The story picks up 15 months after the events of Traitor General, by which point the Tanith 1st has been reformed with another unit into the new 81st/1st Regiment. Gaunt and his team, missing a couple of members, escape the horrors of Gereon and are in turn imprisoned and sentenced to death as deserters, forcing the now suspect Commissar to take serious action.
Second in a new series of Gaunt’s Ghosts novels, Dan Abnett presents a whole new adventure for Gaunt and the Tanith First–and–Only.
Returning from a long mission on a Chaos world, Commissar Gaunt finds that his old regiment, Gaunt’s Ghosts, has been disbanded and redeployed under a charismatic new commander. When the fighting becomes bitter, Gaunt is finally reunited with his men as the Imperial forces make one last desperate attempt to hold the line against the invaders.
Plot Summary Edit
At the Imperial Internment Camp 917 'Xeno', a Commissar Kanow and his junior, Ludd, make their way through the prison cells and sections towards a group of 'deserters' who have been picked up in warp transit. Ludd insists that they check out the renegades' story before taking action, but Kanow is set on immediate execution and calls up a squad of security troops to accompany them. When they reach the holding pen, they find it almost deserted, and when Kanow enters, he is greeted by a tall, rangy and filthy prisoner who enquires as to whether Kanow has made contact with a desired party, but is cut off by Kanow who makes to shoot him, before another prisoner intervenes, disarming Kanow, and following the leader's call sign of 'Dercius', the rest of the guards are subdued by the remaining vagabonds, leaving Ludd alone. The junior-Commissar asks the group what they want. The leader, revealing himself to be Gaunt, demands a meeting with Lord-General Van Voytz.
Ludd rides solo in a transport shuttle from Camp Xeno to Flag Flats HQ outside the battlezone of Sparshard Mons, nervous at the prospect of meeting a Lord-General and also of the nature of his task. The only occupant of the shuttle's passenger bay, Ludd's order is to escort the Gereon 12, who are inside a seperate cargo pod, to the main leviathan headquarters of Van Voytz. He observes the Imperial installations outside of his window, and begins to rehearse what he is planning on saying to Van Voytz.
Upon arrival, Ludd dismounts and as he observes the 'big smoke' obscuring the Mons in the distance, is met by another Commissar, Hadrian Faragut, who announces himself as the welcoming committe. After a conversation regarding the nature of fighting in the Mons, and also the validity of the Gereon 12's claims, Ludd finds Faragut's manner condescending and his personality superior, and decides he doesn't much like him. They watch the cargo pod being transported into the Leviathan's main hold, and Faragut then takes Ludd down to meet Van Voytz.
Analysis & Extras Edit
Main Characters Edit
New Characters Edit
Narrative Structure Edit
His Last Command follows a split non-linear narrative structure with a chronologically linear order, which sees a half and half focus on the dispossessed Gaunt and his Commisarial duties with Ludd, Eszrah and Ironmeadow, and also the newly founded 81/1st regiment, commanded by Wilder.
In the latter section, focus is given to Wilder's attempts to bring the shift together, assisted by Baskevyl and Novobazky, and also displays the efforts of Hark, Kolea, Daur, Meryn and the other Ghosts to adapt, before the return of the remaining Gereon 12 members.
In this regard, many characters are given only brief reference, while the likes of Meryn are given more focus than usual.
Title Meaning Edit
Given the end of the book, it is clear that the ultimate meaning is that Wilder's order for his last stand: "Stand firm, A Company! Fury of Belladon! Hold this line and deny them!" which is credited as His last command.
However, in a more red herring type sense, the phrase or just the implication is used throughout. Ludd is asked what his superior, Kanow, had given him as his last command. Also, Gaunt is told by Van Voytz that his command of the Tanith 1st was his last. Criid refers to Gaunt telling the Gereon 12 survivors to cooperate and serve their new officer as being his last command to them. It is clear this is an intentional effort to throw the reader off the ending.
- One Last Stand (Wilder)
- Irony (By breaking orders, Gaunt gets his regiment back)
- Changing character (The Gereon 12)
- Dedicated to Matt Farrer.
- Released 14 months after Traitor General, the longest gap between two Gaunt's Ghosts books (this record will now be held by Blood Pact, due out 2 years after the release of Only in Death)
- Most uses of title within the book of any Gaunt's Ghosts novel.
- Revelation of Beltayn's first name: Dughan.
- In A Simple Plan, Gaunt tells Caffran that he's going to have to promote him someday. Caffran is not promoted untill here, with Gaunt away, by which point Arcuda, a Verghasite, has been promoted twice. Also Meryn, the same age as Caffran and not as well respected, has also been promoted from Corporal to Sergeant to Captain.
- If it can be calculated that the length of time between the start and finish of Traitor General lasts about 2 months, then the length of time between the start of Traitor General, and the beginning of His Last Command is 16 months, the actual length of the narrative lapse.
Unanswered Questions Edit
- What 'deal' did Cirk cut with Welt and Balshin?
- Why was the tribunal against Gaunt and the Gereon 12 called off?