Literature: Ultramarines

We are the Ultramarines, the Sons of Guilliman. Whilst we draw breath, we stand. Whilst we stand, we fight. Whilst we fight, we prevail. Nothing shall stay our wrath.
Marneus Calgar, Chapter Master of the Ultramarines

Agitatis Ultramarini!
Dominitis Ultramarini!
Non praestatis Ultramarini!
Nobilitis Ultramarini!
Ultramarines' Chant, Chaos Gate

The Ultramarines series by Graham McNeill delineates the adventures of one member of the titular Ultramarines, Captain Uriel Ventris: Nightbringer; Warriors of Ultramar; and Dead Sky, Black Sun (in the omnibus Ultramarines); The Killing Ground, Courage And Honour, and The Chapter's Due.

The Ultramarines are a chapter of Space Marines in the Warhammer 40,000 universe. In the game, they are considered the poster boy Space Marines, with about half the chapters deriving from the parent legion and Games Workshop using them for the majority of the artwork and material about Space Marines.

Their Primarch, Roboute Guilliman, wrote the Codex Astartes, his treatise on Space Marine tactics . The Ultramarines and most of the Ultramarine spin-off chapters rigidly adhere to it almost religiously, refusing to deviate from its teachings. Others, such as the Space Wolves, ignore it entirely - often a source of friction.

Should not be confused with the DC Comics superhero team of the same name. Also should not be confused with the pigment, although the Ultramarines do wear ultramarine-coloured armor. And Games Workshop has a paint color entitled Ultramarine Blue, which is (you guessed it) ultramarine, and intended to be used to paint Ultramarines.

Please check out the character sheet.

Please resist the urge to put examples on this page or link to this page on tropes unless you are citing from 40K novels in which the Ultramarines feature. Examples which are specific to rulebooks or other in-universe fluff should go on either the 40k page or in the Space Marines section of the Imperial factions page.

The chapter, and novels, contain examples of:

  • Afterlife Express: The Omphalos Daemonium, a horrifying daemon engine train that transports living people, at first through Medrengard, then through the Warp.
  • Alien Geometries: Khalan-Gol, Honsou's fortress in Medrengard in Dead Sky, Black Sun. Uriel and the renegades wander through the fortress and get turned around a few times. Then daemons start whispering to them.
  • Alien Sky: Medrengard has a painfully white sky, with a static black sun
  • And There Was Much Rejoicing: In Courage and Honor when the Tau blow up the Administratum Tax Bureau.
    Perversely, its destruction gave rise to a huge cheer from the ranks of the defenders, proving that even faced with alien invasion, there were few more hated individuals than those who levied taxes.
  • In Warriors of Ultramar itself, the huge amount of deaths caused by the Tyranid invasion is oddly understated, while the some 140, 150 Astartes who died remain to be the focus.
  • Armed with Canon: There seems to be an ongoing war between Graham McNeill and Matt Ward. The former has repeatedly tried to lessen the Ultramarines recent depiction as God Mode Sues who everyone wants to be in his novels. The latter has made repeated efforts to Retcon McNeill's novels out of existance.
    • However averted as of Ward's latest book still has M'kar's attack on Ultramar only now adds Eldar to the mix.
    • Also with the lastest Codex, writer Robin Cruddace more or less look Ward's side.
      • Probably because God Mode Sues are GW's depiction taken on by more or less every codex writer since 2e's Codex: Ultramarines declared them the "Greatest of All Space Marines" on its back cover.
  • Arcadia: Ultramar, of all places, where life is simple and built around discipline, self-sacrifice, and giving one's all. Life in Ultramar is of a much higher quality than most places in the Imperium.
    • Macragge particularly comes to mind, with its verdant country and beautiful, yet functional architecture. As it has the chapter monastery where most Ultras call home, it's the place most Ultramarines miss the most when abroad.
  • The Atoner: Starting in Dead Sky, Black Sun, Uriel and Passanius are exiled from the chapter and sent out on a death oath in penance of...breaking with the Codex Astartes.note 
  • Badass Creed: One finally appears for them in the film. Captain Severus: "You must be steel! You must be doom! We march to face down Chaos, and banish it! WE MARCH FOR MACRAGGE!" Others: "And we shall know no fear!"
    • There is also their other motto, "Courage and honor."
  • Beauty Equals Goodness: Subverted in Dead Sky Black Sun with the Unfleshed. They appear evil and purely animalistic at first, but later are shown to be just as Emperor worshiping as the Space Marines.
  • Because Destiny Says So: The Omphalos Daemonium is a Chaos...creature, but apparently it doesn't always operate on pure self-interest.
  • Big Book of War: The Codex Astartes, which Roboute Guilliman wrote after the Horus Heresy suggesting organization and tactics for virtually any scenario that Guilliman could have thought of at the time. However, by the 41st millennium there are new threats which Guilliman never foresaw. One of the underlying themes of McNeill's series is the Ultramarines learning when and when not to follow it.
    • 6th edition more or less confirms that the Codex has been edited and added to over the years to make up for this, the Warzone Damnos book states Calgar adding a large amount of Necron information in it.
      • This has always been the case. Where the confusion comes from is probably the huge deal made over the Tyrannic War Veterans. But that was because they were suggesting altering the structure of their chapter, not adding in some new tactics or strategies.
    • There's actually a quote from Guilliman himself which makes perfectly clear that he was fully aware he couldn't foresee every possible scenario and that the Codex was intended more as guidelines than the be-all and end-all:
Gulliman: No one, not even one such as I, can anticipate every possible outcome of battle. My words are not some holy writ that must be obeyed. There must always be room for personal initiative on the battlefield.
  • Big Damn Heroes: It's heavily implied that the force which rescue the Ultramarines and the Raven Guard in the Tomb of Ventanus were the Legion of the Damned.
  • Bittersweet Ending: All six books:
    • Nightbringer: The Nightbringer is freed and Ario Barzano is killed, but the Ultramarines save the planet and Mykola Shonai is allowed to serve out her term.
    • Warriors of Ultramar: Much of Tarsis Ultra is now covered with Tyranid organisms, 78 Ultramarines were killed in action, and Uriel will have to answer for violating the Codex Astartes, but the planet is saved...until Planetfall.
    • Dead Sky, Black Sun: Most of the renegades on Medrengard and the Unfleshed are dead, Uriel and Pasanius have no idea where they're going, but they've managed to complete their Death Oath and take the surviving Unfleshed away from Medrengard.
    • The Killing Ground: The Unfleshed were possessed and had to be mercy killed, but the dead of Khartuian gain their rest, those responsible are all dead, the planet is saved from Exterminatus, and Uriel and Pasanius get to go back to Macragge, having been declared pure of the taint of Chaos by the Grey Knights.
    • Courage and Honour: Pavonis remains in Imperial hands, Learchus gains new understanding of why Uriel and Pasanius did what they did, and all doubt regarding Uriel's loyalty to the Chapter and the Codex are put to rest, but Pavonis losses all autonomy, and in the years to come, many will wish the Tau had won. Probably more of a Downer Ending than the others.
    • The Chapter's Due: Two worlds of Ultramar are devastated, over one third of the Chapter and millions of Imperial citizens have been killed, and there is strong evidence that Honsou escaped, but the Ultramarines survive with enough resources to rebuild the Chapter, the Bloodborn are utterly beaten, and M'kar is gone for good. This is the closest to a Happy Ending the series has.
  • Blood from the Mouth: When Uriel is stabbed by a Norn Queen in Warriors of Ultramar.
  • Blood Magic: The Mortificators' shamanic rituals involve drinking each others blood, giving them visions that have a surprising, but not perfect accuracy.
    • In the first scene they did this, their chaplain drank the Chapter Master's blood to get a vision to decide if the chapter will aid Tarsis Ultra. The power of that blood proves to be too much for him in the trance, and he regurgitates it. The still-fresh blood is offered to Uriel to seal the pact, and he manages to choke it down. While he did find that it was empowering, he had pretty much the same reaction you just did.
  • Cain and Abel: Guilliman hated Alpharius, and took it upon himself to destroy the Alpha Legion during the Heresy.
  • Cards of Power: In Killing Ground, Grey Knight Leodagarius performs cartomancy using his deck of the Imperial Tarot, a psychically-imbued deck of Tarot cards with a spiritual link to The Imperium's God-Emperor.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: The Dark Eldar enjoy torturing people in Nightbringer.
    • Prelate Culla, the Laventerian chaplain, tortures captives within the Glasshouse. He starts with encouraging the Arbites to abuse the Tau, leaving that to them while he "interrogates" Mykola Shonai, eventually killing her, with his bare fists. He then planned on moving onto the Tau, but circumstances had seen that he missed the opportunity.
  • Cool Gate: Guilliman's Gate on Calth, which is a mile-high gate leading into the underground of Calth, is studded with decorations and defenses. Like much of Macragge's architecture, it's a monolithic work designed around both beauty and funtionality.
    • On the opposite end of the spectrum, M'kar's daemon forces coporate en masse through a gate formed from a static bolt of lightning, which spread out to form an arch between the Warp and realspace. It's as terrifying as it sounds.
  • Designated Girl Fight: Between Judge Jenna Sharben, the hard-edged, straitlaced Arbites Judge, and La'tyen, the determined, defiant Fire Warrior. Ultimately subverted, since both are military personnel with serious combat training and experience put to use against both genders, and that it gets bloody, fast.
  • Dirty Business: In Dead Sky, Black Sun, Uriel gets stuck between a rock and a hard place more than once. He doesn't like it.
  • Dying as Yourself: In The Chapter's Due Uriel stabs the Newborn after revealing his true name is Samuquan. Before he dies, Samuquan looks Uriel in the eyes and says "Thank you".
  • Earn Your Bittersweet Ending: The Chapter's Due, see Bittersweet Ending above.
  • Egopolis: The city of Barbadus on Salinas. Following Barbaden's death, Uriel suspects the capital will be renamed in hours.
  • Eldritch Location: Medrengard, which would be a pretty good depiction of an industrialized version of Hell, is steeped in hatred that can be felt in the air, physics is rather dodgy (e.g. taking a stairway up to a starship), and everything in the environment, yes everything, is trying to kill you.
  • Enemy Civil War: Honsou versus Toramino and Berossus in Dead Sky, Black Sun. He initially assumes Uriel and company were sent by Toramino.
  • Evil Tower of Ominousness: Khalan-Gol, Honsou's fortress in Dead Sky, Black Sun. For bonus points, its walls are powered by a bound Bloodthirster of Khorne.
  • Fix Fic: A lot of bits people complained about in the fifth edition codex were addressed in Chapter's Due. Mostly by showing that while exceptionally good at their jobs the Ultramarines were still fallible and could be outdone in some areas by the rest of the Imperium.
  • Grand Finale: The Chapter's Due sees the end of plot points that have been building since Dead Sky, Black Sun as the forces of Chaos, with Honsou at their head, invade Ultramar.
  • Gunship Rescue: Reaches its logical extreme in The Chapter's Due when the Vae Victus and the Valin's Revenge enter Talassar's atmosphere to release Thunderhawks carrying the 4th and 2nd Companies to reinforce Marneus Calgar and the 1st Company against M'kar's Daemon Army.
  • Happy Ending Override: The short story The Heraclitus Affect ends with the annihilation of Tarsis Ultra, the same planet whose citizens the Ultramarines spent quite a few lives saving.
  • I Gave My Word: Uriel is bound by it, staking his very honour on protecting Ario Barzano to Lord Calgar in Nightbringer.
    • Inquisitor Kryptman actually breaks his word to spare a planet in the path of a Tyranid Hive Fleet from Exterminatus in Warriors of Ultramar since it was the simplest solution to a majot problem.
  • Incorruptible Pure Pureness: Uriel and Pasanius. They even get tested on this trait.
  • Interplay of Sex and Violence: From Nightbringer, the scene between the wych and the kyerzak, or the Honored, or de Valtos, were explicitly engaged in foreplay before the Honored was surgically disassembled and reassembled. Also, they had sex afterwards, if not something...worse.
  • La Résistance: The Sons of Salinas in The Killing Ground, which have been resisting the Achaman Falcatas occupation for over ten years.
  • Large and In Charge: The Lord of the Unfleshed, Marneus Calgar, the Tyranid synapse creatures, M'kar... Honsou is one of the few exceptions.
  • Mercy Kill: The Lord of the Unfleshed receives the Emperor's Peace for being judged unredeemable after being mind-controlled into a frenzied killing machine, in The Killing Ground.
  • Mordor: Welcome to Medrengard! Filled with hellish forges, vast deserts, twisting mountains, and lots of daemons who want to feast on anything that walks by. You'll be spending most of Dead Sky, Black Sun there.
  • Never Hurt an Innocent: The Ultramarines are one of the few chapters which actually have some understanding of the phrase "civilians", and are one of the few to try and minimize civilian casualties. Pasanius is so enraged that Inquisitor Kryptman went behind the Ultramarines back to subject a planet to exterminatus that he nearly strangled Kryptman right in front of a Deathwatch kill team.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Uriel seems to do this a lot. Whether he's sparing the omnicidal star god, releasing the daemonic juggernaut, stirring up a world's ghosts or pissing off the Warsmith, his arrival seems to leave places much worse than when he found them.
  • Punny Name overlapping with Meaningful Name: They are Marines, wearing lapis-blue (i.e. ultramarine) armour, who are the ultimate examples of the standard Space Marine doctrine, and are based in the territory of Ultramar. Said name is the Spanish version of Outremer, the collective name for the medieval Crusader states founded by knightly orders (a rather good analogy for their sub-empire), and also (in its more general meaning of "overseas") the root of the pigment's name.
    • "Ultra" is also Latin for "beyond", so the Ultramarines are either the marines who defend the Imperium against the threats from the "beyond" of intergalactic space, or "Beyond" normal marines.
  • Shout-Out: In the fourth book, several characters seem to share first names with members of System of a Down
  • The Siege: The siege of Khalan-Gol in Dead Sky, Black Sun sees Honsou fending off two armies, who attack consecutively (rather than at the same time), setting the stage for Uriel's death oath.
  • Take Up My Sword: In the short story "Chains of Command", Captain Idaeus gives his sword and legacy to Uriel.
  • Victory Is Boring: At the start of Courage and Honour, Uriel Ventris is disappointed at how easy a skirmish against Tau Pathfinders with the power of his 4th Company at his back, since he's been used to fighting against overwhelming odds, with lapsed training, sometimes no Power Armour and only Pasanius always with him.
  • Weird Sun: The black, static sun in Dead Sky, Black Sun. In other fluff, it's stated to actually be a black hole at the center of the Eye of Terror. Meaning in a tear in space time leading directly to the Warp. Think about that for a moment.

    The Fall of Damnos 
While not part of the same Ultramarines series. The Fall of Damnos is part of the "Space Marine battles" series dealing with the Ultramarine 2nd Company trying to save the mining world form Necrons.

The book was also the first glimpse of the then upcoming new Necron personality for both the Imperuim and the readers.

The novel, contain examples of:

  • Pyrrhic Victory: The book ends on one, the Ultramarines save Kellenport, but half of 2nd Company is killed or wounded including Captain Sicarius, most of Damnos' defensives are gone and the Necrons haven't even begum to fight.