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Literature / Blood Angels

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For the Emperor and Sanguinius! Death! DEATH!

"You are armoured by the Emperor himself. Righteousness is your shield, Faith your armour and Hatred your weapon. So fear not and be proud, for we are the sons of the Sanguinius, the Protectors of Mankind. Aye, we are indeed the Angels of Death."
Blood Angels Chapter Master Dante

The Blood Angels is a series of novels and short stories by author James Swallow. The Blood Angels are a Warhammer 40,000 chapter of Space Marines, and the novels cover the early history of the Chapter and more specifically, the stories of Battle-Brothers Arkio and Rafen as Arkio declares himself to be a reincarnation of the Chapter Primarch, Sanguinus. Later novels Black Tide and Red Fury deal more with the Chapters ongoing struggles with its own flaws, the Red Thirst and the Black Fury, which at times threaten the purity of Battle-Brothers and could bring about the collapse of the Chapter as a whole; either through an inability to sustain the losses suffered due to the latter or through the former being perceived as the Taint of Chaos on them and their successor Chapters.

Novels released to date:

  • Deus Encarmine (December 2004)
  • Deus Sanguinius (April 2005)
  • Red Fury (September 2008)
  • Black Tide (February 2010)
  • Heart of Rage (novella - also released in audio version) (July 2009)
  • Bloodline (novella) (September 2010)
  • Blood Debt (short story)
  • Redeemed (short story)

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 Blood Angels feature. Examples which are specific to rulebooks or other in-universe fluff should go on either the 40K page or in the Blood Angels section of the Astartes chapters page.

Tropes included in these works:

  • Alas, Poor Villain: Rafen has this reaction to Sachiel.invoked
  • Ancestral Weapon: The Spear of Telesto.
  • Anti-Air: In the Action Prologue of Deus Encarmine the Blood Angels one-shot a Word Bearers battleship with a surface-to-orbit missile launcher.
  • Attack! Attack! Attack!: Typical Blood Angels combat doctrine. Justified by their berserker tendencies, which could ruin any more sophisticated plan by surfacing at the worst possible moment.
  • Axe-Crazy: Death Company Battle Brothers and those affected by the Red Thirst.
  • BFS:
    • Malfallax's warpblade is explicitly said to be ten metres long. He is a giant Eldritch Abomination though.
    • Astorath's Executioner Axe; Gabriel Seth's Blood Reaver, a giant chainsword that can cut Land Raiders apart.
  • Beauty Equals Goodness: Played straight with Sanguinius. Subverted with Arkio, where it's a sign of Chaos corruption.
  • The Berserker: Every Blood Angel Space Marine is susceptible to this (excluding Mephiston or is it?), providing much bait for excessive Wangst. Fortunately the author sidestepped it.
  • Berserk Button: Well, actually, most of the time they are not sure what do it, but it happens.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: The Blood Angels are one of the nicest chapters of Space Marines, but if they hit the Black Rage or Red Thirst, then Emperor have mercy on you, because the Blood Angels won't.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Deus Sanguinius: The Blood Angels lose dozens to the Arkio Insurrection and the subsequent Black Rage Malfallax causes, and Rafen is forced to slay Arkio, but the Blood Angels alive who followed Arkio are restored to the Chapter, the planned Civil War within the Blood Angels is averted, and Arkio is implied to have gained the Emperor's forgiveness.
  • Blade Below the Shoulder: Fabius's lieutenant Cheyne in Black Tide has two bone blades that emerge from his wrists in combat.
  • Blessed with Suck: YMMV, since the Flaw is exactly what is destroying the Chapter, it's what makes it so strong.
  • Bling of War: Like all Space Marines, but given that Sanguinius took it a little further than the other Primarchs, it's only fitting that the Blood Angels take it a bit further than most Astartes, as they dress their Captains and Sanguinary Guard in gold armour. Arkio causes a bit of a buzz when he says he wants gold armour as well.
  • Blood Magic: Blood Boil, The Blood Lance and The Sanguine Sword Psyker Powers.
  • Bottled Heroic Resolve In the second book it's revealed what those syringes on Mephiston's armour are for.
  • Cain and Abel:
    • Only IN SPACE!, sort of reversed, its still fratricide only the killer is upholding God's will (sort of) and the dead brother was literally turning into a Demon and both of them are unbelievably awesome badasses.
    • Horus and Sanguinius were described as being closer than any of the other Primarchs, enough that both tried to sway each other from their own side of the Horus Heresy. In the end, Horus (the elder, in a sense) slew Sanguinius, fitting this trope to a tee.
  • Chemically-Induced Insanity: In the novel Deus Encarmine, the traitorous Inquisitor Stele drugs a Blood Angel who stumbled onto his plot to trigger the Black Rage in him.
  • The Chosen One: Subverted. Still The Chosen One, just by a different divine patron than he was expecting.
  • Combat Medic: Sanguinary Priests are this.
  • Continuity Nod: The series gets one in Manflayer, the final book of the Fabius Bile trilogy, where two of Fabius's subordinates mention in passing that the Blood Angels and their Successor Chapters all put a price on Fabius's head in retaliation for what he did here.
    Skalagrim: I also heard Sanguinus' whelps put a price on his head. He seems to have offended them quite badly.
    Saqqara: A discontinued experiment. Though, apparently, some good did come of it. At least, to hear him tell it.
  • The Corruption: The Chapter's Curse and the vampire-esque behaviour it can bring about are frequently viewed as signs of Chaotic taint by more...upright Chapters.
  • Cultured Badass: The Blood Angels inherited Sanginius' refined aesthetic senses, amongst other things, and have both an arboretum and art galleries within their fortress-monastery.
  • Deadly Doctor: Sanguinary Priests. They can carry power weapons and have a better Weapon Skill then regular marines.
  • Death from Above: The Blood Angels are masters of using Jump Packs and Death from Above attacks, it helps that Sanguinius had wings and was a master of flight.
  • Death Seeker:
    • Once you fall into the Black Rage, you can never climb back out barring a miracle. Those that succumb are put into a separate unit and unleashed in suicide attacks.
    • On Shenlong, people begin actively seeking the "murdergift" of being killed by the Blood Angels. They probably didn't even object when Mephiston ordered the planet subjected to Exterminatus.
  • Disney Villain Death: Rafen tosses Fabius Bile off the tallest tower of his research facility on Dynikas V. However, it's not the fall that kills Fabius, but the Tyranid swarm that tears him apart once he hits the ground.
  • Dying Race: The Flesh Tearers due to their recklessness in combat and higher than normal black rage fall rates, they can barely recruit enough replacements, even after Seth's work they can only maintain four companies.
  • Death World: Baal is not a nice planet.
    • Also Dynikas V. Most of the planet has been ravaged by the Tyranids, and the parts that aren't are under the control of Fabius Bile and his New Men.
  • Drop Ship:
    • Storm Ravens, one of the chapter's most powerful vehicles. works like a Land Raider and is quite resilient because of it's speed.
    • Thunder Hawk gunships and transports, the larger and more ubiquitous cousin to the Storm Raven.
  • Duel to the Death: Rafen takes one of his men's place in one.
  • Earth-Shattering Kaboom: Befalls Orilan and Shenlong.
  • Emotional Bruiser: The average Blood Angel not only inherits the rage and literal blood of Sangunius, but his pure and sensitive heart as well.
  • Evil Counterpart: During the Heresy, the World Eaters were the Blood Angels greatest rival in melee superiority.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Of various eras of Italy for the most part. Many characters have either Roman or modern Italian-sounding names, a penchant for renaissance-style finery and their armor is often decorated with Gino-esque gold chains. They also have some Romanian/stereotypical Vampire influences.
  • Fearless Fool: Actually subverted on Cybele, where the Blood Angels admit that after seeing so many of their comrades fall to the black rage, they are afraid.
  • Feel No Pain: Part of the army uniqueness. The Sanguinary Priests brings Furious Charge and Feel No Pain to those close to them.
  • Fighting from the Inside: Koris struggles with the black rage while trying to tell Rafen of Stele's treachery.
  • Fire-Breathing Weapon: The Spear of Telesto fires a huge stream of flame that will incinerate anything flammable except fellow Blood Angels.
  • First Blood: Goes to Rafen when he manages to cut Arkio's wing when the fight on Sabien. Arkio's followers are not happy. It's especially jarring to Sanchiel because as a Sanguinary Priest, he knows blood like few others. And he knows its tainted from the smell.
  • Forbidden Chekhov's Gun: The Black Rage is generally a bad idea. However, in order to use the full power of the Spear of Telesto, Rafen embraces it willingly and does not lose his mind.
  • Genetic Memory: A problem for all Blood Angels and their descendants, leads to The Berserker
  • Genius Bruiser:
    • Commander Dante. He was chosen out of all the Chapter Masters to command the forces of Armageddon.
    • Mephiston, the Lord of Death. He is the Chief Librarian of the Chapter.
  • Gladiator Games: How they chose aspirants. (At least they don't watch for amusement)
  • Good Is Not Nice: They're one of the nobler Chapters, but are absolutely ruthless in combat.
  • Grim Reaper: Astorath, THE GRIM. It's actually part of his work. As a High Chaplain of the Blood Angels he has to kill every Death Company Battle Brother that did not get a Death Equals Redemption.
  • The Last Dance: The Death Company allows its inductees to go down fighting rather than A Fate Worse Than Death by being consumed by the black rage.
  • Lightning Bruiser: Space Marines are this. The Blood Angels are even more. When not acting as Terminators, their First Company acts as Assault Marines.
  • Losing the Team Spirit: The deaths of many of the angels at the hands of the black rage. It takes a suicide suggestion to get Turkio to even consider a last stand, let alone an attack. The others refuse to join even this in a Not So Stoic moment.
  • Macross Missile Massacre: One of the Apocalypse's Formations is this. You need three Stormravens, and they fire all their Blood Strike missiles at once.
  • Magic Knight:
    • Mephiston, Chief Librarian of the Blood Angels. His powers serve only to make him faster and hit harder.
    • Blood Angels Librarians and Dreadnought Librarians.
    • The whole army can be this. It helps they have an army-wide Feel No Pain rule.
  • The Magnificent:
    • Mephiston, the Lord of Death.
    • Astorath the Grim.
    • Lemartes, Guardian of the Lost.
  • The Man Behind the Man: Iskavan reports to Garand, who reports to Abaddon. Stele's games are also just a small part of Malfallax's.
  • Meaningful Rename: Mephiston the Lord of Death used to be Brother Calistarius.
  • Mle Trois:
    • The battle between those still loyal to the God-Emperor and those now following Arkio is complicated by Word Bearers.
    • Occurs in Black Tide, with Rafen, his Blood Angels/Flesh Tearers kill-team and the other Space Marines imprisoned in Bile's fortress on one side, against both Fabius Bile and the New Men, and an army of feral Tyranids.
  • Mercy Kill: In Black Tide, the Blood Angels find Fabius Bile has been using a captured Tyranid Zoanthrope to drive the rest of the swarm away from his facility. The Zoanthrope offers no resistance to the team as they advance on it; realising it wants to die, Rafen grants it its wish.
    • Rafen also gives one to a Tau survivor of Fabius's experiments they find while raiding one of his abandoned labs.
  • Mind Rape: Stele's interrogation of a Word Bearer Marine is literally referred as Mind Rape
  • Morality Chain: Stele believes Rafen to be Arkio's last link to his humanity.
  • My God, What Have I Done? You've turned on your brothers and become a Cosmic Plaything
    • Apothecary Caecus has this reaction when he realises he's helped Fabius Bile get his hands on one of the Chapter's most prized relics.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Mephiston, Lord of Death; Astorath, the Grim; Death Company;
  • Napoleon Delusion: Those who suffer the Black Rage believe that they are Sanguinius at the final battle with Horus during the Heresy. This makes them unable to be reasoned with, but utterly unstoppable on the battlefield unless killed.
  • Nice Guy: Sanguinius is one of the nicest primarchs during the crusade era. The Chapter as a whole, when they're not succumbing to psychotic rages, also wears this hat.
  • Not So Stoic: In the opening of Deus Encarmine, Space Marines confess to being afraid to face their foes, after the horrific attack on their fellows.
  • Not Using the "Z" Word: "Vampire" has been used by detractors of the Blood Angels since the Great Crusade; as such no Blood Angel will utter the word. Nevertheless, Rafen immediately makes the connection when he sees Arkio being corrupted by Chaos. The term is also brought up when describing the Bloodfiends in Red Fury.
  • Old Soldier: Commander Dante. Seriously, he is one thousand years old and still fighting.
  • Orbital Bombardment: Used twice in the Deus duology. Early in Deus Encarmine a Word Bearer warship obliterates the Blood Angels' motor pool with an orbital attack. Deus Sanguinius closes with the Angels' brass mentioning in a regretful tone that they'll have to call for an Exterminatus against Shenlong.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: They're Super-Soldier Knight Templars.
  • Phlebotinum-Handling Requirements: The Spear of Telesto will refuse to activate for anyone who does not carry the genetic markers of Sanguinius (i.e. just the Blood Angels and presumably their successor chapters).
  • Power Gives You Wings: Subverted with the Sanguinary Guard. They don't get real "wings", but Jump Packs decorated with them. They are also the uttermost elite force of the Chapter.
  • Praetorian Guard: Honour Guard. Also the original purpose of the Sanguinary Guard for Sanguinius.
  • Pretty Boy: The default Blood Angel Warrior is an impossibly-handsome paragon; his appearance modified by inheriting the literal genes of their Primarch Sanguinius. It's an important part of the fluff, Baal and it's moons are death worlds devastated from total war, most of it's inhabitants are severally scarred by radiation.
  • Rebellious Rebel: Rafen. Koris and the other murdered veterans, to some extent.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: Death Company Marines.
  • Shout-Out:
    • We've seriously gone this long without mentioning that the Spear of Telesto was found on planet Evangelion?!
    • There's an "Ikari Fortress" that the Blood Angels raid later on the book. That certainly goes a long way towards explaining the Exterminatus even later in the book.
  • Tender Tears: Sanguinius is famed in his living days as a sensitive and warm-hearted warrior, as fearsome in battle as he is pure and kind.