The third Dan Abnett novel to be included in the series so far, book eight in the Warhammer 40,000 Legends Collection from Hachette and Black Library is First and Only. In 40k terms they don’t come much bigger or popular than Gaunt’s Ghosts, so the first book in the series is another complete no-brainer, the sort of book that long-running fans will enjoy revisiting and brand new fans will love reading for the first time. It’s also, fact fans, the first ever Black Library novel – previous books, including classic novels by the likes of Ian Watson, were published by various imprints before Black Library was launched.
Regular readers will have seen my recent interview with Dan Abnett, and may also be aware of my Forgotten Texts series, where I look back at stories from the earlier days of Black Library. I recently covered Dan’s short story Ghostmaker for Forgotten Texts – you can find that article here – and while I was chatting to Dan for the main interview I asked a few questions related to that short story to use as an accompanying interview.
“You’re Imperial Guard, servants of the Emperor first and nothing else second.”
His second Black Library short story, Dan Abnett’s Ghostmaker introduced the world to Colonel-Commissar Ibram Gaunt and the proud soldiers of Tanith, who would become Gaunt’s Ghosts. Given the command of three freshly-raised regiments, Gaunt barely has time to reach Tanith before a Chaos splinter fleet forces him to gather whatever fragmentary resources he can and escape to Imperial lines. Haunted by the loss of their world, the Tanith are resentful of not being allowed to stand and fight, but Gaunt is determined to begin the process of putting their unique skills to use on the battlefields of the Sabbat Worlds.
On the twenty-third day of Christmas, Black Library gave to us…a Gaunt’s Ghosts short story by Dan Abnett. A Gaunt’s Ghosts ghost story, in fact, called Forgotten. As the story unfolds, several of the Ghosts are gathered around a fire in a quiet storeroom somewhere within the Ser Armaduke, telling each other ghost stories. At Gaunt’s prompting, Mkoll begrudgingly tells his tale, of a fiend who moves in the darkness and strikes unseen, forgotten by death but stalked in turn by Mkoll.
From humble beginnings back in the 1990s, there are now eighteen books set within the Sabbat Worlds, a region of space originally invented by Dan Abnett to provide a suitable setting for a story about a Commissar who was also a Colonel, and the ragtag bunch of soldiers he commanded. Look how it’s grown! With anticipation as high as ever for Warmaster, the long-awaited next novel in the Gaunt’s Ghosts series, Black Library are whetting our appetite with Sabbat Crusade, the second anthology of stories set within the wider crusade. Edited once again by Abnett and including stories from eight authors (Abnett included) along with previously out of print background on the crusade, it covers both sides of the story, not only the Ghosts and their Imperial allies but also the forces of the Archenemy at play in the region.