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  • There are several references to Gaunt's Ghosts:
    • At least one footnote in one of the books makes a reference to a certain individual who held the dual rank of Colonel-Commissar for a number of years.
    • In The Traitor's Hand (possibly a Take That Me):

"'Come on, men! Do you want to live forever!'[1] The noncom in charge of the squad must have been on something, I thought. Nobody spoke like that outside of badly-written combat novels."

      • Possibly a Multiple Reference Pun -- the phrase itself dates back as far as Frederick the Great, was likely popularized by Starship Troopers, and has been quoted in many combat novels since, including badly-written ones. It was also used in World War I by a U.S. Marine who won the Medal of Honor twice.
    • Duty Calls has a limousine with a cabinet made of naalwood, native to Tanith. Cain remarks this probably cost more than the dropship that brought him down to the planet. No wonder - keep in mind, the Cain books are set in the 900.M41/00.M42 era, while the Gaunt's Ghosts books are set in the 700.M41 era and feature the Tanith First And Only for a very good reason.
    • For The Emperor has a footnote listing notable mixed-gender regiments.
    • Cain's Last Stand features a retired Guard veteran who repeatedly lets out a war cry of "Give them the straight silver!" echoing the Ghosts' order to fix bayonets with their distinctive "straight silver" warknives.
    • This makes it a double reference, as the character is clearly Corporal Jones of Dad's Army, who often said "They don't like the cold steel up 'em, sir!"
    • For The Emperor also makes a reference to "the Sabbatine Incident" regarding a clash between two different classes of ship, one of which was created to replace the other. These two classes actually fight in Sabbat Martyr. (Though the chronology is of debatable correctness.)
  • Sandy Mitchell seems to have a particular knack for combining this trope with Stealth Pun:
    • In Death or Glory, the guide Kolfax is a sandsider, a dude who knows the desert. He might, therefore, be called Sandy Kolfax.
    • In Duty Calls, a priory of Adepta Sororitas plays an important role in the plot. They are headquartered on the Gavaronne plateau, making them the Nuns of Gavaronne.
    • Also in Duty Calls, there is a certain Pontius, pilot by trade.
    • Duty Calls yet again: Amberley's car is a flying D'Lorien.
  • Cain himself is only directly referred outside of his own series twice:
    • The Shira Calpurnia novel Blind has the protagonist fighting off psyker illusions of glorious, almost cinematic battle. She dismisses such visions as foolish, stating that only a "boy drooling over a Commissar Cain propaganda poster" would believe such things really happen. By context, her opinion of Cain's media campaign, if not his exploits, is not high.
    • The commissar in the novel Dead Men Walking refers to Cain's official report concerning the events that occurred in The Caves of Ice.
  • Jurgen the sidekick is perhaps the most obvious; he is drawn from George Macdonald Fraser's other famous character (besides Flashman), Private McAuslan of the Gordon Highlanders AKA The Dirtiest Soldier in the British Army and the Highland Division's answer to Peking Man. To give him credit, however, Jurgen only borrows McAuslan's gruesome appearance and scent; he appears to be much smarter (and, without a Scottish accent, is also more understandable).
    • Another borrowing from Fraser's writings may be a brief mention of Dark Eldar "reavers," a variation of a word from the title of Fraser's History of the Anglo-Scottish Border Reivers.
    • The name "Feric Jurgen" sounds remarkably similar to that of the protagonist of The Iron Dream.
    • Jurgen's other basis is Blackadder's dogsbody Baldrick, who would frequently offer an absurd solution to the current problem with his Catch Phrase "I have a cunning plan..." In For The Emperor, Jurgen surprises Cain by saying "I have a plan". Cain replies "A particularly devious one, no doubt."
  • Imperial ration packs of "Soylens Viridians".
  • For breakfast, Cain enjoys delicious Florn Cakes.
  • The villain Ernst Stavros Killian.
  • "We have to call in the Navy to sterilize the whole site from orbit. It's the only way to be sure."
  • "You may take our planet, but you'll never take our freedom!" Said by a man in blue face paint, no less.
  • From an extract, Cain's Heroes, the holodrama based on Cain's actions in Death or Glory.
  • Captain (later Fleet Admiral) Horatio Bugler, mentioned in Vail's footnotes.
  • "The Imperium Never Sleeps", the catchphrase of popular holodrama character Arbitrator Foreboding, who, in the words of Inquisitor Vail, "hunts aliens, mutants, and heretics with relish and a very big gun".
    • Extra points for this one, since it was said by a senior member of the Adeptus Arbites, which are expies of Judge Dredd to begin with.
  • "Big red thing! Five rounds rapid!" This is used twice in The Traitor's Hand and at least once in Cain's Last Stand.
  • Death or Glory: "Wahoo, I got one!" "Great, don't get cocky!"
  • "Open Channel D." There's also references on two occasions to Inquisitor Kuryakin.
  • "I love the smell of promethium in the morning", as a Guardsman is quoted saying in one of Sulla's memoir extracts in For The Emperor.
  • Caves of Ice: "They can't be reasoned with, they can't be intimidated, and if they have the numbers on their side they simply can't be stopped."
  • From Caves of Ice again: Fear is the mind killer. (Part of the Catechisms of Command.)
  • Caves of Ice, yet again: "If it bleeds, we can kill it".
  • Heavy usage of the word "frak" comes to mind, too.
  • Grasshopper, a game played in the Britannicus cluster with arcane rules, month-long matches, and frequent rain delays. Sound familiar?
  • An extended one: in Duty Calls, the plateau of Aceralbaterra on the planet Periremunda. Aceralbaterra is "High Gothic" for "Maple White Land," the name given the plateau in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Lost World. Periremunda translates as "Lost World," and the planet, after being discovered by Acer Alba, was rediscovered by Magos Provocare (which could be translated as Professor Challenger). Just to rub it in, the principal settlement on Aceralbaterra is Konnandoil, and "the locals imported thousands of sauropods from Harihowzen." The author was clearly having a lot of fun with this one.
  • One of the chapter quotes from The Traitor's Hand: "If you don't expect gratitude you'll seldom be disappointed." - Eyor Dedonki, Memoirs of a Pessimist. 479.M41
    • In Cain's Last Stand, there is a ship called "Trespassers William".
    • Barely hinted at in Death or Glory, but slightly more obvious in "Sector 13," is the female law enforcer with whom Cain uncovered the genestealer cult on Keffia: Wynetha Phu. This is rather subtle, as she's petite but curvaceous -- not at all like a yellow plush bear.
  • It's been mentioned in Death or Glory that "The Tracks on the Land Raider Crush the Heretics"[2] is a very popular preschool song.
  • In Duty Calls, Cain mentions in passing a Space Marine armorer/mechanic named Tobamorie.[3] The children's series The Wombles includes a mechanic-type named Tobermory. Add to this that the chapter uses Corvus-pattern armour, which features a helmet with a distinctly beaky appearance, called womble-marines by many.
  • In Duty Calls Jurgen reads from the Book of Armaments. This is the same game system that has a Holy Orb of Antioch grenade for one of the factions.
  • The nauga, whose hides are durable and often found in doctors' waiting rooms.
  • Cain's fencing instructor at the Schola Progenium was a certain Miyamoto de Bergerac.
  • According to her savant in For the Emperor, Amberley once... investigated the 'heretics of Ghore.' This is probably a reference to John Norman's Gor novels, which had titles of that format.
  • One of the stormtroopers in Caves of Ice is named Hastur. Unlike his namesake Eldritch Abomination, the soldier of that name is a quick victim of the Necrons.
    • He only speaks three times. And the moment he's spoken the third time, he's disemboweled and skinned by a Flayed One.
  • Auspex (radar) operator Orrily in Death or Glory might be a corruption of O'Reilly. Supported by mention that he wore "small round eyeglasses." Served under Lt. Piers (close to Pierce) alongside vox operator Marquony.
  • In a wave to the origin of the Flashman stories (a book titled Tom Brown's Schooldays), in The Traitor's Hand an old schoolfellow of Cain's is named Tomas Beije.
  • From Cain's Last Stand: The Fungoid Menace: Orkish Physiology and its Implications by Migo Yuggoth. Bonus points for the Migo being themselves fungus.
  • Amberley's rendezvous with Orelius is at void station Delta Sigma Novem. Remember that November was originally the ninth month.
  • In The Beguiling there is the Saint Trynia Academy for the Daughters of Gentlefolk. All things considered, what happens is pretty accurate if said school was transported several thousand years into the future. The title may refer to the Clint Eastwood movie The Beguiled, which also involved a soldier and a girls' school.
  • Another Back to The Future Shout-Out is in Death or Glory, wherein a shot-up radio pack's most (and implied to be the only) damaged part is a 'Flux Capacitator'. It also gets a mention in "The Emperor's Finest"
    • In the same scene Amberley's flying D'Lorien is introduced, there's also a number of things implying her cover is essentially Lady Penelope (including a mention of her 'home planet' being Creightonward.)
  • There's an extended Shout-Out to Dads Army in Cain's Last Stand, with the officer in charge going by the name of Manrin after Captain Mainwaring (who keeps the 'stupid boy' catchphrase), Corporal Jaq as an excitable ex-trooper, after Corporal Jones, and Franka for Private Pike, who still uses 'but my mum says' as an excuse for everything (although Franka is female).
  • And another "book title" one -- Duty Calls features excerpts from a book on the Tyranid wars of the time called The Abominable Chitin. Seems odd, right? Well, until you remember that, besides Peter Pan, J M Barrie wrote a (very funny) play called "The Admirable Crichton."
    • This may also be a reference to the man himself rather than the Barrie play.
  • In Caves Of Ice the tech priest Logash rebuffs Cain's attempt to gain entry into a restricted area with "That would be an ecumenical matter."
  • From For The Emperor: 'The Emperor points and we obey / Through the Warp and far away' is a reference to the traditional song "Over the Hills and Far Away," which was the theme song for Sharpe.
  • Enginseer Felicia Tayber complaining that "I can't change the laws of theology" in Death or Glory.
  • One of the sources of supplemental excerpts in Cain's Last Stand is historian Ayjaepi Clothier, an obvious reference to controversial real-life historian A.J.P. Taylor. It might be purely coincidence that the title of Clothier's work is In Blackest Night.
  • The statement "I can always get another techpriest...but there's only one psychic enhancer" in Duty Calls clearly refers to The Maltese Falcon. And then in Cain's Last Stand Magos Felicia Tayber uses much the same phrasing about the possibility of blowing up the dam again to keep the Shadowlight.
  • The name of the Chaos Warmaster Varan the Undefeatable sounds a bit like Varan the Unbelievable
  • After finding a Necron tomb deep underground in Caves of Ice: "There are worse things than greenskins."
  • A tech-priest in Caves of Ice says that tagging along with Cain is "better than recalibrating the interociters."
  • Another from Duty Calls: The Adeptus Sororitas are drilling with a precision that Sergeant Lermie, the 597th's Drill Instructor, would nod grudging approval of.
  • Waaargh! and Peace in Death or Glory.
  • In "Traitor's Gambit", Cain accuses the terrorist Hanar of being just a common thief, to which she retorts that she's an exceptional thief.
    • As a matter of fact, the entire plot of the story is pretty much "Die Hard on a luxury liner," right down to the idea of the antagonist using a terrorist attack to cover up a theft.
  • The title of The Caves of Ice references Samuel Taylor Coleridge's "Kubla Khan", either directly or (more probably) by way of Tom Swift in the Caves of Ice.
  • In The Emperor's Finest, Cain paraphrases Rick's parting speech to Ilsa in Casablanca: 'If I got on that shuttle with you now, you'd regret it. Maybe not today, or tomorrow, but soon, and for the rest of your life.
  • Part of the device to create long distance images in The Emperor's Finest is called an 'interociter', the name of the device for interplanetary communication in This Island Earth.
  • "Kaeti," the name painted on a field ambulance in Death or Glory, is also the main character of two books' worth of fantasy short stories by Keith Roberts.
  • In For The Emperor, Cain loses his Commissar Cap and has this monologue. Try to read it without thinking about Indiana Jones.

Ciaphas:"'The what?' I shook my head, dazedly. My hair was full of dust too, and I couldn't find my cap. For some reason that seemed very important, and I kept looking round for it, even though it was almost certainly buried under piles of debris."

  • The verse from "The Guardsman's Duty" used as a chapter quote in For The Emperor ("Whatever happens, we have got / The Emperor's Blessing. They have not") is taken from Hilaire Belloc's The Modern Traveller, with "Emperor's Blessing" substituted for "Maxim gun".
  • The children's book that Vail quotes in Caves of Ice, Our Friend Promethium, owes its title to the 1957 Disney educational film "Our Friend the Atom", but it reads almost exactly like John M. Ford's own parody of the concept, the short film "Dilithium And You", in the Classic Trek novel How Much For Just The Planet?
  • Cain alludes to an incident where he almost drowned at a place called "Rikenbach" in The Emperor's Finest, a reference to Reichenbach Falls, where Sherlock Holmes had his final encounter with Professor Moriarty and died (for a while, anyway).
  • Cain mentions clearing out a genestealer-infested Space Hulk called the Spawn of Damnation with a squad of Space Marines. Space Hulk is the game where you do just that (sans cowardly commissar), onboard the Sin of Damnation. Lampshaded by Cain wondering who the warp names these things.
    • A rather subtle and clever one is the way the encounter plays out like a game of Space Hulk itself, with Terminators peeling off to cover corridors and genestealers massing just out of range before rushing en-masse to overwhelm them by weight of numbers. One of the Terminators even goes down when his weapon jams in the face of a rush of genestealers, a frequent occurence in the tabletop game which usually dooms the unfortunate Terminator to death.
  • The main PDF airbase in Cain's Last Stand is named Rytepat, which sounds suspiciously similar to Wright-Pat, the common nickname for Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, the home of the US Air Force's Logistics Command.
  • On a more serious note, the trial scene in For the Emperor somewhat parallels that in the 1957 film Paths of Glory, in which an officer seeks to save his men from being made scapegoats for a perceived breakdown in discipline.
  • Bit of a stretch, but the Arbites justicar sent to chaffeur Cain in Duty Calls is Bill(em) Ny(t)e.
    • Alternatively, his name could be read as a reference to Wilton Knight.
  • In The Traitor's Hand one of the footnotes refers to an Abandoned Biological Testing Station, part of an attempt to start an agricultural operation in an excessively arid part of the planet. A similar operation was mentioned in the 'Dune' novels by Frank Herbert.
  • Magos Izembard, the techpriest who figures out what's going on in The Last Ditch, is likely named after celebrated Victorian engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel.
  • The tunneler creatures of The Last Ditch are a lot like the sandworms of Dune... but also to the graboids of Tremors, and Cain manages to defeat one in a similar fashion.
  • A footnote in The Traitor's Hand mentions the Nauga, "A species of animal indigenous to the hotside of Adumbria. Its toughened hide is highly prized for certain hard-wearing applications, particularly the covering of sofas in waiting rooms."
  • There's a brief mention in The Last Ditch of something important happening in "the Halcyon Drift," which also happens to be the title and setting of the first of Brian Stableford's "Hooded Swan" novels.
  • Dead in the Water: The ship Ciaphas and Jurgen use for their mission is the PB-109, and the captain is Lt. Dan.
  • In Traitor's Gambit, when the planetary governor offers a visiting Cain an alternative to his world's disappointing amasec: "Have a nagila?"
  • One of the passages not by Cain in The Greater Good is the transcript of an Imperial Navy debriefing. Admiral Flynt, the officer in charge, has the given name "Jaymstea." A "Commodore Stocker"[4] is also mentioned, lost fighting the rear-guard action the debriefing is about.
  1. Gaunt's Catch Phrase, for those not in the know
  2. AKA "The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round"
  3. Only in the first edition of the book; later printings retcon the name to Drumon to match The Emperor's Finest.
  4. Another name known to Trekkers ... for almost getting the Enterprise destroyed.
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