Gaunt’s Ghosts

The Founding: A Gaunt’s Ghost Omnibus
Dan Abnett

I have never played 40k but have been fascinated by it’s lore for a very long time, largely due to many long form lore videos by Luetin09

I was curious to maybe read a book or two but picking one at random seemed risky and likely would end up being a disappointing experience as can be the case with RPGLit…I use that genre descriptor generally here, for lack of a better one at the moment.

So when I read this on Scott Oden’s blog I figured I had found an entry point.

I ended up getting a beat up reader and initially I was into the story but that wore off quickly.

I think Abnett is a competent writer converting what are units in the game into characters with humanity, but overall I found the story to be full of overused clich├ęs and tropes which turned me off so much that I have stopped reading before fully completed the first book in the omnibus.

I guess I was looking for something more inline with the grim nature I hear in the game lore of 40k as opposed to a fluffy novel of a group of characters impossibly surviving the horrors of the 40k universe for more than a single engagement. If you’re into a lighter read where protagonists prevail over all odds then these stories may be for you. If you’re looking for something darker and dare I say grim, you may want to find a rule book with lore and use your imagination instead.


“[The Emperor of Mankind] has sat immobile, His body slowly crumbling, within the Golden Throne of Terra for over 10,000 standard years.
Although once a living man, His shattered, decaying body can no longer support life, and it is kept intact only by the cybernetic mechanisms of the Golden Throne and a potent mind itself sustained by the daily sacrifice of thousands of lives.”

He makes war so real that you want to duck!

Duck?,nah…cringe, yes!

Part Four: Cracia City, Pyrites of the omnibus is where I lost interest in reading much further. This section reads like a bad Star Trek holodeck episode that takes place with 20’s and 30’s era gangsters and bootleggers. It’s quite horrible.

Part Five: The Empyrean we are introduced to who I assume if the one of the main antagonists Inquisitor Heldane, who reads like a Darth Vader villain. Heldane states that “The most priceless artefact in space awaits our lord in the Menazoid Clasp.
Really, the most priceless artefact in space? That’s some weak ass shit right there, sounds like bad GM role-playing dialog. I mean it’s not even vanilla, it’s more so water flavored.

I don’t know, I pushed on for a little further but I’m over it now, putting it down and moving on to something else. Again, I’m not bad mouthing Abnett’s writing it’s just not for me, I had different expectations for what awaited me here.

Abnett says in the introduction that ‘First and Only’, the first story in this omnibus, is his first published novel (1999) so maybe I’d find a later work more to my liking?

Or maybe there are no stories that live up to my interpretation of the grim reality that is the 40K game lore…possibly a short story? I just don’t see a novel length story getting there and certainly not any with continuing character stories spanning multiple books and definitely not characters that are simple guardsmen.

Or maybe how I imagine the 40K universe is skewed and I have it wrong…maybe?

Regardless, Abnett has been shelved and The Ghosts are now on leave.

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