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Being a decidedly tongue-in-cheek approach to the absurdly "Grimdark" Warhammer 40,000 universe, the Cain series is full of hilarious moments.

  • Amberley's footnotes. Most of the time, they're strictly informative, providing perspective, illuminating context, or explaining terms. When they're not...
    • Cain: "I've only got room for one lethally dangerous woman in my life." Amberley: "Which I choose to take as a compliment..."
    • Cain mentions being impressed at how much Amberley was eating; Amberley responds that she had been fighting genestealers all day, and was both hungry and tired. And besides, she only ate two of the snacks. And for that matter, they weren't very big snacks...
    • Cain describes how Amberley's displacer field teleported her out of the way of a bullet just as she was diving for a gun, but he heard a crash and "some unladylike language" from where she ended up, meaning she'd collided with a nearby table. Amberley goes into detail about how the displacer field preserves momentum (in other words, speedy thing goes in, speedy thing comes out) and concludes, "It was a stupid place to put a table anyway."
    • Cain: "Bribery and threats are popular methods for getting what you want, but the Inquisition is better at both and tend to resent other people using them." Amberley: Entirely untrue. The Inquisition is most definitely above such petty emotions as resentment.
    • Cain and Jurgen are saved from genestealers by a mysterious figure in golden Power Armor, and Cain admits he was stupefied to discover it was Amberley.

Cain: With all due modesty, I have to say I recovered remarkably fast under the circumstances.
Amberley: So he says. I recall a distinct resemblance to a stuffed fish for quite some time.

    • Not to mention, the footnotes are chilly enough to sprout icicles whenever Amberley comments on Cain's experience with women.
    • Zemelda Cleat uses a variety of bizarre slang terms, the meaning of which can sometimes be deduced. After one of them, "flyposting for slash gigs," Amberley footnotes simply: "No, I don't know either."
    • In The Greater Good, there's a sequence in which she's trying to figure out, from clues in what Cain says, just which ship he was aboard at a certain time. Certain statements contradict deductions based on other remarks, and Amberley finally says, "I give up."
    • In one very cold situation, Cain mentions that he feels like he's turning into a "freezy stick." Amberley proceeds to explain popsicles exactly as if the readers have never even imagined such a thing, and finishes with an acknowledgment that "It sounds bizarre, I know, but is really very refreshing."
    • She can find no explanation for why a planet was named "Simia Orichalcae" (High Gothic for "Brass Monkey"), but speculates that long ago, a statue of this kind may have been found there. Though she also can't figure out why anyone would've put a statue of a monkey, brass or otherwise, on such a frozen world as Simia Orichalcae.
    • Amberley orders an immediate Tactical Withdrawal when she realizes her small party is about to be attacked by tyranids. Cain's narrative comments that he has no doubt she did so from far nobler motives than mere self-preservation. Her footnote admits, "In all honesty, looking back, none spring to mind."
  • 'Then the prophet spake: saying "Frak this, for my faith is a shield proof against your blandishments".' Just the fact that a splinter cult worships Cain as the living embodiment of the God-Emperor's will at all...
  • Even in the grim darkness of the far future, people stepping on rakes is good for a laugh.

Medicae records for the district show no fatalities among the anchorites, although several were subsequently treated for minor injuries apparently related to treading on hastily-discarded gardening tools.

  • Anytime Jurgen gets behind the wheel. Duty Calls has some of the best moments, such as when Jurgen and Cain are idling outside of a landing shuttle, and Jurgen is ordered to "get aboard as fast as you can" and proceeds to drive the Salamander up the shuttle's ramp at full speed. Keep in mind, the Salamander is a forty ton tracked scout tank.
    • In The Traitor's Hand, Jurgen and Cain are running late and stuck in traffic, so Jurgen whips the Salamander around, drives it up a line of nearby stairs, past a horde of shocked Administratum drones, across a food court, and through a subway tram terminal, before slamming it into place in the parking space at their destination with a few inches to spare. As far as Jurgen is concerned, the Commissar can never be late.
  • Also in Duty Calls, Cain has to lay out the basics to a shocked civilian woman quickly and concisely:

Ciaphas Cain, regimental commissar, Valhallan 597th. My aide, Jurgen. Terrorist attack.


"She's not nearly as accident prone as she's supposed to be. I'll grant you she fell down an ambull tunnel once, and there was that incident with the frag grenade and the latrine trench, but things tend to work out for her. The orks on Kastafore were as surprised as she was when the floor in the factory collapsed, and we'd have walked right into that hrud ambush on Skweki if she hadn't triggered the mine by chucking an empty food tin away..." I trailed off, finally listening to what I was saying.

    • If "Skweki" isn't a typographical error (some other sources give the spelling as "Skekwi"), the fact that a planet was named "Squeaky" may itself be good for a grin.
  • Caves of Ice has an excerpt from a children's book about promethium, with a footnote by Amberley saying she still finds the pictures of Pyrus the Flame immolating heretics to be amusing.
  • "The Wheels on the Bus" isn't quite Grimdark enough to teach to Imperial children:

"The tracks on the Land Raider crush the heretics, crush the heretics, crush the heretics. The tracks on the Land Raider crush the heretics all day long..."

  • This little gem from a pre-chapter quote in For The Emperor, popular among commissarial cadets:

When in mortal danger,
When beset by doubt,
Run in little circles,
Wave your arms and shout.

  • In Caves of Ice, the notes taken of the meeting, which, Amberley observes, the functionary obviously thought would never be read.
    • His notes of the second meeting weren't at all helpful, since they were mostly concerned with how the light shone through Colonel Kasteen's hair.
  • Cain and his squad meet a witch, who uses her powers to appear as whoever they care about the most. He sees Amberley. Once he figures out it's a fake...
  • Cain's Last Stand:

Cain: Cadet Maklin. What do you know of the Ruinous Powers?
Maklin: ...They're really, really bad?

    • Probably the safest answer one can give.
  • Dead In The Water:

"Who's been drinking all my bloody amasec... Cain's been here."


Techpriest: Simply cut the red wire.
Cain: They're both purple!
Techpriest: *breaks out swearing*

  • The Last Ditch: While Cain and Jurgen watch a horde of orks thundering towards them in the distance, Jurgen makes small talk about the weather. Cain tries to remember the last time he saw his aide look at all bothered by overwhelmingly poor odds, and comes up blank.
  • How Ciaphas Cain met Amberley Vail. It was most certainly not Love At First Sight, as he does not believe in such things, and can merely remember the exact moment he first saw her, with perfect clarity, even a century later. Cue his conversational attempts to not have a simple cabaret singer see through his every attempt at playing the "modest hero," Kasteen's silent mocking as they waltz, and a final attempt to impress the new lady friend... By voicing suspicions that the Obviously Evil Rogue Trader has to be an Inquisitor, which leaves poor Amberley visibly nervous and trembling--with what had to be a stubborn refusal not to burst out laughing.
  • In For the Emperor, Cain comments on how Colonel Mostrue seems to suspect the truth about his "heroism" on Desolatia, and he "never quite seemed to trust me after that. Which was extremely sensible of him when you think about it."


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