Aaron Dembski-Bowden's "Emperors Gift" describes the sad conclusion of the First Armageddon's war(444.M41): to keep the existence of Grey Knights secret, the Inquisition orders the execution of every surviving guardsmen that fought on their side. Space Wolves actively oppose this plan and spread the surviving guards among many words. In the end many of those survive, as well as their memory of the Ordo Maellus warriors and main character - Hyperion Bladebreaker - says that "the tradition of the chapters has been broken".

Now in the "Grey Knights" series, that happens around the 13th Black Crusade (999.M41), there is a brief clash between Knights and Adeptas Sororitas, who were tricked in believing them as members of the Traitor Legions, until one of the Sisters mentions that she recognises Marine's armour marking, that "she has seen before" (she even knew the name of the book each GK carries).

Does it mean that the Inquisition no longer punishes those knowing about the Grey Knights existence with death or is it simply a matter of two different authors writing about similar topic?

  • Theoretically it could also be that the sororitas who are almost as indoctrinated as space marines are a special case there in being allowed to know some things
    – Thomas
    Sep 26, 2015 at 15:42
  • Hmm, doesn't sound right - even other chapter marines were supposed to be at least mind scrubbed for this knowledge - only chapter masters (and the whole Space Wolves at the end of the book) knew about Grey Knights
    – Yasskier
    Sep 27, 2015 at 5:55
  • In the earliest novels space marines were mind scrubbed whenever they met chaos (except raree circumstances happened). But later on suddenly space marines KNEW about chaos and they were no longer mind scrubbed there. I think the problem is that this part evolved a bit over time and they just didn't rectify it.
    – Thomas
    Sep 27, 2015 at 7:53

2 Answers 2


tl:dr: globally, the systemic destruction of any proof acknowledging the existence of Chaos, the Ordo Malleus and the Grey Knights is applied. But for the sake of "cool", it's overlooked by some authors.

Longer answer:

It depends on your reference.

According to the first books describing the Warhammer 40k Universe, Rogue Trader ,and Realm of Chaos, any encounter with a Demon or any force from the Warp has to be cleaned by the Inquisition (specifically, the Ordo Malleus). The survivors from Armaggeddon war got deported to a work camp, and sterilized, to die with their secrets. And new settlers were sent to Armaggeddon to replace them, and keep the factories running. When the deportation cannot be done properly, then the inquisitor can use the Exterminatus, to wipe the population directly. It's usually a bacterial bomb, killing any lifeform encountered, and spreading on the whole surface. In some cases (a hive world, or a world with a toxic atmosphere where the inhabitants would wear heavy protections already), more conventional weapons are used. As for the Space Marines, they are too valuable to get killed, so they were "simply" mind scrubbed, and brought back to battle after some time spent learning how to use a spoon. The Grey Knights can also intervene to help the purification.

And because the Ordo Malleus and the Grey Knights are also proof that the Chaos exist, their existence have to remain a secret too.

In any case, in the early books, any contact with a Demon has to be cleaned by the Inquisition, specifically by the Ordo Malleus (the only named Ordo in those books).

At that time, the Adeptus Sororitas didn't exist, but we can assume they would share the fate of the Space Marines. Mind scrubbed, and re-education. This would explain why, in the book you quote, a sister has some recollections when she sees the Grey Knights.

But then Inquisitor added multiple factions to the inquisitors, the Chaos armies became very popular among the players, the Grey Knights too, and novels multiplied. And Chaos became a "common enemy". For the sake of stories and campaigns, the systemic erasure of any survivor after a chaotic outbreak tends to be overlooked. It can be explained by the fact that the current background is always told from a specific point of view. So maybe the closest inquisitor was surprisingly empathetic, and decided to spare the survivors, or even worse, to glorify the "heroes". Maybe there were no inquisitor in the sector. or maybe the punishment is on its way...

To my knowledge, the old background is still applied, until official sources say otherwise. So as a general rule, the punishment is used. Now, the Galaxy is vast, and each inquisitor can decide of his own rule... (even if this may bring some concerns from his peers, if they ever find out)

Black Library novels are not considered to be "canon". Only stories published in the Codex, the rulebook, and White Dwarf, are materials written by GW writers, and are official. Now, it happens that some elements from the BL, video games or from the RPG, become official. But most of the novels are representing one interpretation of the Universe, by its writer.

  • what about the grey knight novels? In those the grey knights have open contact with civilians even stating who they are (only not mentioning names of chaos as those hold power)
    – Thomas
    Oct 6, 2015 at 16:56
  • @Thomas I haven't read those books, but again, Black Library is not canon. It could be more or less "ok" if the Grey Knights don't give out their function to civilians. After all, for most of the humans, Grey Knights would be as impressive and divine as any other Space Marine. But high members of the administratum, mechanicum, or other imperial institutions may have heard about Grey Knights, and meeting one in real life would give some ground to legends that should always remain myths, for the survival of the human race...
    – Majuj
    Oct 6, 2015 at 19:08
  • That seems hard to enforce; I can't see the Space Wolves letting the inquisition anywhere near their brains, for example, given their history of openly firing on them and the Ecclesiarchy. Ditto the Dark Angels, though I guess it could be justified that only the Ravenwing and Deathwing know about Chaos...
    – Canageek
    Nov 6, 2015 at 4:27

Inquitirors use Deathwatch

witch is composed of all of the loyal chapters. The Deathwatch members serve a term fighting Xenos

Inquisitors use Sororitas The Sisterhood serves as the Ministorum's only official military forces because the Decree Passive rules that the Ecclesiarchy cannot maintain any "men under arms". This was supposed to limit the power of the Ecclesiarchy. However the Ministorum were able to circumvent this decree by using the all-female force of the Sisterhood.[Needs Citation]

There is naturally some overlap between the duties of the Sisterhood and the Inquisition; for this reason, although the Inquisition and the Sisterhood remain entirely separate organisations, the Orders Militant of the Sisterhood also act in a similar role to the Chamber Militants of the Inquisition, especially the Ordo Hereticus

Inquisitors use Gray knights

to combat chaos and banish daemons.

Knowing about Gray Knights is still punishable by death or worse. A Sister of Battle knowing about Knights can be explained by her having fought with them before and not beeing scrubbed coz she was was a part of an Inquisitors retinue or some such. Black Library has a continuity problem atm as there is just SOOOO much content coming out from SOOO many different writers so we will continue to find discrepancies and diferent POW from story to story.

I will just give an example.

Imperium ships are made out of a STC template. However every book you read that has a description of a bridge differs very, very much. It is left to the writers to be creative here. This is just one small thing that you start noticing when you read Black Library books. Another is the descriptions of Space marines. In some books they have a sense of humour and joke around and are falliable like normal people are and in some they are portrayed almost as slabs of stone with no feelings whatsoever.

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