The Life and Times of Ibram Gaunt

Do you want to live forever? Not if I have to do this again.

I could write an entry about the various things I’ve been doing lately, but frankly they’re all rather boring (well, apart from winning a quiz night at Justin’s tennis club).  So instead I’ve compiled a timeline of Dan Abnett’s Gaunt’s Ghosts series.

(Hey, I didn’t go to Supanova – I had to do something spectacularly nerdy with the weekend).

So here we go, a partial and even somewhat reliable timeline of important events regarding the Sabbat Worlds Crusade, compiled from various sources including the somewhat rare Sabbat Worlds Crusade background book (Yes. I own a copy. Read it and weep :))

The Original Crusade
~500.M35: Birth of Saint Sabbat.
~515.M35: Start of Sabbat’s Crusade.
~620.M35: Saint Sabbat martyred on Harkalon.

Heldane and Ravenor
~220.M41: Birth of Golesh Constantine Pheppos Heldane.
~235.M41: Heldane apprenticed to Inquisitor Commodus Voke.
240.M41: Heldane horribly scarred during investigation of House Glaw. He later (prior to 338.M41) has surgery to enhance the resulting terrifying appearance.
251.M41: Three Astartes of the Iron Snakes are sent to Formal Prime to investigate a warp incursion. Only two return to Ithaka.
278.M41: Heldane rises to the rank of full Inquisitor.
304.M41: Birth of Gideon Ravenor.
338.M41: Ravenor horrifically injured in the Thracian Atrocity and confined to a Force Chair.
386.M41: Heldane suffers terrible injuries while facing the daemonhost Cherubael. He undergoes extensive augmetic reconstruction and takes many years to recover.

Lead up to Slaydo’s Crusade and Gaunt’s Background
600.M41: Chaos attacks on the Sabbat Worlds increase notably.
~605.M41 Birth of Slaydo.
~702.M41 Birth of Ayatani Zweil.
~680.M41 The Verghastite hive cities of Ferrozoica and Vervunhive engage in a bitter trade war. Vervunhive is victorious.
707.M41: Birth of Tolin Dorden.
~717.M41: Birth of Hlaine Larkin. Birth of Macaroth.
719.M41: Salvador Sondar murders his uncle Heironymo, taking over his role as High Master of Vervunhive.
~722.M41: Birth of Veynom Blenner.
724.M41: Birth of Ibram Gaunt.
732.M41: Slaydo writes A Reasoned Approach to the Reconquest of the Sabbat Territories.
735.M41: Death of Gaunt’s father on Kentaur (Gaunt aged 11).
736.M41: The 12 year old Gaunt is sent to the Schola Progenium on Ignatius Cardinal.
741.M41: The Civitas Imperialis is officially suspended across the Sabbat Worlds. The worlds are officially considered lost. Birth of Thuro of NorthCol on Verghast.
745.M41: Twenty-one year old Cadet Commissar Gaunt fights separatists on Darendara with the Hyrkans under Commissar Oktar. He encounters a Psyker who makes numerous predictions about his future.
746.M41: Birth of Ban Daur
747.M41: The 23 year old Gaunt fights Orks with the Hyrkans and Oktar on Gylatus Decimus. He is promoted to full Commissar on the death of Oktar by Ork poisons.
749.M41: The 25 year old Commissar Gaunt avenges his father on Khedd 1173. Birth of Dermon Caffran. Birth of Kolding.
~750.M41: Thirteen Tempest Class Frigates, including the Highness Ser Armaduke are constructed in anticipation of the Khulan Wars. A shortage of raw materials requires the recycling of metal and components from many older and wrecked warships.
750.M41: Birth of Brin Milo.
752.M41: Birth of Tona Criid
752-754.M41: Slaydo rises to prominence and achieves victory in the Khulan Wars.
754.M41 – Tempest class frigate Highness Sir Armaduke is placed into reserve after suffering substantial damage in the Khulan Wars.

The Sabbat Worlds Crusade
755.M41: Slaydo is promoted to Warmaster and appointed to lead the Crusade to liberate the Sabbat Worlds.
755.M41: Commissar Gaunt and a team of Hyrkans investigate an ancient shrine on Formal Prime.
757.M41: Thirty-three year old Gaunt is assigned to the newly founded 8th Hyrkans.
759.M41: Birth of Dalin Kolea/Criid
~762.M41: On Verghast, Thuro moves from Ferrozoica Hive to NorthCol.
765.M41: The assault on Balhaut. Gaunt (aged 40) and the 8th Hyrkans bring down the Tower of the Plutocrat. Slaydo is mortally injured defeating Archon Nadzybar but promotes Gaunt to Colonel Commissar on his deathbed. Urlock Gaur assumes the position of Archon.
765.M41: Three new regiments are raised on Tanith. Gaunt is sent to take command and rescues around half of them from the planet’s destruction on the day of Founding.
765.M41: The Tanith first and Only engage in their first action on Blackshard.
765.M41: The Tanith assault Voltis City on Voltemand and are then redeployed to the ruins of Kosdorf.
765.M41: A Vermillion level message is relayed by ships scouting the Nubila Reach.
765.M41: The Tanith fight on Fortis Binary and Menazoid Epsilon, then are deployed to Bucephalon and Caligula.
767.M41: The Tanith fight Orks on Typhon 8, then Chaos on Nacedon and Ramillies 268-43.
768.M41: The Tanith take part in the assault on Sapiencia and are then deployed to Monthax. On Verghast, Thuro of NorthCol carves a frieze for the portico of the NorthCol Imperial Hospice.
769.M41: The Tanith defend Vervunhive on Verghast. House Chass commissions Thuro of NorthCol to sculpt a memorial to the victory. Many Verghastites join the Tanith First under the Act of Consolation.
769.M41: The Highness Ser Armaduke, Lights Excelling and Cold Steel transport war material from Verghast to the Niadoral system for Adeptus Mechanicus reseach.
770.M41: The Tanith fight on Hagia. Birth of Meritorious Felyx Chass.
771.M41: The Tanith take part in the liberation of Phantine.
772.M41: The Tanith fight on Aexe Cardinal.
773.M41: Saint Sabbat is reborn on Herodor. The Tanith are redeployed at her request and fight alongside her. The Phantine Air Corps fight on Enothis.
~774.M41 – Captain Wilder of the Belladon 81st Recon requests a regimental Colours Band.
774.M41: A specialist team of 12 Ghosts led by 50 year old Commissar Gaunt are sent to the Chaos held world of Gereon.
~775.M41: The under-strength Tanith First and Only is merged with the Belladon 81st Recon to form the 81st/1st Recon, and the new regiment is deployed to Ancreon Sextus.
776.M41: Gaunt’s team return from Gereon and are reunited with the 81st/1st on Ancreon Sextus. Gaunt re-assumes command and the Tanith First and Only is reformed, absorbing the Belladon personnel from the 81st.
777.M41: The Tanith assist in the liberation of Gereon.
778.M41: The Tanith defend the Hinzerhaus on Jago. The Belladon Colours Band requested by Captain Wilder arrives on Ancreon Sextus. They spend the next three years trying to catch up with the Ghosts.
779.M41: The Tanith and 55 year old Gaunt arrive on Balhaut after being rotated off the front line.
779.M41: Titan Legio Invicta diverts from the Crusade to assist the Forge World of Orestes against a Chaos invasion.
780.M41: Gaunt and the Tanith battle a unit of Blood Pact infiltrators on Balhaut.
781.M41: Gaunt and the Tanith lead an attack on Salvation’s Reach. A warp translation error during their return jumps them 10 years forwards to 791.M41
~784.M41: Gaunt is ‘posthumously’ promoted to Lord Militant Commander
791.M41: The Ghosts defend Urdesh against the Sons of Sek. Gaunt is appointed Lord Executor.

Later Events
812.M41: Death of Major August Kaminsky of the Phantine Air Corps
829.M41: Thuro of NorthCol records his memoirs. The remains of Vervunhive have been completely demolished.
999.M41: Necron Overlord Trazyn the Infinite releases captured Imperial forces – Including Tanith snipers – from his Tesseract Labyrinths to aid in the defence of Cadia

From this timeline it’s possible to construct a chronological reading order for the series – by which I mean reading all the various fragments of stories (particularly in First and Only and Ghostmaker which were largely pieced together from previously published short stories) in the order that they happened. It would be madness to read the series this way for the first time, but it could be fun for a re-reading. So, here we go…

1: The Fissure (optional prequel)
2: First and Only – Manzipor
3: First and Only – Ignatius Cardinal
4: First and Only – Darendara (Part 1)
5: First and Only – Darendara (Part 2)
6: First and Only – Gylatus Decimus
7: First and Only – Khedd 1173
8: A Ghost Return
9: Blood Pact – Epilogue
10: Ghostmaker – Ghostmaker
11: Ghostmaker – A Blooding
12: Of their Lives in the Ruins of their Cities
13: The Vincula Insurgency (Ghost Dossier 1)
14: First and Only – Nubila Reach
15: First and Only – Fortis Binary
16: First and Only – Cracia City, Pyrites
17: First and Only – The Empyrean
18: First and Only – Menazoid Epsilon
19: Ghostmaker – The Angel of Bucephalon
20: Ghostmaker – The Hollows of Hell
21: Ghostmaker – That Hideous Strength
22: Ghostmaker – Permafrost
23: Ghostmaker – Blood Oath
24: Ghostmaker – Sound and Fury
25: Ghostmaker – A Simple Plan
26: Ghostmaker – Witch Hunt
27: Ghostmaker – All connecting text between chapters
28: Ghostmaker – Some Dark and Secret Purpose
29: Necropolis
30: In Remembrance
31: Honour Guard
32: The Guns of Tanith
33: Straight Silver
34: Sabbat Martyr
35: Double Eagle (optional)

36: Apostle’s Creed (optional)
37: Traitor General
38: His Last Command
39: The Armour of Contempt
40: Only in Death
41: The Iron Star
42: Titanicus (optional)

43: Blood Pact (Except Epilogue)
44: Salvation’s Reach
45: Family
46: You Never Know
47: Viduity
48: Ghosts and Bad Shadows
49: Killbox
50: The Warmaster
51: Urdesh: The Serpent and the Saint (optional)
52: Urdesh: The Magister and the Martyr (optional)
53: Anarch
54: This is What Victory Feels Like (Forever the Same)
55: From There to Here

There. That should keep you busy for a while 🙂

Edit March 2014: Updated the timeline with some info on the background of Inquisitors Heldane and Ravenor (author of Gaunt’s beloved Spheres of Longing). Added Salvation’s Reach to the timeline and reading list.

Edit July 2015: Updated the timeline to include stories from the Sabbat Crusade Anthology.

Edit March 2017: Added details of Thuro of NorthCol

Edit December 2017: Added Tanith involvement in the Fall of Cadia

Edit February 2019: Added The Warmaster, Killbox, Anarch, Double Eagle and Apostle’s Creed

Edit June 2019: Added a few details concerning the Highness Sir Amaduke and the regiment’s Colours Band.

Edit June 2021: Added The Vincula Insugency, This is What Victory Feels Like and From There to Here, and info some background info on the Highness Sir Armaduke.

Edit February 2022: Added a few details on the history of Vervunhive. Added Matthew Farrer’s Urdesh novels to the reading list.

Dolphins? Pah!

Dolphins are seriously overrated.

Just what is the big deal with dolphins?

Everywhere I turn, everyone seems to love dolphins. See the dolphins! tourism ads proclaim. Meet the dolphins! Swim with the dolphins! Swim with the WILD dolphins! Everyone seems to go completely gaga over the damn things.

Well, here’s the thing. Dolphins are seriously overrated.

I’ve met the dolphins. I’ve met the wild dolphins. And they completely failed to impress me in any way.

For many years Australia’s premiere site for communing with wild dolphins was Monkey Mia right here in WA. There are plenty of other places to see dolphins these days, but that was the first place where wild dolphins started coming into the beach and begging for food. It’s still a major tourist draw, despite being in the middle of nowhere, and we stopped off there to meet the dolphins on a family trip back when I was in high school.

And we did meet the dolphins. Or at least the dolphin, as only one turned up. In the midst of a big crowd of tourists we waded waist deep into the ocean and saw the dolphin. We saw the dolphin, we touched the dolphin, we listened to a lecture about the dolphin courtesy of the ranger minding the dolphin, a few randomly selected folk fed fish to the dolphin, the dolphin bit my brother, then got bored and swam away, and we waded out of the ocean.

That was it. No great revelation. No amazing sense of joy, wonder and communication with another intelligent being – just standing around in cold, salty water prodding at something that could have been a wetsuit full of custard for all the profundity it provided.

We returned to Monkey Mia a few years later with my Aunt who was out from the UK and wanted to meet the dolphins. We sat around on the beach until the dolphins arrived and everyone stampeded down to the water – everyone except me that was, as I was reading a rather good book and couldn’t see the point in putting it down to go and stand in the water, gawking at something rather dull that I’d had my fill of the last time.

Everyone was wildly concerned. Didn’t I want to see the dolphins they asked? Was I alright? Was I feeling ill? Was I – my Aunt asked quietly to spare me any embarrassment – scared of the dolphins? No, I explained. I was fine, I’d just seen the dolphins before and didn’t feel that I needed to see them again.

They all looked at me as if I was dangerously insane, but then the lure of the dolphins proved too much and they scurried down to the water, leaving me to my book, which was far more interesting than any cetacean could ever be.

Now, pinnidpeds – particularly the otariidae – I have time for. They’re smart, playful and entertaining, and you can interact with them without getting wet (well, too wet). They have personalities. But dolphins… dolphins are just dull, and fail to excite me.

Read into that what you will – if that is, you have any time for reading while there are dolphins around.

The Holder of the Sovereignty

Any mug can do it when the yards are full…

(Thought I’d give this a shot…)

In any city, in any country, go to any mental institution or halfway house you can get yourself to. When you reach the front desk, ask to visit someone who calls himself “The Holder of the Sovereignty”. Should a disturbing look of eagerness come over the worker’s face you will be taken to and left at a metal door in a brick outbuilding.

Knock three times on the door. A muffled voice should answer. If not, turn around and walk away. You may return and try again another day. If the voice answers, DO NOT say anything. Instead wait until the voice ceases, then knock three times again. The voice will again answer and again you MUST NOT speak. Wait until the voice ceases and knock three times once more. The voice will answer, and if you again remain silent the door will unlock. You MUST NOT speak during any of this, for reasons that it is not safe to explain.

Open the door and walk through. You will be in a small, windowless, brick room with an wrought-iron spiral staircase descending into the floor. The staircase will be covered in dust and cobwebs.

Descend the staircase. It will go far deeper than seems possible but do not turn around, no matter how much you may want to.

At the bottom of the staircase is a dusty hallway leading to a green door. If you are truly committed, open the door and go through. Otherwise ascend the staircase and leave. NEVER return.

Behind the door is a dusty storeroom filled with metal shelves and boxes. Search the room for a black, velvet covered box. Open it. Inside will be dozens of tiny fragments of bone, shaped like puzzle pieces. Fit them together (DO NOT sleep in this room, no matter how long it takes to assemble the puzzle).

When the pieces are properly assembled they form a human skull. This is the Holder of the Sovereignty.

Hold the skull to your ear. It will instruct you to carry out a task of minor betrayal against an acquaintance. If you do not complete this task within one year, you will die.

Once the task is complete, return to the room and hold the skull to your ear again. It will instruct you to carry out a task of substantial betrayal against a friend or loved one. If you do not complete this task within one month, you will die.

Once the task is complete, return to the room and hold the skull to your ear again. It will instruct you to carry out a task of ultimate betrayal against the person you care about the most. If you do not complete this task within one week, you will die.

Once the task is complete, return to the room and hold the skull to your ear again. It will tell you the secret known to the greatest traitors and turncoats in history. Used wisely this secret will make you the richest of the rich, and the most powerful of the powerful. Used unwisely it will cost you everything you own including your soul.

This secret is Object 227 of 538. It must never be shared with anyone.

(Yeah, thought so. Easy :))

Things I Never Thought I’d Say – Number One in a Series

In my veins hot music ran

“Of course my knowledge of the zoot suit riots comes chiefly from the Cherry Poppin’ Daddies song and a Kim Newman story about Zorro and lycanthropy, so I’m not an authority or anything”

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