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Literature / Soul Drinkers

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"Purity through hate. Dignity through rage. Let the fire within light the fires without.''

The Soul Drinkers are a Warhammer 40,000 chapter of renegade Space Marines, a successor chapter to the Imperial Fists.

They are the subject of a series by novels by Ben Counter: Soul Drinker, The Bleeding Chalice, Crimson Tears, Chapter War, Hellforged, and Phalanx, which have been collected into two omnibus editions, Redemption and Annihilation. In the first, they are nearly seduced into the service of Chaos, but reject it. Nevertheless, afterwards, they do not return to the service of the Imperium but forge their own path.

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 Soul Drinkers feature. Examples which are specific to rulebooks or other in-universe fluff should go on either the 40K page or in the Space Marines character page.

Check out the character sheet.

The novels make use of these tropes:

  • Above Good and Evil: Iktinos thinks that his work for Daenyathos and Abraxes is important to the Chapter, regardless of motive.
  • A Father to His Men:
    • At the climax of Chapter War, Sarpedon tells Eumenes that the position of Chapter Master is not a prize for the proud but a position of responsibility. Then they Duel to the Death.
    • Arguably, Sarpedon qualifies as an Absent Father, in that he never seems to have a clue what's going on in his own chapter. Notable examples include Tellos' turn to Khorne, Eumenes' mutiny, Iktinos's Tzeentch cult, and Daenyathos being still alive.
  • Alien Geometries:
    • Whenever Abraxes shows up the material world seems to screw itself. Given that he's a Daemon Prince of Tzeentch, this is justified.
    • The Necron tomb interior is so unnerving that the Soul Drinkers have a hard time just walking in a straight line - which doesn't help the fact that you're being killed by ghost zombie robots.
  • A God Am I: Teturact, who seems to think he's a hybrid of Nurgle and the Emperor.
  • Ax-Crazy: Tellos. How crazy? After losing his hands and the damaged nerves being unable to take prosthetics he decides the best idea is jam fan blades into the stumps and run around topless. He later upgrades the fan blades to chainswords.
  • Back for the Finale: Phalanx features the return of Sister Aescarion and Lord Inquisitor Kolgo of the Inquisition, Reinez of the Crimson Fists, Captain Borgannor of the Howling Griffons, and Abraxes.
  • Badass Creed: Inquisitor Thaddeus gets a great one—bellowing the Inquistiorial version of the Miranda Rights while blasting bolts into a Nurglitch demagouge.
  • Bearer of Bad News: In Hell-Forged, despite Lygris's Frozen Face, Sarpedon can tell he brought bad news.
  • Big Bad: Each book has its own. The overall Big Bad of the series, however, is a Big Bad Duumvirate composed of Abraxas and Daenyathos, who have been manipulating the Chapter for millennia.
  • Big Book of War: The Catechisms Martial, written by Daenyathos and formulating the Soul Drinkers' combat philosophy. May or may not have been designed to induce subconscious Chaos corruption.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Phalanx. Daenyathos' gambit is foiled, Abraxes' daemonic invasion of the Phalanx is defeated, and the Soul Drinkers' loyalty to the Emperor is proven. However, there are massive casualties among the Space Marines, including all the remaining Soul Drinkers except Sarpedon, Luko, Graevus, and Daenyathos. Luko and Graevus enter the Warp rather than submit to Imperial Fist custody, and a grievously-wounded Sarpedon drags Daenyathos with him into the Warp as well.
  • Blue Blood: Lord Sovelin Falken in Chapter War. At one point, he throws his weight around, pointing out that the governor is his great-aunt — but that's because he has vital information, and he has to use anything he can to get it through.
  • Catchphrase: "Cold and fast", the Soul Drinkers' battle motto.
  • Chainsaw Good: Comes with the territory, but taken to the extreme with Tellos.
  • Cursed with Awesome: The Soul Drinkers' mutations are just one more strike against them in the eyes of everyone else in the Imperium, but some of them actually are beneficial:
    • Tellos' flesh change and increased healing make him almost impossible to kill.
    • Graevus' mutated hand allows him to wield a massive power axe one-handed.
    • Sarpedon's spidery legs give him increased speed, a unique climbing ability, and attack/defense moves that come in very handy at times. Overall they end up saving his life many times over.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Of course, it's still very violent and angry. Averted with Iktinos and Tellos, who are both very dark and very, very evil.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Several, most notably Sarpedon when in the right mood.
    Lord General Xarius: (Informing officers of the recently arrived artillery spam) "We now possess the most effective way of killing our own men and creating plenty of rubble for the enemy to hide behind."
  • Defector from Decadence: Pretty much their original motivation.
  • Didn't See That Coming:
    • In Soul Drinker If you don't have a long time interest in the game, you wouldn't get the hint about the Architect of Fate, which is Tzeentch's most oft-quoted title.
    • That nice Chaplain Iktinos? Why does he have a psyker perpetually locked in a box at the bottom of a pool, in a giant space hulk for months on end? To carry out a complex millennia long scheme to cripple the Imperium.
  • Due to the Dead: Having been convinced that the Soul Drinkers were indeed loyal Astartes, the Imperial Fists inscribe the names of the Soul Drinkers who died fighting off Abraxes' army onto a memorial in the Apothecarion.
  • Energy Weapon: The Soulspear, which makes two vortex blades that can cut through anything.
  • Exact Words: Reinez fights an honor duel over whether or not the captured Soul Drinkers should be allowed to have a defense attorney at their trial. He wins the fight easily, and is told that he lost, as the fight was an honor duel, and since he continued to strike his opponent after he had won, he had forfeited the match for conduct unbecoming an Astartes.
  • Genghis Gambit: Abraxes' invasion of the Phalanx involves daemons of Tzeentch, Nurgle, and Khorne, who don't get along at the best of times. As Abraxes is being sucked back into the Warp in defeat, it's strongly implied that the Chaos Gods have been watching the whole time and are quite displeased at his failure.
  • Good Is Not Nice: It is quite violent and probably mutated. This is Warhammer 40,000, what else would it be? Ironically, the Soul Drinkers are arguably the most ethically moral Space Marine chapter (for the most part).
  • Healing Factor: Space Marines naturally have this, but Tellos' mutation eventually makes his healing so fast that nothing can hurt him for more than a minute or so. It takes being vaporized by the tectonic backlash from a cyclonic torpedo to finally kill him.
  • I Did What I Had to Do: Sarpedon finds himself saying this too much to feel comfortable. See "A Father to His Men".
  • I Die Free: According to Word of God, the entire series is turning into this for the chapter. They do.
  • I Gave My Word: Sarpedon's bound by it. Averted in Chapter War, as he completely double-crosses Eumenes. Though as Sarpedon points out, Eumenes broke his word first. And we all know how Space Marines like to deal with traitors.
  • Kangaroo Court: The Trial of the Soul Drinkers in Phalanx sounded to be set up as one, but Vladamir Pugh was pretty damn adamant about trying to avert this in spite of Reinez and Borganor's best efforts. Having Darnath Lysander as your bailiff helps a lot.
  • Lawful Stupid:
    • The inquisitor and his interrogator from the first book should really think about who they're trying to kill.
    • Averted with Thaddeus, although he's killed before his investigations can come to fruition.
  • Lightning Bruiser: The Soul Drinkers as a whole are this even by the standards of usual Space Marine chapters, being specialised in assault-oriented boarding actions and close range firefights.
  • Mutants: While initially proud for it, the Soul Drinkers now think it's a bad idea. Some of the more notable examples include: Sarpedon's spider legs, Tellos' protoplasmic flesh and resulting regeneration speed, Pallas's snake scales, and Graevus' mutated hand.
  • Primal Fear: Sarpedon's psyker power, "the Hell", is based on finding this in whoever (or whatever) he's fighting and conjuring it into reality to break his opponent's spirit.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: For all its shortcomings, the Imperium does manage to give us several: Inquisitor Thaddeus takes the appropriate scalpel approach (mostly) and realizes the true nature of the Soul Drinkers, while Lord General Xarius actively tries to avoid standard Guard "tactics".
  • Rebellious Rebel: A good number of Soul Drinkers, especially the young ones, realize that Chaos is tainting the chapter before Sarpedon does.
  • Red Right Hand: Or Red Spider Legs. Or Huge Right Hand. Or Heals Insanely Fast. Or... practically a pun considering their relationship with the Crimson Fists...
  • The Reveal: In Phalanx: Daenythos, who is still alive, has manipulated the Soul Drinkers' course since his "death" to become a force against the Imperium, using the Chaplains and the Catechisms Martial to ultimately turn the Soul Drinkers against the Imperium.
  • Scenery Gorn: Bad enough normally, but the Daemon Princes of Nurgle take this to a horrifying extreme.
  • Shrouded in Myth: The Soulspear. All we know is that it's scarier then any other weapon wielded by a Primarch and coded to Dorn's blood. ... and then it's revealed that it's not coded to Dorn's blood since his geneseed isn't in the Soul Drinkers.
  • Straw Vulcan: Archmagos Khobotov, to the point where anyone else would realize what happens when you piss off the Elite Space Marines of the Astartes and then present them with a nice big force to crush.
  • Take a Third Option: The Imperium or Chaos? They are the third option, and it's not very easy.
  • Taking You with Me: Turns up a lot in the series, often as a Heroic Sacrifice. Lygris, Sarpedon.
    • Special mention has to go to Librarian Tyrendian in Phalanx who, after being swallowed by a Greater Daemon, overloads himself and self destructs with the force of a small nuke.
  • Too Dumb to Live:
    • Archmagos Khobtov, the Inquisitor and Interrogator from Soul Drinker.
    • Pretty much any Imperial character that is going after them without any assistance from the Astartes.
  • Undying Loyalty: Even after the Imperium has turned its back upon them, Chaos has corrupted their bodies, and the loss of hundreds of battle brothers, all Soul Drinkers remain loyal until the bitter end. Some to the Emperor, others to their true masters...
  • Unperson: After being declared traitors and excommunicated, the Inquisition's deletion order results in the Soul Drinkers being scrubbed from Imperial history, down to the archives on Holy Terra - something which actually hinders the Imperium's efforts to take them down, as all the information that they could have used to hunt them down was destroyed. Ultimately subverted; see Due to the Dead above.
  • The Un-Reveal: We never find out which Primarch's geneseed is actually in the Soul Drinkers, only that it's not Dorn's like they originally believed.
  • Victory by First Blood: In Chapter War, Sarpedon insists this be the condition of his duel with Eumenes. They fight again in the climax, this time to the death.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Daenythos's last words are a mindless scream of terror as he is dragged into the Warp by Sarpedon. Given what he can expect, this is perfectly justified.
  • We Have Reserves:
    • Chaos loves this as much as the Imperial Guard, though in the first three novels the Guard never actually try this.
    • Actively defied by Lord General Xarius in Crimson Tears, who goes out of his way to not spam the men (not pawns) under his command.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The fate of those who leave after the second chapter war is never revealed.
  • Zombie Apocalypse:
    • About 75% of Bleeding Chalice, including ships redesigned as zombie-plague hypodermic needles and another set up to provide a zombie apocalypse orbit drop.
    • Happened earlier in Soul Drinker. It seems Nurgle loves the "infect-your-enemy-with-a-plague-and-then-resurrect-the-dead-as-semi-demonic-zombies" approach to expansion.