Josh Reynolds’ 2016 novel Fabius Bile: Primogenitor provided an unexpected injection of variety into Black Library’s 40k output, which is continued with the sequel – Fabius Bile: Clonelord. Picking up a fair amount of time after Primogenitor, we catch up with Chief Apothecary Fabius just as he’s about to set out for a darkened spur of the Webway in search, as always, of knowledge. When his exploration of a long-abandoned Craftworld is interrupted by familiar, if unwelcome, faces he ends up drawn closer to an old brotherhood than he’d really like, and persuaded to risk much…for great reward.
Over six years after Salvation’s Reach was published, Dan Abnett’s long-awaited fourteenth Gaunt’s Ghosts novel – The Warmaster – arrives with a heavy weight of expectation. Part three of The Victory, it picks up almost immediately after Salvation’s Reach as the surviving Ghosts attempt to return to the Crusade, aboard the battered Highness Ser Armaduke. They completed their mission, but the danger isn’t over – even when they limp to the hotly-contested forge world Urdesh the perils, and surprises, keep coming. Thankfully for us as readers, that translates into more of the great Gaunt’s Ghosts drama that we know and love.
Following closely on from Blood Pact, Dan Abnett’s 2011 novel Salvation’s Reach is book thirteen in the Gaunt’s Ghosts series, and part two of The Victory. After their two-year stint cooling their heels on Balhaut, the Tanith First and Only are shipping out for their next mission, a task considered so suicidally dangerous the details are only revealed en-route. Aboard the battered, ancient ship the Highness Ser Armaduke and guided by unproven insider intelligence, the Ghosts make for remote Chaos outpost Salvation’s Reach where even their specialist skills will be sorely tested if they hope to succeed…and survive.
Dan Abnett’s twelfth Gaunt’s Ghosts novel, Blood Pact kicks off the fourth arc in the series, known as The Victory. Set two years after their last mission on Jago, the Ghosts have spent the last year stationed on Balhaut, the site of the Sabbat Crusade’s greatest victory. While the regiment grows increasingly bored and complacent, Gaunt worries that he’s been sidelined for good. When a high-ranking enemy prisoner insists on speaking only to Gaunt, however, he’s dragged back into intrigue and danger in a way he couldn’t have expected, on a world freighted with memories.
Published just two years after the start of the series, Dan Abnett’s Honour Guard is the fourth Gaunt’s Ghosts book, and kicks off the second arc within the series – The Saint. Set on the shrineworld Hagia, birthplace of Saint Sabbat, it sees Gaunt tasked with leading the Imperial liberation efforts, which soon go horribly wrong. With his career in tatters and Chaos reinforcements inbound, he’s sent on a desperate mission to save the most important of the world’s holy relics – the body of the Saint herself – and reclaim some small measure of personal glory.
The first novel in the brand new Space Marine Conquests series, Guy Haley’s The Devastation of Baal continues the story set out in Dante and brings the Blood Angels bang up to date with the new 40k background. As Hive Fleet Leviathan heads inexorably towards Baal, Commander Dante calls to the Chapters of the Blood, and the Blood Angels successor Chapters answer in force. Tens of thousands of Space Marines stand in defence of Baal against the untold trillions of the Leviathan. In context of the wider galaxy, however, Leviathan isn’t the only threat that the sons of Sanguinius face.
Nick Kyme’s third full-length Horus Heresy novel, Old Earth is book 47 (!) in the series, and the third and final book in the Salamanders arc that began with Vulkan Lives. If you haven’t yet read Deathfire, be warned – spoilers abound. The main thrust of the novel is the journey from Nocturne to Terra made by the reborn Vulkan, accompanied by just three Salamanders, his Draaksward. Meanwhile Shadrak Meduson tries to hold his Shattered Legions together in the fight against the Sons of Horus, while Eldrad Ulthran pulls strings (as usual) working towards his own hidden goals.
Book three in Dan Abnett’s Gaunt’s Ghosts series, and the final part of the first The Founding arc, Necropolis is widely cited as many fans’ favourite of the entire series – it’s also the highest-rated on Goodreads. On the Imperial world Verghast, the inhabitants of Vervunhive are stunned when their old-enemy-turned-ally hive Ferrozoica launches an all-out assault. As Imperial Guard reinforcements, including the Ghosts, join in the defence of Vervunhive, it becomes clear that this is much more than a trade war – Ferrozoica has been turned to Chaos.
Book two of Dan Abnett’s long-running Gaunt’s Ghosts series, Ghostmaker – not to be confused with the short story of the same name – is an unusual book in that it’s essentially a series of short stories framed by a single loose narrative, rather than a full novel. In a lull between actions on the jungle world of Monthax, Colonel-Commissar Gaunt walks the line sharing a few words with his men, each conversation prompting a new story. Beginning with Gaunt’s recollection of Tanith’s fall, it continues with tales showcasing the exploits of Corbec, Larkin, Rawne, Milo and more.
“Men of Tanith! Do you want to live forever?”
Unlike other Forgotten Texts articles, this time I’m taking a look at a book that I’ve reviewed separately – in this case First and Only by Dan Abnett. If you haven’t already, you might want to take a look at that review first, which you can find here. As a quick recap, however, First and Only is book one in the still-running Gaunt’s Ghosts series, first published in 1999 as – I believe – the very first ‘original’ Black Library novel. Nearly twenty years later (as I write this) the fourteenth book in the series is due out imminently, with the fifteenth already in the pipeline!