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Literature / The Emperor's Gift

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The Emperor's Gift is a novel set in the Warhammer 40,000 universe written by Aaron Dembski-Bowden that was released in May 2012.

The book tells the story of two new recruits to the Grey Knights, an elite Chapter of Adeptus Astartes who specialise in the eradication of daemons. The book covers the Grey Knights' involvement before and during the events of the First War of Armageddon, as well as the subsequent conflict with the Space Wolves that would become known as the Months of Shame.

Tropes appearing within The Emperor's Gift include:

  • 0% Approval Rating: Lord Inquisitor Kysnaros is liked by nobody. It's implied that Joros only helps him to gain political clout and the rest of the Inquisition support him as an excuse to act on their long-standing feud with the Space Wolves. Other Grey Knights openly disapprove of Kysnaros' orders, to the point that some Grey Knights and Inquisitors conspire to assassinate him before the conflict with the Space Wolves worsens.
  • All for Nothing: Hyperion invokes this as one reason why the Space Wolves are outraged the Inquisition intends to purge Armageddon's population, since it renders the sacrifices of all the Wolves who died fighting Angron's army to ensure the people would be spared worthless.
    Hyperion: When seen in such a light, the Wolves' actions - already noble enough - takes on another layer of righteousness. They've lost warriors, too. How many of them died in glory, only to learn now it had all been in vain defending a doomed population?
  • Amazonian Beauty: Despite the fact that they lack any sexual desire, Hyperion and Bjorn still describe Inquisitor Annika Jarlsdottyr as a Head-Turning Beauty, due to her tall figure, toned body and exotic looks with her long sable hair, pale skin and unnaturally blue eyes.
    Hyperion: My training had torn away the capacity to feel biological desire, but it was still pleasant to watch the ruthlessly feminine grace in the play of her muscles. She was a healthy animal in her prime a huntress clad in black, her long hair now loose about her shoulders.
  • Beyond Redemption: The Space Wolves believe the Inquisitor Kysnaros and his forces went beyond the pale when they invited the Space Wolves to a parley to negotiate a ceasefire, then opened fire on the Space Wolf vessels when they arrived, destroying four with all hands and crippling Grimnar's flagship. Before this incident, the Space Wolves had refrained from trading fire with Inquisitorial ships while protecting Armageddon refugee ships, not wanting to give the Inquisition an excuse to brand them traitors. Afterwards, the Wolves no longer hold fire or show mercy when confronting Inquisition and Grey Knight forces.
  • BFG: Inquisitor Jarlsdottyr's wields a custom Mk.Vb Godwyn pattern boltgun, a weapon designed for the more than 8-feet tall Space Marines that is out of proportion, even for a tall woman such as the Inquisitor.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: At the climax of the fighting on Armageddon, Angron slaughters his way through almost an entire Brotherhood of Grey Knight Terminators as he laughs at their ineffectual attacks. It's only when Hyperion almost kills himself to shatter Angron's sword that the Grey Knights finally turn the tide.
  • Curb Stomp Cushion: Both Hyperion and Malchadiel are thrashed in seconds by Grimnar, showing the difference in abilities between two young Grey Knights and a very old and experienced Space Wolves Chapter Master. Hyperion, however, is able to stop him from killing Malchadiel and even nearly destroys his axe before the fight is interrupted.
  • Day Hurts Dark-Adjusted Eyes: Twenty-Six complains bitterly of the light when ordered to open his eyes; he is told it's the weakest level of illumination, but he has not used his eyes in ninety-nine days.
  • Determinator: One of the Cheth palace guards gets his body blown up from the stomach down due to Squad Castian's ambush but he's still able to fire his lasrifle at an unsuspecting Annika. He dies when Hyperion blocks the shot in time then burns him alive.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Inquisitor Kysnaros believes the best way to finally force a capitulation from the Space Wolves was to blockade Fenris with an Inquisitorial armada and threaten to perform Exterminatus on the planet if they didn't stand down. The plan doesn't work, and when Logan Grimnar and the entire Space Wolves fleet, having learned what is happening, emerge from the Warp ready for battle and howling for blood, Hyperion actually asks Kysnaros if he thought the Space Wolves would react any other way to such an action other than with extreme violence.Spoilery explanation 
  • Disc-One Final Boss: The Daemon Primarch Angron is one of the most powerful servants of the War God, and is connected to the backstory for the entire setting, yet he is defeated two thirds of the way through the book. The rest of the novel deals with the the Months of Shame, the aftermath of the First Armageddon War, and the conflict between the Space Wolves and the Inquisition led by Inquisitor Kysnaros.
  • Distant Finale: The final chapter of the novel takes place decades after the Months of Shame, with Hyperion now a Prognosticar and Malchadiel returning from his training as a Techmarine on Mars so they can finally ring the Bell of Lost Souls for Sothis.
  • Electronic Eyes: Inquisitor Jarlsdotty'r blue bio-optics, used for taking pictures among other things.
  • Fat Bastard: Kezidha the Eleventh, the Chaos-corrupted Imperial Regent of Cheth. Hyperion attributes Kezidha's grotesque physique to the regent's weak mind.
  • Hero Killer: Angron, who along with his daemonic honour guard slaughters his way through over a hundred Grey Knight Terminators like it was nothing, including some of the main characters.
  • Heroic RRoD: Hyperion falls unconscious shortly after using all his full psychic might to shatter Angron's sword at Armageddon. Even after he wakes up, Hyperion still suffers from the after effects of using so much power, passing out again while using his abilities to search for his squad amidst the mountains of corpses from the fight, before starting to black out once more after returning to the Karabela where the crew have to lock him in stasis for four months so that he would survive long enough to get proper treatment.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: The millions who die defending Armageddon civilians, but specially Captain Taremar, who dies banishing Angron.
  • I Did What I Had to Do:
    • The Inquisition's, and also Hyperion's, excuse for slaughtering the civilians and guardsmen who took part in the campaign to retake Armageddon. They argue it's better for a few thousand potentially corrupt souls to die than risk having to potentially slaughter millions of innocents in the future because they let the thousands live.
    • Inquisitor Kysnaros' view of why he is prolonging the conflict with the Space Wolves: in his view, not bringing them to heel runs the risk of the Imperium sinking into a civil war on a par with the Horus Heresy.
    • Grand Master Joros advises Kysnaros to open fire on Logan Grimnar's fleet, in the hopes of either forcing Grimnar to capitulate or taking him as a hostage to force the Space Wolves into compliance. He even admits this when Grimnar confronts the Inquisition forces, stating his actions were for the greater good. It results in Grimnar burying a power axe in Joros' chest and the Space Wolves effectively declaring war on the Inquisition.
  • Identical Twins: Sothis and Malchadiel. The two are distinguishable thanks to Sothis's many scars and bionic augmentations, though the many wounds Malchadiel sustains over the course of the book start to make him resemble Sothis more by the end.
  • Incorruptible Pure Pureness: No Grey Knight has ever fallen to Chaos. According to Hyperion the Grey Knights themselves are uncertain why this is, although most think that their gene-seed's source has something to do with it.
  • Interrupted Intimacy: Hyperion once sought Annika just as she was having sex with Clovon, much to Hyperion's horror.
    Hyperion: Another time, I'd touched her mind the same moment as Clovon was touching her flesh, and I'd immediately recoiled with my skin crawling.
  • Just Following Orders: Hyperion's defense when Annika chides him for doing nothing while the population of Armageddon get sterlized by the Inquisition. A chat with Kysnaros changes his mind.
  • Lady of War: Inquisitor Annika is often described as graceful, feminine and regal.
    Hyperion: Inquisitor Jarlsdottyr walked over to us, somehow making a zero-gravity stomp seem graceful.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: Every Grey Knight has this done to them before their training begins. Also the fate of anyone who actually sees a Grey Knight in the flesh, assuming they aren't simply murdered outright.
  • Long-Dead Badass: Many of these are witnessed by Hyperion when he passes through the Dead Fields on Titan, where the fallen Grey Knights are laid to rest.
  • The Magnificent: Hyperion is given the epithet 'Bladebreaker' by the Space Wolves after he psychically shatters the Daemonic Black Blade of the Daemon Primarch Angron.
  • Master Swordsman: Dumenidon is described as the best swordsman in Squad Castian with complete mastery of his weapon that goes beyond even the post-human skill of most Astartes.
  • Mighty Glacier: Tactical Dreadnought armour is heavy, lumbering and very restrictive, sacrificing mobility for defense. Taremar has every Grey Knight of the Ragged Brotherhood outfitted in Terminator gear to increase their survivability for once they teleport right in the middle of enemy lines. Squad Castian tries to object, finding the armor cumbersome, but Taremar reasons that every second a Grey Knight survives is of the upmost importance when they're going up against an army of daemons, among whom are several Bloodthirsters and a Daemon Primarch. The armor helps the Grey Knights endure the attacks of lesser daemons but Angron's BFS cuts through them like cake. However, Logan Grimnar is still able to act and fight faster and more effectively than those in 'normal' Power Armour. He moves so fast in his suit that he was able to draw his axe, swing it and kill another Terminator-clad character before anyone else in the room could even react. Hyperion notes, however, that Grimnar's armor was breaking because of being pushed to its limits.
  • No Social Skills: Hyperion repeatedly mentions that he finds reading normal people's expressions and understanding their motivations extremely hard. This also means that his few attempts at telling jokes fall flat.
  • Noodle Incident: How Inquisitor Jarlsdottyr reformed Clovon from a cult leader into a member of her warband is left ambiguous.
  • Off with His Head!: Happens to Lord Inquisitor Kysnaros at the hands of Logan Grimnar.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: We never see how Captain Taremar banishes Angron
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • The daemon-possessed Imperial governor of the planet Cheth and his Chaos-corrupted court's reaction when an entire squad of Grey Knights teleport into the room and Inquisitor Jarlsdottyr orders them to kill everyone in the room.
    • Squad Castian have two moments of this themselves: first when they encounter a Bloodthirster while escaping from a Space Wolves ship; and second when Angron senses their presence and psychically tries to kill them after Prognosticar Torcrith helps them psychically probe Armageddon.
  • Old Shame: In-Universe: The Grey Knights refer to the months spent hunting down and slaughtering the fleeing guardsmen (and the billions of innocent people who came into contact with them) the Months of Shame. In fact, it's not just the Grey Knights calling it this. That's the OFFICIAL GW name for that event.
  • Peace Conference: Bjorn is able to negotiate a peace deal between the Inquisition and the Space Wolves, allowing both sides to save face. The terms of the deal are: in exchange for the Space Wolves standing down, no Inquisition ship will ever appear in the skies of Fenris again, on penalty of immediate destruction, and the Space Wolves who had learned of the Grey Knights should not be mind-wiped as was normal in such cases, but instead Hyperion should personally explain the Grey Knights' mission and its importance to all of the Astartes within The Fang, so that such a conflict should never again occur due to misunderstanding and ignorance of the Inquisition's mission.
  • People Puppets: At the end of the novel, Hyperion and Malchadiel take over the mind of a serf on Terra so that they can ring the Bell of Lost Souls for Malchadiel's twin brother Sothis.
  • Praetorian Guard:
    • The Cruor Praetoria who accompany Angron to Armageddon are comprised of the twelve strongest Bloodthirsters of Khorne.
    • The Wolf Guard for Logan Grimnar.
  • Pragmatic Hero: During his duel with Logan Grimnar, Hyperion Lampshades the fact that, given the state of the galaxy, the best anyone who fights for the Imperium can be is a Pragmatic Hero, and that the Grey Knights, as the Emperor's Gift, know what they have to do is often horrific but the alternatives are worse and they will not stint in their duty.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner: Squad Castian gives one to the governor of Cheth before they slaughter every heretic in the room.
    Galeo: In the name of the Emperor of Mankind, we do judge thee diabolus traitoris. The sentence is death.
  • Pure Is Not Good: The Grey Knights fight against Chaos and are incorruptible, but they also actively take part in the subsequent purge of Armageddon and the system-wide Exterminatus operations in pursuit of the Space Wolf-aided guardsmen.
  • Protectorate: One of the first things Logan Grimnar does when he meets the Grey Knights and Inquisitors sent to Armageddon is make it explicitly clear that the guardsmen and civilians there are under his protection, and that he will brook no purges of them after the battle is over. When the Inquisition initiates a purge anyway, it sets the stage for the war between the Space Wolves and the Imperium's State Sec.
  • Rain of Blood: The battle at the river between the Grey Knights and Angron's daemonic horde takes place in the midst of one.
  • Raven Hair, Ivory Skin: Inquisitor Jarlsdottyr. Hyperion notes that her black hair is actually rare for a Fenrisian.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: Logan Grimnar and, to a lesser extent, Inquisitor Jarlsdottyr. Hyperion reasons that the Space Marines, bred to be warriors first and foremost, would see it as a smear on their honour if they prevented a greater evil by allowing a lesser one to occur. The Space Wolves themselves outright state this is their reason for fighting the Inquisition, arguing that the men and women who fought so valiantly to defend Armageddon from Angron's daemonic horde deserve better than to be quietly eliminated so the Inquisition can more easily sweep the truth of what happened under the carpet.
    Hyperion: You've made your point, Rawthroat, now stand down.
    Bran Rawthroat: We're not making a point, Bladebreaker. We're doing what is right.
  • Secret Test of Character: Brand Rawthroat accompanies the Karabela to escort a ship containing survivors of Armageddon. When Hyperion follows Joros' orders to destroy the ship, the Space Wolves take it as a sign that they can no longer entrust any of the refugees to the Inquisition.
  • Ship Sinking: After a half a book of Ship Tease between Hyperion and Annika, the ending makes it clear that it doesn't work out between the two, as they end up on opposite sides during the Months of Shame and their final meeting years later ending as an unpleasant one.
  • Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: A one-sided example with Clovon to Hyperion. Hyperion finds it difficult to tolerate his presence since Clovon was a cult leader before joining Annika's warband.
  • Space Cold War: Between the Inquisition and the Space Wolves after Armageddon. It turns hot after the Inquisition fires on the Space Wolf flagship under the guise of a truce.
  • The Speechless: The commander of Hyperion's squad, Justicar Galeo, was rendered incapable of speech by a terrible injury to his throat. Galeo's lack of speech doesn't hinder him in any way, however, as he is able to communicate through telepathy.
  • This Is Unforgivable!: Logan Grimnar ordered his forces to never return fire during the campaign to shield the loyal guardsmen from the Inquisition and the Grey Knights, and was even willing to attend an armistice to discuss terms of de-escalating the conflict. All of this goes out of the window when they fire on his flagship during said armistice, after which Grimnar vows to fight to the death.
  • Throwing Your Sword Always Works: At Armageddon, Enceladus and Galeo throw their swords at a daemon's wrist in an attempt to help Hyperion. Unfortunately, said daemon was Angron so it didn't work, and since Galeo no longer had a sword to defend himself with, he's subsequently hacked to pieces by daemons.
  • Training from Hell: The book opens with Hyperion's harsh training as a Grey Knight initiate.
  • Tranquil Fury: Grimnar makes it clear during his meeting with Kysnaros that he's pissed that the Inquisition opened fire on his flagship in spite of their armistice. When Kysnaros demands that he surrender, Grimnar and his retinue proceed to swiftly kill the Grey Knights Grand Master who allegedly ordered the attack on his ship and then several Justicars.
  • A Truce While We Gawk: The fighting between the surviving Space Wolves and Grey Knights aboard the Corel's Hope is brought to an end when everyone present falls to their knees in awe at the appearance of the Dreadnought Bjorn the Fell-Handed, one of the few people in the galaxy to have met the God-Emperor.
  • Unskilled, but Strong: Hyperion only recently became a Grey Knight and still cannot control or access the full extent of his immense psychic potential. This is shown when he is able to shatter Angron's daemonic blade but was only able to do so with a desperate psychic attack that almost killed him.
  • We Will Meet Again: Though the conflict between both sides ends in a (albeit grudging) peace deal, both the Space Wolves and the Inquisition know they will likely end up fighting each other again sooner or later.
  • The Worf Effect: Grand Master Joros of the 8th Brotherhood is a highly experienced warrior who Hyperion describes as one of the Brotherhood's finest duellists, often able to analyze an enemy's next blow before they make it. When he faces the Space Wolves Great Wolf, however, Logan Grimnar is able to sprint across a hall and kill Joros with a single blow from his power axe before the Grand Master can get his sword halfway drawn.
  • You Are in Command Now: Following Galeo's death and Enceladus' coma, command of the Karabela falls to Hyperion.