Gaunt's Ghosts

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Jump to: navigation, search
As the Emperor protects, so must we.


"Men of Tanith, do you want to live forever?"

Gaunt's Ghosts is a series of novels by Dan Abnett, set in the Warhammer 40,000 universe. Sometimes described as "Sharpe meets Warhammer 40k", the series follows a band of soldiers in the ultimate Crapsack, exploring war settings ranging from airborne assault to trench fighting. The Sharpe inspiration was lampshaded in the third book, Necropolis, which refers to the troops singing the marching song "Over the Skies and Far Away", a case of Sharpe's signature "Over the Hills and Far Away" IN SPACE!

The books follow Colonel-Commissar Ibram Gaunt and the Tanith First-and-Only, a single regiment within the trillions-strong Imperial Guard. Nicknamed the "Ghosts", the series focuses on the Tanith's experiences as a tiny part of a vast decades-long crusade to liberate the Sabbat Worlds from Chaos. Written in a style reminiscent of Bernard Cornwell's massively successful Sharpe series, the series has been well received, its strong points including believable battles, capturing the "feel" of the gothic far-future Warhammer 40,000, and a realistic portrayal of the Imperial Guard as actual humans. Gaunt's Ghosts is the longest-running and the most successful book series set in the 40k universe.

Thirteen novels and a number of short stories have been published so far:[edit | hide | hide all]

  • First & Only: The Ghosts fight to retake the forge world of Fortis Binary, but there is far more at stake than any of them realises.
  • Ghostmaker: On Monthax, Gaunt recalls the Ghosts' founding and some of their past exploits, even as the present gets interesting with the presence of an Inquisitor and another alien faction.
  • Necropolis: The Ghosts are sent to defend the city of Vervunhive.
  • Honour Guard: His career in tatters after being used as a scapegoat for an ambitious General's blunder, Gaunt undertakes one final mission to recover the bones of Saint Sabbat from the Shrinehold on Hagia.
  • The Guns of Tanith: The Ghosts perform a series of dropship raids on Mountaintop cities on Phantine, in an attempt to eliminate Chaos Warlord Saggitar Slaith.
  • Straight Silver: The Ghosts engage in trench warfare to try and win a forty-year long land war.
  • Sabbat Martyr: On Herodor, Saint Sabbat is reincarnated. Chaos will have none of that, and the Ghosts have to fend off both conventional forces and Nine assassins.
  • Traitor General: Gaunt and a small team of Ghosts are sent to infiltrate the Chaos-held world of Gereon. Their mission is to eliminate a traitor, one who is all too familiar.
  • His Last Command: Gaunt and his team return from Gereon and find themselves suspected of Chaos taint, while the rest of the Ghosts have been integrated into a new unit. There is more than meets the eye to the ongoing siege, though.
  • The Armour of Contempt: The Ghosts return to Gereon as part of the liberating Guard warhost, but the Inquisition has its own plans.
  • Only In Death: The Ghosts are sent to Jago to guard the eastern fortress of Hinzerhaus from Chaos, but the enemy is closer than command thinks, and the house itself is more sinister than it looks.
  • Blood Pact: The return to Balhaut for billet has left the Ghosts restless and Gaunt wishes to get back to the war. He really, really should know better.
  • Salvation's Reach: The Ghosts embark on a mission to raid a critical Chaos facility in hopes of turning the tide of the Crusade in the Imperium's favor. Unfortunately, it also happens to be a suicide mission.

Additionally, the Sabbat Worlds Crusade setting has essentially spawned a mini-continuity within the Warhammer 40,000 universe, with a number of additional works that are not limited to just Gaunt's Ghosts.

There is "The Sabbat Worlds Crusade" written as an Imperial history of the early part of the central campaign of the novels.

The series also has a Spin-Off, Double Eagle, focusing on the fighter squadron introduced in The Guns of Tanith which has its own upcoming sequel, Interceptor City. Titanicus is not a direct spin off but it's set during the Sabbat Worlds Crusade. There is also the anthology Sabbat Worlds, a collection of short stories written by other Black Library authors including Abnett which are set during the Crusade.


As part of Warhammer 40,000, the series involves a large number of the tropes on that page, as well as employing literary and narrative tropes of its own:[edit | hide]

  • Absurdly Sharp Blade: The Power Sword of Heironymo Sondar, a blade that can cut through carapace armour, The skin of a WireWolf and the Power Armour of a Chaos Space Marine.
  • Action Film, Quiet Drama Scene
  • Actual Pacifist: Dorden. Has been with the Ghosts from day one and has fired on someone else once, and then in a Matter of Life and Death. Then he is the doctor.
  • A Day in the Limelight: Short stories frequently focus on individual Ghosts, such as Larkin or Bragg. The second book was a whole bunch of these highlighting how awesome each one could be.
  • A Death in the Limelight
  • Afraid of Needles: In The Guns Of Tanith.
  • A God Am I: Saint Sabbat
  • A Form You Are Comfortable With: In Ghostmaker, the Eldar Dire Avengers do this. Rawne's squad believes that they are Tanith Guardsmen, and that the entire team is fighting to save Tanith. The oddity comes with Milo noting that they have rather odd hairstyles, and The Reveal only comes when Larkin is reduced to a quivering wreck, showing Milo that his scope really does 'see everything as it truly is' by revealing their true appearances.
    • Turns out, the Eldar were surprised by this, too. And didn't do too much to cover their disguises. The exarch keeps calling Rawne 'Rawne-human'.
      • The only person to notice the speech errors was Milo, who is implied to have unacknowledged psyker talents. Other sections in the same book implied that what the Eldar spoke wasn't exactly what Rawne heard.
  • Alien Geometries
  • Alien Sky
  • Amnesiac Dissonance: Sturm in Traitor General.
  • Anachronic Order
  • Animated Armor: Wirewolves
  • Anyone Can Die: Starts hitting hard in the later novels.
    • And sadly, probably will. The Ghosts have no home to return to and the number of original Tanith dwindles within their own regiment, replaced by soldiers from other worlds. The ultimate fate probably awaiting most of the cast is death in combat- Guard regiments operate for decades at a time.
    • In fact, by the end of the tenth novel, less than 10 characters actually named in the first are still alive Gaunt, Dorden, Mkoll, Rawne, Larkin, possibly Milo, though he was Put on a Bus so we can't be sure [1]. Various command staff also count. Significantly more remain from the first trilogy, but even then a great deal of named characters have died.
      • And as of Blood Pact Dorden is dying of Leukemia.
        • And as of Salvation's Reach, he is dead.
    • Word of God: "People seem to like them. I'll keep writing until they don't anymore or, as I've said, until I've killed everybody-whichever is soonest."
    • On the bright side, the Belladon seem to finally have a proper recruitment pool (unlike the Tanith and Vervunhive elements, both of which come from Doomed Hometowns), so they'll be able to replace casualties.
  • Arcadia
  • Aristocrats Are Evil: Played straight with the Jantine Patricians in the first book. Subverted in the second by the Volpone Bluebloods, who aren't all evil.
  • Armchair Military
  • Artificial Limbs: Augmetics, but not just on limbs - one major character has eye augmetics ('Shoggy' Domor) while another has voicebox augmetics (Murtan Feygor). Played straight with Varl, who lost his shoulder in battle, being forced to have his entire arm replaced. His new arm allows him to punch an enemy's head clean off. Larkin gets a nalwood foot after having to have his cut off by Gaunt and Gaunt himself has been promised augmetics to replace his own lost eyes at the end of Only In Death.
  • A-Team Firing: "Try Again" Bragg's trademark, and the source of his nickname.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: Usually inverted, as Gaunt is usually seen bossing around men with significantly higher rank and social status than him.
  • Awesome Yet Practical: The entire point behind the heroes being Imperial Guardsmen.
  • A Wizard Did It: It's revealed that (almost) all of the supernatural activity in Hinzerhaus is caused by Soric's psyker abilities.
  • Ax Crazy: Lijah Cuu.
  • Back-Alley Doctor
  • Badass Grandpa: Partially subverted: While Corbec and the older members of the regiment are badass in their own right, few of them have "max levels of badass", with those mainly falling to younger men like Rawne. Played straight with Larkin, who is older than Corbec and still one of the regiment's best snipers. Ditto Mkoll, who had outlived his wife even before Tanith was taken and had grown sons, and Mkvenner, who's a grey-haired older man, noted as the best fighter among the scouts. The single oldest member of the regiment is Dorden (he actually delivered Corbec, and had become a grandfather shortly before Tanith fell), but as The Medic, he only fired a shot in anger once in the thirteen books before his death.
  • Badass Longcoat: Gaunt, Hark.
  • Badass Normal: Pretty much the entire Imperial Guard.
  • Bad Dreams
  • The Bait
  • Bait and Switch Tyrant: Commissar Hark.
  • Batman Gambit: In His Last Command Gaunt wanted the inquisitors and senior commissars to learn about the Chaos portals, so he deliberately acted in a suspicious manner that Ludd would report.
  • Battle Aura: Sabbat Martyr:

The Beati herself was lit up in a halo of green fire.
Cold green fire, in the form of a great eagle with its wings unfurled, lit up the Saint.

  • Battle Couple: Criid and Caffran.
  • Beam Spam: There is one point in Necropolis when, as the Guard troops and local forces are estimating the enemy's strength, Mkoll notes that the continuous, buzzing sound they've been hearing is the combined sound of the enemy army's lasguns, so numerous that there is no audible gap in their firing.
    • In Blood Pact, when the Chaos witch bursts into the room to attack Mabbon, Maggs kills her by simply unloading his lasgun at her, firing over two hundred shots at her and overwhelming her warp-shields.
  • Beard of Sorrow
  • Bearer of Bad News
  • The Beautiful Elite
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: In The Guns of Tanith, Gaunt ruefully notes that the Ghosts receiving long-overdue recognition for their scout/stealth skills means getting sent on ultra-high risk infiltration missions.
  • Because Destiny Says So: The Ghosts' involvement in the reincarnation of Saint Sabbat.
  • Being Watched: Said by Baen to Varl in Sabbat Martyr. Baen's right - Pater Sin and his psyker-runts are using psyk-cloaking to walk between them.
    • In Traitor General, the scouts on Gereon know they're being tracked just before the Nihtgane show themselves.
    • In The Armour of Contempt Mkoll and Eszrah recognise that there's someone out there watching them who the latter gets to see and is strongly implied to be MkVenner, while Vadim and Caffran have a similar sentiment at their part of Gereon.
  • Berserk Button: In Blood Pact. Maggs even shocks himself.
    • In Salvation's Reach, when Gaunt finds out there's a conspiracy to make money off of dead troopers, he gets PIIIIISSSSSSED!
  • Better to Die Than Be Killed
  • Beware the Honest Ones
  • BFG: Usually in Bragg's hands and almost always something that should be mounted on a stationary post or carried by a guy in powered armor.
  • Big Badass Wolf
  • The Big Guy: "Try Again" Bragg is a subversion; in fact, the plot point of one of the stories in the second novel revolves around Gaunt choosing him for a mission because everyone assumes that he must be dumb because he's big.
  • Big Damn Heroes: There are quite a few of these.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Pretty much how every single book ends.
  • Blind Seer: Toyed with in Blood Pact as Gaunt's traumatic blinding has him start to vividly see things that are actually happening out of his line-of-sight. In other words, remote viewing. Gaunt the psyker?
  • Bling of War
  • Blood From the Mouth
  • Blood Magic
  • Blue Blood
  • Bond One-Liner: Painful one at the end of Sabbat Martyr.

Larkin: "I just wish I'd gotten him sooner."

  • Bottled Heroic Resolve
  • Bunny Ears Lawyer: Bunny Ears Sniper in the case of Larkin.
  • Buy Them Off
  • Cannot Spit It Out: Kolea can't tell Dalin that he's his birth father.
  • Can Not Tell a Lie
  • Casanova: In the Backstory, Gaunt's mentor Otkar.
  • Catch Phrase: Beltayn's "Something's awry" and Cuu's "Sure as Sure" spring to mind.
    • Only In Death is named for an Imperial Guard slogan, "only in death does duty end".
    • "Men of Tanith! Do you want to live forever?"
    • "Say hello to Mr. Yellow" - Brostin
  • The Chains of Commanding: Gaunt is one of the few commissars who actually gives a damn about his own troops.
  • Character Development: Many of the characters go through changes and revelations over the series. So far, the most notable perhaps is Rawne who starts out having every intention of murdering Gaunt, being chauvinistic about the influx of the women soldiers in the regiment but develops into one of Gaunt's most loyal officers and respecting women in the regiment.
  • Character-Magnetic Team: The Ghosts attracted large numbers of soldiers from Vervunhive in Necropolis and were merged with the Belladon 81st regiment in His Last Command, although the overall number of Ghosts doesn't change that much due to the high casualty rate.
    • In fact, as of the end of Only In Death, more than half of the regiment is dead. That is, half the regiment that was alive going into the book.
    • Oddly, they keep gaining new commissars and had six in Salvation's Reach: Guant, Hark, Ludd, Blenner, Edur, and Fazakiel. They end with only five as a Rimes kills Edur.
  • Children Are Innocent: Encounters with children tends to inspire protectiveness in Ghosts.
    • Subverted when Caffran tries to rescue a starved child and it shoots him.
  • The Chosen One: Lilith, in Ghostmaker, Sanian in Honour Guard and Sabbat Martyr.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Lijah Cuu fits this trope so well that it's rather shocking that nobody really called him out on it earlier. This is also the possible reason behind Mabbon's multiple changes of allegiance, first from the Imperium to Guar, Gaur to Sek, and then from Sek to the Imperium.
    • And then Salvation's Reach implies that Mabbon might be switching from the Immperium back to Gaur!
  • Clown Car Base: The compartments in His Last Command, which pump out more Chaos troops than they should be able to hold. Warp portals are to blame.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture
  • Collapsing Lair
  • Colonel Badass: Both Gaunt and his second-in-command, Colonel Colm Corbec.
    • Honestly, any high-ranking member in the Ghosts qualify.
  • Commissar Cap
  • Conservation of Ninjutsu: Deconstructed in Ghostmaker: A small team of Ghosts and Bluebloods wipes out a thousands-strong Chaos force... and the incident is written off as an illusionary battle by tacticians unable to account for the success.

Years later.... Imperial tacticians.... would be utterly unable to account for the success of the action. .... There was no sense to the data. Simple statistics should have had Gaunt's expeditionary force cut down to the last man.... They slew, approximately, two-point-four thousand soldiers of the enemy. .... The tacticians would decide that the only explanation could be that there were no enemy units on the field that day. .... Only then did the computations and the statistics and the possibilities match up.

    • Of course, the tacticians do not take into account the fact that the Guard forces weren't the only ones fighting against Chaos in that battle.
  • Continuity Nod: (On several occasions, Gaunt makes reference to the book Spheres of Longing, which was authored by Inquisitor Gideon Ravenor. Abnett fans would know that Ravenor stars in his own running Warhammer 40k series also authored by Abnett.
    • A preemptive Continuity Nod: Abnett created Ravenor and his book as scenery dressing, and didn't start thinking of him as a character with his own adventures until much later -- and that was after he'd already served as a supporting character in Abnett's chronologically-earlier Eisenhorn novels. According to interviews with Abnett, most of his "continuity nods" are the result of happy accidents like this.
      • The Eisenhorn / Ravenor stories were also foreshadowed by Gaunts Ghosts. In one book, Gaunt recalls Ravenor describing the terrible fate of his master. Although Eisenhorn had become a radical by the end his series and was well established as one in Ravenor, it was hardy a terrible fate. There is also the implication in Salvation's Reach that Ravenor suffers a Downer Ending. The fact that Abnett has referred to the next series of Inquisitor books as Eisenhorn versus Ravenor would seem to support this.
    • Another Abnett novel, Brothers of the Snake received the same treatment. The Iron Snakes Space Marine Chapter originally only received a brief mention in Necropolis. Later, Salvation's Reach has an Iron Snake assisting the Ghosts.
    • Similarly, the character of Inquisitor Heldane, who gets killed off in First And Only, also would only get developed further in the Eisenhorn novels.
    • Double Eagle features Leguin as a secondary character. He was originally introduced in Honour Guard as, well, a secondary character.
    • There are a few mentions of Tanith in the Adeptus Mechanicus-themed book Titanicus: sacra, and a cameo character is described as a Tanith emigree.
    • A very subtle one in Blood Pact. One of the Blood Pact infiltrators is named Samus.
  • Conveniently an Orphan
  • Converse with the Unconscious
  • Cool Gate: In His Last Command.
  • Cool Sword: Gaunt's swords are not only chainswords but possessed of personal and historical significiance.
  • The Corruption
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Guilder Worlin in Necropolis. Despite orders to close down oil pipelines, Worlin keeps his pipeline open so he can get rich off the profits. This gives the Zoicans a route they can use to infiltrate Imperial lines.
  • Crapsack World
  • Creepy Child: Pater Sin's psykers.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: When Sergeant Varl is playing the clown, you could be forgiven for assuming that's all he is. Then you try to make trouble, and suddenly he pins your arm to the wall with a casually thrown knife. He earned that rank.
  • Cryptic Conversation
  • Cunning Linguist
  • Cycle of Revenge
  • Dan Browned: In-universe, in Blood Pact, the historians on Balhaut got pretty much every detail and fact of Slaydo's effort to liberate the planet wrong. This is mainly due to the fact that all of the veterans of the war aren't around to point out the errors. Humorously enough, there is an entire chapel dedicated to Gaunt because the historians mistakenly believed that he had died during the liberation of the planet.
  • Dangerous Deserter
  • Dead Person Conversation: Several characters often have recurring dreams where they converse with previously dead characters. This is a key plot point in Honor Guard, but most notable is poor old Larkin, who literally hallucinates conversations with Bragg whenever he's feeling slightly more unhinged than normal.
  • Death by Childbirth: Gaunt's mother.
    • And it would have happened to Corbec's mother if it wasn't for the efforts of a young Doctor Dorden.
  • Death or Glory Attack
  • Death Seeker
  • Deflector Shields: Void shields show up in The Guns of Tanith and Sagittar Slaith has a las-proof personal shield. The status of the shield covering Vervunhive becomes an issue twice in Necropolis.
  • Diabolus Ex Machina: Lijah Cuu is effectively a manifestation of "Diabolus". Good riddance.
  • Diagonal Cut: Gaunt pulls this against a Chaos Space Marine Badass.
  • Digging Yourself Deeper: In Blood Pact Gaunt makes Ayatani Zweil do this against himself to get him to go for medical.
  • Dirty Business
  • Dirty Coward: General Noches Sturm in Necropolis. Meryn proves to be one as well.
  • Disability Superpower: Nessa. She's permanently deaf from being too close to an artillery bombardment, but that doesn't stop her from being the one of the best snipers in the Ghosts, rivalling Larkin in skill.
    • Also inverted in the case of Merrt. After getting his lower jaw shot off, the former sniper loses his marksmanship skills and is demoted back to a simple trooper who can barely shoot an unmoving can.
  • Disturbed Doves
  • Divided We Fall
  • Don't You Dare Pity Me!
  • Doomed by Canon: In The Armour of Contempt, the Inquisition thinks they can find protection against Chaos on Gereon. Gaunt thinks they won't -- and considering what that would do to history, is obviously right.
  • Dreaming of Things to Come
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty
  • Driven to Suicide: Sabbatine Cirk in The Armour of Contempt due to having sold out the Gereon resistance to the Inquisition.
  • Drives Like Crazy
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: While Anyone Can Die is in effect, most characters do get to go down fighting. Not Caffran, shot by a child in The Armour of Contempt.
  • Drowning My Sorrows
  • Due to the Dead
  • During the War
  • Dying Alone: In Blood Pact, Gaunt considers Ayatani Zweil's services to the regiment; his tending to the dying is a big one.
  • Dying as Yourself
  • Earthshattering Kaboom: According to Piet Gutes, Tanith was hit so hard the inside of the planet exploded into space.
  • Either World Domination or Something About Bananas: In Traitor General.
  • Exact Words: Used in a truly absurd example in Necropolis. A tank troop is ordered to advance down a certain road to confront the enemy and their commander is arrested for disobeying orders for detouring around a traffic obstacle.
  • Elite Mooks: The Blood Pact, compared to "normal" heretics and zealots, have been very effective soldiers. Their first appearance, Guns of Tanith, had them isolate groups of guardsmen with void shields set into doors, cut their communications and cut them off from their commanders, as well as constantly harassing the occupying Guard forces. In Only In Death, they effectively reduced the Tanith First and Only to fifty percent of their numbers, while in Blood Pact, A group of thirty effectively take out an Imperial Guard strong hold, evade detection for a couple of days, and slaughter numerous Inquisitorial and Imperial operatives.
  • Embarrassing Rescue
  • Empathy Doll Shot
  • Enemy Civil War
  • Enemy Mine: at the end of Ghostmaker, the owners of the mysterious ruins sighted by Mkoll turn out to be Eldar guarding a Webway Gate. The farseer protecting the gate thinks to himself that an actual alliance is out of the question, but he uses his psychic abilities to conjure illusions that make the Ghosts fighting in the battle believe they're still on Tanith and fighting to defend it from Chaos, and he makes the Eldar in the base look like Tanith troops.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": Cuu calls all the Tanith "Tanith".
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Soric's handlers in Only In Death.
    • Also, the Inquisition cannot seem to accept the fact that the Ghosts can withstand Chaos taint with their sheer badassery and concludes that it must have had something to do with the swamp that they were living in.
  • Evil Cripple In Only In Death.
  • Evil Is Deathly Cold
  • Evil Gloating: In Blood Pact Eyl catches up with Gaunt and Mabbon for the last time and has them at his mercy, but starts gloating. This gives Gaunt time to knock him away, following by Larks blowing his head open.
  • Evil Is Not Well Lit: In Blood Pact, streetlights go out because a blood wolf runs by.
  • The Evil Prince: In Necropolis.
  • Eye Scream: In Traitor General, the leader of the Chaos Space Marine warband is killed by the natives by way of an arrow or several through his eyes.
    • In Ghostmaker a trooper puts his eye up to a scope while on a frozen world. It freezes in place and the other Ghosts have to pull the gun away from his face.
  • Face Heel Turn: General Noches Sturm in Traitor General.
    • Debatable, he wasn't exactly a good guy before he turned.
  • Faceless Goons: The Blood Pact.
    • The Chaos-tainted Zoicans from Necropolis. You don't want to see what's under their helmets.
  • Failure Is the Only Option: Gaunt was promised the first planet he conquered. Thus far, it looks like no one will ever admit that he conquered one.
    • Strangely, this doesn't get brought up very often. The only real mention of that promise after the first arc is in Only In Death, where Curth warns Gaunt that he'd better not conquer the planet, as the Ghosts would lynch him if they had to muster out on Jago.
  • Fallen Princess
  • False-Flag Operation: In the raid on one of Sek's bases in Salvation's Reach, the Imperial soldiers disguise themselves as Blood Pact troops in an attempt to turn Gaur and Sek against each other and start an Enemy Civil War.
  • Famed in Story: After the events of "In Remembrance", the Ghosts with him make much of what Thuro did.
  • Fast Roping: Used in The Guns of Tanith when the Ghosts participate in an air assault on a mountain city. If only they were drop troops and not light infantry.
  • Fatal Family Photo: Played with in Straight Silver.
  • A Fate Worse Than Death
  • A Father to His Men
  • Fearless Fool
  • Feed the Mole
  • Femme Fatale
  • Field Promotion: When Tanith was destroyed, all the officers were on it. Gaunt does some rapid promoting.
  • Fighting For a Homeland
  • Fire-Forged Friends
  • First-Name Basis
  • Five Rounds Rapid: Both played straight and subverted.
  • Flaw Exploitation: In Blood Pact, Rime exploits Gaunt's unwillingness to execute men. Unfortunately for him, Gaunt wasn't there alone.
  • A Friend in Need: Ludd, in His Last Command.
  • Friend or Foe: In Only In Death.
  • Fun with Acronyms: Retraining, Indoctrination and Punishment.
  • Gas Mask Mooks
  • Gaunt, You Are My Father: In Salvation's Reach, Gaunt is shocked to learn that he has a son, who followed him all the way from Verghast.
  • General Failure: Averted by Dravere, despite his despicable We Have Reserves mentality, played straight with General Sturm.
  • Geo Effects
  • Get It Over With
  • Give Me a Sword
  • Glamor Failure
  • Glamorous Wartime Singer: In Golke's flashback in Straight Silver.
  • Glory Hound: Undoubtedly General Hechtor Dravere.
  • Glove Slap
  • Godzilla Threshold: When Feygor gets very sick in Traitor General and Curth has nothing left, Ezrah offers a remedy paste containing the normally lethal moth poison. It barely works.
  • Good Is Not Nice
  • Good Is Old-Fashioned
  • Good-Looking Privates: Major Elim Rawne and Sniper Nessa Bourah are both described as outright handsome/beautiful, and others like Sergeant Varl, Jessi Banda, and Tona Criid are described as quite attractive as well.
  • Good Scars, Evil Scars: Cuu has an Evil Scar nearly bisecting his face.
  • Good Shepherd
  • Green-Eyed Monster
  • The Grim Reaper
  • Hair of Gold
  • Hand Cannon: Hark's plasma pistol, Gaunt's bolt pistols.
    • Hark also carries two back up pieces, a brass plated bolt pistol, and a heavy calibre revolver, which had so much kick it could kill a loxatl Mercenary in one shot. For reference, armour piercing rounds are normally needed.
  • Handicapped Badass: Nessa, Shoggy Domor, Varl, and Gaunt as of the end of Only In Death
  • Hanging Judge
  • Haunted Headquarters: Hinzerhaus in Only in Death.
  • Heel Realization: Sturm in Traitor General.
  • He Knows Too Much
  • Heroic Albino: Kolding
  • Heroic Bastard
  • Heroic Sacrifice: About one per book, give or take. An everyday occurence in the life of the Guard. Rarely performed by the Ghosts themselves, oddly enough. Lilith, Kowle, Golke are all examples of non-Ghost heroic sacrifices.
  • He's Dead, Jim: Soric's death in Only In Death is underscored with symbolic/literal confirmations.
  • Heterosexual Life Partners: Larkin and Bragg, Rawne and Feygor.
  • Hero of Another Story: The books often briefly mention fighting done by other Guard units in the area, only to carry on the image that the Ghosts aren't totally on their own.
    • The Book Sabbat World's Crusade, is essentially a compilation of these.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: Gaunt is faced with this dilemma in the later books.
  • Hidden Depths: Dorden is an actor. Mkvenner knows Old Gothic.
  • Hired Guns: The Chaos forces start using the reptilian loxatl mercenaries in The Guns of Tanith and a Dark Eldar Mandrake is one of the Nine sent to assassinate Saint Sabbat.
  • Hold the Line
  • Hollywood Tactics: If they're used by Imperials, it's usually due to an incompetent commander. Chaos forces, on the other hand, tend to use head-on charges a lot, relying on the fact that they always seem to have massive edge in manpower. The latter, however, is actually explained in Necropolis - Chaos taint can turn the entire corrupted populations, including women, elderly and children, into fanatically fearless fighters.
    • Mabbon mentions this in Traitor General as one of the reasons he's changing his allegiance from Gaur to Sek.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard
  • Honorary Uncle
  • Hostage Situation
  • Hufflepuff House: The Vitrian Dragoons from First and Only and other Guard regiments working with the Tanith First.
  • Human Sacrifice
  • Human Shield
  • I Am Not Shazam: Cuu insists on calling every Tanith soldier "Tanith".
  • I Can Still Fight
  • I Cannot Self-Terminate: In Only In Death.
  • I Did What I Had to Do: Gaunt's leaving Tanith to die.
  • Identical Stranger: Major Berenson from Only in Death to Caffran.
  • If I Wanted You Dead...
  • I Gave My Word
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: Chaos ranks seem to be mostly composed from its graduates. They compensate this with More Dakka.
    • Justified since the majority of the enemies the Ghosts fight are barely trained cultists with inferior equipment. The Blood Pact are actually terrifyingly competent.
  • Implausible Fencing Powers: In First & Only, a Flash Back shows then-Commissar Gaunt kill the man who left his father to die, General Dercius, in a chainsword duel by using a thrust after parrying his opponent's weapon, a move thought impossible with a chainsword.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Larkin and the rest of the Tanith snipers. However, a brief passage in Honour Guard shows that Cuu can be even better.
  • Incorruptible Pure Pureness
  • Inferred Survival: In Armour of Contempt, Mkvenner, who is literally one of the most Badass Ghosts in existence, is stated to have been killed in action, though they Never Found the Body and the Resistance deliberately pretends that he's still alive. There are a number of clues in the book to suggest that he actually is.
  • In Harm's Way: Daur's motive at the opening of Blood Pact.
  • Insignia Rip Off Ritual: Gaunt does this to General Sturm. It is both used and inverted in Necropolis, when Gaunt removes the blowhard, glory-hungry Commissar Kowle's rank insignia, but later replaces them when Kowle sacrifices a grenade bandolier and his arms to destroy a Chaos beast.
  • Inspector Javert: Inquisitor Rime from Blood Pact is too eager to see Gaunt caught as a heretic. It makes sense once it turns out that Rime is a Chaos agent.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: Dalin, Criid and Merrt,
  • Internal Homage: In The Guns of Tanith, Gol Kolea saves Tona Criid but is shot in the back of the head and loses his memory and personality. Kolea saves Criid in Sabbat Martyr in the same way, prompting a Ghost who had been present at both occasions to recognise the trope in action and pull him to cover before history repeats itself.
  • Interservice Rivalry
  • I Resemble That Remark
  • It's All About Me
  • It's All My Fault: Raglon tries to claim this in Straight Silver.
  • It Works Better with Bullets: In Blood Pact.
  • James Bondage: Rescuing Rawne in First & Only.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: At first it seems that the Space Marines tasked to assist the Tanith with assaulting Salvation's Reach are complete Jerkasses. However, they start showing small acts of kindness to the soldiers who manage to earn their respect, with one of them even helping Merrt regain his shooting ability. Gaunt points out that Space Marines aren't necessarily jerks, it's just that their morals and values operate on a completely different level from ordinary humans.
  • "Jump Off a Bridge" Rebuttal
  • Karma Houdini: Cuu at the end of Straight Silver, survivng despite the fact he brutally murdered Sehra Muril, after shes tries to save Larkin from him.
    • Meryn has also gotten away with a lot of despicable things in Salvation's Reach, such as stealing the identities of slain Ghosts and their relatives and spouses for a pension scam, as well as leaving Costin and several other Ghosts to die to cover his tracks.
  • Karmic Death: Cuu again, in Sabbat Martyr, about damn time too.
  • Kick the Dog: That damn bastard, Cuu, kicks the shit out of numerous dogs, rats, birds, small animals, promising Vervunhiver scouts, large heavy weapons specialists and much-loved colonels among many others.
    • Meryn has also started breaking in his pair of dog kicking boots.
  • Kick Them While They Are Down: Jantine Patricians do this, attacking a wounded Ghost.
  • Killed Off for Real
    • Abnett will say when a character is killed. If he doesn't say, directly, that they're dead, assume they're alive. General Sturm after Vervunhive for example...
  • Kill Me Now or Forever Stay Your Hand: Rawne and Gaunt.
  • Knife Nut: Almost every Ghost can use the straight silver well.
  • Knight in Sour Armor: Ibram Gaunt.
  • La Résistance: The Gereon resistance.
  • Last-Name Basis: Almost everyone is referred to by surname only. Given names are occasionally stated but rarely used. Exceptions do become more common as the series progresses -- but First-Name Basis is always a significiant sign of friendship or at least informality. Except for Dalin Criid, because "Criid" denotes his adoptive mother Tona Criid.
  • Large and In Charge: Both played straight and inverted - some characters, like Chaos warlord Heritor Asphodel in Necropolis, are explicitly larger than their minions. However, Gaunt is smaller than his 2IC Corbec and the largest Ghost, Bragg, is a lowly trooper.
  • Last Stand
  • Laughing Mad
  • Last of His Kind: Invoked in First & Only, when Caffran knows it is possible that he was the only survivor of the regiment after a bombardment.
  • Leave Behind a Pistol
  • Leet Lingo: Merrt's rifle's designation is O34TH. He misread it as death the first time he saw it.
  • The Legions of Hell
  • Lighter and Softer: It's a strange and rather grim fact that the Gaunt novels, (and for that matter most other novels set in the 'verse) present the better side of the Warhammer 40,000 universe. While the galaxy is undeniably a brutal place, the presence of predominantly sympathetic characters, a portrayal of Imperial society as generally functioning, and a few genuine miracles and supernatural agents of good, primarily those relating to Saint Sabbat, soften the GRIMDARK portrayed by the tabletop game's lore. This is arguably both necessary and perhaps even an improvement.
  • Literary Agent Hypothesis Most of the books are prefaced with an extract from A Later History Of The Imperial Crusades and on occasion the narrator gives information that only someone in the future - relative to the events being narrated, to be exact - would know. Of course, the novels take place two centuries before the "current" 40k time setting.
  • Little Hero, Big War: The Ghosts are often fighting on secondary fronts or places that are considered minor battles compared to the rest of the Crusade. Because of this, most of their achievements are often lost in obscurity. Even so, the History of the Later Imperial Crusades, the history book whose quotes preface each story often mention the Ghost's involvement in certain theatres, even if only vaguely.
  • Living on Borrowed Time: Dorden, who by the time of Salvation's Reach should have been dead months already from his leukemia but still clings to life due to sheer force of will.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: Just try reading the list.
  • The Lost Woods: Tanith, in the Backstory.
  • Lotus Eater Machine: In Ghostmaker, an Eldar warlock pulls a psychic deception in order to gain the aid of the unwitting Ghosts, making them believe that they are fighting to defend Tanith. It is not very good, however, as Milo notices some oddities, and the illusion is broken when Larkin scopes the leader of the Eldar defenders out.
  • Love At First Sight: Invoked in The Guns of Tanith.
  • Lucky Seven: Soric is the seventh son of a seventh son. Look where it got him.
  • MacGuffin Delivery Service
  • Made a Slave
  • Mad Oracle
  • Magic Music: The drums in First & Only.
  • The Magnificent
  • Manly Tears: Hark, at the end of Only In Death.
    • Rawne does this as well, in the same book, possibly twice.
    • Painfully subverted in Blood Pact, because Gaunt can't cry due to his augmetic eyes.
  • Man On Fire: An inevitability whenever the Tanith flamers arrive on the field.
  • Matter of Life and Death
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane
  • Meaningful Echo: In First & Only, in the Flash Back where Gaunt learns how his father died, the woman telling him starts by saying that he is his father's "first and only" son.
  • The Medic: Dorden, Curth, the often forgotten Mtane, Lesp and some of Dorden's orderlies from the first books.
  • Men Don't Cry: At least among the Sleepwalkers.
    • Not to mention Gaunt can't cry.
  • The Men First
  • Mercy Kill: In Only In Death.
    • A minor one in Ghostmaker as well.
  • Mexican Standoff
  • Military Mashup Machine: In Double Eagle, the Chaos forces use gigantic, wheeled carriers to launch their warplanes.
  • Military Maverick: Over and over again. Arguably what makes Gaunt Gaunt.
  • Military Moonshiner
  • Misunderstood Loner with a Heart of Gold: Kolding from Blood Pact, at least in Maggs's eyes.
  • Mistaken for Racist:Gaunt.
  • Mobile Maze: The forests of Tanith
  • The Mole: Inquisitor Rime and Xomat in Blood Pact, although not for the same organisation.
  • Mook Horror Show: A lot.
  • Moral Myopia
  • Mordor
  • More Dakka
  • More Hero Than Thou
  • Most Annoying Sound: Invoked in Ghostmaker, where this is Gaunt's initial opinion of the Tanith pipe music.
  • Music for Courage: Before Milo becomes a full Guardsman, this is his role in combat.
  • Mutual Kill: Apparently Slaydo vs. Nadzybar in the backstory. In Necropolis, nearly Heritor Asphodel vs. Gaunt.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: A large part of the plot in Honour Guard.
  • The Neidermeyer: There's always at least one in every book.
  • Never Bring a Knife to A Fist Fight: In The Armour of Contempt some Hauberkans attack Hark. One has a knife, another a chain fist. Neither do any real damage.
  • Never Found the Body: MkVenner in Armor of Contempt, Gaunt in Only In Death.
  • New Meat
  • Nice to the Waiter
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Jantine Patricians attack several Ghosts and leave three dead and one critical this way.
  • No One Gets Left Behind: Is both played straight and averted on some level in many of the books.
  • No Party Like a Donner Party: In His Last Command Gaunt finds that cooks for Fortis Binary's units are using meat from corpses in their cooking.
  • Normally I Would Be Dead Now: Applies to over half the cast. Sometimes.
  • The Nose Knows: Ezsrah.
  • Not Afraid of You Anymore
  • Not a Game
  • Numerological Motif: Nine is an important number to Saint Sabbat and her followers, being the number of wounds inflicted when she was martyred. It shows up a lot in the Saint arc, and it's almost never a good sign.
  • OOC Is Serious Business: Only In Death has various examples, such as straitlaced Daur almost hitting Rawne, unflappable Mkoll getting spooked and chatty Maggs being quiet. In Blood Pact, Daur is caught helping one of Rawne's scams. Hark notes that discipline and morale are hitting new lows.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: In both Necropolis and Sabbat Martyr, officials try to prevent people from taking shelter.
  • Officer and a Gentleman The whole schtick of the Jantine Patricians and the Volpone Bluebloods. Gaunt himself, to an extent.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: The final chapter of Sabbat Martyr makes reference to a week-long battle supposedly more intense than any other recorded in the account, but we don't get to read it.
  • Off with His Head
  • Old Friend
  • Old Master: Larkin and Mkoll.
  • Old Retainer: Gaunt's father's cook, when Gaunt was a child.
  • Old School Dogfighting: Double Eagle is essentially the Battle of Britain Recycled in Space.
  • One-Man Army: Saint Sabbat. In Sabbat Martyr, it is recounted that she once slew 1800 enemy soldiers single-handedly in a single battle and it is very safe to assume her total kill-count is higher than that. In the same book, she destroys a superheavy tank with a sword and a pipe bomb.
  • Onion Tears
  • Only a Flesh Wound: Even the direst of wounds can be only a flesh wound in the WH40k 'verse, thanks to augmetic replacements. His Last Command supplies a nice quote on the topic, as seen on the page.
  • The Only One Allowed to Defeat You In In Rememberance, Rawne tells the unconscious Gaunt that he can't die, because Rawne wants to kill him.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: In Blood Pact Baltasar Eyl Damogaur has difficulty maintaining his civilised veneer during the final encounter with Gaunt and Mabbon, causing his outworld accent to leak.
  • Oracular Urchin
  • Orphan's Plot Trinket: Gaunt's father's ring.
  • Or Was It a Dream?: Larkin's encounter with the angel in Ghostmaker.
  • Outscare the Enemy: In His Last Command, Gaunt tells some soldiers that he could tell them he was more frightening than the enemy.
  • Painting the Fourth Wall: The documents between chapters in Only In Death.
  • Past Victim Showcase: Sagittar Slaith uses this in The Guns of Tanith.
  • Perspective Flip: Traitor General involves an Imperial commander defecting to Chaos, and an Imperial strike team's efforts to assassinate said general. Blood Pact involves a Chaos commander defecting to the Imperium, and a Chaos strike team's efforts to assassinate said general. Both books also give considerable page-time to the Chaos forces, as opposed to Abnett's usual complete focus on the Ghosts.
  • The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: Gaunt is The Commissar Who Doesn't Shoot His Men Very Often. Justified as his late mentor, Commissar-General Oktar, also practised such a style. Do note the Not Very Often. Commissars who follow the usual style may get immediate results, but morale in their companies tends to tank up until the point that the commissar suddenly and tragically dies.
      • Hark is a particularly interesting example. On one occasion he sees some soldiers running from combat. When he attempts to rally them, they ignore him. He lets him go, and is promptly asked why he didn't shoot them, to which he basically replies that it would be a waste of time. Instead, he shoots their commanding officer, for failing to show leadership.
  • Placebo Effect: Blenner pops sugar pills for nerves throughout Salvation's Reach, and becomes aware they're sugar pills near the end.
  • The Plan: Gaunt pulls off one in First & Only.
  • Planet Looters
  • Playing Possum
  • Pocket Protector: In Necropolis, Gaunt's life is saved by a metallic rose he is wearing. He is still badly hurt, as he is unconscious for almost a month and almost dies anyway.
  • Powder Keg Crowd
  • Precision F-Strike: Normally, unusual euphemisms are used in place of actual curses, so when Sturm refers to Gaunt as a "jumped-up shit" in Necropolis, it really makes an impact on the reader.
  • Pretty Little Headshots: Justified due to las weapons cauterizing the wounds they cause. Occurs to minor trooper Mktag in In Remembrance, the short story included with The Founding omnibus. The sight traumatises the POV character, sheltered artist Thuro.

... little black hole .... made in his forehead. There was no blood. .... I think if there had been more blood, more obvious physical damage, I could have coped better. But it was just such a tiny little hole.

No! Too strong. Too willful (sic). Too beloved by other souls that anchored him and dragged him back.

  • Punny Name: In-Universe. Poor Trooper Cant can't catch a break.
  • Put on a Bus: Brin Milo in Sabbat Martyr. Subverted with Agun Soric, who gets sent away on a Black Ship at the end of Sabbat Martyr apparently never to return, but eventually returns in Only in Death as a Sanctioned Psyker.
  • Quirky Miniboss Squad: The Nine.
  • Ransacked Room
  • Reality Ensues: How one of the scouts kills a stalker in His Last Command.
  • Reality Warper
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Lord General Van Voytz.
  • Reassigned to Antarctica: Lugo after Honour Guard.
  • Reassignment Backfire
  • Recurring Dreams
  • Recycled in Space: Abnett takes familiar historical battle settings and transposes them to the 40k universe. The Guns of Tanith features an Operation Market Garden-esque mass paradrop... onto a mountaintop city sticking out of poisonous clouds. Straight Silver has World War I trench fighting... with lasers. Double Eagle is the Battle of Britain and the earlier Battle of France with vector-engined supersonic jet fighters. Necropolis seems to be somewhat based off of the Battle of Stalingrad itself, with the intense urban fighting that goes on.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Multiple characters throughout, perhaps most notably good old Noches Sturm, yet again.
    • There's an interesting case of Redemption Equals Near Death in Trooper Costin, who was often getting himself into trouble through either drunkeness or disorderly conduct. After the former vice gets Raglon's first command decimated, Gaunt gives him a second chance though this strains Gaunt's friendship with Dorden, as the doctor sticks up for the trooper. In Sabbat Martyr, Dorden takes Gaunt aside to where Costin lies wounded and describes to the colonel-commissar how Costin risked his life to save of a squad regrouping from being slaughtered.
      • Then horribly averted in Salvation's Reach, where it's revealed that Costin goes back to being a drunkard and participates in a pension fraud scam using stolen identities, including Dorden's dead wife. He later dies an undignified death after being left to die by Meryn.
  • Red Herring
  • Redshirt Army
  • Refuge in Audacity: Source material notwithstanding, at one point in The Guns Of Tanith Varl and Kolea literally run into heavy enemy fire to penetrate a fortified position.

It was just sheer balls.... They were edging ahead simply by stint of bravado.... Devil-dare.

  • Remember That You Trust Me
  • Replacement Goldfish
  • Requisite Royal Regalia
  • Revenge
  • Reverse Grip: The Tanith knife technique, as described in First And Only.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Eszrah is duty bound to go on one if his master, Gaunt, is killed. This actually happens in Only in Death when Gaunt is thought to be dead.
  • Rock Beats Laser: A Chaos Space Marine gets killed... by crossbows. This is most likely a jab at the trend to model marine squad leaders without helmets to make them more badass. Which CAN get them killed when angry natives start putting the village's whole supply of poisoned arrows through their faces. These weren't normal poisoned bolts either- one of the members of the Chaos retinue died when a moth (which the poison is made from) landed on him. Also, the Marine's face was described as a "pin cushion," With 30+ bolts lodged there.
  • Rousing Speech: Novobazky's "Shores of Marik" in His Last Command.
  • Rule of Three: "A traditional Tanith toast took three parts" in Only In Death.
  • Sacrificial Lion: While this is a series where Anyone Can Die, the death of Colm Corbec really drives this in hard.
  • Sand in My Eyes
  • Scarily Competent Tracker: The entire Tanith First-and-Only fit this mould from the point of view of the rest of the Guard. The Scout Platoon is scarily competent even to the rest of the Tanith. Sergeant Mkoll is scarily competent even to the Scouts he leads, and doubly so after returning alive from Gereon in His Last Command. Even more so for MkVenner, who is such an impossibly badass scout that he frees the entire Gereon resistance from the Inquisition without alerting anybody.
  • Scars Are Forever: Of particularly note are Gaunt's chainsword scar across his stomach which identifies him at the end of Only In Death, and Merrt's jaw.
  • Scream Discretion Shot
  • Scotireland:
    • Most planets in Warhammer 40K are derived from one Earth culture or another, and Tanith was the generalised "Celtic naturey" one. Many of the Ghosts use Scottish or Welsh elements in their names -- the Scottish Mk- prefix and Welsh w's, l's, and y's (Wheln is a good example). This may be another Sharpe influence, as Sharpe has a lot of Irish characters and dwells on the theme of their homeland being "lost", albeit in a different way.
    • Also, there's their liberal use of blue tattoos...
    • There are also their silver knives (think dirks), their "Black Irish" appearance of pale skin and black hair, Milo's bagpipes...
      • Many Scottish laments could be about Tanith if read in the right context, as they are often about leavetaking, losing one's home to the enemy, and never returning. The story of Lost Tanith is at least partially "Wild Geese" and "'45 Rebellion".
  • The Scottish Trope: In Blood Pact Zweil insists on referring to his terminal condition as "The Concern". Though it's not his Concern but Dorden's.
  • Second Love
  • See-Thru Specs: Larkin's scope.
  • Senseless Sacrifice
  • Sergeant Rock: Major Rawne.
  • Shaggy Dog Story: Necropolis has the Imperial Guard and PDF forces suffer horrendous losses in the defense of Vervunhive. However, in the end, Vervunhive experiences so much damage and so many citizens were killed during the fighting, that Warmaster Macaroth offically declares the hive dead anyway and relocates the surviving populace. This is lampshaded in a conversation between Gaunt and Corbec at the end of the novel.
  • Shell Shocked Senior: Most of the characters, particularly the original Tanith, eventually become these. It was probably inevitable.
  • Shoot the Dog: Throughout Straight Silver and Sabbat Martyr, Larkin struggles with the need to kill Lijah Cuu before he kills any more of the Ghosts, though Cuu still manages a few more team-kills before Larkin's hand is forced. In The Guns of Tanith, Meryn kills a few Phantine civilians in order to prevent his group blowing their cover, but the morality of this is still questioned books - and, chronologically in-universe, many months - later. In Blood Pact, knowing Gaunt won't kill someone without proof, Rawne does it for him.
  • Shoot the Hostage
  • Shoot Your Mate: In Traitor General.
  • Shot At Dawn: In The Guns Of Tanith.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The Guns of Tanith is The Guns of Navarone on Phantine, with lasguns.
    • Dorden complains about his patients making light of their injuries by saying they're "just flesh wounds." "I've had people say that who were missing a leg!"
    • In Straight Silver, Dorden and Curth are working at an aid station near the front. The number designation of the station? 4077.
  • Shrouded in Myth: The shootout between Corbec, Feygor and Rawne against 20 Pyritean mob enforcers mentioned in First And Only.
    • Ditto for MkVenner in The Armour Of Contempt, where the Gereon resistance deliberately credits him with every single operation to both build up morale and terrify the enemy. This continues even after MkVenner was supposedly killed.
  • "Shut Up" Kiss: Daur.
  • The Siege: The entire novels Necropolis and Sabbat Martyr. Only in Death is also largely this with a big side dish of haunted house ghost story.
  • Slasher Smile: (Lijah Cuu has one of these. In Straight Silver, it is explicitly noted that "the most evil servants of Chaos would have killed to have a smile that lethal."
  • Smug Snake: Meryn is shaping up to be a not quite as competent Cuu.
  • Sniper Rifle: The long-las and some bolt-action rifles that Larkin had to use when ammo ran out or his favorite weapon wasn't on him (Traitor General and First and Only respectively).
  • Sole Survivor
  • So Proud of You
  • So What Do We Do Now?: Rawne's reaction to believing Gaunt dead in Only In Death.
  • Something Only They Would Say: In Blood Pact Tona identifies that she's from Gaunt with a message to Blenner by reminding the latter that he lied about his father to Gaunt on the first day of scholam.
  • The Squad
  • The Squadette: After Necropolis, the Tanith First and Only became one of the few Guard units to integrate females into what was once an all male regiment. Naturally, this was met with mixed feelings until they proved to be just as good as, or in some cases better than, the men.
  • Stating the Simple Solution: In the above-mentioned Evil Gloating scene, Mabbon points out that Eyl should have just fired.
  • Stealth Insult: Pheguth is already a grievous insult in the Chaos language, meaning Dirty Traitor... but try saying it out loud.
  • The Stoic: Ezsrah, MkVenner.
  • Stout Strength
  • Strolling Through the Chaos: Bonin.
  • Stupid Sacrifice
  • Sunglasses at Night: Ezrah.
  • Super Strength: Bragg's ability to wield heavy weapons that most people need to set up on the ground is clearly superhuman. In his death scene, he attempts to use the autocannon he was firing as a melee weapon.
  • Superpowered Mooks: Darkwatchers in Necropolis.
  • Surprise Witness
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: In Blood Pact, how the Chaos witch finds Gaunt's group, the curious spot on the map that wards have prevented her from looking into.
  • The Swarm: Rats in Straight Silver.
  • Take Our Word for It: In Necropolis Larkin pulls off the mask of a Chaos-corrupted soldier. The face makes him scream his lungs out and see it again whenever he closes his eyes, but it's never described. However, it is strongly implied that he is reacting to the Chaos troops being comprised of the civilian population of a neighboring hive-city, including women and children - outfitted with hideous cybernetic enhancements that turn them all into a Hive Mind entity.
  • Talking in Your Dreams
  • Talking to the Dead
  • Talk to the Fist
  • Tank Goodness: Tanks appear throughout the series, but are especially prominent in Honour Guard, where an armored unit accompanies the Ghosts on their mission.
  • Tarot Motifs In Blood Pact -- as playing cards.
  • Tears of Joy
  • Tell Me About My Father: Young Gaunt to many, many people.
  • Tempting Fate: In Blood Pact Gaunt sees the Ghosts getting rowdy due to the peace on Balhaut and hopes to get back into the war. The war comes to him in the form of a Blood Pact kill-team.
  • The Usual Adversaries: Chaos, of course, but the most encountered sub-faction is the goddamned- er, fething Blood Pact.
  • There Will Be Toilet Paper: Averted in Ghostmaker, where Rawne is shown shaving using his warknife without a nick.
  • They Call Me Mister Tibbs
  • They Have the Scent
  • Thicker Than Water
  • Think Nothing of It
  • This Is a Drill: In Honour Guard, Trooper Yael is killed by Pater Sin using a drill.
  • This Is Not a Drill: In Blood Pact.
    • And again in Salvation's Reach, when the captain of the ship the Ghosts are traveling on realizes they're about to be ambushed by a Chaos war fleet.
  • Thou Shalt Not Kill: Dorden tries to practice this, and the one time he had to break it in First And Only still weighs on him even in the later books, when years have passed in-universe.
  • Title Drop: Relatively easily in the first few books, more of a challenge with The Armour of Contempt.
  • To Absent Friends: In Traitor General and Only In Death.
  • To Know Him I Must Become Him
  • Translation Convention: The older form of Gothic spoken by the Nihtgane is represented as Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe.
  • Treachery Cover-Up
  • Trial of the Mystical Jury
  • Tokenminority: Jajjo is the token Vergast Scout. Ironically he is also the only Black Ghost.
  • True Companions: This should be pretty obvious.
  • Turn the Other Cheek: Gaunt to Rawne.
  • Tyrant Takes the Helm: Sobile from Armour of Contempt is a more traditional Warhammer 40K commissar. He executes his men and uses a whip to inspire his men. Surprisingly enough, he survives.
  • Understatement: Gaunt's adjutant Beltayn uses the phrase "Something's awry" to announce any problem up to and including catastrophic battlefield reversals.
  • Unfortunate Names: Trooper Cant.
  • Unfriendly Fire
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: Curth admits in Salvation's Reach that she had been pining for Gaunt for a long time - possibly since The Saint arc - but has given up after Gaunt beds yet another new love interest. Gaunt seemingly tries to tell Curth that she means more to him than any other woman, but Curth cuts him off before he could say it.
  • Unusual Euphemism: "Feth", "Gak". "Feth" was a word for the Tanith, "Gak" for the Verghasts. It was noted when soldiers started using both words to insult each other, they had properly assimilated.
  • Upper Class Twit: Dev Hetra Captain Sire Kronn in His Last Command.
  • The Uriah Gambit
  • Villain Ball: Slaith from Guns of Tanith. Shot at by Mkoll, he says the gun is useless against his shield. Mkoll says that it was just a distraction and that the real surprise is under a table. Slaith goes to check while Mkoll dives from the room and the explosives he'd planted under the table.
  • Walking Wasteland
  • Was Once a Man: The stalkers in His Last Command.
  • Weather Dissonance
  • We Have Reserves: Chaos warlords love this trope. The fact that most Chaos troopers are Brainwashed and Crazy certainly helps to stage bloody human wave attacks.
    • The Imperium uses this trope as well. In Armour of Contempt, Dalin Criid is carried along as part of a wave of humanity in attacking a city wall, with troopers packed so tightly together that the dead were unable to fall where they died.
  • We Need a Distraction
  • Wham! Line: "Since I switched it on" from The Armour of Contempt and "Then it is Rime" from Blood Pact.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Gaunt, as a political officer, is supposed to execute his men in order to keep morale up. He manages to avoid doing this... most of the time. Doc Dorden is quick to call him out and attempt to stop him every time.
    • More specifically, Meryn likes to cross this line very often. First, he kills several Phantine civilians in order to preserve the secrecy of their covert mission, which naturally unnerves his squaddies. Second, he brutally beats Soric when he admits he's a psyker. Suffice to say, Gaunt wasn't very happy with the latter incident.
      • In Salvation's Reach, Meryn has a clear shot at an assassin who takes Yoncy hostage, but instead cowers in fear. A number of Ghosts witness this, including Kolea, who beats the crap out of him.
  • What You Are in the Dark: Sabbat Martyr. Nineteenth Platoon. *salute*
  • When Trees Attack: Tanith, in the Backstory.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: Dorden has aspects of this, what with his attempts to hold to Thou Shalt Not Kill and all.
  • Wild Hair: At least to the eyes of aristocrats and the cleaner-cut regiments. It's even Gaunt's first impression of the Tanith in Ghostmaker.
  • Witch Hunt: In Ghostmaker.
  • With Due Respect
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: Cuu's real competent, but he's also vengeful and Ax Crazy. Larkin is a good sniper, but he suffers from fits. Averted with Mkoll and Mkvenner, who seem well-adjusted despite being super-Badasses amongst Badasses, as well as the female Verghastite snipers.
  • Wouldn't Hit a Girl
  • Wrecked Weapon: Gaunt loses his chain sword in Necropolis.
  • Wretched Hive
  • Xanatos Gambit: Saint Sabbat pulls one on the forces of Chaos in Sabbat Martyr.
  • Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe: The Nihtgane of Gereon speak Bastardized High-Gothic what is essentially corrupted Middle-English.
  • You Are in Command Now: Set up and then brutally subverted in Sabbat Martyr; also used straight in Traitor General.
  • You Can't Go Home Again: The Ghosts' home planet, Tanith, was destroyed at their founding.
  • You Do NOT Want to Know: How Vortenhus is warned off asking about a glyf in His Last Command.
  • You Have Failed Me...: In Traitor General.
  • You Killed My Father: In his pre-Tanith days, Gaunt gets his vengeance on General Dercius by executing him for cowardice in his newly-bestowed capacity as an Imperial Guard Commissar. In First and Only, Colonel Flense, who is actually Dercius' son and lost his family name and honour after Dercius' death, goes after Gaunt in an attempt to pay Gaunt back. He fails.
  • You Look Like You've Seen a Ghost: *ba-dum tish*
  • You Never Asked
  • Your Favorite
  • You Shall Not Pass
  1. Dan has stated Milo will be back once he works how what to do with him, the only way characters can leave the series is to die.