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Literature / Ultramarines

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The Ultramarines series by Graham McNeill delineates the adventures of one member of the titular Ultramarines, Captain Uriel Ventris.

The Ultramarines are a chapter of Space Marines in the Warhammer 40,000 universe. In the game, they are considered the poster boy Space Marines, with about half the chapters deriving from the parent legion and Games Workshop using them for the majority of the artwork and material about Space Marines.

Their Primarch, Roboute Guilliman, wrote the Codex Astartes, his treatise on Space Marine tactics. The Ultramarines and most of the Ultramarine spin-off chapters rigidly adhere to it almost religiously, refusing to deviate from its teachings. Others, such as the Space Wolves, ignore it entirely - often a source of friction.

The volumes of the series are, to date:

  • Collected in The Ultramarines Omnibus (later republished as ''The Uriel Ventris Chronicles, Volume 1):
    • Nightbringer
    • Warriors of Ultramar
    • Dead Sky, Black Sun
  • Collected in Ultramarines: The Second Omnibus (later republished as ''The Uriel Ventris Chronicles, Volume 2):
    • The Killing Ground
    • Courage And Honour
    • The Chapter's Due
  • A new phase in the series was commenced with McNeill's 2021 novel The Swords of Calth.

Should not be confused with the DC Comics superhero team of the same name. Also should not be confused with the pigment, although the Ultramarines do wear ultramarine-coloured armor. And Games Workshop has a paint color entitled Ultramarine Blue, which is (you guessed it) ultramarine, and intended to be used to paint Ultramarines.

Please check out the character sheet.

Please resist the urge to put examples on this page or link to this page on tropes unless you are citing from 40K novels in which the Ultramarines feature. Examples which are specific to rulebooks or other in-universe fluff should go on either the 40k page or in the Space Marines section of the Imperial factions page.

The chapter, and novels, contain examples of:

  • Action Girl:
    • Adeptus Arbites Judge Jenna Sharben in Nightbringer and Courage and Honour.
    • Colonel Verena Kain in The Killing Ground.
    • Inquisitor Namira Suzaku of the Ordo Malleus in The Chapter's Due.
  • Afterlife Express: The Omphalos Daemonium, a horrifying daemon engine train that transports living people, at first through Medrengard, then through the Warp.
  • Alien Geometries: Khalan-Gol, Honsou's fortress in Medrengard in Dead Sky, Black Sun. Uriel and the renegades wander through the fortress and get turned around a few times. Then daemons start whispering to them.
  • Alien Sky: Medrengard has a painfully white sky, with a static black sun
  • And There Was Much Rejoicing:
    • In Courage and Honor when the Tau blow up the Administratum Tax Bureau.
      Perversely, its destruction gave rise to a huge cheer from the ranks of the defenders, proving that even faced with alien invasion, there were few more hated individuals than those who levied taxes.
    • Also implied in The Killing Ground after Governor Barbaden and his cronies all end up dead.
  • A Million Is a Statistic: In Warriors of Ultramar itself, the huge amount of deaths caused by the Tyranid invasion is oddly understated, while the some 140, 150 Astartes who died remain to be the focus. In-universe it makes some sense, as those Astartes are considered far, far more valuable to the Imperium, while just another instance of millions of humans dying isn't remarkable.
  • Armed with Canon: There seems to be an ongoing war between Graham McNeill and Matt Ward. The former has repeatedly tried to lessen the Ultramarines recent depiction as a Spotlight-Stealing Squad. The latter has made repeated efforts to Retcon McNeill's novels out of existence or at least make them closer to what he envisioned.
  • Arcadia: Ultramar, of all places, where life is relatively simple and built around discipline, self-sacrifice, and giving one's all. Life in Ultramar is of a much higher quality than most places in the Imperium.
    • Macragge particularly comes to mind, with its verdant country and beautiful, yet functional architecture. As it has the chapter monastery where most Ultramarines call home, it's the place most Ultramarines miss the most when abroad in the galaxy.
  • The Atoner: In Dead Sky, Black Sun Uriel and Passanius are exiled from the chapter and sent out on a death oath in penance. Their reasons for being sent are the following. For both of them, their transgressions meant breaking not only with Chapter tradition and Chapter laws, but a possible violation of what separates a Loyalist Marine from the Traitors.
    • Uriel was sent for leaving his Ultramarines on the surface of Tarsis Ultra to aid the Deathwatch mission against the Tyranid Queen. While it turned out to be the right decision to achieve the more strategically important goal, it meant he had effectively abandoned his post.
    • Pasanius was sent for knowingly not telling anybody about his prosthetic arm being self-repairing out of shame. In context, it meant that he failed to swallow his pride and inform anybody that his arm wasn't of human make, which meant that he courted corruption by an alien artifact or worse, a Chaotic one.
  • Badass Creed: One finally appears for them in the film. Captain Severus: "You must be steel! You must be doom! We march to face down Chaos, and banish it! WE MARCH FOR MACRAGGE!" Others: "And we shall know no fear!"
    • There is also their other motto, "Courage and honor." Fairly basic as creeds go in 40K, but it establishes the Chapter's motivations well enough.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: In The Killing Ground, the power of the Big Bad is broken before it reaches the point where it can destroy the world of Salinas by giving him what he wanted - the deaths of the surviving participants in the Khaturian massacre.
  • Beauty Equals Goodness: Subverted in Dead Sky Black Sun with the Unfleshed. They appear evil and purely animalistic at first, but later are shown to be just as Emperor worshiping as the Space Marines.
  • Because Destiny Says So: The Omphalos Daemonium is a Chaos... creature, but apparently it doesn't always operate on pure self-interest.
  • Big Book of War: The Codex Astartes, which Roboute Guilliman wrote after the Horus Heresy suggesting organization and tactics for virtually any scenario that Guilliman could have thought of at the time.
  • Big Damn Heroes: It's heavily implied that the force which rescue the Ultramarines and the Raven Guard in the Tomb of Ventanus were the Legion of the Damned.
  • Bittersweet Ending:
    • Nightbringer: The Nightbringer is freed and Ario Barzano is killed, but the Ultramarines save the planet and Mykola Shonai is allowed to serve out her term.
    • Warriors of Ultramar: Much of Tarsis Ultra is now covered with Tyranid organisms, 78 Ultramarines were killed in action, and Uriel will have to answer for violating the Codex Astartes, but the planet is saved...until Planetfall.
    • Dead Sky, Black Sun: Most of the renegades on Medrengard and the Unfleshed are dead, Uriel and Pasanius have no idea where they're going, but they've managed to complete their Death Oath and take the surviving Unfleshed away from Medrengard.
    • The Killing Ground: The Unfleshed were possessed and had to be mercy killed, but the dead of Khartuian gain their rest, those responsible are all dead, the planet is saved from Exterminatus, and Uriel and Pasanius get to go back to Macragge, having been declared pure of the taint of Chaos by the Grey Knights.
    • Courage and Honour: Pavonis remains in Imperial hands, Learchus gains new understanding of why Uriel and Pasanius did what they did, and all doubt regarding Uriel's loyalty to the Chapter and the Codex are put to rest, but Pavonis losses all autonomy, and in the years to come, many will wish the Tau had won. Probably more of a Downer Ending than the others.
    • The Chapter's Due: Two worlds of Ultramar are devastated, over one third of the Chapter and millions of Imperial citizens have been killed, and there is strong evidence that Honsou escaped, but the Ultramarines survive with enough resources to rebuild the Chapter, the Bloodborn are utterly beaten, and M'kar is gone for good. This is the closest to a Happy Ending the series has.
  • Blood from the Mouth: When Uriel is stabbed by a Norn Queen in Warriors of Ultramar.
  • Blood Magic:
    • The Mortificators' shamanic rituals involve drinking each other's blood, giving them visions that have a surprising, but not perfect accuracy.
    • In the first scene they did this, their chaplain drank the Chapter Master's blood to get a vision to decide if the chapter will aid Tarsis Ultra. The power of that blood proves to be too much for him in the trance, and he regurgitates it. The still-fresh blood is offered to Uriel to seal the pact, and he manages to choke it down. While he did find that it was empowering, he had pretty much the same reaction you just did reading that sentence.
  • Break Them by Talking: Uriel delivers one to the Tau commander at the end of the final battle in Courage and Honour to drive home what will happen if they don't take his offer of a ceasefire.
    Uriel Ventris: Let me tell you what I know. I know this invasion was a gamble for you and you needed to defeat us quickly. I know you have not the resources in place to defend this world against a counter-attack, a counter-attack that I assure you will happen. I know that even if Olzetyn has already fallen, the rest of this world will be ashes before we let you have it. You will have to kill every single human on this planet to hold it, and even then the Imperium will not let you keep it. Forces from neighbouring systems are already en route to Pavonis, and you won't have a strong enough grip on this world by then to keep them at bay.
  • Buy Them Off: In Nightbringer, most of the government officials are in the pockets of Vendare Taloun and Kasimir de Valtos, in preparation for their bid to seize power.
  • Cain and Abel: Guilliman hated Alpharius, and took it upon himself to destroy the Alpha Legion during the Heresy.
  • Cards of Power: In Killing Ground, Grey Knight Leodagarius performs cartomancy using his deck of the Imperial Tarot, a psychically-imbued deck of Tarot cards with a spiritual link to The Imperium's God-Emperor.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: The Dark Eldar enjoy torturing people, unsurprisingly for who they are, but Nightbringer shows the depths to which they sink in order to have a good time.
    • Prelate Culla, the Laventerian chaplain, tortures captives within the Glasshouse. He starts with encouraging the Arbites to abuse the Tau, leaving that to them while he "interrogates" Mykola Shonai, eventually killing her, with his bare fists. He then planned on moving onto the Tau, but circumstances had seen that he missed the opportunity.
  • Combat Pragmatist: in The Killing Ground, before an unarmed duel with with Grey Knight Leodegarius, Uriel asks what the rules of engagement are; Leodegarius just grins and says, "you are such an Ultramarine" and proceeds to wipe the ground with both Uriel and Pasaunius.
  • Cool Gate:
    • Guilliman's Gate on Calth, which is a mile-high gate leading into the underground of Calth, is studded with decorations and defenses. Like much of Macragge's architecture, it's a monolithic work designed around both beauty and functionality.
    • On the opposite end of the spectrum, M'kar's daemon forces manifest en masse through a gate formed from a static bolt of lightning, which spread out to form an arch between the Warp and realspace. It's as terrifying as it sounds.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Governor Leto Barbaden being torn limb from limb by the ghosts of those he had massacred at Khaturian.
  • Dead Guy on Display: Roboute Guilliman's body lies in state in the Temple of Correction, following his death ten thousand years before.
  • Dead Person Conversation: In The Chapter's Due on Calth, Uriel has one with the spirit of Remus Ventanus, an Ultramarines Captain from the Horus Heresy who fought M'Kar in his human form (as Word Bearers Dark Apostle Maloq Kartho) during the Battle of Calth and passes on to Uriel how he can destroy the Daemon Prince.
  • Deathby Irony: In The Killing Ground, Colonel Verena Kain's involvement in the Khaturian Massacre was to lead in the Screaming Eagles veterans, as well as Hellhound tanks to raze the town of Khaturian to the ground, a task she carried out with relish. She dies when the Lord of the Unfleshed hurls her into a bonfire, killing her in the same manner as the victims of her orders at Khaturian. Both Uriel and Pasanius, after seeing a psyker's recollection of her atrocities, think this death was still too good for her.
  • Decapitated Army: In The Chapter’s Due, the Bloodborn army on Espandor quickly falls apart after the death of its leader Kaarja Salombar.
  • Designated Girl Fight: Between Judge Jenna Sharben, the hard-edged, straitlaced Arbites Judge, and La'tyen, the determined, defiant Fire Warrior. Ultimately subverted, since both are military personnel with serious combat training and experience put to use against both genders, and that it gets bloody, fast.
  • Deus ex Machina: In The Chapter’s Due, Uriel and his allies are pinned down by Honsou’s Iron Warriors in the tomb of Ventanus. The Ultramarines are outnumbered, outgunned, and outflanked, and no one is coming to save them. Then the Legion of the Damned suddenly appears, blows the Iron Warriors away, and vanishes, all without any explanation.
  • Did You Just Flip Off Cthulhu?: In Nightbringer, Uriel gets the attention of the Nightbringer by holding a melta-bomb up to its face and threatening to detonate it, explaining that if he does so, it will ignite the flammable gases filling the cavern they're in and bury them all beneath ten kilometres worth of rock, something which even the Nightbringer (still weak from sixty five million years of hibernation) can't survive. Reading Uriel's mind through an empathic link with the beings around it, the Nightbringer realizes Uriel isn't bluffing and reluctantly retreats.
  • Dirty Business: In Dead Sky, Black Sun, Uriel gets stuck between a rock and a hard place more than once, and has to do increasingly dishonorable things to get out of said place. He doesn't like it.
  • Dressing as the Enemy: In The Chapter's Due, several members of the Ultramarines 2nd Company disguise themselves as renegades of the Claws of Lorek to infiltrate and gain more information on the enemy command structure.
  • Driven to Suicide:
    • When the Nightbringer rises from its tomb during the climax of Nightbringer, many of the PDF soldiers and Dark Eldar in the tomb lose their minds and kill themselves after being exposed to its presence.
    • In The Killing Ground, numerous members of the Achamen Falcatas commit suicide out of guilt over their roles in the Khaturian massacre and being haunted by the ghosts of those who died in the massacre.
  • Dying as Yourself: In The Chapter's Due Uriel stabs the Newborn after revealing his true name is Samuquan. Before he dies, Samuquan looks Uriel in the eyes and says "Thank you".
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: The Chapter's Due, see Bittersweet Ending above.
  • Egopolis: The city of Barbadus on Salinas. Following Barbaden's death, Uriel suspects the capital will be renamed in hours.
  • Eldritch Location: The Iron Warriors' fortress of Medrengard, which would be a pretty good depiction of an industrialized version of Hell. It's steeped in such hatred that it can be felt in the air, physics are rather dodgy (e.g. taking a stairway up to a starship without climbing an equivalent amount of stairs), and everything in the environment, yes everything, is trying to kill you.
  • Enemy Civil War: Honsou versus Toramino and Berossus in Dead Sky, Black Sun. He initially assumes Uriel and company were mercenaries sent by Toramino.
  • Evil Tower of Ominousness: Khalan-Gol, Honsou's fortress in Dead Sky, Black Sun. For bonus points, its walls are powered by a bound Bloodthirster of Khorne.
  • Fate Worse than Death: In Nightbringer, the characters discover a victim of a Drukhari haemonculus, left suspended from the ceiling by meat hooks, mutilated beyond recognition who was still faintly murmuring "Kill me". Even the Ultramarines found this fate disturbing.
  • Fix Fic: A lot of bits people complained about in the fifth edition codex were addressed in The Chapter's Due. Mostly by showing that while exceptionally good at their jobs, the Ultramarines were still fallible and could be outdone in some areas by the rest of the Imperium.
  • Get It Over With: Essentially what Uriel tells Leodegarius after being beaten in a duel and thinking he's about to be executed for being tainted by Chaos.
  • Grand Finale: The Chapter's Due sees the end of plot points that have been building since Dead Sky, Black Sun as the forces of Chaos, with Honsou at their head, invade Ultramar.
  • Gunship Rescue: Reaches its logical extreme in The Chapter's Due when the Vae Victus and the Valin's Revenge enter Talassar's atmosphere to release Thunderhawks carrying the 4th and 2nd Companies to reinforce Marneus Calgar and the 1st Company against M'kar's Daemon Army.
  • Happy Ending Override: The short story The Heraclitus Affect ends with the annihilation of Tarsis Ultra, the same planet whose citizens the Ultramarines spent quite a few of their own lives saving.
  • I Gave My Word: Uriel is bound by it, staking his very honour on protecting Ario Barzano to Lord Calgar in Nightbringer.
    • Inquisitor Kryptman actually breaks his word to spare a planet in the path of a Tyranid Hive Fleet from Exterminatus in Warriors of Ultramar since it was the simplest solution to a major problem.
  • Incorruptible Pure Pureness: In spite of their experiences battling xenos and Chaos forces, Uriel and Pasanius. They even get tested on this trait and pass with flying colors.
  • Interplay of Sex and Violence: From Nightbringer, the scene between the wych and the kyerzak, or the Honored, or de Valtos, were explicitly engaged in foreplay before the Honored was surgically disassembled and reassembled. Also, they had sex afterwards, if not something... worse.
  • In the Back: The dying Tyranid Norn Queen shoots Uriel in the back with a poisoned spine. He only survives due to a Deathwatch Apothecary and Pasanius performing blood transfusions to stabilize Uriel long enough to get him back to Tarsis Ultra for more extensive medical treatment.
  • It Has Been an Honor: Uriel gets at least one of these per book, usually just before the final battle as he fully expects to die in the Emperor's name facing such odds.
  • It's All About Me: Everything Kasimir de Valtos does (from hiring Dark Eldar pirates to recover Necrontyr artefacts and raid Imperial settlements, to buying off high ranking members of the Pavonis cartel system, then murdering them once they were no longer of any use to him, to setting off a planet-wide civil war to ensure those loyal to the Imperium couldn't interfere with his schemes) was all in the name of cheating his inevitable death by freeing the Nightbringer and gaining immortality as a reward. Unfortunately for him, it was all for nothing.
  • Kill It with Fire: Throughout the series, Pasanius's signature weapon is a flamer.
  • La Résistance: The Sons of Salinas in The Killing Ground, which have been resisting the Achaman Falcatas occupation for over ten years.
  • Large and in Charge: The Lord of the Unfleshed, Marneus Calgar, the Tyranid synapse creatures, M'kar... Honsou is one of the few exceptions.
  • Least Is First: In Dead Sky Black Sun, when Uriel appeals to a group of Space Marines and two Imperial Guardsmen to help him, it is the Guardsmen who volunteer first. And when one dies, and the Marines decide to leave, the surviving Guardsman assures them that he will go with them.
  • Manly Tears: At the end of The Killing Ground, when after all the hell they have gone through to atone for their sins and prove their loyalty in the story and its predecessor, both Uriel and Pasanius weep at their first sight of the Fortress of Hera as it sinks in that despite all the odds, they've made it home.
  • Mercy Kill: The Lord of the Unfleshed receives the Emperor's Peace for being judged unredeemable after being mind-controlled into a frenzied killing machine, in The Killing Ground.
  • Money Is Not Power: just about every cartel head in Nightbringer gets hit with this trope, and realizes that the vast wealth which makes them legally and politically untouchable in their own sphere means less than nothing when they are confronted by alien pirates, terrorist extremists, their own psychopathic cohorts, and last but not least, an avatar of Death itself;
  • Mordor: Welcome to Medrengard! Filled with hellish forges, vast deserts, twisting mountains, and lots of daemons who want to feast on anything that walks by. You'll be spending most of Dead Sky, Black Sun there.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Koudelkhar Shonai, Governor of Pavonis in Courage and Honour. Having been captured, imprisoned in a POW camp and subjected to Tau propoganda advocating the benefits of the Greater Good, he is initially willing to defect to the Tau Empire. However, when he sees the Tau's willingness to gun down unarmed prisoners during an attempt at an uprising, and his mother is killed in the resulting firefight, he realises the Tau are every bit as vile and dangerous as Imperial rhetoric says all xenos are.
  • Never Hurt an Innocent: The Ultramarines are one of the few chapters which actually have some understanding of what the word "civilians" entails, and are one of the few to try and minimize civilian casualties. Pasanius is so enraged that Inquisitor Kryptman went behind the Ultramarines back to subject a planet to Exterminatus that he nearly strangled Kryptman right in front of a Deathwatch kill team.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Uriel seems to do this a lot. Whether he's sparing the omnicidal star god, releasing the daemonic juggernaut, stirring up a world's ghosts or pissing off the Warsmith, his arrival seems to leave places much worse than when he found them.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: To be honest, when the Ultramarines get into close combat, a lot of their fights become like this. For specific examples:
    • Nightbringer: Against the traitor PDF trying to stop them from getting to the villain's base of operations.
    • The Killing Ground: The duel between Uriel, Pasanius and Leodegarius. Leodegarius hands their heads to them, then mentions that only by losing could they prove their loyalty. Had they beaten him, they would have been gunned down by the Grey Knights as tainted by Chaos.
    • Courage and Honour: Any time Space Marines get into combat with Tau soldiers (justified in that the Tau prefer to fight at range and look down on close combat, letting alien auxillaries like the Kroot sully themselves with hand to hand combat and only engaging in such themselves as a last resort).
  • The Nose Knows: Brother Henghast, a member of Kryptman's assigned Deathwatch Kill-Team originally from the Space Wolves Chapter in Warriors of Ultramar, evokes this trope when he removes his helm to smell the correct way to go aboard the Tyranid Hive Ship. Justified as a Space Wolf's senses are even sharper than a normal Space Marine's (which are already far removed from a human).
  • Pirate: Kaarja Salombar evokes this in The Chapter's Due.
  • Powder Keg Crowd: Several examples of this in Nightbringer, where heavy-handed policing by the Adeptus Arbites results in bloody and violent rioting.
  • Pragmatic Hero: Governor Leto Barbaden in The Killing Ground considers himself one, mixed with the Dark Shepherd. He argues that his decision to bomb the city of Khaturian - which the local resistance had been using as a safe haven for their families - to the ground in order to goad the rebels into a foolhardy attack against the Achamen Falcatas was the best choice, as it allowed him to root out the rebel leaders and end the insurrection in a single stroke. He is later lambasted by Uriel and several of his own advisors that this was more a case of Stupid Evil, as his actions turned what had been a small scale insurrection into a planet-wide state of hostility towards him and his men, to the point where his guardsmen cannot leave the safety of their barracks without being subjected to ambushes, bombings and guerilla attacks.
  • Punny Name overlapping with Meaningful Name: They are Marines, wearing lapis-blue (i.e. ultramarine) armour, who are the ultimate examples of the standard Space Marine doctrine, and are based in the territory of Ultramar. Said name is the Spanish version of Outremer, the collective name for the medieval Crusader states founded by knightly orders (a rather good analogy for their sub-empire), and also (in its more general meaning of "overseas") the root of the pigment's name.
    • "Ultra" is also Latin for "beyond", so the Ultramarines are either the marines who defend the Imperium against the threats from the "beyond" of intergalactic space, or "Beyond" normal marines.
  • Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves:
    • Nightbringer:
      • Almerz Chanda, Kasimir de Valtos's mole in Governor Shonai's office. De Valtos thanks the traitor for their services, then paralyzes them with a poisoned dart and hands them over to the Dark Eldar for torture. Listening to their screams of agony, neither Shonai nor Inquisitor Barzano feels an atom of sympathy.
        de Valtos: My dear Almerz, you betrayed one master, why should I trust you not to betray me as well?
      • de Valtos himself, and his accomplice Vendare Taloun. In the former's case, he murders many of the ruling elite on Pavonis, sets off a civil war and allies with Dark Eldar pirates (all horrendous crimes against the Imperium) to release the C'tan known as the Nightbringer in the belief it will make him immortal, while the latter reluctantly allies with him in a bid to seize the position of Planetary Governor that his family used to hold. Kasimir discovers that the Nightbringer has no need to acknowledge his existence, much less reward him, and ends up being decapitated and his soul eaten by the Nightbringer, while Taloun is arrested, forced to confess his crimes in a very public trial, then hanged from a statue of the Emperor.
    • Mykola Shonai in Courage and Honour. She invited a Tau delegate to talk with the intention of having the Tau establish trading links with the hopes of bringing Pavonis out of its economic depression, but when the Tau (as Uriel warned) resorted to violence when their overtures were rebuffed, she is arrested, tortured and brutally interrogated to learn what other information she might have given the xenos, the savagery of which ultimately kills her.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Sylvanus Thayer in The Killing Ground. Having seen his family die in the bombing of Khaturian and being left a quadriplegic cripple with 90% third-degree burns to his body after his futile attempt to avenge them went south, the trauma of his injuries causes latent psychic abilities to awaken in Thayer. He uses these newfound powers to enslave the ghosts of Khaturian and the recently arrived Unfleshed to his will to serve as pawns to allow him to exact his revenge on all those responsible. He is also uncaring of the fact that his vengeance-fuelled powers run the risk of opening a warp rift on Salinas that will necessitate the planet's destruction by the Inquisition unless he is stopped.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: Barbaden invokes this in The Killing Ground after his imprisonment for Khaturian, dismissive of his detractors' comments that his actions will see him put in front of a firing squad, confident that he can easily petition the Sector Governor to force his release. Unfortunately, the ghosts of those he murdered at Khaturian have other ideas...
  • Secret Test of Character: Uriel and Pasanius get one in "The Killing Ground"; their final test to prove their purity after returning from the Eye of Terror is an unarmed duel with Brother Leodegarius of the Grey Knights. They are utterly thrashed, only to discover they weren't supposed to win; only those who were empowered by Chaos could have won in those circumstances (as Grey Knights are even more lethal than most Marines due to their role as daemon hunters), so by losing, Uriel and Pasanius proved they were untainted.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Techmarine Harkus makes a few to Star Trek in Warriors of Ultramar
    • The short story Leviathan makes a few to Film/Aliens.
    • Dialogue between Ventris and Vaanes in Dead Sun, Black Sky references Star Wars: A New Hope.
    • In the fourth book, several characters seem to share first names with members of System of a Down.
    • The leader of the Sons of Salinas in The Killing Ground is named after the superintendent of West Point Military Academy.
    • Consider the dialogue below from The Chapter's Due spoken just before a duel between Fourth Company Champion Petronius Nero and Xiomagra, a Slaaneshi champion in service to Honsou:
    "My name is Petronius Nero. You tried to kill my captain. Prepare to Die."
  • The Siege: The siege of Khalan-Gol in Dead Sky, Black Sun sees Honsou fending off two armies, who attack consecutively (rather than at the same time), setting the stage for Uriel's death oath.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: In Courage and Honour, Uriel delivers one to the defeated Tau Ethereal leading the invasion.
    Aun'rai: You are a doomed culture... You thirst for gain and personal glorification while your Imperium rots from within. Such a society cannot, ultimately, survive.
    Uriel: It has survived for ten thousand years since its inception.
    Aun'rai: What you have is not survival, it is merely a slow extinction.
    Uriel: Not while warriors of courage and honour stand to defend it.
  • Sliding Scale of Cynicism Versus Idealism: Surprisingly for this setting, and even after everything he's had to endure, Uriel himself firmly falls on the idealist side.
  • Sour Supporter: Sergeant Learchus to an extent, particularly as Uriel's plans start diverging more and more from the Codex Astartes.
  • Take My Hand!: Uriel does this to Captain Bannon in Warriors of Ultramar while trying to pull him aboard a departing Thunderhawk as he dangles from a rapelling cable. Bannon, already locked in combat with what is either a winged Tyrant Warrior or possibly a Hive Tyrant (the in-text description isn't clear), instead cuts his line, falling to his death below to allow the Thunderhawk to escape and preventing the creature from getting aboard.
  • Take Up My Sword: In the short story "Chains of Command", Captain Idaeus gives his sword and legacy to Uriel.
  • "The Reason You Suck"Speech: Aun'rai delivers one regarding the Imperium in Courage and Honour, stating in his view why the Imperium of Man is ultimately doomed to be replaced by the Tau Empire, even if it doesn't work out for him:
    Aun'rai: You are gue'la barbarians and you delay the inevitable, nothing more. The frontier of our empire moves with the turning of the planets, and it will push you before it until there is nowhere left for you. Then your race will be no more. The frontier is for those unafraid to face the future, not for those who cling to a forgotten past.
  • They Have the Scent!
    • The Clawed Fiends dispatched by de Valtos' Dark Eldar allies to kill Governor Shonai and Barzano in Nightbringer track their prey by scent.
    • The lictor on the loose in Erebus City detects a significant target in the form of Inquisitor Kryptman through its sense of smell.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Simon Van Gelder in Warriors of Ultramar. If you're going to insult the courage and skill of the Ultramarines, it's probably not a good idea to do it to the face of one who has already made their distaste for you plain and is more than willing to kill you for the insult.
    • On a larger scale, Kasimir de Valtos in Nightbringer. All of his schemes were to try convincing the Necron god of death (the one that killed so many mortals in ancient times that almost every race in the universe is scared of death itself) to grant him immortality and was surprised when he got killed instead. This is in a universe where plenty of methods to achieve immortality of some sort exist, and he managed to choose one of the few that absolutely wouldn't work. At the time of this book being written, the only recruits that the Necrons were taking were human blanks to be converted into Necron Pariahs.
  • Tyke-Bomb: The Newborn is the twisted result of combining an adolescent boy abducted by the Iron Warriors with Uriel's genetic code, resulting in a fully-grown (and lethal) Chaos Space Marine who acts out of loyalty to his "father", Honsou, and only hates the Imperium and the Ultramarines because that's what he's been taught to do.
  • Victory Is Boring: At the start of Courage and Honour, Uriel Ventris is disappointed at how easy a skirmish against Tau Pathfinders is with the power of his 4th Company at his back, since he's so used to fighting against overwhelming odds, with lapses in his training, sometimes no Power Armour and only Pasanius always with him.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Kasimir de Valtos, the main antagonist of Nightbringer suffers one at the end. Having caused the deaths of thousands of people (either murdered by his own hand, or killed in pirate attacks carried out by Dark Eldar mercenaries working with him, or in a civil war he had instigated to seize control of Pavonis) all in the name of freeing the Nightbringer in the belief it would make him immortal as a reward. When his plan finally comes to fruition, he is briefly connected to the Nightbringer's mind through an empathic link as it awakens, at which point his mind breaks at the realization that the Nightbringer is as far removed from him as he is from an ant, and the C'Tan has no reason to even acknowledge his existence, let alone reward him. Kasimir is reduced to tearfully begging the Nightbringer to make him immortal, which only results in the creature deigning to notice him for long enough to kill him.
  • We Have Reserves: Leto Barbaden, the Imperial Guard Colonel turned planetary governor in The Killing Ground. Having been a quartermaster and logistician before his Battlefield Promotion to the leadership of the regiment, he has zero regard for the lives of his men, or, for that matter, the lives of the opposition or those of civilians whom he deliberately sacrifices to achieve his goals. Far from being conflicted about his disregard for casualties, he congratulates himself for his acumen in realizing that, in the Grimdark 41st Millennium, manpower is the one resource the Imperium can afford to squander with abandon.
  • Weird Sun: The black, static sun in Dead Sky, Black Sun. In other fluff, it's stated to actually be a black hole at the center of the Eye of Terror. Meaning in a tear in space time leading directly to the Warp. Think about that for a moment.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: In Courage and Honour, when Uriel tells the Tau trying to occupy Pavonis (the world he went to such effort to save back in Nightbringer) that he will destroy the planet to keep it out of their hands if they don't call off their invasion, they have this criticism for him.
    "Just to prevent us from taking this world, you would see it burned to ash?"
  • Worthy Opponent: How the Ultramarines see the Tau by the end of Courage and Honour.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: The Nightbringer does not enjoy the thought of sharing power, especially much less the idea of giving power to a pitiful mortal.
    • Kasimir de Valtos invokes this trope a lot with allies of his. Having bribed and manipulated Taryn Honan and Solana Vergen into supporting his political bid to undermine Mykola Shonai's Governorship of Pavonis, when he no longer has need of them, he doesn't hesitate to dispose of them; Vergen is tortured to death by de Valtos as a form of cathartic release from his own pain, while Honan is handed over to "enjoy" the attentions of a Dark Eldar Haemonculus.
    Taryn Honan: Come Kasimir, surely there's no need to say such things? We are friends, after all? Aren't we?
    Kasimir de Valtos: Friends? No Taryn, we are not friends. You are just a pathetic piece of filth I stepped on on my route to immortality. And now it's time I discarded you.