After several listeners have suggested we listen to Chris Wraight’s The Interrogation of Salvor Lermentov, I decided to use this WFH time to do the thing. The short audio drama picks up on the last page of Vaults of Terra: The Carrion Throne, just before the events of Vaults of Terra: The Hollow Mountain. The two-man story finally reveals the fate of Salvor Lermentov, and much about the inner-workings of Erasmus Crowl.
Salvor Lermentov’s Lament
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: it ain’t easy being an Imperial citizen. Between the constant threat of starvation, the grueling work, and horrible environment, there is little bright in day-to-day life. As Lermentov details how grueling his existence has been, Crowl both acknowledges it and scoffs at it because Lermentov is certainly not the only person to suffer in service. It’s an interesting dichotomy to watch unfold—Crowl knows Lermentov speaks true and is a good man, but does that justify his behavior? Does Crowl even care about any of that? The answer is unsurprisingly “yes, but also no.”
The thing that stands out most in Lermentov’s and Crowl’s dialog is that the “revolution” was the first time these people of Terra people lived as citizens. Not animals frightened of each other and their own shadows, desperate for survival. They lived as people fighting for a common cause and ideal, much as they would in the guard. Similarly to Alec Worley, Chris Wraight appears to admire the Guard and their ideals equal to how much he loathes the lords. The life in the guard might be brutal and short, but it’s honest work, and it’s admirable. As much as we like Crowl as a character, when poised against the earnest Lermentov, it’s easy to dislike him (while still loving him, naturally).
The Throne vs. The Power
One of the central arguments in The Carrion Throne, and in The Interrogation of Salvor Lermentov is the idea of the Throne vs. the agents of the Throne. Salvor Lermentov wasn’t leading a rebellion against the God Emperor of Mankind, but rather those exercising His will. The fat (literally) lords of Terra care nothing for the general populace. When an eldar monster is busy hunting the hive-dwellers down, the Lords respond by killing anyone and everyone. Not exactly inspiring loyalty there, are we?
This is a subject of constant debate amongst we Book Clubbers as well. While no one can really say what His intention is, it’s hard to believe that He would approve of the rampant greed and corruption, especially given how much it is delivered in His name. One of the strong undercurrents in all of Chris Wraight’s Terra-based novels is the cowardice of hiding behind the Throne. “Do this or be killed because the Throne says so, because I’ve decided it’s such.” Neither Salvor Lermentov nor Erasmus Crowl are the first to acknowledge this hypocrisy and travesty, but it’s interesting to see them collide.
As with all of the Black Library Audio Dramas, the quality and production on this is excellent. I’m not sure Crowl’s manner matched my own personal expectation of him, but it’s beautifully acted. Ultimately though, I’m not sure the point of the story. From both Carrion Throne and Hollow Mountain I already assumed Crowl’s mental state and opinions on the lords of Terra. While his metaphor about Courvain vs. the Imperium is lovely, it’s already been spelled out elsewhere in the books. I had already assumed Spinoza’s stance on Lermentov. It’s fun and extends our time with the character, but in the end] it doesn’t really break new ground. Whether or not that makes it necessary will depend on how much you like Crowl.