Aaron Dembski-Bowden

Don't worry. None of this blood is mine.

Short Extract from The Emperor’s Gift

1,000 Facebook friends today. Admittedly, 200 of them are just normal Facebook friends rather than readers, but I thought the other 800 might find this interesting.

Here’s an extract from Chapter Eight of The Emperor’s Gift, my Grey Knights novel in progress.

First draft, obviously. And as always, it may never show up in the final book.

But I like it lots, so here it is.

—   —   —

—   —   —

I still recall the first time I trained in the void, wearing a featureless, honourless suit of thin ceramite only barely approximating a knight’s true armour. To look down was to see the nickel-dull skin of the strike cruiser Unforsaken; to look up was to stare into the far reaches of absolute space, where distant stars winked in reply to my silent stare. I hadn’t been human in some time – the Emperor’s Gift wrought too many changes in me even then – but such a sight couldn’t fail to move me. Nothing prepared me for it. And how could I be ready? I’d seen little beyond my cell within the monastery and our fortress’s great stone chambers, forever ringing with the sound of crashing weapons, even when all voices fell to whispers.

I looked into the dark for a long time, hearing nothing but the slow, uneven rhythm of my own two hearts. Never had I felt so alone, so unsure of my worth in the endless, hostile expanse of space humanity claimed as its galaxy.

Saturn was a tilted orb to my left, oppressingly vast despite its distance, its curdled skies making my stomach coil. I remember how I raised my hand to it, as if it was a bauble to be drawn from the night sky. From so far away, it looked no larger than my palm. Deep below the cruiser’s hull, I could make out the curvature of Titan itself: milky with poisonous cloud cover, yet the only home I knew. To fall from my footing would be to plunge through its rancid atmosphere, ending my training as ashen particles enslaved by the nitrogen winds.

I looked away again, out into space. Far, far beyond Saturn lay the sun itself, and even with its corona crown it was a remote, pulsing speck.

In that moment, I felt what ancient generations must have felt when they first sailed to the stars. Should we have come here, so far from humanity’s cradle? Was this manifest destiny, to reach out into the black and carve an empire upon the rocky bones of conquered worlds?

Our masters tell us that to consider every perspective is a dangerous virtue. On that night, I learned why. Blessed is the mind too small for doubt. Humanity’s champions should never question our right to own the stars.

I carried that lesson with me when I first swore to serve the Inquisition. I carry it with me now, as a knight in the war our species must never see.

April 26, 2011 - Posted by | Uncategorized | ,


  1. Immense as always Mr D-B. I am literally salivating at the prospect of this, AND your novella, which I will no doubt want to sleep with on sight 🙂

    Comment by G | April 26, 2011 | Reply

    • I was about to comment, but it seems I already have…

      Odd to hear you writing in the first-person. Odd but refreshing.

      Comment by G | April 28, 2011 | Reply

  2. Your prose, is my crack 😉


    Comment by Rob Ashley White | April 26, 2011 | Reply

  3. Very very good brother. 🙂 I’m glad you gave us a chance to glean something from the mind of a Grey Knight from this passage. My thanks. and good luck with the rest of the writing my friend.


    Dave Ploss

    Comment by Commissar Ploss | April 26, 2011 | Reply

  4. You bastard 😛 I can’t wait for this.

    P.S. I just picked up Blood Reaver this morning. Thanks a lot for making me eat my words and turning me into an ADB fanboy.

    Comment by Nick Sharps | April 26, 2011 | Reply

  5. Awesome. Very, very awesome.

    Comment by Pipitán | April 26, 2011 | Reply

  6. Over a year to wait for this. So not fair!!

    Comment by Nik | April 26, 2011 | Reply

  7. Oh damn, this is going to be awesome.

    Also: “the sun,” not “Sol”? Technically correct, I guess, but…not as 40k as it could be.

    Comment by Mossy | April 26, 2011 | Reply

    • I don’t see many references to Sol, really. I think it’s one of those names that gets ignored or changed, like Earth to Terra.

      Comment by aarondembskibowden | April 26, 2011 | Reply

    • Nah, in the solar system, you’d call it “the sun” as it is… the sun of that planetary system. “Sol” is the name of the star, like “Alpha Centuri” or “Rygill” or whatever. But if you were living on a planet orbiting those stars, in your day to day life you’d refer to them as “the Sun”. Just like Earth is “the world” or “the planet” in discussions by people living on it.

      Comment by Aegnor | April 27, 2011 | Reply

  8. Man this is fantastic stuff.

    Comment by Magos Lich | April 27, 2011 | Reply

  9. Ahh dude! I am in love already. 🙂 And you managed to get the novels into it as well. 😉

    Comment by Forkmaster | April 27, 2011 | Reply

  10. This is gonna be awesome. Love that line “Blessed is the mind too small for doubt.” It sums up the mentality of the Imperium in a sentence, which isn’t easy.

    Also like the first person pov, it was great in Helsreach to gain the inner thoughts of Grimaldus. Looking forward to seeing the Grey Knights in action again.

    Lord of the Night

    Comment by Lord of the Night | April 27, 2011 | Reply

  11. truly good writing
    for cha- uh the emperor “cackles”

    Comment by J.Sibley | April 27, 2011 | Reply

  12. Interesting to see 1st person used. challenging yourself eh?

    Comment by yogi | April 27, 2011 | Reply

  13. Looking good, kind of a big change of gears from Night Lords to Grey Knights. What made you choose the Grey Knights? Also, are you doing another Horus Heresy novel any time soon(First Heretic kicked ass)?

    For the Horde, Fuck the Alliance

    Comment by Mike D | April 27, 2011 | Reply

  14. Good job – appreciate you changing again Chapter; loved the 1st person in “Helsreach”, hope it will be used often in “The Emperor’s Gift” too.

    Regards, Erminio

    Comment by Erminio | April 28, 2011 | Reply

  15. dude, love it! can’t wait to read what promises to be the best incarnation of grey knights evar!!!!!

    Comment by Josh | May 4, 2011 | Reply

  16. Loved the excerpt, and am very much looking forward to this novel.

    There’s just one thing that confuses me though; the reference to “the war our species must never see”. Doesn’t that sort of clash with things like Ecclesiarchal Exorcists, the entire human population of Cadia, and so forth?

    Comment by Jester | May 13, 2011 | Reply

    • The Imperium doesn’t really want people to know daemons are real, obviously. Even counting every single person that’s aware of them, you’re still looking at 0.0000000000001% of the species.

      Comment by aarondembskibowden | May 13, 2011 | Reply

      • That seems somewhat at odds with the Ecclesiarchy’s basic mission of guarding and guiding Mankind in the Emperor’s name. The Dark Heresy supplement Blood of Martyrs, for example, relates a story of St. Drusus and a company of Frateris Militia succesfully repelling a horde of daemons that attacked their ship while in the Warp through the recitation of a holy litany. Surely such accounts are circulated by the Imperial Church to bolster the faith of the masses?

        Of course, I realise that there’s always the danger of Chaos taking hold in the souls of those who learn of it at all, but the idea of suppressing *any* mention of the daemonic opposition to the Emperor seems a bit far-fetched in the 40K universe; didn’t the people of Imperium begin to openly worship the Emperor as a god in the first place as a result of the daemonic incursions accompanying the Horus Heresy, after all?

        Comment by Jester | May 14, 2011

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