It follows the Ghosts following their deployment to the Fortress-world Jago, and their mission to find and defend the ancient and decrepit citadel Hinzerhaus, a strange and unsettling house-fortress that seems to contain strange properties of it's own.
|As the crusade to liberate the Sabbat Worlds continues, the Tanith are posted to an unforgiving new warzone - the fortress world of Jago. As the enemy assaults increase in fury, Gaunt and his men must face the terror of the present alongside the ghosts of their past, for only in death does duty end.|
Plot Summary Edit
Only in Death follows on a few months after the events of The Armour of Contempt, with the Ghosts re-routed to Jago, an unforgiving dusty fortress world. Here, they are ordered to the house-fortress of Hinzerhaus, to defend the Imperial front's left flank against an arch enemy counter-attack.
1. The House at the End of the World Edit
The regiment mounts a six day march up country to locate and occupy their objective, Hinzerhaus. During this march, one of the Ghosts starts a rumour that an Imperial recon time discovered a ravine full to the brim with old, dusty skulls each with the tops sawn off. This rumour as a result sparks a rather pessimistic streak with the First, and soon Gaunt has told Hark and Ludd to make sure not nobody continues to spread it, but none the less the men are spooked. Gaunt thinks back to their address from Van Voytz, in which the Lord-General 'asked' the Ghosts to hold the eastern flank in case of a counter attack, using Hinzerhaus as a fortifications and to deny any enemy movement, with Gaunt personally taking reservation with Van Voytz's over-friendly approach.
Three of the Ghosts' best, Mkoll, Bonin and Hwlan return from a forward recon, having made visual confirmation of their target. When asked what it looks like, Mkoll replied "Like the last house before the end of the fething world". The regiment advances.
2. Enter Here Edit
In advance of the main unit, Mkoll enters the main gateway to search the place. He is disquieted to find himself jumpy and nervous, something he isn't used to. After a few moments of jumping at shadows, he gives word for the rest of his team to enter; Maggs and Bonin. However, soon Maggs has become equally paranoid, and the team are suprised to find that 'the gatehouse' has rugged floorings and paintings on the wall. The ceiling lights are still operational, but very dim and ruddy. Mkoll speculates that they are chemical lights, on their last legs. They both note the way the lights dim and rise at random. Maggs, wiping at a painting to identify what it is, accidentaly wipes the paint of her face, and the scout jumps when he sees blood ooze out of the hole. However, it is only dust and soon logic reasserts itself. In an attempt to distract themselves, the scouts set about opening the inner hatchway.
Analysis & Extras Edit
Narrative Structure Edit
The book follows a fairly linear narrative structure, predominatly in chronological order and focussing entirely on the Ghosts point of view throughout. The only exceptions are a brief flashback in the first chapter involving their distribution from Elikon, and the assembly briefing to the regiment from Van Voytz.
The storyline incorporates the whole regiment, but gives special focus to Mkoll, Eszrah, Baskeyvyl, Hark, Ludd, Rawne, Maggs and Dalin Criid.
The vast majority of the narrative takes place at Hinzerhaus.
Title Meaning Edit
Like most of the Gaunt's Ghosts books, the given title is to some degree ambiguos in it's meaning. Although the obvious and predominant example of this involves the blurb quote from the beginning of the book itself:
"Only in death does duty end"
- Old Imperial proverb
This quote plays a vital part in the workings and morals of the story. Gaunt references the quote himself during his discussion of the future with Dorden, and it is refered to several times. The main theme is that Gaunt's service will ultimately end with his death, and that only then will his work for the Emperor come to an end.
There are other possible meanings given to it's use, as stated:
- A quote following the battle at Upper west sixteen, when it is observed that fallen men of both the Tanith and Blood Pact lie side by side "in death. Only in death"
- Hinzerhaus's Ghosts, the kindred spirits of the citadel's former residents who attempt to drag the Tanith Ghosts to their grave to become comrades in death.
- The Old dame in the black lace, an appiration that Maggs is haunted by, who only visits the living when they are to die.
- One Last Stand (Battle for Upper West Sixteen, final Endgame)
- Revenge (Mkoll and Eszrah against the Blood Pact camp)
- Irony (By avenging Gaunt's death, Mkoll and Eszrah discover him alive)
- I Don't Want to Believe (Zweil)
- Full list of Hark/Ludd's journal initials:
- G: Gaunt
- R: Rawne
- K: Kolea
- Doc D: Dorden
- A.C: Ana Curth
- H: Hark
- N.L: Nahum Ludd
- Z: Zweil
- B.D: Ban Daur
- The one line phrase heard by Hark, and used as a chapter precursor - "Help Me" - is the message that Soric gives Hark at the end of Sabbat Martyr as the former is taken to the black ships.
- A passage opens with the line "The last thing he expected was a choke hold", describing Larkin being tormented by a ghostly version of Cuu. This is word for word the first line from The Guns of Tanith.
- The explanation behind the dam in the black dress is still unclear. The book presents her both as being a physical manifestation of a ghost occupying the house, as suggested by the epilogue, and also as a projection of a member of the Cadogus's sanctioned support retinue. In Blood Pact, it is presented that Ulrike Eyl was in fact responsible for the appiration, despite it's ultimately benign nature.
Unanswered Questions Edit
Only in Death theories
- Who were the orginal occupants of Hinzerhaus?
- Why were sections boarded off?
- What happened to Gaunt when he was captured?
- Who/What was Major Berenson?
- Why didn't the Blood Pact occupy the house first?
- Did Meryn and Domor survive?
- How did Soric end up on Jago?