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Literature / Space Marine Battles

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"They shall be my finest warriors, these men who give of themselves to me. Like clay I shall mould them, and in the furnace of war forge them. They will be of iron will and steely muscle. In great armour shall I clad them and with the mightiest guns will they be armed. They will be untouched by plague or disease, no sickness will blight them. They will have tactics, strategies and machines so that no foe can best them in battle. They are my bulwark against the Terror. They are the Defenders of Humanity."
"They are my Space Marines and they shall know no fear.''" - God Emperor of Mankind

Space Marine Battles is a series of Warhammer 40,000 novels launched in 2010 and written by many well-known Black Library Authors such as Aaron Dembski-Bowden, Nick Kyme and Chris Wright. The series focuses on many major and notable battles as well as exploits of various famous (and infamous) Space Marine Chapters and their heroes, following their victories against the Daemonic Forces of Chaos, Heretics and Xenos in their service to the Imperium(and an occasional book on the Chaos Space Marines counterparts too).

Extract from the Official Black Library Website on the entire series: The Space Marines of the Adeptus Astartes are fearless champions of humanity. Genetic modification and psycho-conditioning has made them superior to Men in all respects. These Superhuman, weapons of war are mankind's most elite fighting force, and as such, their battles are iconic tales of xenos purges and desperate last-stands. Their deeds have become legendary, and the Space Marine Battle series recounts their most notorious front-line stories of heroism in graphic detail.

    Books, novels and others in the series 

The series consists of:

  • Rynn’s World (Jan. 2010) by Steve Parker (Crimson Fists Space Marine Chapter)
  • Helsreach (Apr. 2010) by Aaron Dembski-Bowden (Black Templars Space Marine Chapter)
  • Hunt for Voldorius (Sep. 2010) by Andy Hoare (White Scars Space Marine Chapter)
  • The Purging of Kadillus (Feb. 2011) by Gav Thorpe (Dark Angels Space Marine Chapter)
  • Fall of Damnos (Mar. 2011) by Nick Kyme (Ultramarines Space Marine Chapter)
  • Battle of the Fang (Jun. 2011) by Chris Wraight (Space Wolves Space Marine Chapter)
  • The Gildar Rift (Dec. 2011) by Sarah Cawkwell (Silver Skulls Space Marine Chapter)
  • Legion of the Damned (Apr. 2012) by Rob Sanders (Excoriators Space Marine Chapter)
  • Architect of Fate (May 2012) edited by Christian Dunn, a short story anthology of four individual Space Marine Chapters who operate around the Eye of Terror.
  • Wrath of Iron (Jul. 2012) by Chris Wraight (Iron Hands Space Marine Chapter)
  • The Siege of Castellax (Dec. 2012) by C.L. Werner (Iron Warriors Chaos Space Marine Chapter)
  • The Death of Antagonis (Jan. 2013) by David Annandale (Black Dragons Space Marine Chapter)
  • Death of Integrity (August 2013) by Guy Haley (Blood Drinkers and Novamarines Space Marine Chapters)
  • Malodrax (Nov. 2013) by Ben Counter (Imperial Fists Space Marine Chapter)
  • Pandoraxnote  (Nov. 2013) by C. Z. Dunn (Dark Angels and Grey Knights Space Marine Chapters)
  • The World Engine (Dec. 2014) by Ben Counter (Astral Knights Space Marine Cbapter)

Upcoming titles are:

  • At the 2012 Black Library Weekender, C.Z. Dunn announced that the next episodes to be treated in the series would likely include the battle aboard the World Engine, and later, memorable vignettes from the Badab War.

Novellas and Short Stories:

  • Catechism of Hate (Jan. 2012) by Gav Thorpe (Ultramarines Space Marine Chapter)
  • Kraken (March. 2012) by Chris Wraight (Space Wolves Space Marine Chapter)
  • Flesh of Cretacia (Nov. 2012) by Andy Smillie (Flesh Tearers Space Marine Chapter)
  • Steel Blood (Jan. 2013) by C.L. Werner (Iron Warriors Chaos Space Marine Chapter)
  • Blood and Fire (July 2013) by Aaron Dembski-Bowden (Black Templars Space Marine Chapter)
  • Traitor's Gorge (August 2013) by Mike Lee (Crimson Fists Space Marine Chapter)
  • Spear of Macragge (September 2013) by Nick Kyme (Ultramarines Space Marine Chapter)
  • Stormseer (December 2013) by David Annandale (White Scars Space Marine Chapter)
  • Shadow Captain (January 2014) by David Annandale (Raven Guard Space Marine Chapter)
  • Forge Master (Feburary 2014) by David Annandale (Salamanders Space Marine Chapter)
  • Plague Harvest (April 2014) by Cavan Scott (Ultramarines Space Marine Chapter)
  • Engines of War (May 2014)by Steve Lyons (Ultramarines Space Marine Chapter)
  • Armour of Faith (July 2014)by Graeme Lyon (Ultramarine Space Marine Chapter)


  • Armageddon(July 2013)by Aaron Dembski-Bowden
  • Damnos (September 2013)by Nick Kyme
  • Overfiend (June 2014)by David Annandale

Audio Dramas:

  • Bloodspire (May 2012) by C.Z. Dunn (Blood Angels Space Marine Chapter)
  • Deathwolf (June 2012) by Andy Smillie (Space Wolves Space Marine Chapter)
  • The Ascension of Balthasar (October 2012) by C.Z. Dunn (Dark Angels Space Marine Chapter)
  • The Stromark Massacre (November 2012) by C.Z. Dunn and Andy Smillie (Blood Angels Space Marine Chapter)
  • Blood in the Machine (July 2013) by Andy Smillie (Flesh Tearers Space Marine Chapter)
  • Veil of Darkness (September 2013) by Nick Kyme (Ultramarines Space Marine Chapter)
  • Master of the Hunt January 2014)by Josh Reynolds (White Scars Space Marine Chapter)
  • Mortarion's Heart (February 2014) by Laurie Goulding (Grey Knights Space Marine Chapter)

A comprehensive list of all the Novels, Novellas and Short Stories, as well as Audio Dramas can be found here: Space Marine Battles Series

Official Page from Black Library can be found here: Space Marine Battles. For more information on the Space Marines, please refer to the Current Imperial Factions list at the Warhammer40000 page here.

As the series is based on the military and warfare of the Space Marines, expect to see lots of Military and Warfare Tropes. The series is also very quotable, as the sheer number of excerpts that have been quoted on This Very Wiki prove.

This Series Provides Examples Of:

  • Action Film, Quiet Drama Scene: Despite the brutal action and depiction of war in the 41st Millennium, some of the best scenes are quiet moments where the Space Marines were discussing tactics and plans about how to wage war or giving some Exposition on the background of the planet or enemy they face. For example, during Helsreach where Grimaldus speaks to his Fighting Company's Apothecary, who is close to crossing the Despair Event Horizon due to the casualties that the Black Templars are sustaining (by this point in the book only a few are left and the defenders are near defeat).
  • Action Girl: Sister Sethano in Death of Antagonis. She's a Sister of Battle Canoness for a reason.
  • Affably Evil:
    • For fans who support the side of Chaos, the Chaos Space Marines are this.
    • Shalhadar is well-spoken, admirer of arts, curious and generally nice to Lysander, treating him as equal, despite being a Daemon Prince.
    • The Thousand Sons seem to treat their slave-soldiers and serfs reasonably well for Chaos Space Marine standards, to the point they act shocked when Aphael randomly murders one in a bout of anger where as with other CSM's this behaviour is common.
  • Aggressive Negotiations: In Malodrax, Lysander gets to witness what passes for diplomacy between the Iron Warriors of Kraegon Thul and the Daemon Prince Shalhadar. The negotiations start out with Thul’s envoy effectively demanding Shalhadar’s complete surrender, and quickly descend into violence when those demands aren’t met. The dry reaction of Shalhadar’s own envoy suggests that this is a regular occurrence.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Averted for most, but still depends on Adeptus Mechanicus's Tech priests and the Techmarines of the various Space Marine Chapters. (The Imperium banned Artificial Intelligence for a reason) The Chaos Space Marines battle robots and vehicles are most certainly running on this Trope. The one time we've seen this in action in Death of Integrity, the situation is well warranted, considering that the AI in question was driven insane with grief after his captain was killed by Imperium officials for "heresy".
  • Alien Sky: The titular planet of Malodrax is surrounded by an "orbital reef" so dense that one needs a map to get through alive. This somehow does nothing to disrupt the normal day/night cycle - multiple mentions are made of being able to see the twin suns unobstructed - so the "sky" is presumably a hellscape of the Warp.
  • Aliens Speaking English Aliens:
    • The Necrons in Fall of Damnos seem to enjoy taunting the human defenders in their own tongue.
    • The Orks also have no problem communicating with the Dark Angels in Purging of Kadillus, although they avert the trope in Siege of Castellax.
  • The Alleged Car: The Iron Warriors have this impression when they're forced to hijack an Ork plane. The only reason a throttle was installed was so the Ork pilot could weld the thrust lever into the highest gear (Orks are funny like that), and it doesn't have any landing gear.
  • All Just a Dream: Most of Veil of Darkness is Cato Sicarius' dream while in medical coma. This being said, it turns out to be quite prophetic and in the end, enables the Space Marines to stop it before it happens.
  • All Your Base Are Belong to Us: The orks seize control of the Dark Angels’ basilica off-page in The Purging of Kadillus. Chaplain Boreas leads multiple assaults on the basilica in an effort to take it back, finally succeeding on his fifth attempt.
  • Alternate Continuity: Malodrax seems to take place in one. While the 40k canon has it that the Iron Warrior who kidnapped Lysander and rules Malodrax is named Shon’tu, the novel replaces him with a similar character named Kraegon Thul. And while Shon’tu survives the battle of Malodrax, Kraegon Thul unambiguously dies during it.
  • And I Must Scream: In Battle of the Fang, an unfortunate deckhand is captured by a Thousand Sons sorcerer, who promptly gouges out his eyes and psychically suppresses his will to turn him into an unwilling spy. His reaction says it all:
    Reri kept screaming. He kept screaming as the torchlights were doused, he kept screaming as Master Fuerza went to work, and he kept screaming until the Thousand Sons sorcerer-lord had finished. Indeed, though his features remained slack and emotionless, locked into surface equanimity by magicks more powerful than he’d ever be able to comprehend, there was a part of Reri Urfangborn that would never stop screaming again.
  • And Show It to You: In Battle of the Fang, Magnus the Red kills Greyloc by ripping out both of his hearts.
  • Anti-Villain: The Flayed Lord, from Fall of Damnos, realized how messed up he has become but can't really stop himself.
  • Anyone Can Die: Even though most of the characters are Space Marines, many have been killed off no matter whether they are high-ranking Captains or just a standard battle brother. The various authors tend to kill off several well-developed characters at times, and considering this is the Warhammer40000 universe, that's very common on a daily basis.
  • Apocalyptic Log: Being A Description Of Malodrax And Its Foulness, a renegade Inquisitor's monograph which Lysander stumbles upon while escaping the fortress of Kulgarde. It ends up being a very useful resource for Lysander, both as a source of information on how to deal with Malodrax's many horrors, and as a weapon.
  • Arc Words:
    • "Malodrax wanted to be ruled." in Malodrax
    • "We are judged in life by the evil we destroy" in Helsreach
  • Arch-Enemy: The Space Wolves and Thousand Sons are each other’s arch-enemies in general, but Great Wolf Harek Ironhelm views the Thousand Sons’ primarch Magnus the Red as his personal nemesis in Battle of the Fang, having spent decades chasing him across the galaxy while Magnus eggs him on with taunting psychic visions.
  • Armor Is Useless: Averted for the many Power Armor types worn by the various Space Marines, which make them nigh-invincible unless you can get a lucky shot through the armour's weak points or have heavy weapons designed specifically to kill Space Marines.
  • Art Initiates Life: When the Imperial Fists invade Shalhadar’s palace in Malodrax, the many daemonic frescoes, tapestries, mosaics and sculptures within the palace come to life and attack them.
  • Artifact Title: In-universe, the One Hundred has never had as many members and certainly don't have now, but they keep the name, because it sounds nice.
  • Asteroid Thicket: In The Gildar Rift, the titular rift is a dense asteroid field that covers the entire Gildar system and makes traveling within the system very dangerous.
  • Attack! Attack! Attack!: The more brutal Space Marine Chapters are this. They have no qualms whatsoever about applying overwhelming force to completely annihilate the enemies of the Imperium, even if it causes collateral damage to the surroundings.
    • Other Space Marine Captains, though, will withdraw their forces when they know they don't have the firepower to go toe-to-toe with the enemy, as it is better to live to fight another day than to fight a battle that they cannot win.
  • Attack Its Weak Point: The Orks in Helsreach are pushing towards Hel's Highway, which is a wide open highway running straight through the centre of the city and allowing access pretty much everywhere.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: The Iron Halo. It can protect the wearer from pretty much everything, but eats up so much energy, the Marine wearing it is pretty much immobile while it's working, and it leads to severe overheating.
  • Bad Boss: Many Chaos Lords tend to treat their warriors like shit. This passage from The Gildar Rift puts it best:
    Blackheart did very little for his Red Corsairs other than provide them a staging ground for war. He never praised them or rewarded them but none of them questioned it; least of all the staunchly loyal Astral Claws. He expected them to die willingly at his whim, and they did. If they survived a campaign or a raid, so much the better; he could utilise their muscle again. Nobody ever spoke out against it and Blackheart never changed the ground rules. It was a perfect arrangement.
  • The Bad Guy Wins The: Happens several times.
    • The Orks are the undisputed winners of Siege of Castellax, while the Chaos Space Marines are scattered and their human slaves are slaughtered to a man.
    • Fall of Damnos ends with the Necrons getting total control over the planet and Ultramarines performing tactical retreat while taking as many survivors with them as they can.
    • Subverted in Veil of Darkness - while Necron overrun the Temple of Hera and slaughter all Space Marines present, it turns out to be Sicarius' prophetic fever dream and he manages to stop it before the invasion starts.
  • Badass Boast: In Malodrax, Lysander delivers this one to a daemon as he kills it:
    “I told your kind I would return. When daemons have nightmares, I am what they see, and I always keep my word.”
  • Badass Creed: Each Space Marine Chapter has at least one. Some have several which they will quote while dishing out punishment to the Imperium's enemies.
    • The most badass of all, though, is the title quote of this very page, which is said by the Emperor of Mankind.
  • Badass Normal: Several from the various novels.
    • Captain Evvers and the mountainside guerrillas in Damnos. For over a year they survive in some of the harshest climates killing Necrons with nothing more than ice picks and improvised explosives. Conscript Falka deserves a mention as well, leading a hundred-man charge against a phalanx of Necrons and winning.
    • The Excoriators' Chapter serfs in Legion of the Damned. They take part in the siege, firing lasrifles and tending to autocannon turrets.
    • Every loyalist Guardsman in Wrath of Iron. Hell, even most of the "traitors" are pretty ballsy before they start getting replaced with Abnormals.
    • Yuxiang in Siege of Castellax. Little more than an escaped slave, he ends up starting a secret revolt and, to his own surprise, kills a Chaos Space Marine.
    • The Kaerls in Battle of the Fang, only a few thousand mortal men and women holding off two million Spireguard and over seven-hundred Thousand Sons in the defense of the Aett.
    • Sister Sethano in Death of Antagonis. Mere days after walking off a bolter wound to the gut, she fights off an ambush with two daemons and a fallen Inquisitor, and wins decisively.
  • Because I Said So: Subverted by Lord Plosk in Death of Integrity. While he has a signed permission slip from the High Lords of Terra to more or less do ANYTHING he wants, he realizes the Space Marines would be better motivated if he treats them like equals, and agrees to trade their assistance for custom-built spaceships.
  • Benevolent Boss: The Space Wolves are this to their chapter-serf kaerls, not treating them as disposeable fodder to the point in Battle of the Fang at least one Space Wolf sacrifices himself to hold off the enemy to allow a company of kaerls to withdraw to a safer location.
  • Better to Die than Be Killed: Inverted most of the time. Space Marines would rather go down fighting, taking as many enemies as possible with them.
    • Played straight for non-Astartes. When (former) General Nethena from Wrath of Iron realizes the Space Marine are about to royally fuck him up for attempted mutiny, he takes his rebreather off in the middle of a chemical fogbank.
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: Ghazghkull and Nazdreg, Ork warbosses of the Goffs and Bad Moons respectively, have teamed up to conquer Piscina IV in Purging of Kadillus.
  • Big Damn Heroes:
    • The titular Legion of the Damned. They arrived at the last possible moment before Captain Kersh of the Excoriators Space Marine Chapter was overwhelmed by the foul forces of Chaos.
    • In Fall of Damnos Agrippan, Captain of the 1st Company, saves Sicarius and kills the Voidbringer.
  • Blatant Lies: In Battle of the Fang, the Thousand Sons tell the first wave of Spireguard soldiers being sent down to secure landing sites that the Space Wolves they’ll be fighting against are just ordinary men, like the Spireguard themselves. They quickly realize they were lied to once they encounter the Wolves and start getting slaughtered.
  • Blood Knight: The more brutal Space Marine Chapters are made up of these.
  • Body Horror: Aphael suffers from the flesh-change during Battle of the Fang, which causes his body to undergo unpleasant mutations. His armour hides the full extent of the transformation, but at several points he notes that he can feel feathers growing out of his face and brushing against the inside of his helmet, and eventually his flesh becomes fused to the inside of the armour.
  • Bond One-Liner: Some Space Marines will say that once they have dispatched a (rather difficult) enemy.
  • Boom, Headshot!: Bolt rounds are explosive. Do the math.
  • Book Ends: Quite a number.
    • Purging of Kadillus has a prologue and epilogue from the point of view of the Orks.
    • Legion of the Damned is one giant How We Got Here, leading up to the events of the prologue with Captain Kersh laying with his back broken on a sea of heretic corpses.
  • Born Lucky: Andrej of Helsreach. He's in the thick of the fighting from the very beginning, his subordinates are conscripted dockers, he gets lost in a city overrun with Orks, gets drawn into the final close-quarters battle and has the entire (Imperial-sized) cathedral dropped on his head. He somehow survives all this.
  • Bring Help Back: In Battle of the Fang, the Space Wolves scout Blackwing must race to the Gangava system to warn the rest of his chapter that their home planet Fenris is besieged by the Thousand Sons. His task is complicated by both the fact that his badly-damaged ship is falling apart around him, and by a team of Thousand Sons saboteurs that teleported onboard to expedite the process.
  • Brought Down to Badass: Stripping a Marine of his weapons and Power Armor will probably just make you die slower. Specifically, we have Captain Lysander who breaks out of an Iron Warriors prison, and then breaks back inside with nothing but a rusty axe, and Over-captain Vallax who breaks out of an Ork mobile fortress, kills the Doks who tortured him, and breaks into his own fortress to help take down the Big Bad.
  • Broken Ace:
    • Cato Sicarius, following the fall of Damnos, considers it his greatest failure, has troubles fighting and is plagued by dreams about the Undying.
    • Battle of the Fang reveals Bjorn the Fell-Handed to be this. He’s the oldest and most sophisticated Dreadnought in the Imperium, is revered and respected by all the Space Wolves and is a killing machine like no other once roused, but on the inside he’s wracked with self-loathing and abandonment issues due to the unexplained departure of his primarch Leman Russ.
  • Broken Pedestal: As the battle of Damnos goes on, Praxor - before, staunch supporter, if not outright believer of Sicarius - starts to see less of The Good Captain and more of a Glory Hound.
  • Brown Note: The music in Dancing-Place of the Lesser Gods is enough to incapacitate a Space Marine, and it's not because of its terrible quality. One of the unwilling listeners ends up bleeding from his eyes and mouth.
  • Bullet Dodges You: In The Gildar Rift, Sergeant Matteus quickly discovers that attempting to shoot Huron Blackheart is pointless, as his bolt rounds simply veer away from the Chaos Lord before they can hit him.
  • Bullying the Dragon: Why yes, Ecclesiarch. I'm certain that asking that Space Marine Captain to kiss your boots will only end great for you and your private army which you aren't supposed to have. We all know what happens next.
  • Buried Alive: Helsreach's final battle ends with the cathedral collapsing on everyone, essentially burying them alive. Grimaldus is one of seven people who surivive this, the Astarte pretty much digging himself out.
  • Cannon Fodder: Averted. Space Marine Chapters do not spend their companies and squads needlessly, but some Chapters (like the Iron Hands) are not above sending Imperial Guard forces in mass numbers to the frontlines before they deploy their own troops.
  • Celeb Crush: It's heavily implied that Maia Caglieri has a crush on Pedro Cantor. Problem is, while she's a noblewoman, he's a Chapter Master of Crimson Fists.
  • The Chains of Commanding: Some of the Space Marine Captains have to make harsh decisions to save the Imperium. At first it weighs heavily on them, especially the newly promoted Captains and Sergeants, but throughout the battles ahead they grow to accept the mantle handed to them. Specifically, Kersh from Legion and Volos from Antagonis have the whole You Are in Command Now aspect woven pretty deeply into their character arcs.
  • Clarke's Third Law: The spaceship known as the Spirit of Eternity, from Death of Integrity, was built during the Golden Age of Technology, and it outclasses the Imperial fores so badly it almost becomes an Outside-Context Problem.
  • Civil Warcraft: For the entire first half of Wrath of Iron the "traitor Guardsmen" have no knowledge that their planetary governor has fallen to chaos, and the Iron Hands refuse to let anyone take the time out to explain anything.
  • Co-Dragons: Ahmuz Temekh and Herume Aphael in Battle of the Fang. The two of them act as joint commanders of the Thousand Sons forces invading Fenris, with Aphael leading their troops on the ground while Temekh carries out the taxing ritual to summon their master, Magnus the Red, into the physical world.
  • Comically Small Bribe: The xenos temples in Death of Antagonis have to be bribed with blood to get the enormous war machines working, but the amount of blood is pretty small compared to how massive some of the mechanisms are. The Black Dragons even lampshade this when a bell the size of a small planet considers itself fully charged with only about 50 slaves' worth of blood.
  • Counting Bullets: In Rynn's World, Kantor does it all the time with Dorn's Arrow, although he has a built-in counter to help him. It's amazing how quickly over six hundred projectiles can be spent.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle:
    • Mortarion's "fights" with the Grey Knights are pretty much this. His duel with Kaldor Draigo is very one side and clearly only last as long because Mortarion is Just Toying with Them until Draigo uses his secret weapon.
    • In The Gildar Rift, the final battle between Daerys Arrun and Huron Blackheart is decidedly one-sided. Blackheart spends the entire fight manhandling Arrun and ultimately kills him, while Arrun only manages to give Blackheart some superficial facial scars.
  • Curb Stomp Cushion:
    • In Battle of the Fang, Trom Rossek is one of the first Space Wolves to die at Magnus’s hands, but he does manage to land a single hit on Magnus with enough force to make the daemon primarch pause for a second—before Magnus promptly knocks him down and crushes him underfoot. Later on, Magnus reflects that the blow actually hurt.
    • In the same book, Greyloc, Sturmhjart, Bjorn the Fell-Handed and two of Greyloc’s Terminators all confront Magnus at once. Bjorn gets trashed to the point where he’s taken out of the fight and the others all die, but they actually manage to put Magnus on the back foot for a while with the sheer ferocity of their assault, and the damage they inflict weakens Magnus enough for the newly-arrived Ironhelm to destroy his physical form and banish him back to the Warp, though he too dies in the process.
  • Dark Secret: Lysander never tells the other Imperial Fists about all the deals and alliances he made with daemons during his time on Malodrax. When other Fists notice that the daemons they’re killing seem to know him, he lies through his teeth about how they know him.
  • Death Equals Redemption and Redemption Equals Death: From Wrath of Iron, Valien the Death Cult Assassin grew up in the slums and is addicted to drinking blood. He knew damn well his sins were great and constantly worried that his career wouldn't help his life amount to anything. At least through his suicide bomb he was able to make his death count for something, by blowing up a Slaanesh Daemon Prince's sanctuary, wounding said Prince and atomizing his personal bodyguards.
  • Decapitation Presentation: In Malodrax, the final entry of Inquisitor Corvin’s journal reveals that Kraegon Thul paid him a personal visit in his cell, just to drop off the decapitated and eyeless head of Corvin’s pilot Maskelin.
  • Defiant to the End: When Captain Lysander is captured in Malodrax, he quickly accepts that he's lost and at his enemy's mercy, but keeps on struggling anyway because that's just what a Space Marine does. As long as he can recognize some way to inconvenience his captors, he'll try and do it.
    • The defenders in Battle of the Fang believe nobody is going to come and save them, with their fleet on deployment and no messages out (as far as they know), but they decide to make the Thousand Sons pay for every inch of ground they claim.
  • Delayed Reaction: In The Purging of Kadillus, Sergeant Naaman cuts off an ork’s arm with a chainsword. The ork doesn’t realize this until it attempts to punch him with its missing arm:
    Out of instinct, the alien tried to throw a punch with the bloody stump. It stared at the ragged wound in amazement when the expected blow failed to appear.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: Between Salamanders and Templars in Helsreach. Salamanders' creed compels them to protect civillians wherever possible, even to the point of foregoing glory, but the POV character, a Templar, has exactly opposite mindset and thus the story paints Salamanders as obstructive and wrong.
  • Derelict Graveyard: In The Gildar Rift, the dangers of traversing the titular Rift are compounded by the countless wrecked starships which drift through the asteroid field. The sheer density of said asteroid field makes these wrecks almost impossible to salvage: any vessel that tries will inevitably be wrecked in turn.
  • Despair Event Horizon:
    • The Damnos PDF is trying their damnedest not to get pulled behind it, but the Necrons aren't making it easy.
    • In Battle of the Fang Wyrmblade suffers one when the daemon Primarch Magnus shows up.
    • In Malodrax, Brother Helaestus is revealed to have crossed it during his captivity. His anguished rant toward the end of the novel makes it clear that he’d welcome death at the Iron Warriors’ hands, that he feels taking revenge on them wouldn’t bring back everything he lost, and that he’s nothing without his stolen gene-seed:
      “I am not a Space Marine! I am not an Imperial Fist! I am not even a man!”
  • Determinator: It takes a lot to down a Space Marine:
    • Scout Omar in Legion of the Damned. He's buried alive in heretics, stabbed in the chest by a set of Lightning Claws, gets his legs eaten by a daemon, and still begs to be put on the front lines (he ends up playing spotter for another scout with a sniper rifle). He then takes on the role of the sniper when the his fellow scout is killed, and continues putting down daemons and heretics until he was eventually overwhelmed.
    • Over-captain Vallax in Siege of Castellax is teleported into a trap by Oriax, where he's mobbed by nearly a million Orks. He's captured and tortured to within an inch of his life, repeatedly, for seven days straight. He then fights his way out of the torture chamber and into his own home base, which is under siege at the time, and finally goes down fighting, all with half of his skull missing.
  • Did You Just Have Tea With Cthulhu: Captain Lysander spends a good chunk of Malodrax chatting with Daemon Prince Shalhadar and rehearsing for a play. This only applies during the flashbacks, however; in the present day Lysander and Shahadar are quick to try and kill each other.
  • Didn't See That Coming:
    • The Legion Of The Damned in the titular book come out of nowhere, as far as the forces of Chaos were concerned. The results did not end well for them in the novel.
    • This line in Death of Antagonis:
    "That pretty-faced traitor is no captain of mine."
  • Dog Pile of Doom: In Malodrax, Lysander gets mobbed by a few hundred cultists the first time he enters Shalhadar’s city. Since he’s unarmed and unarmoured, he can’t fight them off effectively, and he’s nearly crushed to death under a pile of bodies until a third party calls the cultists off.
  • Doomed by Canon: Several books are in-depth retellings of stories that had been established in older Space Marines codecies. For example, Sergeant Naaman wasn't getting out of Purging of Kadillus alive.
    • The Ultramarines eventually have to leave Damnos to the Necrons.
    • The Crimson Fists lost their Fortress Monastery to a faulty missile battery and damn near lost their homeworld planet to the orks.
    • The Astral Knights sacrificed their entire Chapter to destroy the Necron World Engine.
    • Daerys Arrun won’t be able to capture or kill Huron Blackheart in The Gildar Rift, since one of them is an actual character in the tabletop game with a unique model, and the other is not. Sure enough, Huron Blackheart kills him in a Curb-Stomp Battle and gets away Scott-free.
  • Dressing as the Enemy: When hiding in Kulgarde's underground, Lysander pretends to be one of many mutants serving the Iron Warriors.
  • Due to the Dead: Malodrax: The Imperial Fists have multiple ways of honouring their dead. When Skelpis is killed by the Red Widow, Chaplain Lycaon honours him by scrimshawing one of Skelpis’s knuckles. When three of them are killed in the attack on Shalhadar’s palace, the Fists eulogize them and then hold a series of short wrestling matches in their honour.
  • Dwindling Party: Inquisitor Corvin gradually loses many of his retainers during his time on Malodrax. At least two men die before he enters Shalhadar’s city, and he loses two more by the time he leaves the place, bringing him down to five. By the time of his final journal entry, two of those five are dead and Corvin is convinced that the other two must also be dead. His assassin Sildyne is the only member of the team still alive and loyal by the time of Lysander’s return to Malodrax.
  • Dying Race: The Gildar Rift suggests that the Silver Skulls are slowly dying out, as several characters remark that their numbers are dwindling and that the influx of inexperienced new Space Marines can’t make up for their lost veterans. The events of the novel do nothing to reverse this trend, with the Fourth Company losing a quarter of its strength, Captain Daerys Arrun dying at Huron Blackheart’s hands, and the senior Apothecary Ryarus being captured by the Red Corsairs.
  • Dynamic Entry:
    • In Battle of the Fang, Ironhelm enters the fight between Bjorn and Magnus with a flying tackle that knocks all three of them off a cliff.
    • In The Gildar Rift, an Assault Marine tries to save Daerys Arrun by knocking Huron Blackheart away from him with a rocket-powered tackle. See Senseless Sacrifice for how well that turns out.
  • Dyson Sphere: The titular planet of Malodrax is surrounded by a giant "orbital reef" made of space coral, just to further point out how oceany the space of this universe is.
  • Easy Logistics: Averted all over the board. For a few examples:
    • In Helsreach, the key stronghold is the port because it can supply the defenders with fuel necessary to continue the war. Also, going over the entire supplies and logistical issues of the city takes nine days, with just the Guard roll call taking up two.
    • In Rynn's World, the Fists are forced to constantly conserve their ammunition and push for close-combat when it's where the Orks have an edge over them, and the key battle of the novel is to secure a vital supply route.
  • Eats Babies: The cursed daemon "brood mother" in Malodrax eats her own offspring after they crawl out of her skin's pustules.
  • Elemental Powers: The Wolves' magically gifted Priests wield these in battle.
  • Enemy Mine:
    • Subverted in The World Engine. Just because the Astral Knights and Overlord Turakhin are both fighting the same enemy does not make them allies; they simply agree to ignore each other until Overlord Heqiroth dies.
    • Lysander is quite disgusted by his own alliance with Shalhadar in Malodrax, but goes through with it, as he wants revenge on Thul and the Daemon Prince wants to teach the Iron Warrior his place and have some entertainment.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Fall of Damnos gives the Necrons one in their Resistance Is Futile line.
    We are the Necrontyr. We are Legion. We Claim Dominion of this World... Surrender and Die.
  • Evil Versus Evil: Kraegon Thul and Shalhadar both want to rule Malodrax, but their mutual hostility keeps their ambitions in check.
  • Eye Scream:
    • In Battle of the Fang, an unfortunate deckhand gets his eyes gouged out by a Thousand Sons sorcerer so that the sorcerer can implant magical eyes in their place and use him as a mind-controlled spy.
    • In Malodrax, Lysander kills Kraegon Thul by stabbing him in the eye with a poisoned dagger.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Captain Toharan and Inquisitor Lettinger in ''Death of Antagonis.
    • Irony: Lettinger was convinced the Black Dragons would betray the Imperium, and believed Toharan was the Dragons' last chance at redemption.
  • Fate Worse than Death: Scout Kennen is sentenced to being converted to servitor - essentially, serving as lobotomized Wetware CPU and framework for hardware for a thousand years.
  • Feel No Pain: Sister Sethano. She takes a bolter round to the gut, and not only kills the traitor who shot her but shrugs it off in a matter of days.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: On Damnos, the Necron threat gradually changes the dynamic between Space Marines and mortals from protectors and protected to friends, or even battle-brothers.
  • First-Name Basis: In Fall of Damnos, Space Marine captain Scipio and mortal guerilla fighter Jynn quickly call each other by names - at first because Jynn doesn't know Scipio's surname and then because he decides that she deserves the honor after saving his life. Other members of Scipio's squad are rather displeased with this.
  • Flashback Within A Flash Back: In Malodrax, flashbacks of Lysander's first time on the planet are accompanied by flashbacks from Inquisitor Corvin's Apocalyptic Log.
  • Foregone Conclusion:
    • When the novel is titled Fall of Damnos, you know that the Space Marines aren't going to make it.
    • Legion of the Damned starts with the Inquisitor surveying the aftermath of novel's final battle, effectively telling us how it will end.
  • Galactic Conqueror: In Malodrax, Kraegon Thul aims to become the next great Warmaster of Chaos, and Lysander and Inquisitor Corvin are both convinced that he could wreak untold havoc on the Imperium if he overcomes Malodrax’s trials. Ultimately subverted, though, as he dies without ever conquering a single planet.
  • Gameplay and Story Integration: Death of Integrity does this for Space Hulk. Why send bulky, slow moving tactical dreadnought armor into the confined spaces of a Space Hulk, when Genestealers can tear through Terminator armor like tissue paper? Because radiation levels within the Hulk are so high that regular Space Marines would die in hours, as demonstrated when the Magos sends servitors along with the marines in order to set beacons.
  • Genius Loci: Every major character in Malodrax is convinced that the titular planet is actively toying with them to satisfy a goal of some kind. Considering it's a daemon world, they are likely correct by some measure.
  • Genuine Human Hide: In Malodrax, Kraegon Thul’s ambassador to Shalhadar sets himself up in a pavilion made of freshly flayed human skin—so fresh, in fact, that there is still blood and guts clinging to it and the pavilion’s interior stinks horribly. Even Lysander is grossed out by the smell.
  • Get A Hold Of Yourself Man: Battle of the Fang: When Trom Rossek falls into a depressive funk after getting his entire squad killed by the Thousand Sons, Wyrmblade tries to snap him out of it by punching him in the face with enough force to knock him flat on his ass.
  • Goldfish Poop Gang: The Iron Warriors in Siege of Castellax are essentially this throughout the entire book. They constantly fight with one another and constantly attempting to undermine one another until the orks show up, are constantly outwitted by the orks in various ways, and many of them end up dying humiliating deaths and the orks end up taking Castellax. Even before the book they seemed to be like this, mentioning a raid prior to the story where they were nearly defeated by the planet's local defense forces when said forces tricked their air forces into bombing a dummy armor column, leaving the real column to go off and attack the Iron Warrior forces sieging the planetary capital. Space Marines almost defeated by regular humans.
  • The Hedonist: Shalhadar, as befitting a Daemon Prince of Slaanesh. His entire city is a garish tribute to himself, his citizens gladly live and die for the sole purpose of providing him fleeting moments of entertainment, and he spends much of his time directing, acting in, watching, financing, and critiquing stage plays (sometimes all at once).
  • Heroic BSoD:
    • In Fall of Damnos, colonel Sonne spends most of the book in this state after his family is killed and he's convinced that Necrons will slaughter everyone. He ends up dying while blowing up a Necron Monolith.
    • Following Damnos, Sicarius undergoes an extended one, although he hides it behind gruff mask and a whole array of Berserk Buttons. Warzone: Damnos claims that he finally got over it after Ultramarines manage to retake Damnos and he blows a C'Tan to kingdom come.
    • Several examples from Battle of the Fang:
      • Helfist freezes up when he looks into the glowing eyes of a Rubric Marine and realizes how easily Space Marines can fall to corruption, forcing Brakk to step in and save him. When Brakk is then hacked to pieces moments later, Helfist flies into a berserker rage and nearly transforms into a Wulfen before Trom Rossek manages to talk him down.
      • When Magnus the Red shows up in the Fangthane, Wyrmblade can only stand there staring in horror as the daemon primarch tears through the Fangthane’s defenders like a hurricane. When his fellow Space Wolves start asking him for orders, he finds that his words have deserted him for the first time in his life.
      • Shortly after the above, Freija shuts down when she realizes that her father has been killed by Magnus.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: At least once per book.
  • Heroic Self-Deprecation: Grimaldus isn't all that convinced about his promotion.
    Bayard: I was one of those who voted against you inheriting Mordred's mantle.
    Grimaldus: I would've voted the same in your place.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Attempted in The Gildar Rift. While fighting Huron Blackheart, Daerys Arrun notices a nearby gas pocket and tries to lure Blackheart toward it so that the Chaos Lord will ignite it with a stray blast from his flamer and blow himself up. The plan fails due to Blackheart catching up to him faster than he anticipated and hurling him away from the gas pocket.
  • Honor Before Reason:
    • Sicarius goes to fight the Undying by himself, forbiding his men from comitting to the duel, because that's "the proper way". Had he taken at least Agrippen with him, he might've succeeded in defending Damnos.
    • In Battle of the Fang, Harek Ironhelm is so obsessed with defeating Magnus the Red and settling the Space Wolves’ ancient feud with the Thousand Sons that he’s willing to mobilize the entire chapter and leave Fenris unprotected when he thinks he’s got Magnus cornered on Gangava—just as Magnus planned.
  • How Dare You Die on Me!: In Helsreach. Grimaldus learns that the princeps of the Titan he just saved is dying due to the Titan's machine spirit assimilating her consciousness. He proceeds to remind her dying corpse that she swore to fight by his side, then demands she shake it off and stand up. To the Titan's crew utter shock and disbelief, it works.
    Grimaldus: Zarha, you swore to me. You swore to me that you would walk. Stand, Zarha. STAND!
    Zarha: I will. Shields up!

  • Hypocrite: For a guy that uses psyker spells a lot, Mortarion does enjoy insulting the "little witches" of the Grey Knights for being pyskers.
  • I Did What I Had to Do: One of the major themes of Death of Antagonis.
  • In Medias Res: The World Engine starts when the eponymous machine already has a death toll of millions and the Imperium has been battling it for days.
  • Insistent Terminology: In The Gildar Rift, Daerys Arrun insists on referring to Huron Blackheart by his original name of Lufgt Huron. Why he does so isn’t clear, and he doesn’t provide an answer when one of the chapter’s Prognosticators asks him.
  • It Can Think: Death of Integrity will make damn sure that you don't think of Genestealers as just random packs of feral beasts. They can study, ambush, use adaptive tactics, find practical uses for their own corpses, identify and destroy your communication lines...
    • At least until you kill their Broodlord.
  • Jerkass: The Iron Warriors as a whole. In Siege of Castellax they routinely kill their slaves pour encourager les autres when the slaves have already spent their entire lives being in fear of their masters.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold:
    • In Siege of Castellax, Over-captain Vallax is about as close to this trope as a Chaos Marine can get. He's an egotistical, glory-stealing jerkass, but he really does have a sense of honor and would hate to see his brothers die in anything short of a glorious battle. Later, when he fails his brothers by leading a team of Ork Kommandoes into the Bastion, he takes it upon himself to Hold the Line and Face Death with Dignity.
  • Just Toying with Them: Battle of the Fang: When Wyrmblade confronts Magnus in the ruins of his laboratory, the narration makes it clear that Magnus is just toying with him as they cross swords:
    Magnus parried him with an unconscious ease, moving just as smoothly, deploying his blade with all the remorseless skill of his heritage. It was almost as if he were allowing the Wolf Priest his last moment of perfection, gifting him a final flourish of martial sublimity before the end had to come.
  • Keystone Army:
    • The Necrons in Fall of Damnos become sluggish and stilted if they don't have a nearby Lord or Overlord to direct them. Sicarius spends the entire book trying to exploit this fact.
    • The Necron Overlord believes this to be true of the Ultramarines as well. See Roaring Rampage of Revenge to see how well that worked out.
  • Killed Offscreen: In The Gildar Rift, Sergeant Matteus is last seen standing his ground as Huron Blackheart bears down on him. The scene then cuts to Daerys Arrun demanding a status report from Matteus, only for Blackeart to answer the call and gloat about the sergeant’s demise.
  • Know When to Fold Them: When it realizes it can't beat Kantor, Snagrod bails out of the fight.
  • Kung-Fu Wizard: In Battle of the Fang, Magnus the Red spends as much time beating Space Wolves to death with his bare hands as he does exploding them with his godlike psychic powers.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: In Siege of Castellax, Skintaker Algol threatens to torture a rebelling slave slowly and painfully in the most drawn-out way possible. Then the ceiling collapses, trapping Algol under hundreds of tons of concrete. The slave isn't trapped, and stabs Algol through the neck repeatedly. Since Algol is a Space Marine, it takes him well over 15 minutes for him to die, and he's awake for every second of it.
  • The Last Dance: In Death Of Integrity Chapter Master Caedis of the Blood Drinkers knows that he is close to the Black Rage claiming him, showing him visions of the ancient hero Holos' final climb. He still heads aboard the Space Hulk, eventually succumbing and turning into a ravenous beast.
  • Laughing Mad: While infiltrating Shalhadar’s city in Malodrax, Lysander happens upon a man who is giggling while being vivisected in some sort of cult ceremony. The victim laughs even harder when he notices Lysander, giving his presence away.
  • Light Is Not Good: Played with in Malodrax. The daemon prince Shalhadar takes the form of a golden angelic statue when he confronts the Imperial Fists invading his palace, complete with wings made of light, a mace with a white flame burning inside its head, and stained glass windows worked into his body. However, this statue is merely a shell for Shalhadar’s true form, a shapeless mass of darkness.
  • Look on My Works, Ye Mighty, and Despair: Whatever mighty civilization ruled the planet of Malodrax in the past, they've been reduced to nothing but a crumbling castle and some slaves for the Iron Warriors.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: The repeated survival of Andrej of the Armageddeon Steel Legion. The stormtrooper has survived events that even a fully armored space marine should not have survived (such as an entire temple collapsing atop him while fighting Orks in hand-to-hand combat). There is equal evidence support that he is a Perpetual or just that lucky.
  • Mechanical Monster: The Thousand Sons deploy the last of their Cataphract robots against the Space Wolves in Battle of the Fang. While few in number, the hulking war machines pose a serious threat to the Wolves, sporting plasma cannons siege drills that can fell even a Terminator with one blow, and enough durability to withstand anything short of a Dreadnought’s weapons.
  • The Mole: In Malodrax, Kraegon Thul’s mysterious alien lieutenant Karnak is revealed to be Inquisitor Corvin’s assassin Sildyne, who worked his way into a position of power so that he could kill Thul if he ever got the chance. Thul knew Karnak’s true identity, however, and never let his guard down around him.
  • Mook Horror Show:
    • Wrath of Iron opens with a brief Perspective Flip, showing the Iron Hands shrug off a volley of lasgun fire and smash apart a bunker with little effort.
    • Battle of the Fang has a scene told from the perspective of a Spireguard soldier sent in to establish a beachhead for the invading Thousand Sons. His initial confidence and professionalism—born of the belief that the Space Wolves are simply normal men like himself—quickly give way to panic and terror once the Wolves show up and start butchering his unit.
  • Moral Event Horizon: In-universe, Toharan ordering a military strike against the Imperial world of Aighe Mortis.
  • More Dakka: AND HOLY GOD-EMPEROR HOW!! Almost every novel in this series is bound to have scenes of Space Marines unloading their weaponry into Daemons, Heretics and Xenos alike.
  • Mother of a Thousand Young: The Brood Mother from Malodrax has thousands upon thousands of incredibly mutated offspring. She eats them... well, not all of them.
  • My Greatest Failure:
    • Scipio in Fall of Damnos keeps flashing back to an attack against Nurgle cultists, in which he failed to Mercy Kill his Chaplain in time, resulting in a demon popping out of Chaplain Orad's flesh and killing another squadmate. Thus he becomes a bit of a perfectionist (by Space Marine standards), and when more squadmates die to the Necrons he's having trouble accepting it truly isn't his fault this time.
    • In Veil of Darkness, Sicarius considers Damnos his greatest failure and is fairly confident that he'll be severly punished for losing the planet. Understandable, considering its his first time he ever lost as a Captain.
    • In Death of Antagonis, Toharan early on rescues a small girl, who later dies by giving herself to a doubtworm due to being a daemonhost. He had invested a lot in rescuing the girl, and the moment shakes him to the core.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast:
    • In Siege of Castellax, Skintaker Algol.
    • In Legion of the Damned, we have Umbragg of the Brazen Flesh.
    • The planet Armageddon has a full catalogue of such places: Helsreach, Tartarus, Hades, Armageddon itself...
    • In The Gildar Rift, we have Lord Apothecary Gareon, of the Red Corsairs, a.k.a. “the Corpsemaster”.
  • Never Speak Ill of the Dead: At the end of Malodrax, Lysander asks Sergeant Kaderic how Helaestus died. When Kaderic tells him that he died “with valour and fury”, Lysander realises that this trope is in effect:
    Lysander wondered if there could have been a reply that meant less. An Imperial Fist was expected to fight and die with valour and fury – it would have been an obscenity if he died any other way. Helaestus could have died a whimpering wreck and the same would still be said of him.
  • Non-Indicative Name:
    • In Death of Antagonis, the planet Antagonis is blown up barely a third of the way into the book. The Planet Aighe Mortis is home to a lot more drama. The real story is the rise and fall of Toharan and his defeat at the hands of Volos.
    • In Purging of Kadillus, Kadillus Harbor is purged off-screen by the PDF. The Space Marine characters we follow throughout the book are trying to purge a series of power plants instead.
    • In-universe, in Rynn's World the narrative takes its time to point out that the Iron Halo is actually made from several different metals, none of which is iron.
    • In The Gildar Rift, the narrative points out that the Corpsemaster is not a necromancer: he just likes to dissect bodies (living or dead) in order to better understand the biological process of death.
  • Obsessively Organized: Chaplain Boreas in Purging of Kadillus stops in the middle of a pitched siege to glue part of a statue back together. In his mind he realizes there's probably better things to be doing at that moment, but he'd also be a bad Chaplain if he wasn't a stickler for details.
  • Opposing Combat Philosophies: Between the Black Templars and The Salamanders in Helsreach, who are focused on "destroying the Emperor's Enemies" and "defending the Emperor's people" respectively. The two are working together to defend a civilian shelter, and have broken the first Ork wave. The Templars pursue and head Straight for the Commander, while the Salamanders fall back and prepare for the second wave. From the Templar perspective the Salamanders hung them out to dry when killing the Ork Boss leading the attack could have prevented further waves entirely, and from the Salamander perspective the Templar attack was a foolish risk that would have left the civilians vulnerable to attack from other enemy forces even if it succeeded.
  • Older Than They Look: Many noblemen, thanks to rejuvenation treatments they can afford. Maia Caglieri, for example, is ninety seven, but looks forty.
  • Omniscient Morality License: The Iron Hands in Wrath of Iron view their Imperial Guard allies as ignorant martyrs with their "cold flawless logic", happy to send them to die to further the success of the campaign. Sure, it all works out since the Guard aren't aware of the Slaanesh cult, but are the Iron Hands willing to just share that little detail? Not a chance.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Throughout Helsreach, the Templars of Grimaldus' squad keep on pointing out that he's acting incredibly subdued and uninvested, especially compared to his previous fiery zeal. Grimaldus himself keeps on thinking on why this is hapenning.
  • Orbital Bombardment: In Battle of the Fang, the Thousand Sons assault the titular fortress with a pair of “planet-scourers”—ships built for the sole purpose of housing enormous, downward-pointing plasma cannons powerful enough to raze a continent. The resulting bombardment isn’t strong enough to bring down the Fang’s shields, but it does prevent the Space Wolves from bringing the Fang’s anti-orbit weapons to bear and keeps them from sending out Thunderhawks to interfere with the Thousand Sons’ landing operations.
  • Organ Theft:
    • In The Gildar Rift, the Corpsemaster steals Sergeant Porteus’s progenoid glands after the latter is captured by the Red Corsairs. A former Space Wolf turned Red Corsair implies that the same was done to both him and many other formerly loyal Space Marines pressganged into the Corsairs’ ranks.
    • Toward the end of Malodrax, Brother Helaestus reveals that the Iron Warriors stole his gene-seed during his captivity.
  • Our Werewolves Are Different: In Battle of the Fang, the Halls of the Revered Fallen—the caves where the Space Wolves keep their Dreadnoughts—are guarded by mysterious “beasts” that appear to be gigantic, semi-humanoid wolves with cybernetic augmentations. In the same book, Helfist succumbs to his grief and battle-rage during the final days of the siege, transforming into a Wulfen.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: Brought up in-universe in Death of Antagonis, when the Black Dragons, Sethano, and Lettinger discuss that the local plague zombies are faster than Nurgle's zombies, infect other subjects at an absurdly fast rate, and ignore space marines...
  • Perspective Reversal: Morek Karekborn and his daughter Freija have opposing views of the Space Wolves in Battle of the Fang. Morek looks up to the Space Wolves with respect and reverence, while Freija instead resents the Wolves for their arrogance and superior attitude. By the end of the novel, Morek’s faith in the Wolves has been shaken while Freija has gained a newfound respect and admiration for them.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: Fall of Damnos ends with the Ultramarines saving Kellenport, but half of 2nd Company is killed or wounded including Captain Sicarius, most of Damnos' defenses are gone, and the Necrons haven't even begun to fight.
  • Posthumous Character: Mordred, Grimaldus' Old Master, whose shadow continues to plague Grimaldus, as the newly-promoted Reclusiarch doesn't feel like he can match his accomplishments. Other characters also mention him quite often, which obviously doesn't help Grimaldus.
  • The Power of Hate: Alessio Cortez believes that hate for traitors and xenos is what has kept him alive and going for all three centuries of his service.
  • Protective Charm:
    • In Battle of the Fang, the Space Wolves inscribe protective runes into their armour to ward off maleficarum, their term for the power of Chaos. The Fang itself has thousands of similar wards etched into its stone walls, and their presence helps to slow the advance of the Thousand Sons once they break into the fortress, most notably by preventing Magnus the Red from physically manifesting within the Fang until the Sons destroy enough of the wards.
    • Malodrax spends an entire paragraph describing the many, many ways that the Breaker of Darkness has been magically warded and blessed to keep out daemons. Upon entering Malodrax’s orbital reef, these various charms allow the ship to go unmolested by daemonic incursion… for thirty minutes.
  • Purple Prose: Inquisitor Golrukhan’s journal about Malodrax is written in this style. Lysander doesn’t care for it in-universe, preferring the Beige Prose of Rogal Dorn’s writing.
  • Pyrrhic Victory:
    • Death of Antagonis is just one in a long string of these for the Black Dragons.
    • Pretty much all of the entries under Doomed by Canon are this.
    • The Silver Skulls succeed in driving the Red Corsairs out of the Gildar Rift, but Huron Blackheart gets away with most of his plunder and the Silver Skulls lose many experienced warriors, including Captain Daerys Arrun and Apothecary Ryarus. The botched outcome of the battle also leads many of the Skulls to harbour doubts about the competence of their Prognosticators. The final chapter of the book is even titled “What Price Victory?” in a bit of Lampshade Hanging.
    • The titular Hive City in Helsreach manages to survive the Ork invasion until the Season of Fire grinds the invasion to a halt, but their manufacturing facilities, transport infrastructure, and worker population had been beyond decimated. Estimates putting the city's current max output capabilities at just 5% of what it was producing before the war.
  • Reality Is Out to Lunch: The Xeno temples in Death of Antagonis.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: The Big Bad of Wrath of Iron gives one to the Iron Hands, how they've become little more than machine fetishists and obsessed, paranoid automatons since Ferrus Mannus was killed. Ironfather Krastos was too busy calculating the Prince's weak spot to bother listening.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni:
    • Among Ultramarines, Sicarius is Red to Agemann's Blue. While Cato is Hot-Blooded, prone to Large Ham behaviour and charging straight for the enemy, Severus is slower, likes to think things out and have worked-out tactic before comitting to the fight, not to mention that he's Combat Pragmatist while Cato practices Honor Before Reason.
    • In Crimson Fists, Alessio Cortez is Red, while his Chapter Master Pedro Cantor is Blue. Cantor has soft voice, charismatic presence and in-depth understanding of and care for matters such as administration or politics, while Cortez considers them waste of time, is impatient, would rather kill xenos all the time and utilizes The Power of Hate.
  • Riddle for the Ages: In Malodrax, both Lysander and Inquisitor Corvin wonder whether the "people" who used to rule the planet are xeno species or heavily mutated humans. Ultimately, though, no-one's eager to return and make DNA tests.
  • Riddling Sphinx: A daemonic sphinx guards the entrance to Shalhadar’s palace in Malodrax. Instead of asking a riddle, it will only let people pass if they can show it something it has never experienced before (and being a Slaaneshi daemon, there’s very little it hasn’t already experienced). Lysander is able to get in the first time by teaching it the concept of fear. The second time, he doesn’t bother with the sphinx’s games and just kills it.
  • The Rival: Captains Sicarius and Agemann. Both are the candidates for next Chapter Master and both are heroes in their own right, but Sicarius is much better-known and more belovednote . Not to mention that the two of them interpret the Codex in very different ways (Cato's "tips guidelines", Agemann's "Bible").
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: In Fall of Damnos, the Ultramarines — and Brother Agrippan in particular — are pissed when they think Sicarius is dead.
  • Sanity Slippage: Sahtah the Enfleshed, a Necron Lord turned flayed one, in Fall of Damnos, finds himself growing less and less self-aware as his cravings for flesh grow stronger. The Necron Overlord whom Sahtah answers to isn't doing much better, debating whether or not to join the Destroyer Court.
  • Sapient Ship: In The Gildar Rift, the aim of the Silver Skulls’ Resurgent project is to create one of these by wiring Volker Straub into the Dread Argent’s systems, effectively turning him into a Wetware CPU and giving him absolute control over the ship. They succeed, spectacularly so.
  • Schizo Tech: The Imperium’s technology level has always been all over the place, but Malodrax cranks it up a notch. The Imperial Fists strike cruiser Breaker of Darkness has bridge consoles that are operated with punchcards and have ticker tape readouts instead of screens, and her crew has to use abacuses whenever they perform calculations.
  • The Secret of Long Pork Pies: It shouldn't surprise you much to learn that the Iron Warriors have linked their slave morgue to the food production plant, but it's a big reveal for the slaves themselves, especially Yuxiang.
  • Secret Path: Squad Scipio spends most of Fall of Damnos looking for one, since the Necron artillery pieces high in the mountains have extremely strong yet extremely wide circles of defense.
  • Seers:
    • The Silver Skulls’ unique Prognosticators are hybrid Chaplain-Librarians trained to read the future with their psychic powers. The chapter places great stock in their divinations, to the point where they will not commit to a battle plan until a Prognosticator has read the portents and given it his approval. However, the Prognosticators are not infallible, and many Silver Skulls begin to harbour doubts about them after they sanction the costly battle of the Gildar Rift.
    • The brood mother knows everything that happens on Malodrax, including snippets of what will happen in the future. She’s willing to share that information with anyone who seeks her out, for a price.
  • Senseless Sacrifice: In The Gildar Rift, a Silver Skulls Assault Marine tries to save the grievously injured Captain Arrun’s life by tackling Huron Blackheart away from him. He only manages to distract Huron Blackheart for a few seconds before getting killed, and while his sacrifice allows Arrun to regain some strength and continue fighting for a bit longer, it ultimately doesn’t change the outcome.
  • Series Continuity Error: The Necrons in The World Engine don't phase out when they're damaged beyond repair; they just crumple to the ground.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: In Veil of Darkness, Sicarius considers his jumping at shadows and paranoia about Necrons being everywhere to be symptoms of PTSD. While Warzone: Damnos suggests he has it, the Necrons in the Temple of Hera are real and hiding in shadows.
  • Shockwave Stomp: The gargant in Rynn's World almost does this by accident, its footfall being nearly hard enough to collapse the tunnels the Crimson Fists are hiding in.
  • Shout-Out: In Malodrax, Inquisitor Corvin notes that his archivist was “most perturbed” by the impossibility of Shalhadar’s city. This is a reference to Eisenhorn’s own savant Uber Aemos, whose catchphrase was “most perturbatory”.
  • Sizeshifter: In Battle of the Fang, Magnus the Red enlarges himself so that he can stand eye-to-eye with—and tear down—a Titan-sized statue of Leman Russ, then shrinks back down to his (still considerable) normal height once the deed is done. Later on, he shrinks to a mere three metres in order to duel Wyrmblade.
  • Slobs Versus Snobs: Malodrax concerns the feud between the luscious, extravagant, hedonistic cult of Shalhadar and the grungy, militant, dour Iron Warriors.
    • Some of the Thousand Sons, those who don't realise what lies beneath the Space Wolves' exterior, see their conflict with the "dog-warriors" as this.
  • Space Battle: A common occurrence in the series. Half the plot of The Gildar Rift is about a space battle between the Red Corsairs and the Silver Skulls, to name one example.
  • Spanner in the Works: Techpriest Oriax is secretly sabotaging his Iron Warrior "brothers" throughout Siege of Castellax.
    • Towards the end, Oriax probably sees Captain Rhodaan as this, since Rhodaan doesn't submit to the Bolivian Army Ending and starts to undo some of the sabotage, and ultimately survives the novel.
    • Captain Lysander in Malodrax. The whims of fate unleashed him to test the strength of the Iron Warriors and the reign of Shalhadar. Both of the Chaos factions fail miserably.
      • Even before that, Lysander only escaped captivity because of a faulty scalpel breaking off where he could reach it.
  • Spiteful Spit: Huron Blackheart spits on Daerus Arrun twice during their battle in The Gildar Rift. The trope is actually weaponized, as Blackheart does it not only to show his contempt for the Imperium but also to hinder Arrun’s combat effectiveness as the acidic saliva eats into his armour.
  • Spoiler Title: Would you be surprised if we told you that in Fall of Damnos, the Ultramarines do not succeed in their defense of the eponymous planet?
  • The Starscream: Tahek the Voidbringer and Ankh the Necron Lorn in Fall of Damnos have more than a few shades of this, both towards their Overlord and towards each other.
  • Status Quo Is God: Death of Integrity centers around retrieving a special data core that contains the blueprints for every war machine and piece of technology that was used by the Emperor to conquer the galaxy. Actually succeeding in retrieving the data core would more or less spell death for any and all of mankind's enemies throughout the universe. Guess what the Space Marines don't end up capturing?
    • Consolation Prize: Lord Plosk still managed to capture a fraction of the blueprints from the data core of the Spirit of Eternity.
  • The Stoic: Sister Sethano.
  • Suicide Mission: In The Purging of Kadillus, Scout Sergeants Naaman and Damas know that their mission to find the orks’ landing site out in the East Barrens will likely end in their deaths, as they’re going far behind enemy lines and there will be no chance of extraction. They choose not to tell their scouts that this will be a one-way trip, so as not to demoralize them. They all die, but the intel they gather allows Azrael to disable the orks’ tellyporta, temporarily preventing the orks from deploying more reinforcements.
  • Synchronization: In The Gildar Rift, one unfortunate side effect of Volker Straub’s connection to the Dread Argent is that he feels any damage inflicted to the ship as physical pain.
  • Tactical Withdrawal: In Fall of Damnos Sicarius commits all his Ultramarines to an offensive feint in an attempt to draw out the Necron Lords. The Necrons don't fall for it, and the Ultramarines find themselves nearly surrounded in short order.
  • Take Up My Sword: In a literal example from Malodrax, the dying Agent Sildyne entrusts Lysander with a poisoned dagger made specifically to kill Space Marines so that Lysander can kill Kraegon Thul in his stead.
  • Taking You with Me: Hoo boy...
    • Kadillus: Naaman to an Ork walker.
    • Legion: Omar to a pack of flying daemons.
    • Damnos: Agrippan to as many Necrons as possible, though the novel doesn't show it.
    • Castellax: Vortsk to as many Orks as possible.
    • Antagonis: Nessus to Volos, by way of possessing Toharan. It doesn't work.
    • Integrity: This is how Voldo tries to die. It doesn't work, but he does die fighting in such a way that helps his brothers continue the mission.
  • Technically Living Zombie: The zombies in Death of Antagonis aren't fully dead, they're brainwashed by a Chaos mind-virus called the Doubtworm. The zombies are still, in their own minds, actually loyalist imperial citizens fully aware of their infected state, but with no ability to communicate that fact. All they can do is wildly flail at the Doubtworm's asymptomatic carriers, hoping to kill them before they can spread the Doubtworm to the next planet. This is also why they ignore space marines, who are immune to the Doubtworm in the first place.
  • Tele-Frag: Battle of the Fang has a Thousand Sons sorcerer experience this when he hastily teleports himself and a squad of Rubric Marines into an oncoming Space Wolves vessel. Only two of the Rubric Marines make it through, and only one of them does so intact; the other one materializes within a wall and effectively dies. The sorcerer himself suffers injuries to his hands, face, and internal organs.
  • Tempting Fate: From Rynn's World: "Even the foulest and most violent of the xenos races surely weren't foolish enough to attack a Space Marine homeworld." Guess what happens soon thereafter. Orks.
  • Thanatos Gambit: In Battle of the Fang, Magnus the Red’s plan requires the Space Wolves to kill his frail old man avatar on Gangava so that he can manifest on Fenris in his full might and lay waste to the Fang. He even tells them what the plan entails, knowing that they won’t believe him.
  • There Was a Door: In Battle of the Fang, Blackwing is combing the bowels of his ship for Thousand Sons infiltrators when a Rubric Marine suddenly bursts out of a wall, taking him and his men by surprise.
  • This Is Gonna Suck: The first thought Grimaldus has upon hearing of Armageddon?
    I am going to die on this world.
  • Those Two Guys: Givenar and Antinas keep on arguing and bantering, even when in middle of combat, to Lysander's neverending annoyance.
  • Throw the Book at Them: Lysander spends a decent chunk of Malodrax armed with nothing but a chainsword (which he eventually loses) and a long-dead inquisitor's journal-slash-treatise on the titular daemon world. Between him being a Space Marine and this being a very thick, very heavy iron-bound book on a chain, he puts it to very effective use.
  • Time Bomb: The Silver Skulls discover that the Red Corsairs have rigged the promethium refinery to blow at the climax of The Gildar Rift, forcing the Skulls to waste time defusing the explosives while the Corsairs escape with their plunder.
  • Too Dumb to Fool: In Siege of Castellax, the Iron Warriors try to stall the Orks using a giant minefield, but with intercontinental ballistic missiles instead of regular mines. Problem is, instead of trying to sweep the desert to find the rest of the warheads, they just charge through the one patch of land they know the missiles aren't hidden, and that's the five-mile-wide crater where the first missile exploded.
  • Villain Respect: In Battle of the Fang, Magnus the Red surprises one of his subordinates by admitting that he has grown to respect the Space Wolves since the Horus Heresy.
    Magnus: I no longer think of them as animals, Ahmuz, though I once did. I now think of them as the purest of us all. Incorruptible. Single-minded. The perfection of my father’s vision.
    Temekh: You admire them.
    Magnus: Admire them? Of course I do. They are unique. And even in an infinite universe, that quality is rarer than you might suppose.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: For all the insults the two sling at each other, you can see Givenar and Antinas are best friends.
  • Wave-Motion Gun: The Thousand Sons seem fond of these in Battle of the Fang. Their planet-scourer ships are basically giant plasma cannons built to raze a planet’s surface with continuous streams of plasma fire. Their gate-breaker daemon engines, similarly, are 200-metre long self-propelled gun barrels that they use to hammer the Fang’s gates with giant yellow beams of eldritch energy.
  • When All You Have Is a Hammer…: This Funny Moment from Malodrax:
    Lycaon: Do you know how to kill him?
    Lysander: Cut him into pieces and burn them.
    Lycaon: Is that what the people of Malodrax say?
    Lysander: No, but that works on everything.
  • The Worf Effect: Fall of Damnos is little more than one long series of this, to drive home how serious and dangerous the threat of the Necrons is.
  • The World Is Always Doomed: Has shown up twice now:
    • In Death of Antagonis the villains aren't threatening enough just attacking the planets Antagonis and Aighe Mortis, they also have to revive an ancient alien planet-buster and take it to Holy Terra as well.
    • Likewise, The World Engine doesn't feel the stakes raised enough with just the Varv system in peril, the Necrons feel the need to try and teleport the titular Engine to Mars, and probably shoot at Terra a few times for good measure.
  • Worthy Opponent: In The Gildar Rift, Daerys Arrun and Huron Blackheart develop a mutual if begrudging respect for one another as both warriors and strategists. Before their final confrontation, Blackheart even feels a sliver of regret at the knowledge that he can’t turn such a worthy foe to Chaos and will have to kill him.
  • Would Hurt a Child: In Battle of the Fang, Aphael comes across a group of scared, helpless children while destroying the Space Wolves’ magical wards and decides to kill some of them shits and giggles , only to discover that they are neither scared nor helpless when one of them chucks a grenade at his face.
  • Writers Cannot Do Math: Legion of the Damned kicks off with the 817th Feast of Blades, a tournament taking place every century. Check how many years would have had to pass for this to be the 817th Feast, and compare that to how many years have passed since the Space Marines were first created...note 
    • The Feast of Blades is held at most a century apart; it's remarked on that they're called at much narrower intervals.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: You just can't let the Iron Warriors have a single moment of glory, can you Oriax? The rebelling slaves and mutinous servitors don't fare much better.
  • You Are in Command Now: Rhodaan takes command of the 3rd Grand Company after everyone above him dies in Siege of Castellex.
  • You Shall Not Pass!: In Fall of Damnos, when Scipio's squad find themselves being chased down by a pack of Flayed Ones, brothers Largo and Brakkius offer to lay down their already-limping lives to slow the pursuers down. Tigurius pops out of nowhere and saves them.