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Space Wolf (Novel)

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Targetdrone.gif This article is about the Novel by William King; for the Space Marine Chapter, see Space Wolves.

Space Wolf
Author William King
Publisher Black Library
Series Space Wolf
Followed by Ragnar's Claw
Released 1999
Pages 416
Collected in The Space Wolf Omnibus
Editions 1999 softback
ISBN 1-84154-106-0

2003 softback
ISBN 1-84416-022-X

2011 ebook
ISBN 9780857870841

Space Wolf is the first novel in the Space Wolf novel series. Written by William King, it was first published in 1999.

Cover Description

On the grim death-world of Fenris, the Space Wolves Chapter selects its aspirants from the best and brightest of the young tribesmen. Ragnar of the Thunderfist tribe finds his life changed forever when he is chosen. After being revived from a savage death on the battlefield, Ragnar is recruited into the fearsome Space Wolves Chapter. He is then thrown into a galactic war against the dark forces of Chaos. However, the implanting of the Canis Helix unleashes his primal instincts and Ragnar must fight to control the beast within him.


Ragnar Thunderfist, an unsuspecting barbarian on the planet Fenris, is recruited by the Space Wolves after being mortally wounded in battle with a rival tribe. Also recruited is the warrior who killed Ragnar's family and wounded him, Strybjorn Grimskull. Ragnar swears revenge, even as he undergoes basic training and the eventual transformation into a Space Marine.



On Hesperida, Ragnar Blackmane charges at a heretic stronghold, diverting his men to deal with an incoming Predator tank. But no sooner than this is done when a hidden sniper puts a bolt shell through his chest armour. Ragnar lies gravely wounded, but unworried, reflecting that he has already died at least once before...

Part One

Ragnar Thunderfist of the Thunderfist tribe of Fenris, is barely into his teens, though he is already renowned for his daring and bravery. Both are being tested on a perilous voyage across the Sea of Dragons, through the worst storm any of them has ever seen. The only one aboard Ragnar's father's longship the Spear of Russ, that is unperturbed is their passenger, one of the hulking Sky-Warriors. As well as being brave, Ragnar is insatiably curious and questions their passenger often, though he is more puzzled by the old man's cryptic answers than anything.

When the ship makes it through the storm, Ragnar is awestruck by his first sight of Asaheim, and an enormous fortress reaching to the clouds. The notions of a continent not wracked by earthquakes or volcanoes, or a fortress made entirely of metal is almost beyond his ken, but he is not awed enough to stop asking questions of the Sky Warrior, Ranek. The old man is annoyed, but forced to acknowledge a liking for the youth - which is why, in all seriousness, he tells Ragnar he hopes they never meet again.

A few months later, Ragnar is celebrating his passage to manhood at his tribe's annual festival, receiving the pride of his father and the affection of his first love, a girl named Ana. The festival is interrupted by the invasion of a rival tribe, the Grimskulls, who lost their land to the Thunderfist years earlier. In the battle, Ragnar sees his own father slain by a rival youth of the Grimskulls, Strybjorn. But Ragnar reaps a fearsome tally of the attacking warriors, and manages to inflict a mortal wound on Strybjorn, though receiving one himself in return. As he lies bleeding out onto the snow, Ragnar expects to be reunited with his family in Paradise, but instead hears the voice of Ranek, who has been watching the whole battle from a distance.

When Ragnar regains consciousness, he has been resuscitated by the Sky Warrior, but sees his village in ruins and his entire tribe killed or enslaved. He weeps for his lost loved ones, but bitterly accepts that he has nowhere to go but to follow Ranek aboard his strange airship. To his outrage, he finds himself sharing the space with Strybjorn, who has also been "chosen." He tries to kill the Grimskull, but Ranek restrains him.

Part Two

Ragnar, Strybjorn, and about forty other Aspirants are deposited at their training camp, Russvik, and introduced to their drillmaster, Sergeant Hakon,who says their choices have been reduced to one: survive, or die. He assigns them to their "Claws", and Ragnar's feelings are mixed when he and Strybjorn are grouped together.

In the weeks that follow, the Claws are put through grueling training regimens, re-learning skills of combat, hunting, and survival. Ragnar emerges as the de facto leader of the Claw, being the most skilled with weapons. Nearly half of the Aspirants are eliminated, including one of Ragnar's own Claw, Henk. In the end, Hakon announces they are ready for their final test: The Gate of Morkai.

Within The Fang, the Wolves' immense fortress-monastery, he volunteers to be the first to pass through the Gate, where he is thrown into a psychic trance and tempted by the Ruinous Powers. It is a harrowing ordeal, never more so than when he is goaded to give into his feral rage and slay a helpless Strybjorn, but he holds back, shouting that his will is his own.

Ragnar awakens from his trance, and Ranek says he is finally ready to drink from the Cup of Wulfen, and receive the first component of the Space Wolves' geneseed.

The Aspirants' final ordeal is the Test of Morkai: stranded miles from the Fang with no food or water, and only a rudimentary weapon, they must make their way back, surviving the harsh Fenrisian wilderness and struggling to keep the beast awoken in their new, changed bodies under control. Ragnar not only survives, but returns in triumph after slaying a massive Blackmaned Wolf and draping its pelt around him as a cloak, but Ragnar feels no joy: Kjel, his only real friend among the Claw, succumbed to the Curse in the wild and attacked Ragnar, forcing Ragnar to kill him.

Upon their return, Ragnar, Sven, and Strybjorn are inducted into the chapter, receiving the remaining components of the geneseed that complete their transformations to Space Marines, and learning the history of the chapter, and the wider Imperium, through powerful flash-learning devices. Now their real training begins: learning the use of bolt pistol and chainsword, feeling at home inside their power armour, and practicing combat in all manner of environments, not just the frozen wastes of Fenris. Finally, Ragnar and his remaining brothers take their oaths as warriors of the Space Wolves.

Part Three

Their first mission as Blood Claws is on Fenris itself, tracking down another Blood Claw pack that mysteriously disappeared in the mountains. Following the trail to a cave, they find an ancient human settlement that predates the coming of Russ and the Emperor, where there are attacked by mutants known as "nightgangers." Deeper within the cave, they are shocked to find a temple to Tzeentch, where they are confronted by the Chaos Sorcerer Madox and a squad of Rubric Marines. The squad leader, Hengist, orders Ragnar, Strybjorn, Sven, and Nils to rush back to the surface and alert the rest of the chapter, while the others hold off the Chaos Marines.

In the fight to reach the surface, Ragnar is chagrined when Strybjorn saves his life, taking a wound serious enough to slow him down. Ragnar tells the others to keep going, while he helps Strybjorn. Together, the two wounded Wolves limp to a Chaos-corrupted lake, where Madox confronts them again. The Sorcerer is a veteran of ten thousand years of battle, and, even without his magic, a powerful and unbelievably fast swordsman. Ragnar is tested to the limit, but refuses to give in, and Strybjorn comes to his aid. The two of them managing to defeat Madox, Ragnar driving his chainsword into the Sorcerer's chestplate.

When they limp out of the mouth of the cave, they are surprised to see the entire chapter arrayed for battle outside. But with Madox's death, the Chaos presence has been expunged, and already the Rune Priests are discussing the feat with wonder: a Champion of Chaos defeated by two lowly Blood Claws. Ragnar, many of them whisper, is destined for great things. Ragnar, however, cares more that he and his comrades have survived (including Strybjorn), and that Sven and Lars have managed to scrounge them a meal.


In the Imperial field hospital on Hesperida, Brother Ragnar awakes from his brief coma and insists on returning to the battle. He is informed that the heretic rebels have been reinforced by Chaos forces, including Thousand Sons Marines. There is even a rumour that Madox has been spotted leading them. Ragnar relishes the coming fight, remarking that he has killed Madox twice before, and "third time will be the charm."

Notable Characters