Graham McNeill is a Scottish writer. His Warhammer 40,000 novels include Storm of Iron (featuring the Imperial Guard and the Imperial Fists facing off against the Iron Warriors); the Ultramarines Warriors of Ultramar, Nightbringer, Dead Sky, Black Sun, The Killing Ground and Courage and Honour; and the Horus Heresy False Gods, Fulgrim, A Thousand Sons, and Mechanicum, and his Warhammer novels, Heldenhammer, The Ambassador, The Ambassador Chronicles, and Guardians of the Forest. He also wrote the 4th Edition Codex (still in use during the 6th edition rulebook as of this writing) of the Black Templar space marines for the actual tabletop game.
On June 3 2015 McNeill announced he has been employed by Riot Games, makers of massively popular MOBA League of Legends, as a senior narrative writer. His Riot handle is Dinopawz.
His narrative contributions to League can be read at the League of Legends wiki.
His works contain instances of these tropes:
- Apocalyptic Log: Where Icathia Once Stood takes the form of an oral one, as the protagonist repeats the tale of the last days of Icathia, desperately trying to hold onto his identity while wandering the ruins of his home—before finally succumbing to erasure by the Void.
- Author Vocabulary Calendar:
- Has a habit of using "tattoo" to mean "pattern", and a character becoming angry is often described as "his choler rose.” These examples are averted by his League of Legends writing.
- Has something large exploded? Expect "tank-sized chunks of rubble" to fly through the air.
- Alien Sky: Featured in Dead Sky, Black Sun. In Where Icathia Once Stood, the Void is described as leaving a color in the sky like a week-old bruise.
- All of the Other Reindeer: Uriel Ventris amongst others.
- A Million is a Statistic: He writes Warhammer, this is par for the course.
- Anti-Hero: Many of the criminals in Warriors of Ultramar are this, keeping civilians alive for profit against the alien hordes. Many of his League of Legends stories follow the more antiheroic members of the champion cast.
- Armed with Canon: Currently in a Retcon war with Matt Ward over whether the Ultramarines are intended to be the absolute ideal of all Space Marines everywhere, or just heroic but ultimately normal Space Marines. McNeill favors the latter interpretation, Ward the former. And if you ask around you'll find that not only are most die-hard 40k fans firmly on McNeill's side but they also absolutely despise Ward. McNeill is now the winner of said canon war now that Ward is no longer employed at GW.
- Badass Normal: If there's a character in his book which isn't a Space Marine, they're usually this.
- Black Comedy: A Feast Fit for a King sees the troll Trundle trick a bigger, but even dumber troll into slashing his own belly to win an eating contest.
- Death Seeker: Olaf, who is doomed by prophecy to die an un-glorious death of old age. In Shadow and Fortune, this is played for laughs, as he throws himself at bigger and bigger dangers in hopes of dying gloriously. He even throws himself at a sea monster…only to survive at the end of The Stinger.
- Doomed by Canon: Effectively whenever he is writing Horus Heresy novels. In his League of Legends work, Where Icathia Once Stood tells the last days of the nation of Icathia, a Void-infested wasteland in the present day, while Twilight of the Gods tells the last days of a number of presently dead Darkin.
- Downer Ending: Frequently when he is writing anything to do with Warhammer. Also Where Icathia Once Stood. Averted by his Realms Of Runeterra short story Water and Shade to You, whose plot parallels The Last Church but ultimately sees Shurima’s emperor choose the higher road.
- Dreaming of Things to Come: combines with Dreaming the Truth in Dead Sky, Black Sun.
- Eldritch Location:
- The Eye of Terror. Think Mordor with demonic Space Marines.
- Norsca in Warhammer Fantasy. Think Mordor in Scandinavia with demonic Vikings in baroque plate armour.
- The Void in League of Legends. Think Lovecraft plus Giger with a lot more purple.
- Enemy Civil War: Pick a book with Chaos in it. You'll probably find one in there.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Often subverted with the likes of the Iron Warriors. Played straight with the leader of the criminal gang in Warriors of Ultramar upon encountering an Attempted Rape.
- Present in Empire, where the main antagonist, the Chaos Lord Cormac Bloodaxe, expressing disgust over the way prisoners of war are violated and tortured by the Slaaneshi. It mostly stems from his religious beliefs, torturing a warrior to death and denying him an honourable death in battle runs contrary everything Khorne stands for.
- Fantasy Counterpart Culture: In the Sigmar novels, it seems as if he basically taken every Northern European barbarian culture and cobbled them all together to create the culture of the Imperial tribes. He takes a lot of inspiration from Roman-era Germanics, as the people of Sigmar's time are the ancestors of the modern Empire; which itself is a counterpart culture to the Renaissance Germany. Of course, the Chaos-worshiping Norsii tribes (ancestors of the modern Norse tribes) are presented as straight-up Satanist Vikings. Which is completely consistent with their presentation in other Warhammer fiction.
- The Udoses, who are an Imperial tribe present in said novels, however, are Scotsmen.
- The Fog of Ages: Art is Life, a LoL short story involving the immortal hemomancer Vladimir, sees him imply that he suffers from this.
- Lighter and Softer: While some of his League of Legends work is still dark, Runeterra is significantly less grimdark than Warhammer and Warhammer 40K. As such, the tone of those stories tends to be more PG-13 than R, with some stories coming off as even whimsical.
- Villain Protagonist: the Iron Warriors in Storm of Iron. Elise in The Shuttered Manse also acts as one. The Winter’s Claw raiding party in Dead of Winter is either this or antiheroic protagonists, depending on your perspective.
- Would Not Shoot a Civilian: What really separates the Ultramarines, or at least Ventris and his company, from almost everyone else in their universe.