"We may be few, and our enemies many. Yet so long as there remains one of us still fighting, one who still rages in the name of justice and truth, then by the Allfather, the galaxy shall yet know hope."
Ragnar Blackmane is a Space Marine officer of the Space Wolves Chapter and the youngest Wolf Lord to lead one of the 12 Great Companies of that Chapter in the history of the Sons of Leman Russ. Blackmane's Great Company frequently has the honour of leading the Space Wolves' planetary assaults, a role at which Ragnar and his warriors excel, for his Packs are the undisputed masters of the Drop Pod assaults known as the "Claws of Russ." He is the only Space Wolf to become a Wolf Lord without first becoming a Grey Hunter. Blackmane is the current Chapter Champion and bearer of the revered artefact known as the Wolf Helm of Russ, which he presented to Ulrik the Slayer as a sign of respect. Blackmane prevented an invasion by the Forces of Chaos and the return of the Thousand Sons Traitor Legion to the Shrine World of Garm, a planet sacred to the Space Wolves because it was the home of the Shrine of Garm's Skull, by casting the sacred Spear of Russ into a Warp Gate, an action which for a time earned him the bitter enmity of his fellow Battle-Brothers before his later actions earned him his eventual redemption.
Ragnar was born on Fenris, the homeworld of the Space Wolves Chapter. He was born to the nomadic tribe called the Thunderfists in the far reaches of Fenris. His personal saga says he has always been touched by glory. As a child he ran with young tribal warriors twice his age, and even as a youth his famous battle frenzies saw him reap a frightening tally of the rival tribes' menfolk. His audacity and fierce spirit made Ragnar perfect for induction into the ranks of the Adeptus Astartes. His chance to join the Sky Warriors came when his tribe was attacked by a rival Fenrisian tribe, the Grimskulls. During the attack, Ragnar and Strybjorn (a member of the Grimskulls) were silently observed by the Space Wolves Wolf Priest Ranek Icewalker. Both Ragnar and Strybjorn were mortally wounded in a duel that earned them a place as Space Wolves Aspirants. This rivalry would continue for the rest of their lives, although by the time they both became Blood Claws, they had come to respect and even like one another. Ragnar's clan was destroyed that night and Ragnar lost the first love of his life. Later her image and memory would be used to attempt to turn Ragnar to the service of Chaos.
After the battle, the two were taken to the Russvik training camp, and later the Space Wolves' fortress-monastery, The Fang, for training and their eventual transformation into Astartes Neophytes. After he received the gene-seed organ implantation and the painful transformation it wrought upon his body, Ragnar was dropped a long distance away from The Fang in the Vanaheim Mountains, and ordered to make his way back to the fortress-monastery or die trying. It was during these punishing trials that every Space Wolves Aspirant must undertake that Ragnar's resourcefulness and skill came to the fore. As he roamed alone through the wilderness, Ragnar was hunted in turn by a giant Fenrisian Wolf, one of the much-feared Blackmaned Wolves, as dark and terrible as any night-daemon. Though it was many times his size, Ragnar managed to slay the wolf-beast with his bare hands. Though naked and burning with exhaustion, Ragnar subsequently hauled its carcass through the snowdrifts to The Fang. This great deed was seen by the Wolf Priests as a good omen. From that day forward, Ragnar took the Blackmane as his totem and namesake, forever cementing his place in the legends of the Sky Warriors. Ragnar took the Blackmane Wolf's pelt to use as a cloak and would continue to wear it well into his days as a Wolfblade, and later during his time as a Wolf Lord. At this time, he also befriended Sven, another fellow Space Wolf Aspirant who had passed the trial of the Blooding. Their friendship would continue throughout their days within the Chapter. Later in his career, Ragnar would also end up unintentionally slaying one of his friends, who had succumbed to the Curse of the Wulfen.
Chaos on Fenris
Very soon after their transformation into Astartes, Ragnar's Pack was sent to investigate the disappearance of a missing Pack of Blood Claws on Fenris. They investigated a cave in the mountains, and discovered a shrine dedicated to the worship of Chaos. Soon afterwards, they were attacked by a group of Thousand Sons Chaos Space Marines led by Madox, a Chaos Sorcerer. The majority of the Pack and their Sergeant were killed by the Chaos Space Marines, with only Ragnar, Strybjorn, Sven and two others escaping. Ragnar commanded the survivors to establish communications with the rest of the Chapter in order to alert them to the existence of the Chaos shrine and the presence of the Thousand Sons warband, while he stayed behind to help Strybjorn, who had been injured. Before Ragnar and Strybjorn could escape, however, Madox confronted them. Ragnar duelled the Chaos Sorcerer with Strybjorn's help, and managed to defeat him. Both Astartes believed the sorcerer dead. The duo then escaped the cave, and the rest of the Space Wolves destroyed the heretical shrine.
Thunderfist Great Company
Winning great renown, Ragnar was inducted into the Great Company of Berek Thunderfist, a renowned warrior specifically chosen to mentor the up and coming Blood Claw. Ragnar's first mission occurred when his Blood Claw Pack was tasked to assist a pair of Inquisitors, Ivan Sternberg and Karak Isaan, a psyker, and the first woman since his transformation into an Astartes that Ragnar had developed romantic feelings for, an experience which he thought extremely "un-Wolflike". The Inquisitors had come to Fenris to request the aid of the Space Wolves in reclaiming the three pieces of the Talisman of Lykos, an ancient Eldar amulet, in order to save a dying Imperial planet, Aerius. The planet was suffering from a deadly plague, and Sternberg suspected that the Black Pyramid, a famous structure present on the world, which was once the site of a battle of the Space Wolves, the Imperial Guard and the Inquisition against the Eldar, could save the people of Aerius. One piece of the Talisman was kept in the treasure rooms of The Fang, one was to be found on the planet Galt, and the third was lost in the Warp on a derelict Space Hulk.
Along with the survivors of his Pack, and Sergeant Hakon, who had been the training sergeant for the Neophytes at Russvik, Ragnar travelled into space for the first time. When they arrived at the planet Galt, they found that an Ork horde had invaded the system and the Ork Warlord in command was in possession of the needed piece of the Talisman. Ragnar and his companions infiltrated the Ork horde, and battled against the Warlord to reclaim the piece of the Talisman. One of Ragnar's Pack, Lars, was killed by the massive Ork leader, but they managed to recover the piece of the Talisman and escape from the world.
After this, Inquisitor Isaan used her psychic abilities to discover that the last piece of the Talisman was aboard a Space Hulk near the dead sun of Korealis. Ragnar and the Inquisitor successfully recovered the final piece of the Talisman after battling the myriad dangers aboard the Hulk. When they travelled to Aerius to reunite and use the Talisman, they found nearly the whole planet had already been infected by the plague. An Eldar hologram warned them off as they entered the Black Pyramid, but the Space Wolves and the Inquisitors ignored it. They were shocked to find a Great Unclean One of Nurgle, a Greater Daemon named Botchulaz, inside, who had been controlling the Planetary Governor Sternberg's troops. Sternberg and one of Ragnar's Pack, Nils, fell battling the powerful daemon, and Karah Isaan sacrificed herself to seal the Pyramid, trapping the Great Unclean One within.
All of the recognition Ragnar received for this deed was lost, however, upon the planet Garm, the site of one of the holiest of all the Space Wolves' Chapter shrines. Indeed, the world had taken its name from Garm, mightiest of the First, one of the Wolf Lords who had risen in the service of the Primarch Leman Russ himself during the early days of the VI Legion. The cairn marked the spot where he fell in battle with Magnus the Red, the Primarch of the Thousand Sons, during the battle that had freed the planet from the domination of the Traitor Marines. It had been a desperate moment, when Russ stumbled and the evil one had stood triumphant over him. Garm had snatched up Russ's spear and launched himself to his Primarch's defence. Using Russ's mighty weapon he had wounded the Chaos Primarch, a feat considered near impossible for a mortal man, even the transhuman Astartes. The furious Magnus had burned him down on the spot with evil sorcery, but the hero's death had given Russ time to recover, and drive off the lord of the Thousand Sons.
The cairn had been raised by Russ himself with his own hands, in tribute to the first and greatest of his followers. The Primarch caused a jet of cold blue flame to mark the spot, and laid his enchanted spear on the cairn, asking his old friend's spirit to watch over the weapon until he returned to claim it. It was a place where one could still sense the presence of the Primarch on certain wild stormy nights. It was also a place that had once been sacred to the Thousand Sons, and the two rival Legions had fought many a battle over it in the days after the Horus Heresy. Never had it been allowed to remain in the hands of the Heretics. As for the Spear of Russ, it had been forged for the man-god by the folk of Garm, the greatest artificers of the factory worlds that were common in Garm's sector. They had taken the fact that Russ himself had laid it in the shrine as a pledge of friendship with his people, and they had protected it ever since -- with the aid of a contingent of Space Wolves permanently stationed at the shrine.
By the late 41st Millennium, the Thousand Sons Traitor Legion once again assailed the Shrine World of Garm. Led by the foul Thousand Sons Chaos Sorcerer Madox, a Chaos Cult uprising on a planetary scale provided the necessary cover for the sorcerer to steal the sacred Spear of Russ. But the Space Wolves were determined that no slave of Chaos would be allowed to sully the shrine. The holy site had to be cleansed with fire and blood. The Spear of Russ must be waiting for the Space Wolves' lord on his return if the prophesies of the Final Days were to be fulfilled. Soon the greater portion of the Space Wolves Chapter was deployed to Garm (11 Great Companies) to help quell the massive uprisings. One of these Great Companies was under the command of the Wolf Lord Berek Thunderfist. During a climatic battle between the Chaos Sorcerer and Ragnar Blackmane, the young Space Wolf hurled the sacred Spear of Russ into an open Warp portal to prevent the summoned Daemon Primarch Magnus the Red from entering realspace and turning the tide of battle. Though even the Space Wolves' Great Wolf Logan Grimnar believed that Ragnar's actions had saved the Chapter from a potential disaster, many Space Wolves believed Ragnar had dishonoured himself and his fellow Battle-Brothers by losing one of the Space Wolves' greatest relics.
Berek Thunderfist wanted to have Ragnar made a Grey Hunter at the same time as his fellow Pack-mates Brother Sven and Brother Strybjorn, but Ragnar might have destroyed one of the Chapter's most sacred relics, an act which some of the elder Wolf Brothers in the Chapter's priesthood considered quite blasphemous. Though it had not been Ragnar's intention to lose the relic, intention mattered not. The Spear of Russ was a most precious and sacred thing. It was created for Russ, Lord of Lords, Wolf of Wolves. It was said to contain a part of his power. It was also prophesied that Russ would claim it to smite the Great Evil One in the last days of the Wolf Time. Ragnar felt a deep-rooted sense of shame take him. He had thought he had been a hero saving the world of Garm. Instead he had committed an act of blasphemy and sacrilege. Though Berek Thunderfist agreed with young Blackmane's actions, there were those within the Chapter who saw discrediting the young Blood Claw as a means of discrediting his commanding Wolf Lord. This meant that Thunderfist's Great Company would go from being the one which saved the world of Garm well-nigh single-handed to being the one which lost their Chapter's most precious relic. These Wolf Brothers pushed for punishment and exile. Some of the more devout brethren wished to see the blood eagle carved in Ragnar's back. If such a punishment was deemed fair by the Great Wolf, Ragnar would face his destiny like a true Son of Russ.
As "punishment", Ragnar was sent to Terra in exile by the Great Wolf Logan Grimnar to serve in the Wolfblade, an ancient Honour Guard comprised of Astartes from the Space Wolves Chapter who protect the Navigators' House Belisarius on Terra, in accordance with an ancient pact forged at the time of the Great Crusade over ten millennia ago. Grimnar informed the young Space Wolf warrior that though he agreed with his actions, he could not let them go unpunished. Therefore, he was sending Ragnar to the Wolfblade, not only as punishment, but to protect him from potential attempts on his life by those Space Wolf Battle-Brothers angry over his actions on Garm. While on Terra, Ragnar was instrumental in foiling a plot of vicious racists within the Navigators' Houses themselves.
Shortly afterwards, Ragnar and his fellow Wolfblades found themselves embroiled in a Dark Angels plot to capture and kill one of the elusive Fallen Angels. Captain Jeremiah Gieyus led an elite Deathwing Kill-team that had long pursued and now prepared to capture one of the Fallen Angels known as Cadmus. This plot was secretly orchestrated by the Thousand Sons Chaos Sorcerer Madox, who intended to stir up old animosities that burned within and between both Chapters dating back to the time of the Great Crusade. Soon, the Dark Angels' Battle Barge assaulted the planet of Hyades, which was under the protection of the Space Wolves. Ragnar found himself and his companions in the midst of a great battle between the Dark Angels and the Space Wolves, led by the Wolf Lord Berek Thunderfist, who was passing through on a routine patrol of the star systems that lay under the protection of the Space Wolves. The natural distrust of the Space Wolves and the Dark Angels, which had been passed down since the days of the Great Crusade and the bad blood between their respective Primarchs, caused the two sides to assault one another. Discovering Madox's involvement, eventually the two Chapters set aside their differences and went after the errant Cadmus. They tracked down the Traitor before he could make good his escape and succeeded in capturing the Heretic. With a newfound mutual respect for each other, Ragnar withdrew his forces and let the Dark Angels conclude their Chapter business in privacy. Captain Gieyus then executed Cadmus. The two groups of Space Marines also worked together to defeat an approaching Chaos warfleet, although Berek's warship was more damaged than the Dark Angels', as they had retreated to repair while the Space Wolves battled the Thousand Sons warband under the command of Madox.
With the aid of his fellow Wolfblades, Ragnar later managed to also recover the Spear of Russ on the Daemon World of Charys with the aid of the Space Wolves' long-lost 13th Great Company. This act redeemed Ragnar in the eyes of his Battle-Brothers and he was reinstated as a member of Berek Thunderfist's Great Company after he returned from his time as a Wolfblade.
The next chapter of Ragnar's saga tells of Blackmane's elevation from the ranks of the Blood Claws directly to membership in his Great Company's Veteran Wolf Guard without first spending time as a Grey Hunter. This unique honour was given to Ragnar after he single-handedly slew the Ork Warlord Borzag Khan in close combat and subsequently dispatched the Warlord's entire retinue of Nobz one after the other. Ragnar did not rest upon his laurels, however. He quickly proved himself a gifted leader of men as well as a talented warrior. When his Wolf Lord Berek Thunderfist met his end on the blade of the daemon-tainted axe of a Chaos Champion, it was Ragnar who led the bloody hunt for his master's killer, and eventually slew him in vengeance. For this deed, Ragnar was elevated to the rank of Wolf Lord and took command of Thunderfist's Great Company, making it his own. As such, Ragnar became the youngest Space Wolf to ever become a Wolf Lord in the Space Wolves' history.
Though Ragnar excels as the lord of his own Great Company, Ragnar has proved that his greatest skill lies in the execution of orbital drops and planetstrikes. Grimnar regularly chooses Ragnar's Great Company to spearhead planetary invasions and, with an unrivalled success rate under his belt, Ragnar's deeds have spread across the galaxy. Considering his young age, the Blackmane may yet go on to become the greatest Wolf Lord in history.
Gift of Blackmane
The Artificers of the Blood Ravens Chapter once crafted a Power Axe in honour of Ragnar Blackmane called the Gift of Blackmane, which they intended to send to Fenris as a gift for the Wolf Lord. Like most Space Wolves, Ragnar only had contempt for an Astartes Chapter like the Blood Ravens which relied so heavily on psychic powers in combat like their ancient enemies the Thousand Sons. Ragnar refused the gift, remarking, "Let them keep their trinkets."
Ragnar is an incredibly powerful warrior; surpassed only by the Great Wolf Logan Grimnar and the Space Wolves' most powerful Rune Priest, Njal Stormcaller, in the Space Wolves Chapter. Ragnar Blackmane is exceptional in every sense of the word. He possesses unusually keen senses and a preternatural sixth sense for knowing when things are amiss. The youngest ever battle-brother to have been promoted to Wolf Lord, Ragnar exudes confidence, skill and athletic ability from every fibre of his whipcord-fast body. It is said that he is always the first to make planetfall during an invasion and the last to leave the battlefield, and to witness one of his berserk rages is to watch the fury of a storm come to life. Many believe that he will eventually succeed Logan Grimnar as Great Wolf, but the eldest of the Wolf Priests know that he will have to master his anger first. For though Ragnar's temper and capacity for raw hatred gives him great power and strength, it makes him impetuous, a trait which may yet prove to be his downfall.
According to ancient legends of Fenris, Leman Russ fought and tamed the great wolf packs of Asaheim. He cast down the two-headed wolf Morkai, and made him the guardian of the gates of death, a task which Morkai has endured ever since. There are many stories of how Russ fought Morkai's lieutenants, and banished each in turn to an appointed place. The most fearsome of all was Blackmane, a terrifying black-maned giant known as the Howler in the Night, whose long howling cry calls the souls of dead warriors from their graves. Russ fought Blackmane and slew him, making his pelt into a magic cloak that allowed him to pass into the realm of the dead. The spirit of Blackmane still calls to the dead, but can no longer summon them into the world of the living.
- Power Armour
- Bolt Pistol
- Frostfang - Ragnar wields the powerful relic Frost Blade Frostfang in battle that was given to him by Lady Juliana Belisarius, the Celestarch of the Space Wolves' allied noble house of Navigators, House Belisarius.
- Melta Bombs
- Frag Grenades
- Krak Grenades
- Wolftooth Necklace - A Wolftooth Necklace is an Honour Badge unique to the Space Wolves Chapter. Created from the teeth of Fenrisian Wolves, a Wolf Tooth Necklace is reputed to grant the wearer strength and ferocity in combat like that of the wolf it was taken from. Whether or not there is any true power in such tokens (like those talismans crafted by the Rune Priests) the effects on a Space Wolves Battle-Brother cannot be denied. Such necklaces are awarded as prizes in the tests of martial strength held in The Fang.
- Wolf Tail Talisman - A Wolf Tail Talisman is a charm crafted from the tail of a Fenrisian Wolf that is known to provide its bearer with resistance to attacks by enemy psykers.
In the Codex: Space Wolves (5th Edition) Ragnar Blackmane is said to have been trained by the venerable Wolf Priest Ulrik the Slayer. However, in the Space Wolves novels Ragnar's mentor is said to be the Wolf Priest Ranek Icewalker.
- Codex: Space Wolves (5th Edition), pp. 17, 55, 67, 80, 82
- Codex: Space Wolves (3rd Edition), p. 28
- Codex: Space Wolves (2nd Edition), pp. 34, 63, 72-75
- The Space Wolves series of novels:
- Space Wolf by William King (2003). Nottingham: Black Library.
- Wolfblade by William King (2003) Nottingham: Black Library.
- Grey Hunter by William King (2004) Nottingham: Black Library.
- Ragnar's Claw by William King (2004) Nottingham: Black Library.
- Sons of Fenris by Lee Lightner (2007) Nottingham: Black Library.
- Wolf's Honour by Lee Lightner (2008) Nottingham: Black Library.
- Dawn of War II (PC Game)