So, some new space marines are on their way and some people – myself included – are terribly excited about it all. It’s been a while since I did anything with my Angels Mortis but since seeing the new models revealed at the weekend I’m feeling the temptation to dig out some of my neglected power armour (and not the chaotic kind for once!). Also, it’s time for a quick break from painting Cawdor gangers before all those fiddly robes drive me utterly bonkers. Pretty much every 40k fan, I would argue, has a favourite space marine chapter. You need not necessarily be that keen on space marines – I myself am a foul heretic at heart – but they’re so ubiquitous that we’ve all had that “name your favourite chapter” conversation at one point or another. For myself there are a few contenders, all at the more obscure end of the spectrum (because I’m a 41st Millennium hipster). I don’t have any particular beef with the Ultramarines, Imperial Fists or Blood Angels (but don’t get me started on the Space Wolves and the Sillymanders!) but I prefer the Carcharodons, Minotaurs, Exorcists, Angels Penitent and Star Phantoms.
However when push comes to shove I’d have to pick the Knights of Blood as the one for me. The first time I saw the Knights of Blood was back in the old 4th Edition Chaos Codex (which was given to me by a good friend and which set me on the path to damnation). Back then they were clearly fighting for Khorne, their shoulder pad icon shown as a Juggernaught’s head and their sole scrap of descriptive text describing them as “frenzied warriors”. As two word entries go I suppose it beats “mostly harmless”.
After that they reappeared on my radar as successors to the Blood Angels which lurked on the edge of the background, with only a few scattered lines and a single short-story to their name, as far as I could discover, until their untimely extinction during the Siege of Baal. Much like the Flesh Tearers (and various other Blood Angel’s successors over the millennia) they fell foul of their own inner daemons and repeatedly ran amok, butchering allied troops and civilian populations alike, until the Imperium finally tired of their antics and declared them heretics. So far so standard, and many chapters before and since have suffered a similar fate, either hunted down and slaughtered for their crimes or driven into the always welcoming arms of the dark gods. The Knights of Blood however were having none of it, swore that they were still loyal to the Imperium and continued to fight in the Emperor’s name, even doing any other loyalist troops in the area the favour of not fighting directly alongside them – thus going some way towards protecting those other troops from both the Knight’s violent excesses and the wrath of the Inquisition. According to the novel The Devastation of Baal by Guy Haley they even managed to nullify some of the effects of the Black Rage (admittedly by preying vampirically on unfortunate Imperial serfs but nobody’s perfect eh). Without spoiling too much of an excellent novel (although if you really don’t want to know don’t highlight the following text) they went out like bosses taking on Khornate daemons and tyranid monsters at the same time and allowing the Flesh Tearers to escape (so anyone out there with a Flesh Tearers army – you’re welcome).
I’ve had a bit of a soft spot for these berserk vampires since I first encountered them but I’ve never actually painted one, nor have I ever seen a painted army of them (so if you’ve painted one or you know of one please put a link in the comments – I’d be very curious to see it, us excommunicated heroes of the Imperium need to stick together!). I was thinking about this the other day and decided that it was past time to try painting one for myself so I had a dig around in the pile of shame and found this space marine, assembled (and slightly kitbashed into something suitably aggressive looking) but unpainted. When I built him I didn’t intend him to be a Knight of Blood, if I had I would have used a Blood Angel’s shoulderpad rather than the slim reaver-style shoulderpad I gave him, and I would have covered his head (the Knights tending to avoid showing their faces, partly – I’m sure – because that made them seem more awesome and sinister and partly because they didn’t want people to know that they were becoming increasingly gnarly, red and – dare I say it – Khornate in appearance as the years passed). Perhaps this Knight pre-dates the later years of their fall from grace, or perhaps he’s just not been as badly affected as his battle brothers.
I also didn’t get bogged down in painting the chapter icon on his shoulderpad, instead leaving a blank space where I can paint it on later if I feel inclined. I know that’s the height of laziness, but the aim of the exercise here was to play around with the colour-scheme and give myself a break from Cawdor, not to get bogged down. If I decide to tackle more of these then I’ll come back to him and add in a little iconography, but for now he’s a quick sketch and that means painting him to a level I’m happy with and moving on, rather than obsessing over any details.
No matter what I do, or how many photographs I take, his left shoulderpad (his left, our right) comes out looking really flat. I’m sure this is something familiar to all bloggers, you slave away getting the highlights looking right (and is there anything on earth harder to highlight than the shoulderpad of a space marine?) and the photos just don’t capture it and part of you always thinks “does anyone believe me? Perhaps they all think I just couldn’t be arsed to highlight it and I’m just making excuses!”. Ah well, you’ll just have to trust me.
He was a fun little diversion to tackle and for the moment that’s all I’m intending, although at some point I may – or may not – put together a few more. As ever I’m also curious to get your thoughts on the model, whether or not the Knights were filthy heretics or hard-pressed heroes doing a difficult job in a dangerous time and of course, for the 40k fans amongst you, if you had to pick a favourite space marine chapter which one would you declare your loyalty to?