’ll be keeping an eye open for in the future.

Eight and Three Quarters out of Ten

1 comment:

Carmen Wing said...

Hmmm. These might be something to look into for my nephew - he likes these sort of books but "doesn't have time to read them" after doing his homework, playing on the games... Hmmm. Thanks Graeme.