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.