"War Within. War Without. War Unending. That is how we live, little brother. That is who we are."
Space Wolf is a series of Warhammer 40,000 novels centered on Ragnar Blackmane, a member of the Space Wolves— a feral, but surprisingly nice, chapter of Space Marines living on the Death World of Fenris. Or even more concisely, they're Vikings IN SPACE with a wolf motif.Works include Space Wolf, Ragnar's Claw, and Grey Hunter, all in The Space Wolf Omnibus (aka Space Wolf: The First Omnibus), and Wolf Blade by William King, and Sons of Fenris and Wolf's Honour by Lee Lightner (collected in Space Wolf: The Second Omnibus).Not to be confused withSpice and Wolf or Star Wolves.Also check out the character sheet.
Attack! Attack! Attack!: Ragnar specializes in this even by Space Wolf standards. He is able to beat opponents that are more skilled than him by attacking himself when a sane person would have been blocking.
Awesome McCoolname: Pretty much required. It helps that most Space Wolves receive their surname later in life after they've done something suitably impressive, like Ragnar's killing of a blackmane wolf.
Badass Beard/Beard of Barbarism: A proud Space Wolf tradition. Ragnar notes that it's forbidden for Blood Claws such as himself to grow beards and can only do so after being elevated into the Grey Hunters, which Sven eventually does.
Back from the Dead: The Wolves use the tribal warfare between the Fenrisians as recruiting opportunities. They watch battles to find young men who fought, and often died, with honor, and revive them with Imperial medical technology in the latter case.
Bittersweet Ending: The Space Wolves are badly mauled by the Thousand Sons uprising, Haegr sacrifices his life, and Mikhail Sternmark spends years trying to recover from succumbing to the Wulfen curse, but Ragnar manages to save the chapter from gene-seed corruption, kill Madox, and restore his honour by recovering the Spear of Russ. However, it's even more bittersweet when you remember that at the very end of the first book [set chronologically later] Madox is once again leading the Thousand Sons.
"Blind Idiot" Translation: In-Universe. The reason there's so many "Wolf X" is because whoever translated their names from Fenrisian to Gothic did a horrible job. For example "Wolf-Lord" is really Jarl. Their name isn't even Space Wolf: it's "Vlka Fenryka" (Wolves of Fenris).
Combat Medic: Where other Astartes chapters have Apothecaries, the Wolves have Wolf Priests, who are officers first and medics second.
Death World: The parts of Fenris that aren't completely frozen alternate between frozen and undergoing volcanic eruptions. The krakens in the sea can reach up to miles in size, the Fenrisian wolves are some of the most dangerous predators in the galaxy, and there are things the locals call trolls wandering around. And the Space Wolves love every minute of it.
Death Is Cheap: By the epilogue of the first book Ragnar has apparently killed the Thousand Sons sorcerer Madox twice, and he's been resurrected both times. Mostly averted otherwise.
Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Ragnar closes a warp portal by tossing the Spear of Russ, a relic of his chapter, through it and STABBING MAGNUS IN THE EYE.
Enemy Mine: In Space Wolf between Ragnar and Strybjorn, a fellow initiate whom Ragnar believes killed his father during the battle that got them both killed, then resurrected and recruited by the Wolves. Ragnar continuously plots Strybjorn's death, despite the admonishments of senior Wolves, until they end up having to team up after discovering a Thousand Sons enclave near the Fang and having to survive long enough to Bring News Back.
Framing Device: The first and last chapter of each book shows Ragnar as a Wolf Lord remembering his time as a Blood Claw.
Hard Head: Standard Astartes Bio-Augmentation, such that Ragnar survives a headshot from a sniper in the opening of the first book.
High Turn Over Rate: In Grey Hunter Ragnar narrates that the rate of attrition among the Blood Claws is horrible. And this is intentional.
Helmets Are Hardly Heroic: Space Wolves often go bare headed when they don't need the environmental seal. Justified, as they rely heavily on their incredible senses, particularly their sense of smell which is strong even by Space Marine standards. Ragnar compares putting his helmet on to being deafened twice over at one point.
Ideal Illness Immunity: Used for the most part, since as with other Space Marine chapters the Wolves' enhanced physiology renders them immune to mundane diseases and poisons. Key word there: "mundane". In Ragnar's Claw Ragnar and company are sickened by mere proximity to a Great Unclean One, a daemon of Nurgle, the Chaos god of disease and corruption.
I Gave My Word: All loyal Space Marines are bound by their oaths. So Ragnar maintains his oath to spare Cadmus and his oath to allow Jeremiah to deal with Cadmus by giving him Cadmus a chainsword and allow him a fighting chance against Jeremiah.
I Just Shot Marvin in the Face: One of Ragnar's fellow Blood Claws blows his own head off while cleaning his bolt pistol. Another Blood Claw gets himself with a grenade.
Insert Grenade Here: Ragnar destroys a Predator tank piloted by PDF traitors this way in the prologue to Ragnar's Claw.
Inquisition vs. Space Wolves. In Grey Hunter Wolf Lord Berek arrives to back up Ragnar's squad in a dispute with an Inquisitor over the fate of a loyalist PDF squad, explicitly because the Wolves do not give up what they have won.
This stems from a dispute with the Inquisition and Administratum due to a purge conducted on Armageddon following the First War of Armageddon, wherein the entire population was to be herded into concentration camps to be worked to death by slave labor in order to weed out any remaining Chaos sympathizers. The Wolves' Chapter Master Logan Grimnar considered this an abominable course of action and told the Inquisitor involved this to his face, and after a series of conflicts that led to a significant number of deaths on both sides Including the death of one of the Grey Knight Grand Masters and the intervention of Bjorn the Fell-Handed, the Inquisition and the Space Wolves agreed to stop fighting before the conflict involved outsiders.
They have another with the Dark Angels due to a fight between their primarchs ten thousand years earlier. These days it's likely to end up as a series of ritualized duels rather than warfare.
The Mole: The captain of the Inquisition starship in Ragnar's Claw turns out to be working for the Great Unclean One in the pyramid on Aerius.
Being initiated into the Space Wolves involves turning into one. The ones who go on to join are those who manage to fight off the madness and turn back into "ordinary" Space Marines again, and they probably won't ever transform again. Probably...
The giant wolf creatures that populate Fenris may also count. They're actually the descendants of early space colonists from the Dark Age of Technology who had their genes spliced with arctic wolves to allow them to adapt better to the planet's cold climate. It worked a little too well.
Prophecies Are Always Right: Invoked. There is a major argument on if it is possible to prevent a prophesy, or if that would just prove the prophesy false.
Reentry Scare: In Grey Hunter the Wolves deploy by Drop Pod, during which the automatic system to trigger the retro-rockets fails on Ragnar's pod. The sergeant hits the manual override and they make it down without further incident.
Sealed Evil in a Can: The Black Pyramid on Aerius, an Eldar construct sealing a Great Unclean One off from the galaxy.
Sven and Ragnar. Ragnar and the rest of the Wolfblade.
Really, the Space Wolves have no other type of friend but the Vitriolic type. Constant boastful ribbing is their main off-duty conversation style.
We Will Use Manual Labor in the Future: Par for the course with 40k. In Ragnar's Claw, a spaceship operated by the Inquisition is tended by enslaved criminals, who are kept chained to the machines they work, and starved or tortured for disobedience. Grey Hunter's narrator contrasts it directly with one of the Wolves' Battle Barges, which has an all-volunteer crew drawn from Space Wolf-protected planets.
What Measure Is a Non-Human?: When Ragnar learns the true extent of the Navigators elders mutations, he starts thinking that the Brotherhood is right to want to kill the Navigators, but ultimately decides that his oath to protect House Bellisarius outweighs his indoctrinated hatred of mutants. But he still hates doing it.
Your Head Asplode: Virtually any time somebody scores a headshot with a bolter. It is a one-handed rocket launcher, after all. Invoked in Grey Hunter when the Wolves stymie the resurrection of the Thousand Sons by blowing off the heads of their worshipers, which have the runes enabling their resurrection painted on them.