Gaunt and the Ghosts leave Aexe for Herodor, an frozen waterless tundra with a city devoted to the Beati, Saint Sabbat (for whom the story arc and the crusade itself are named). They are summoned to be the protectors of a reincarnated Saint Sabbat. There is a bit of a convoluted power struggle between Gaunt and his old nemesis, Lord General Lugo, regarding the disposition of the Reincarnated Saint and how the city is to be defended against the Blood Pact, who are now swarming the planet in the company of the Vile Arch-Enemy Warlord Enok Innokenti.
There is a furious battle as the forlorn defenders futilely seek to stem the tide of invaders, but something more sinister is at work. In a scene reminiscent of Vader aboard the Executor in The Empire Strikes Back, Innokenti enlists the help of nine bounty hunters. This is where this story really shines, the discovery and combating of the specialist hunters by the Ghosts is truly awesome, with a last page twist you still don't expect.
- Bounty Hunters: Really quite a cast of characters, from across the breadth of the 40k Bad Guy mythology. I find it amusing that there are nine of them, since that has been a literature trope since before Tolkien. The only way to be more Retro would be to go with seven (as in ...Samurai, Magnificent..., ...Against Thebes, etc.).
- Desperate Combat. If you like bitter struggles against all odds, we got that here.
- Tying Up Loose Ends. The Saint story line really wraps up here, with loose ends you didn't even realize were there all the way back from Honour Guard coming to a close.
- Magic: I have nearly the same opinion of this as Willie Scott from Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom. It's fine in Fantasy. I can tolerate some psy in sci-fi. I do dig the angelic holy roller overtones in 40k for the most part, but Sabbat Martyr manages to overdo it for me.
- All Fall Down. Like The Guns of Tanith, not everybody walks away from this one. This is a series about war, people die in war, and characters die here. Does not bother me too much, but I know some people will be attached.