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Literature / Grey Knights

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I am the hammer! I am the hate! I am the woes of daemonkind!

A Warhammer 40,000 series by author Ben Counter about the titular Grey Knights chapter of Space Marines. It follows the exploits of Justicar Alaric and his squad battling various daemonic and chaotic enemies of the Imperium.

The series encompasses the novels Grey Knights, Dark Adeptus, and Hammer of Daemons, which have since been collected into The Grey Knights Omnibus. The short story "Sacrifice" (a prequel to Hammer of Daemons) was also published in the anthology Victories of the Space Marines, and has since been published as an individual eShort.

Note: Examples on this page should only cover tropes from the Ben Counter’s Grey Knights novel series, not events from other Black Library novels that feature Grey Knights, or information from the game’s sourcebooks.

Tropes connected with the Grey Knights book trilogy are:

  • Ancestral Weapon: Grand Master Mandulis's sword. Interesting in that it turns out that the sword was needed to revive a daemon and was subsequently destroyed.
  • Anyone Can Die: Even "veterans" like Haulvarn can get killed off.
  • Arc Words: "Survival is not Enough."
  • Badass Creed: As Justicar Alaric said:
    "We do not know what our chances of survival are, so we fight as if they were zero. We do not know what we are facing, so we fight as if it was the dark gods themselves. No one will remember us now and we may never be buried beneath Titan, so we will build our own memorial here. The Chapter might lose us and the Imperium might never know we existed, but the Enemy — the Enemy will know. The Enemy will remember. We will hurt it so badly that it will never forget us until the stars burn out and the Emperor vanquishes it at the end of time. When Chaos is dying, its last thought will be of us. That is our memorial — carved into the heart of Chaos. We cannot lose, Grey Knights. We have already won."
  • Battle in the Center of the Mind: In Hammer of Daemons Alaric fights against a daemon that tries to possess him. He finally wins by the way of Taking You With Me, but survives.
  • The Blacksmith: There's one of these in Hammer of Daemons, implied to be ex-Salamander.
  • Bloody Murder: Duke Venalitor can weaponise shed blood as prehensile tendrils.
  • Body Surf: Magos Antigonus manages to do this thanks to some Lost Technology.
  • Breath Weapon: Lord Ebondrake, taking the form of a large dragon, can breathe black flame.
  • Convection, Schmonvection: Averted in Dark Adeptus, where a villain holds Alaric a distance from an active fusion reactor, causing him to start toasting.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Some Guardsmen are mentioned as having "finally lost the will" when they think Alaric has fallen to Chaos.
  • Dual Wielding: Alaric briefly wields both an axe and a hammer simultaneously in Hammer of Daemons, though he's not the only one.
  • Due to the Dead: Alaric insists on going to where Ligeia died to pray for her soul.
  • Enemy Civil War: Alaric incites this between the Draakasi Chaos lords in Hammer of Daemons.
  • Enemy Mine: The first novel briefly mentions the underhive gangs of Volcanis Ultor uniting to fight a gang of Chaos followers.
  • Five Rounds Rapid: Alaric is aware that even bolter shells aren't much good against St. Evisser reanimated. Before him, there was Grand Master Mandulis, who recognised the futility of using his storm bolter against Ghargatuloth's physical body.
  • Gambit Roulette: Ligeia's Face–Heel Turn was a painful risk to learn Ghargatuloth's true name and hope that Alaric would trust her enough to not discount the supposed gibberish she kept saying when she was questioned, and then to use that name to weaken the Daemon Prince enough to be able to kill him. You'll be able to guess that she never really turned on them if you remember how Ligeia described her death cultists' beliefs and devotions.
  • Gladiator Games: In Hammer of Daemons, Alaric and a fellow captive Grey Knight are forced in fight in Gladiator Games to celebrate the putting down of a Gladiator Revolt.
  • Gladiator Revolt: In Hammer of Daemons, Alaric and a fellow captive Grey Knight are forced in fight in Gladiator Games to celebrate the putting down of a Gladiator Revolt. The other Grey Knight dies. To avenge his friend, Alaric instigates another gladiator revolt as part of instigating a full blown Enemy Civil War, thereby destroying an entire Khorne Daemon World and sabotaging a Black Crusade. Do not annoy Alaric!
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: The Balurians from the first novel don't take seeing the tomb of St. Evisser well. This is also the reason for Legeia's Face–Heel Turn.
  • Guile Hero: Alaric ascends to this after his plan to defeat the Chaos Lords of Drakaasi succeeds.
  • Healing Factor: The Grey Knights have better-than-human regeneration, though severe stuff still needs an apothecary. The Father of Titans from Dark Adeptus has a self-repair mechanism too.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: Alaric expresses this concern to Nyxos after his escape from Drakaasi.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Valinov does this by killing Riggensen, who broke him, with the execution device meant for him originally.
  • I Know Your True Name: Ligeia babbles Ghargatuloth's True Name, which is picked up and used by Alaric.
  • Kick the Dog: Alaric spouts stolid Knight Templar dogmatisms from time to time to remind us that he's not a "pure white" hero.
  • Multi-Armed and Dangerous: Various Techpriests in Dark Adeptus, Skarhaddoth and other Chaos beasties in Hammer of Daemons.
  • Neck Lift: The Chaos Marine Urkrathos does this to Rear Admiral Horstgeld in Dark Adeptus. The former explicitly circles the latter's neck with his fingers. Duke Venalitor also does this.
  • Never Found the Body: Defied in Grey Knights, where the Inquisition lands the GK redemptor force on Khorion IX specifically because they need eyes on the ground to see Ghargatuloth die.
  • Out of the Inferno: The Knights did this against burning fuel in the first novel, while Lord Ebondrake's Ophidian Guard do this thanks to their armour being proof against his Breath Weapon.
  • Red Right Hand: Inverted in the first novel, where the Allking of Sophano Secundus and his retainers pass for normal at first and only reveal their Chaos taint after they are rumbled.
  • Right Hand Versus Left Hand: The secrecy of the Grey Knights is used to rouse other Imperial troops against them by Valinov.
  • Shrouded in Myth: The Grey Knights are secretive and unknown even by the standards of other Space Marines, which Valinov from the first novel uses against them.
  • Space Is Noisy: The prologue for the first novel takes place on a daemon world whose surface is covered with so many mutilated cultists that their screams are audible from orbit.
  • Taking the Bullet: One of Ligeia's death cultists takes a plasma blast for Valinov. Earlier in the same book, another of them does this for Ligeia herself.
  • War for Fun and Profit: The Castigator claims that this is his motivation.
  • Wishplosion: When Raezazel tries to convince Alaric to be possessed, he claims that he'll make any wish come true. The wish he gets to try and fulfill?
    I wish for a world where your kind cannot exist.