Review: The Glorious Tomb, audio drama by Guy Haley

As I've mentioned in prior posts, I love the Black Library audio dramas. I've never been a fan of audio books, as I don't much enjoy being read to. However, audio dramas are not books.

I paid for and downloaded The Glorious Tomb after listening to the preview clip on the Black Library website. I found it intriguing enough to pay for, unlike many of the other audio dramas available. What caught me was the fact that the story is told from the perspective of a Dreadnought, or rather a Marine entombed within a Dreadnought.

Dreads are a Marine unit I've always been fascinated with, both on the table and in the lore. The opportunity to experience a story from the point of view of one was too much to pass up!

The story is that of Black Templars Marshall Adelard, entombed in the Dreadnought chassis Invictus Potens. You get to experience the awakening of a long-sleeping machine and its pilot. This segment is very enlightening, showing that the wakening of a Dread is no small thing (though we've been told that in the lore many times).

Once awake, Adelard/Invictus is dropped via pod onto Armageddon as part of the spearhead of an assault force tasked with destroying an Ork Rok. He, along with an ironclad Dreadnought and a squad of Centurions assault the Rok, blasting the way clear for the follow-on force of Templar infantry.

I can't give away all the plot points without destroying the story for you, but one theme prevalent throughout the story is the struggle between machine and Marine. Adelard wrestles with the idea of separating his own consciousness from that of Invictus' machine spirit. At times he confuses himself with Invictus, and at others purposely distances himself from it. And at yet others, he becomes wrapped up in it, switching freely between narrations.

Another theme is that of time and how a Dreadnought pilot experiences it. We know that Dreads are only woken in times of great need, and that decades or centuries can pass between activations. The idea that a Dreadnought has an incredibly long memory, but one that is riddled with holes is fascinating. Imagine remembering events and people from two hundred years past, but not having the benefit of knowing what happened while you were 'asleep.' The idea feels a lot like discussions on immortality I've read in the past. The idea that you can grow old while those around you age, eventually dying is always present in discussions of immortality. Could people withstand that constant anguish? Dreadnoughts have neither the choice, nor the ability to remember it. For example, while arming for battle, Adelard/Invictus sees Templars that look familiar to him, but finds that some have aged greatly, and others are simply wearing the wargear of their forebears. Could your mind withstand the agelessness of immortality, while decades of blankness prevent you from knowing or witnessing the fate of your comrades?

One of the defining traits of Black Library audio dramas are the sound effects. You can imagine things like bolter rounds, las blasts, and other 40K things when you read about them, but to hear them is completely different. The best effect in this one is the synthesized voices of the Dreadnoughts. To hear the grinding, rumbling voice of Adelard/Invictus say "Praise be!" as he strides into battle is a special thing.

Overall, I'd give this drama five of five stars for being beautifully written, strongly acted, and just a gem in general. I think I've found a new author to follow in Guy Haley.


Look at me, I'm bionic!

The painting bug continues gnawing on my brain, so I've been painting and painting these last several days. The result is some very solid progress on the final member of the Command Squad, the bionic bodyguard.

Here's where he's at right now:

The head is pretty much done, though I'm not so sure about that bionic eye. It's miniscule on the model, so I'm not sure there's much else I can do with it. I'm not sure if I should dot his other eye or not. I really should, but I fear I'll screw up the whole eye if I do. At arm's distance it looks ok, but in pictures the missing pupil is pretty glaring.

As for his body, he's got a Mk5 torso, bionic chainsword arm from the Commander kit, a stormbolter and arm from the Sternguard kit, one pad from the Command Squad box, and one from Sternguard, and those bionic legs. They're from Kromlech. I'll do a review of them in the future.

His pose is a little off. I'd intended it to be a walking forward type of pose with him having his arms out in a "give me your best shot!" gesture. I think I missed on it a little, and I think the reason is because I didn't roll his shoulders back. Instead of him having his shoulders back, baring his chest to the enemy, he's just walking forward with his weapons lowered. I really wish Marine torsos had ball joints on the shoulders.

I also applied a shading wash to my Vindicator but haven't cleaned it up yet. I've got the stormbolter hatch to add to it, which has been assembled and primed as long as the tank itself, I've just not touched it with paint. I also added a Razorback turret with heavy bolters to the painting queue, for use by the Command Squad and whomever they ride with.


Thrax Gaios, Command Squad Veteran

I've been on a bit of a painting tear over the holiday weekend. I managed to get time in on just about every day in the four-day weekend. As a result, I finished off the tank hunting veteran for my Command Squad, put a ton of paint on my Vindicator, and started working on the final member of the Command Squad.

Here is Thrax Gaios' back story:

Veteran Brother Thrax Gaios is the squad's demolitions expert. He carries a meltagun, his bolter, and a satchel of meltabombs and grenades. He can toss a krak grenade into the vision slit of a moving tank at a hundred meters. Where the other squad members wear armor featuring ornate designs and decoration to reflect their veteran status and membership in the Command Squad, Gaios wears bulky, reinforced armor with little adornment. Because his armor is so often dented and scraped when he stands in the blast wash of exploding enemy tanks and fortifications, he has opted to forego ostentation in favor of smooth lines and heavy plating.

And here are the pictures:

As you can see, he's pretty plain. I could probably drop him into a tactical squad and he'd blend right in. I had originally planned to put a brass etch aquila on his chest, but the damned things never lay flat and gluing them down is a major pain in the ass, as you either end up gluing it to your fingers or tools, or with a spread of lumpy superglue residue around the area. I tried briefly to add one freehand, but it looked terrible and I scrubbed it off. His Ultramarine symbol is also a tad crooked, though it doesn't look quite as severe in person. I might have to go back and redo that, if it starts to irk me.

Now that he's done, I've only got one squad member left. The Apothecary's bodyguard. He's largely bionic, so I used as many bionic bits as I could on the model. I forgot to take a picture of his body, but here is his head so far:

Pretty simple bionic head. The skin is done, but the metallics are not. The rest of him is made from GW parts with Kromlech legs. I'll get a shot up in the coming days.

While waiting for Dullcote to dry, I also started plugging along on my Vindicator. Here's a quick, largely uninteresting shot:

As of this morning, the blue is about 90% done. I decided to try a different technique for painting vehicles. Instead of painstakingly applying each layer, leaving careful shade lines as I go, I decided to paint each layer quickly and thoroughly, and then apply the shading with a wash of my darkest color. If it turns out right, it'll save me a TON of time when painting tanks and pods.

There is a bit of bad news to go along with all my painting progress. Yesterday afternoon, while scrubbing mold release off my Forgeworld Raven Guard Captain Korvydae model parts, I dropped one of the fuel lines for his jump pack down the sink drain. I soak my FW resin parts in Simple Green, which is a great degreaser and perfect for cleaning resin. Unfortunately, the dissolved mold release makes the parts VERY slippery. I thought to myself "I should probably close the drain plug for this." I decided that I was almost done, so didn't bother. Fate punished me by sending that little pipe part squirting out of my fingers and right down the drain. ARGH! If anyone knows where I can get another fuel line for that kit without buying the whole thing over again, or has an example of rebuilding the line from other parts, I'd appreciate it!

In general gaming news, it looks like GW is revamping the base sizes for models. 32mm bases are up for preorders, with all of the new Blood Angel reboxings and kits having new sizes. I do like the idea of added space for posing Marines, but not the idea of buying scads of new bases at fifty cents a pop. I'm not hurting for hobby funds, I just hate spending money on simple pieces. I'll wait to see what the reasoning behind the bases is before jumping in. The timing is fortunate for me though, as I'm just about to start assembling and posing Raven Guard models. Id 32mm is standard for Marine infantry, that gives my Scouts, Assault Marines, and Jump HQs a lot of space to work with. One of the basing ideas I had for them was a desert city ruin with small tumbles of bricks and broken walls, but that is largely lost on 25mm bases. 32mm would give me room to stack bricks, sculpt pavers, and add little windswept sand piles to the debris. I'd wanted to jump right in to the RG models, but new bases put a little delay in the process. I have plenty of Ultramarine tanks to paint while waiting though.