I’ve been wondering for a while about the conflicting accounts of the death of Warmaster Slaydo in Dan Abnett’s Gaunt’s Ghosts series...
First and Only states that Slaydo announced Maccaroth as his successor and promoted Gaunt to Colonel Commissar on his deathbed. The Sabbat Worlds Crusade features a painting of “The Death of Slaydo”, showing the Warmaster passing away surrounded by a bunch of concerned Generals and other officers. But Gaunt, in Blood Pact, states that Slaydo was struck down on the battlefield, and his body dragged away and mutilated by the enemy. So, what gives?
To solve this mystery, remember rule number one – the Imperium lies.
Gaunt’s recollections of Slaydo’s end are entirely accurate. But the Imperium would never admit to cocking up so badly as to let the body of the Warmaster fall into enemy hands. So, they concocted the story of his being rescued and having the time to issue a bunch of orders before peacefully slipping away surrounded by his loyal staff. They even commissioned an artist to depict the scene, and had Tactician Biota recount it in his his historical account of the Crusade. His “deathbed” orders were prepared by him prior to the battle in case of his death, and carried out by his subordinates.
(There is still the problem of tourists being shown Slaydo’s “Death Venue” on the battlefield on Balhaut, but the Balhaut tour guides are shown to be horribly inaccurate anyway. Anyone familiar with the deathbed account who visits Balhaut would probably assume that the marker shows where Slaydo was mortally wounded rather than actually killed, and that their guide doesn’t know what they’re talking about.)
So, there we have it. Problem solved! You can send me my cheque now Mr Abnett 😉