Sabbat Martyr sees the Ghosts travel to the pius but worthless hive world of Herodor, in response to the news that a miracle has occured, and in doing so bring themselves into the realm of the Saint and are embroiled in a power struggle as the fates conspire.
A new wave of hope has been unleashed in the Chaos infested Sabbat system when a girl claiming to be the reincarnation of Saint Sabbat is revealed. Despite private doubts from the military high command, she proves to be the perfect rallying point for beleaguered Imperial troops. But the dark forces of Chaos are not oblivious to this new threat and when they order their most lethal assassins to kill her, it falls to Commissar Gaunt and his men to form the last line of defence!
Plot Summary Edit
A Chaos life-ward, Etrodai, is troubled by his master's indefinable mood after gathering intelligence on some sort of happening. They are onboard a massive conveyance vessel, and the Magister exits a onyx following conversation with his Archon, Urlock Gaur, to confirm that their lord has made up his mind on the issue. The Magister reviews the intelligence one more time before meeting his 'assemby', a mysterious nine (with one in a suspension field outside the ship's hull) who have their backs to Him as he speaks of a human Martyr who must be destroyed. He orders them to look at him, he is revealed to be Warlord Ennok Ennokenti and he announces that within two rotations his forces with assault the cluster that houses the Martyr, and that under this distraction, the nine will carry out a great mission.
In a pilgrim camp outside the city limits of the Civitas Beati on Herodor, a lone preacher proclaims that there is a "Bad day coming!", upsetting the inhabitants who soon become hostile. One of these men, Anton Alphant, is looked to by several of the pilgrims for direction, despite his reluctance. When the preacher is attacked, Alphant intervenes to help him, and is suddenly helped by a mysterious but beautiful teenage girl, who strangely seems to hold of the baying mob with a raised hand. When Alphant thanks her and asks for her name, she replies in a quiet but clear voice that her name is Sabbatine, a normality in the Sabbat Worlds, and then quickly warns him that danger is coming. As Alphant treats the injured preacher, Sabbatine disappears, and soon after an attack is mounted by arch enemy raiders.
En route to disturbances west of the Ironhall district, a Regiment Civitas Beati mechanised column led by Major Udol notice smoke coming from the camp east of the aqueduct. Unable to obtain up to date intelligence from Tac Logis, Udol directs the majority of his unit to follow on course, but takes three of his transports to the other site, despite complaints from his men. Unable to advance through the filthy camp surroundings, Udol dismounts his men, but they are quickly ambushed by a much larger force of red uniformed heretics. After forcing an advantage and advancing against the odds, Udol spots enemy armour approaching from the hinterlands and, realising they are outgunned, calls a retreat. His men are pulverised and soon the Civitas regiment officer is left praying to the Saint.
Meanwhile at the crest levels of the city, an Imperial welcoming committee awaits the arrival of Imperial forces directing to the planet. A youth choir directed by it's master, Rampshel, attempts to get in tune in time, much to the anxiety of the city's first officiary, Bruno Leger, who looks to the city's master of armed forces, Marshall Biagi, for reassurance. Biagi is impatient with the displays of trump, and this sentiment is matched by Ayatani Kilosh, who insists everything will be fine for the visit of the veteran heroes they will greet. The first lander arrives, and Varl and Criid quickly disrupt the formalities by scouting the area before signalling Gaunt to arrive. He emerges from above and is greeted by Biagi and Leger. The latter greets him warmly before Biagi cuts off the rituals by showing his suprise at Gaunt's caution. After an awkward exchange, in which Gaunt displays his agnostic view towards an apparent miracle, they break off and Gaunt goes to oversee the disembarkment of his troops. Biagi notices Brostin, Dremmond and Lubba dismounting fuel pallets, and informs then that only the Officer Class of the Civitas Beati are permitted to use flamers. He then finds and intercepts Hark, informing him that "the Lord-General" wants to see him. Gaunt speaks briefly with Curth, whom he has asked to carry out a medical examination, and she reluctantly assents to the action. During the conversation it is clear that Gaunt and Dorden are not on good terms. As the Colonel-Commissar continues his rounds, he finds out from Beltayn that four of their landers, manned by Corbec, Rawne, Mkoll and Soric, have deviated to the battle at the Pilgrim camp.
Udol is startled as Imperial assault landers fly overhead, disembarking Tanith troops who quickly anhillate the arch-enemy troops and knock out their armour. He is met and speaks with Corbec, who displays a dismissive attitude to the anti-regulation action he has undertaken. Udol, baffled by Corbec's accent and language, disovers they are Tanith and says "You're the ones she's been waiting for" With the fight won, armoured ground carriers arrive to pick up the Tanith. As Mkoll organises his men, he notices Soric examining a piece of blue vox paper and quizes him on it, something Soric dismisses. As they leave, Mkoll notices the paper and reads it. It simply states "Trouble before you even reach the ground." He is left utterly perplexed.
Act Two Edit
Analysis & Extras Edit
Main Characters Edit
- Anton Alphant
Narrative Structure Edit
Sabbat Martyr follows a linear chronological structure, without any flashbacks or recollections. The storyline gives time and attention to a vareity of major and minor characters and integrates a number of sub-plots within the series into the main plot of the book. The majority of the story takes place within the Civitas Beati, but the prologue is set within an Arch-Enemy vessel, and a portion of the story also depicts events in space including the Navarre.
The story features one Multiple Views event, when the first Beati is killed, the reactions from a number of characters are described in sequence despite occuring at the same time.
Title Meaning Edit
Sabbat Martyr is both a reference to Honour Guard, where the phrase was used as a rallying call to characters destined for the Shrinehold, and also refers to a number of possibilities within the book itself.
One literary way of looking at the term is that in Honour Guard Vamberfeld was the Sabbat Martyr, since he incurred the nine holy wounds and his sacrifice resulted in the victory atop the holy hills. By this way of thinking, Soric, Corbec or Sanian could be described as the Sabbat Martyr of this book, since Soric sacrifices himself to an unknown fate in bringing his warning to Gaunt, Corbec dies protecting the Saint against the possessed Cuu (after being 'touched' by her earlier on) and Sanian becomes the vessel for Sabbat after she 'moves'.
- One Last Stand (Skerral's platoon)
- Fullfilling Destiny (Milo, Gaunt)
- Cruel Irony (Larkin's decision not to kill Cuu results in the deaths of Muril, Corbec and almost the Saint)
- Revenge (Corbec and Pater Sin)
- Sacrifice (First Beati, Soric)
- Coward-in-Chief (Lugo)
- Mkendrick's first appearance since Necropolis. Ironically, his only appearance in the book at all is when his corpse is found by Hark.
- Features the single largest loss of major characters in a single Gaunt's Ghosts book:
- By the same token, includes the first 'return' of a major character, Kolea (if you consider his healing and return of personality as being a return)
- Return of Executive Officer Kreff, Captain Wysmarck and the crew of the Navarre, who hadn't featured since Ghostmaker.
- Return of Pater Sin, the main enemy antagonist of Honour Guard.
- Sergeant Skerral, mentioned in previous books but never featured, has his first and only line before dying with his platoon.