The story introduced Colonel-Commissar Ibram Gaunt and his men, the Tanith 1st (or first and only) as they fight in the Sabbat Worlds Crusade battlefront. The plot revolves around the Ghosts coming into contact with a vital piece of top secret intelligence which has them fighting off enemies from both the ruinous powers and conspirators within the Imperial Guard.
In the war-torn future of the 41st millenium, the Sabbat Worlds Crusade has begun. With the massed ranks of the Imperial Guard hard pressed by the evil forces of Chaos, makind must prevail - whatever the cost in lives. Commissar Ibram Gaunt has vowed to lead the men of the Tanith First-and-Only safely through this campaign, but they must evade the treacherous scheming of rival regiments just as much as the lethal firepower of the enemy.
The high lords of Terra, lauding the great Warmaster Slaydo's efforts at Khulen, tasked him with raising a crusade force to liberate the Sabbat Worlds, a cluster of nearly one hundred inhabited systems along the edge of the Segmentum Pacificus. From a massive fleet deployment, nearly a billion Imperial Guard advanced into the Sabbat Worlds, supported by forces of the Adeptus Astartes and the Adeptus Mechanicus, with whom Slaydo had former co-operative pacts.
After ten hard-fought years of dogged advance, Slaydo's great victory came at Balhaut, where he opened the way to drive a wedge into the heart of the Sabbat Worlds.
But there Slaydo fell. Bickering and rivarly then beset his officers as they vied to take his place. Lord High Militant General Dravere was an obvious successor, but Slaydo himself had chosen the younger commander, Macaroth.
With Macaroth as warmaster, the Crusade force pushed on, into its second decade, and deeper into the Sabbat Worlds, facing theatres of war that began to make Balhaut seem like a mere opening skirmish...
-from A History of the Later Imperial Crusades
Manzipor, age 4
A young Ibram Gaunt, cared for by the staff and servant's of his family home on Manzipor, is visited by old friend 'Uncle' Dercius, who gives Ibram a present: a signet ring. He then tells him that his father has died in battle, without explaining how or when.
Ignatius, age 12
Now about twelve years standard, Gaunt begins his education at the Schola Progenium Prime of Ignatius, and on his first day meets an older boy, Vaynom Blenner, who is being punished for "using live round in a target silo, destroying a simulator". Blenner tells Gaunt that he was orphaned when his Space Marine father died at Futhfark, and when his mother comitted suicide out of grief. When asked what happened to him, Gaunt tells Blenner that his father was a Imperial Colonel, but that nobody has told him how he died.
Gaunt is brought into the office of the Schola's head master, Boniface, who tests him on his knowledge of Imperial creed. When Gaunt mentions Blenner, Boniface tells him that Blenner tells tall tails and that he is being punished for lewd grafitti in the toilets, and that his father was a clerk. He also learns that Gaunt's education has been insured by Dercius, a General in the Jantine Patricians. When Gaunt asks how his own father died, Boniface states that it is classifed.
Darendara, age 21
On the ice-world of Darendara, Commissar-General Delane Oktar of the Hyrkan Regiments, observes the siege of the ice palace, and ponders the neccesity of their long running invasion work on the seccessionist planet. He feels that one of his officers, Colonel Dravere, is far too blunt and ambitious in his approach.
Oktar asks for 'the boy', who turns out to be a 21 year old Cadet-Commissar, Ibram Gaunt. Oktar gives his the task of leading the Hyrkans assault team into a burning wing of the Ice Palace as a 'test'. Gaunt is shocked by the large weight of the duty, but quickly rallies and picks out a fire team. Gaunt's squad quickly finish off the defenders.
While taking prisoners, they encounter a female psyker among them, who speaks of "cutting the seven stones", and finding the "ghosts". When Gaunt pursues this further, the psyker says that the warp knows him, using his given name. Before he can get more explanation, she attacks one of the troopers, and is promptly beaten and taken away by the Hyrkans.
One of the sergeants tries to reassure Gaunt, but he never forgets the incident.
During the victory celebrations in the city's streets, Gaunt receives fruit and an invitation to joyous drinking sessions from a pair of Hyrkan soldiers, which he politely declines. He runs into Oktar, and the pair walk through the boulevards, discussing the nature of a Commissar's duty, and it's more complex and subtle existence. He tells Gaunt that there is one last task he needs to complete before joining in the jubilations, to help an Inquisitor interrogating an enemy psyker. Gaunt meets the Inquisitor, Defay, in the bowels of the Ice Palace's prison, and is disarmed by his surroundings. Defay informs that the girl he is interviewing claims to know Gaunt, and will only cooperate if she can speak with him. Although baffled, Gaunt agrees. In the prison cell, he finds the girl is the same one he encountered before. After initially humouring Gaunt, she becomes serious and speaks of how Gaunt must "find his ghosts " among other things, and also calls him an Anroth. Gaunt, terrified of the warp magic, attempts to escape the now freezing room but finds the door locked. The girl continues her prophecies, and in the heat of the moment Gaunt uses the word "feth", although afterwards he cannot explain it. The girl subsides after an intense conversation, and the door appears unlocked. Gaunt hesistates before leaving, and eventually asks her how his father died. After a moment, she tells him.
Khedd 1173, age 25
A column of Jantine Patricians, under the command of Dercius, prepares to advance on a newly discovered Kheddite rebel base on the ice world of Khedd 1173. Dercius ponders the suprising passion of their enemy, who despite poor tactical strength continue to mount raids on the Imperial forces. After discussion with two of his adjutants, one of them Brochuss, he decides that the target is indeed a hidden fort. Dercius ponders on a joke made by Brochuss, feeling that his old Major, Gaunt, would have enjoyed it. They make their assault and wipe out the poorly equiped Kheddites.
While stationary, Dercius disovers that a promised batch of reinforcements, Hyrkans are en route, including his 'nephew', Ibram Gaunt. When Gaunt arrives, Dercius greets him warmly, but Gaunt's pensive manner startles him, and then Gaunt reveals that he knows Dercius was responsible for Gaunt Snr's death. The two engage in a chainsword duel, with both Hyrkans and Jantine giving a wide birth. After an exhausting fight, Dercius slashes Gaunt's stomach, permanetly scarring him. However, despite his serious wound, Gaunt is able to rally and perform an almost impossible thrust which kills Dercius outright. Before he passes out from the pain of his wound, Gaunt looks skyward and declares "You are avenged, father".
Present Time Edit
Nubila Reach Edit
Analysis & Extras Edit
Main Characters Edit
- Vermillion Conspirators (Dravere, Flense & Heldane)
Narrative Structure Edit
First and Only follows a chronologically non-linear structure, with chapters charting events in Gaunt's early life being interspered with chapters in the modern narrative as relevant to the events of the book. It primarily follows Gaunt as a result of this, but also gives focus to other members of the regiment, and also the various members of the Vermillion Conspiracy (Dravere, Flense & Heldane)
Title Meaning Edit
First and Only is one of a number of books in the series that uses a platitude rather than something relevant to the plot, with the term First and Only a Tanith war cry, referring to them being the Tanith 1st and the only Tanith regiment as well.
- Revenge (Gaunt - Dercius, Flense - Gaunt)
- Regimental Feud (Tanith 1st - Jantine Patricians)
- One Last Stand (Blane and his platoon)
- Fulfilling Destiny (Gaunt)
- Coward-in-Chief (Dravere)
Memorable Quotes Edit
- (First Line) LaHain: Well?
- Only 'flashback' chapter book in the series.
- Despite chronociling key events in Gaunt's life, it is not said for definite where he was born or what his father's name was.
- First of five occasions during the series in which Gaunt has been at had to hear a prophecy.
Unanswered Questions Edit
- What were the iron men? The Men of Iron
- How exactly was Tanith lost/destroyed? Was it invaded or wiped out? Picket lines around the sector were stretched too thin and a Chaos attack fleet was able to slip through unmolested. Virtually undefended aside from the three new, inexperienced regiments, Gaunt chose to evacuate as many soldiers as he could before the planet was ultimatelty overwhelmed. This effort was moderately successful, and two thousand men, roughly a third of it's strength, were salvaged. However, Tanith was destoyed along with every remaining man, woman and child.
- What happened to the Jantine Patricians?
to their heretical actions, all records of the Patrician's honors and victories were destroyed and the regiment was never reformed. Due to their heretical actions, all records of the Patrician's honors and victories were destroyed and the regiment was never reformed.
Questions rarely go unanswered.