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First and Only (Gaunt's Ghosts #1)

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4.22 of 5 stars 4.22  ·  rating details  ·  2,667 ratings  ·  84 reviews
In the nightmare future of Warhammer 40,000, the galaxy-spanning Imperium is riven with dangers. In the Chaos-infested Sabbat system, Imperial Commissar Gaunt must lead his men through as much in-fighting amongst rival regiments as against the forces of Chaos. First and Only is an epic saga of planetary conquest, grand ambition, treachery and honour.
Paperback, 320 pages
Published November 7th 2002 by The Black Library (first published January 1st 1999)
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Ren the Unclean
Aug 13, 2008 Ren the Unclean rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Sci-fi fans
Shelves: sci-fi
Don't let the fact that this should be mass produced Warhammer 40k garbage throw you. Dan Abnett has a particular talent for this kind of story and a lot to offer even those of us who are not really into the 40k universe.

First and Only covers a major campaign in the Ghosts' history and is a good introduction to the Imperial Legions or whatever they are and how the various troop interactions work between the different companies that are harvested from different worlds. This book has a lot of inte
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Andrew Ziegler
Why has it taken me 10 years to finally read this book that one of my good friends told me to read back then? Stubborn I guess, who knows. Anyway, Dan Abnett's first 40K novel is well paced and very intriguing. He is my favorite of the Black Library's current authors and probably the best Marine author they have. Hear he starts the story of Gaunt and his First and Only Ghosts. They are an excellent regiment of imperial guard, and much like Abnett breathed life into the Lunar Wolves, and the Iron ...more
Ubiquitousbastard
I should not like this series, and everyone I know agrees with me. I can't help it! I sometimes indulge in military fiction, but never, never Warhammer. I only dared to read the first book because I had heard that there was more to it than I assumed (and the covers let on). Good characters, messed up plots, and Gaunt is a badass. Sometimes it does get a bit over my head, probably because of my utter Warhammer-ignorance, or maybe because it's getting a bit too military (I like to believe it's the ...more
Martin
"The series follows the exploits of Colonel-Commissar Ibram Gaunt and his regiment of scouts and recon specialists, the Tanith First-and-Only (nicknamed Gaunt's Ghosts), as they serve in the Sabbat Worlds Crusade. Their battles are normally against the forces of Chaos, although they briefly face orks on Typhon Eight. Up until 'Guns of Tanith' the Ghosts are mainly pitted against heretical rebels armies, but on Phantine and in most of the campaigns following it they face the well-trained and elit ...more
Sean McBride
Surprisingly good..either that or i'm on a four star kick. I approached this thinking it was going to be mindless dribble. I was wrong. Think Band of Brothers but in space battling all kinds of nasty alien forces (this is actually Derek Manus' evaluation of the book, but i find it very apropos). There is also a bunch f infighting which Abnett ties a little too perfectly together.

The writing is solid and the characters are lush, though it's a little confusing at first because a number of them ha
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Brook
I didn't get very far before I gave up. No real plot, just piggybacking on a group of soldiers. Except: This is the far flung future with spaceships and laser weapons, but they're still using artillery, grenades, and fighting in trenches. No air support or orbital bombardments. I know I'm supposed to suspend my disbelief, but the lack of plot mixed with that, was too much.
And, for a final quibble, Abnett kept referring to "coffee" as "caffeine". As in, "...poured himself a tiny cup of rich black
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Flint
I picked this up after being impressed with the high rating on goodreads. Unfortunately, "First and Only" never even came close to living up to all it's hype. The book starts off with Gaunt and his Ghosts being deployed as ground forces against the enemy shriven. This goes on for a third of the book without Abnett even making the slightest effort at developing even one character among the entire ensemble, thereby creating a huge waste of time. The book does improve after this battle, but not by ...more
Scorpion12
I'll be honest, I don't follow the Warhammer 40K world at all. I don't read the books, and I don't play the games. I read the book because it was free.

One thing that threw me out of the book continually was the language. It wasn't vulgar or anything but the usage of semi-archaic terms and knowledge of... I needed more backstory to support the book or a glossary... I guess the more I read the more I'll learn; but I'm not sure I want to learn about the world too much.

I liked the book and I've foun
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Forrrr
In the grim darkness of the future, there is only war. An opening title common to any book part of the Warhammer 40000 universe based on the tabletop game. This novel focuses on Colonel-Commissar Ibram Gaunt, leader of a sole surviving regiment from the planet of Tanith. Destroyed by the forces of chaos, corrupted elements that were once human, this single regiment are merely ghosts, Gaunts Ghosts. Leading his men in the crusade of the chaos infested Sabbat system, the horrors of war appear full ...more
Adam Mieszcanski
If you like Warhammer, even if you don't, regardless, this book kicks off one of the best action/adventure series I have ever read. Massive battles, intrigue, honor and brotherhood under fire make this book, much like the rest of the series, outstanding.
Jerod Dunn
Dan Abnett did a great job really bringing the grit and dark world of Warhammer 40k to life. I didn't instantly start reading the second book, Ghostmaker, only because it wasn't available in ePUB format yet.
William
The first in the series of Gaunt's Ghosts novels.

Commissar Ibram Gaunt is one of the most interesting characters in the Warhammer 40k setting.
Chris Pratt
Fantastic. Nothing more needs to be said, except that Abnett truly brings the Warhammer 40k universe to life.
Ryan Lynd
I actually read this book as part of "The Founding" 3 book omnibus, of which "First and Only" is the first book of the first of three omnibuses (omnibi?). I said all that to say that there are a lot of books written in this series. I am stopping after this first story to take a break for some other books I want to read.

This first book gives the introduction and a lot of background material. This book is also a complete story in it's own right. Having read Abnett's "Eisenhorn" trilogy, I have to
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Michael T Bradley
It's very, very difficult to write about this book & the "following" one, Ghostmaker. Both are, essentially, a collection of Gaunt's Ghost short stories with a longer novella tacked on at the end. This one works better because it's mostly later stories, once Abnett had really gotten a "feel" for what he could cover in a GG story, and his lyricism as an author has rarely achieved such a state as it did in this book.

I'm sure if you're reading this you know the basic plot. Ibram Gaunt, Imperia
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Paulius
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Peter Simko
I genuinely love the Warhammer 40k universe. Every single time I read or hear about things like astropaths, tech-priests, chainswords or basically anything related to WH40k, I feel happiness, so I guess I couldn't really go too wrong with Dan Abnett's first book of the Gaunt's Ghosts series. Before reading this, I had only read WH40k novels focusing on space marines, so I was kinda curious how much I would enjoy a story about the Imperial Guard who are, after all, mere mortals. I have to say Dan ...more
Kelley
I'm not a big 40k fan. I'm not even a big science fiction fan. I found the Founding omnibus ridiculously cheap. I had been in a conversation about the franchise recently. My knowledge of it extends only to a few of the video games. The person I was talking to enjoyed the books. I said it sounded like the scifi equivalent of a Dragonlance type series. (Fun but kind of shallow.) He insisted 40k was much, much better.

So far, my opinion... No, it isn't. Not really.

The action is ridiculously well wri
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John
Stop sniggering! It's actually pretty good!

Military sci-fi at its finest. Having heard much about it from many sources, and being hopelessly addicted to warhams stuff like I am, I decided it was past time I read this.

It doesn't disappoint. Abnett has a gift for description which extends from the evocative worlds and battlefields he builds to the frequently awful living conditions of the soldiers to the frenetic, blood-drenched fights which make up an impressively high percentage of the novel.

The
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Joey Brockert
Ibram Gaunt was a warrior. His Father was a warrior, too, killed in battle when Ibram was school age (I think eight (8) years old). After his father died, he was sent to a military boarding school, trained in the arts of war. He grew into higher and higher command. The structure of the Galaxy at the time was that it was ruled by a king who had lived for 10,000 years, and would rule for however much longer he wished to. The military was sent out to conquer and protect the various interests of the ...more
Dan Cowden
The first book of the Gaunt's Ghost series of Warhammer 40k novels, this is a fine entry-point into 40k lore, and a good book for those just interested in the modern style of military science fiction.

The story follows Colonel-Commissar Ibram Gaunt and the orphan regiment he commands, the Tanith First, called the First and Only because their planet was destroyed by the enemy of mankind even as the regiment was forming, and now the members of the unit are the only survivors, serving in the Imperi
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Tarl
This is my second readthrough of this book, something I don't do that often, and I have to say that this book was just as enjoyable the second time around as it was when I first picked it up. Abnett writes military fiction well. It's brutal, it's harsh, but you also feel for his characters, even those that die after knowing them for all but a moment.

The Gaunt's Ghost series is a huge one, and going back and seeing how it all started with his first book of the series, you can already see why it h
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Richard Barnes
The Grim darkness of the future is very grim indeed, but this book is still terrific.

Abnett throws the poor buggers of the Tanith First and Only into the crap in all kinds of ways - wherever they are, it will be freezing, muddy, baking hot, the air will be poisonous, there'll be non-stop pounding of Chaos drums and not to mention, getting assaulted on all sides by hideous hordes of warped and depraved lunatics...and usually getting shafted by factions on their own side too.

Which all adds up to a
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Gateacre
Abnett has become the premier writer of Military Sci-Fi and this novel clearly illustrates why.
The plotting and structure are elegant, the characterisations real, the action intense and the world building exercise a triumph. It's not hard to see how from this slim volume a whole series was born. Basically, forget the genre - Abnett is a genuinely gifted writer.
Thoroughly recommended, and if you want to write this type of fiction then start here!
Jordan Steinhoff
Better than 3 but not quite a 4 star book.

All the other 40K stuff I've read is Space Marine related so this was a nice change to Imperial Guard. Actually made me want to buy some IG minis and paint them up in the Tanith First and Only colour scheme which is pretty simple.

Good action sequences but plotting and development lagged a bit. Exposition went a bit overboard at times, seeming to pad rather than add. Still, the characters were good. Flashbacks were overly used at the beginning as Abnett l
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Jacob
An awesome book! Grimdark Military SciFi at its finest. It is very difficult (if not impossible) to believe that this is the author's first book. The characters come to life right from the start and the action is relentless. The sort of book you can only put down when you have to go to work.
Nicholas
This book doesn't lived up to my expectation, based on reviews that I read here. It is easily readable, but it doesn't go farther than that - the characters (Gaunt in primis) have no depth, and the story itself is really shallow and straightforward.
Mousetrap
Dan Abnett did a good job of describing the the first and only founding of Tanith's imperial guard regiment "Gaunt's Ghost". I liked getting to know different members and following them along their assignments across the imperium.
Tufty McTavish
While quite liking the essential guts of the story, I found I did not like the setting or the grand and flowery language that it was couched within. A touch too Gothic with a dash too much fantasy for my tastes. Nor was I too keen on the flashback - A Memory - segments though they fleshed out the plot.

The segment aboard the ship when Gaunt's mission became clear raised my interest, his scheming and maneuvering greatly enjoyable. Up 'til that point I'd been struggling for a reason to continue rea
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Mike Stuchbery
First of the seminal sci-fi war-porny series by Dan Abnett and so much better than it has any right to be. A 'Dirty Dozen' in space, led by the implacable Ibram Gaunt. Gritty, fast-paced but with a fair dash of heart.
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  • Storm of Iron
  • The Traitor's Hand
  • Soul Hunter
  • Wolfblade
  • Grey Knights (Grey Knights, #1)
  • The Flight of the Eisenstein
  • Battle of the Fang

Other Books in the Series

Gaunt's Ghosts (1 - 10 of 18 books)
  • Ghostmaker
  • Necropolis
  • In Remembrance
  • Honour Guard
  • The Guns of Tanith
  • Straight Silver
  • Sabbat Martyr
  • Traitor General
  • His Last Command
  • The Armour of Contempt
Horus Rising Eisenhorn (Eisenhorn, #1-3) Legion The Founding Ravenor

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