I read this some time before 1994 so my memory is hazy.

If I recall correctly it has three central characters who are from different, warring gangs representing different tiers of a Hive City. They are then recruited by an Astartes chapter and in the first part of the book we follow their induction, training and transformation from mortal enemies into fully fledged battle brothers.

The thing I remember most is one of them filigree's his finger bones to honour the memory of his two fallen brothers.

I've looked through the lists of Warhammer 40K novels and no titles or story descriptions seem to match. This is also, as far as I know, not part of The Horus Heresy cycle of books.

1 Answer 1


It would appear to be Space Marine (1993) by Ian Watson, revolving around the "three brothers of Trazior".

From this Goodreads review:

Yet, when we meet our heroes in Space Marine, they are yet mortal, simply youths, with real flaws and weaknesses. Take Lexandro D'Arbequs, a wealthy, upper-hab dweller who used to go out hunting peasants with his well-to-do comrades.

All this changes when he is drafted into the Imperial Fists chapter of the Adeptus Astartes. From being used to having everything his own way, he is now thrown into a harsh and brutal regime of obediance and training, where he must prove his faith and courage at every step or die trying. Only should he prove his spirit willing, will he be granted the genetic and surgical modifications needed to elevate him from man to superman.

This process, this journey, is what makes this book, for me, such an enteraining read. Unlike any of the later WH40k books, this one delves right, right into the nitty-gritty of what it means to become a Space Marine. The inhumanity entailed in transcending humanity. One particular scene springs to mind; the second stomach is implanated, allowing a Marine to gain sustenance from absolutely anything that they eat.

They celebrate the implantation by having a feast of offal and excrement. I'm gagging just thinking about it, but that's the reality of the Astartes. They are not human, not any more.

But another thing I like about this book is love/hate relationship between the three youths drafted from the hive-world of Necromunda. Lex, Yeremi and Biff hate each other to begin with, but through their training - and the fact that they are the only links to each other's past - they form a grudging, yet steadfast, bond.

The character with the finger bones design is Lexandro D'Arquebus.

Found with the Google query warhammer 40k novel "astartes" "finger bones" brothers site:warhammer40k.wikia.com which returned the Imperial Fists page, the description of Lexandro D'Arquebus states:

He is the only surviving one of the "Three Brothers" of Trazior; the finger bones of his left hand are inscribed with the names of his two deceased Battle-Brothers from the hive city of Trazior as a permanent memorial to them. He is one of the main characters of Ian Watson's recently re-released non-canon 1993 novel Space Marine, and also appears in his Inquisition War trilogy.

  • That's the one! Thank you for your help.
    – Don Ten
    Jan 9, 2019 at 22:20
  • 1
    @DonTen you're welcome, enjoy the re-read :)
    – Jenayah
    Jan 9, 2019 at 22:21

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