Dan Abnett’s Gaunt’s Ghosts series is arguably one of the richest series in the Black Library collection. It spans 20 years and 15 books. Dan Abnett has created and killed better minor characters in that series than most series have main characters. I am an unabashed GG fangirl and will take most any opportunity to gush about my favorite characters. So I present to you the definitive* ranking of the ten best Gaunt’s Ghosts. There are some spoilers contained within, so read at your own peril.
10. Simen Urvin Macharius Bonin
Who doesn’t love Mach? Every regiment needs the token “lucky” character, and Bonin is more lucky than most. He survived a gunshot to the head, he killed a stalker with a knife, and his luck rubs off on those around him. Most importantly, Bonin values life above all else, and is strikingly thoughtful for a soldier. Also, in-my-own-head canon he goes back to Phantine to marry Bree Jagdea.
9. Ceglon Varl
I’m a sucker for trickster characters, and Varl firmly falls under that category. The man always has a con or slight-of-hand up his sleeve for entertainment’s sake. He’s the classic rapscallion character, serving as part of the heart of the regiment after the loss of Colm Corbec. But he’s also a skilled and competent fighter. Yet another survivor of Gereon, Varl is one of the few characters who comes out largely unscathed. He’s a little more serious, but he’s largely his same ol’ self.
8. Ana Curth
How does Curth beat out Dordin for a place on this list? It was a hard choice, but Curth’s cast-iron resolve wins out. She single-handedly killed a wirewolf and stayed behind on a chaos-infested planet because the resistance needed a doctor. And she had to deal with Ibram Gaunt’s bullshit of never being able to commit. She deserved better than him anyway, and earned her spot at this table.
7. Tona Criid
Oh, Tona. She is a (adoptive) mother, a wife, and never shies away from what needs to be done. The woman survives Gereon, the death of her husband Caffran, and the reveal that her children are sleeper agents.† The universe has thrown some shit at Tona Criid, and she keeps swinging back. She might also be a latent psyker, too, but we won’t hold that against her.
6. Aongus Brostin
Hot take, I know, but hear me out. Aongus Brostin is one of those characters who gets a surprising amount of growth throughout the series. He starts as just a flame trooper. Then he is established as being one of Feygor’s and Rawne’s unruly group. His survival on Gereon was a welcome surprise as he becomes one of the dependable, amusing badasses of the regiment. If His Last Command doesn’t make you love Brostin, I don’t know what will. I will NEVER get over his death.
5. Viktor Hark
Viktor Hark, aka Commissar Expectation Subversion. When introduced, Hark is an unlikable character. His sole purpose is to call that untrustworthy Gaunt guy to task, and he’s all too happy to do so. Over the course of several books, he becomes a well-developed, intriguing character. Hark is one of the greatest Commissar characters as he has a strong, unflappable sense of right from wrong, but it’s occasionally surprising. I ugly cried in Only in Death when Hark comes face-to-face with Soric again. He has grown so much over the books, there is an entire article’s worth of observations based solely on him.
4. Oan Mkoll
Do I even need to explain this one? Mkoll is an absolute legend in a regiment of legends. He is a badass character without becoming the Mystical Mary Sue; Mkoll is formidable and dangerous, but not ridiculously so. He’s soft spoken and does not have a hint of arrogance even though it would be deserved. He’s exactly the type of man you want on your side in a fight, and his loyalty borders on insane. He is absolutely the type of man who would lone-wolf rescue his friend,‡ and he is the type of guy to decide it’s just time to kill the Big Bad and end this whole war.
3. Elim Rawne
If I had to point to the character in Gaunt’s Ghosts with the most development and most surprising arc, it would be Elim Rawne. Think about Rawne in the first few books vs. Rawne at the end of the series. While he’s still unquestionably dangerous and harbors a rebellious streak, he’s matured in ways I doubt even he thought possible. He goes from wreckless asshole to dependable officer. Seeing him make kind-of-sort-of amends with Gaunt is a wonderful lump of a sugar for a character who deserved it. He’s like an edgy Commander Riker, which is what the WH40k universe needs.
2. Colm Corbec
If you didn’t feel Colm Corbec’s death in your soul, then you are either a soulless blunter, or you weren’t paying attention. The affable, competent fighter was everything the Ghosts aspired to be. He was well-liked, well-respected, dangerous as hell, and a good person. Corbec was the heart and soul of the first several books, and Dan Abnett was not only cruel in killing him, it was a shocking narrative choice. Using one of your best characters as a shield for a literal saint was beautiful, heartbreaking, and awful. As mentioned, so many amazing characters have died in the course of this series, and yet Corbec’s death is felt keenest.
1. Hlaine Larkin
Crazy-ass Larkin is my #1 choice for Best Gaunt’s Ghost. Larkin is a beautifully broken character. He has mental issues, epilepsy, and is most likely a psyker. He has experienced far too many miracles to hand wave away as “luck.” Larkin is aware of his flaws and he owns up to them; he never claims to be what he’s not. He’s the best damn sniper this side of Terra, and has saved the day multiple times. Like so many on this list, he came through Gereon stronger, and I would have set Anarch on fire if he died. My only concern, reading that book, was that Larkin made it.
”Jen, what the SHIT,” you might be saying. I know there are a few hot takes on this list. Where, you might be asking, is Ibram Gaunt? Where is Caffran or Bragg? I have all kinds of opinions on those particular people, and there are many reasons they didn’t make the list. Hmmm… maybe that’s another article.
* Trust me, I’m an expert fangirl.
† I have so many STRONG OPINIONS on this, I can’t even. Tona almost didn’t make the list because of them.
‡ Yes, Ezrah comes with him, but Mkoll was ready to go on his own, because that’s how he rolls.