30 Best Warhammer 40k Books (2023)
Escaping our world.
Conquer the Universe
Watching movies, playing games, binge-watching TV shows, doing sports, and our personal favorite – reading books. Some of the best books that we’ve found to soothe us are the Warhammer 40k books, so we would like to spread the joy we feel by taking a look at the best Warhammer 40k books.
Best Warhammer 40k Books
Brothers of the snake by dan abnett.
In the Warhammer 40,000 world, there is scarcely any author as prolific as Dan Abnett. With this 2007, three-hundred-page book, Abnett cements the might that he has in terms of the greater series. If you would like to read the series in a proper Warhammer 40k reading order, we recommend starting with this novel.
As the Brothers of the Snake begin following the Space Marines of the Iron Snakes, as the future of mankind is imperiled by the terror and dreadful nature of wartime events.
As the Iron Snakes’ Space Marines are now sent into a vicious, intense, and suspenseful battle against the enemies of their people, the heretics and the enemy-extraterrestrial races, we take a jump into a world that is much more animated than ours and made majestic by the great Dan Abnett.
We suggest picking this novel up as soon as possible. And not only this one, learn more about his other work in our review of The Beast Arises series !
Horus Rising by Dan Abnett
Expert comic book writer and science fiction author Dan Abnett has been a frequent contributor to the best Warhammer 40k books, so it’s only right to start it all off with Dan. Horus Rising was published in the year of 2006 and it spans a hair over four-hundred-pages.
The novel’s story takes a look at the Imperium as it has been on top for some time now. Millennia was spent focused on the broadening of boarders and on the conquering of new land, so that the dream of the Imperium is seemingly a reality.
Horus, the Warmaster
As the emperor grants the power he had to Horus, the Warmaster, it is a moment or two of bewilderment and anxiety regarding whether or not Horus is an apt leader. One of the most worthwhile books we’ve read, without a doubt. This is the second book of the series, if you would like to follow recommended Warhammer 40k book reading order.
False Gods by Graham McNeill
Waiting for a strike.
Scottish novelist Graham McNeill is a fine writer to pick up and one we love very much. One of the best books Graham has written, coincidentally also one of the best Warhammer 40k books, is the 2006 novel False Gods.
Knowing that the Imperium of humans is at the loftiest position it’s ever been at, it is logical to suppose that there are corrupting, manipulating things that linger and are waiting for the high-time when to strike.
As Warmaster Horus is now the leader and has been bestowed with complete power, it stands to reason to question whether or not Horus will fall prey to temptations set up for him. This novel is the third one of the series, if you wish to read the books in a suggested Warhammer 40k book reading order.
Galaxy in Flames by Ben Counter
Ancient History graduate Ben Counter has worked on very many series, but we think in our best Warhammer 40k books review, that one of his best is definitely the 2006 book Galaxy in Flames.
We see Warmaster Horus as he has sustained a number of painful and debilitating injuries, though he is slowly recuperating from them. Horus stands as the leader of the Imperial forces as they are set to do battle against Isstvan III’s rebellious army.
It does not take much for the Imperial forces to conquer the rebellious ones, but then a terrible truth is revealed – Horus has committed treachery. The Space Marines enter the fray as casualties abound. In our opinion, this is one of the most heartfelt books in the series and an indispensable read in the Warhammer 40k book order.
The Flight of the Eisenstein by James Swallow
James Swallow is a New York Times bestselling author whose accolades are many. Swallow’s work on the one of the Warhammer 40k novels titled The Flight of the Eisenstein has led us to loving it so dearly as to feel a need to discuss it.
Upon the terrible events that occurred on Istvan III, there are certainly many things left in limbo and in absolute dread of the future. As the Deathguard’s captain named Garro comes by a ship and takes it to Terra, he is dead-set on revealing the treacherous and perfidious Horus.
The ship, Eisenstein, however, is battle-damaged, so that Garro’s flight is postponed for the time being. The forces around Garro and his men, though, plan on postponing the event forever.
Fulgrim by Graham McNeill
Graham is a writer that’s worked on the Warhammer 40k books quite a lot, so we will be seeing much of him, indeed. We always say that the Warhammer 40k reading order cannot be complete without the novel Fulgrim, released in 2007.
While the story of Horus was going on, the Primarch named Fulgrim was taking step towards the terrible battle against the horrible extraterrestrial nemesis he had.
Casting a Shadow
The blood that was shed by the order of Fulgrim, however, cast a tainting shadow over Fulgrim’s men as the Primarch was slowly, yet very surely, heading towards not only disgrace, but also towards his very downfall. Portrayed are some of the most powerful battles we’ve read.
Legion by Dan Abnett
It is the case that a war, one that will be very much remembered for eons to follow, is knocking on the Imperium’s door. The Alpha Legion’s Space Marines – of the Astartes brotherhood – have found themselves in support of the Imperial Army on a vile world against a curious, though mighty race.
Trust is for the Fools
However, when the war actually does come, it becomes clear as day that trust is not something that the factions share and this will cost them. Of all the Warhammer 40k novels, Legion might be the most subtle and intriguing to the subconscious of the reader.
Eisenhorn by Dan Abnett
Crossing the stars.
Dan Abnett’s 2004 book titled Eisenhorn is an indispensable read in the Warhammer 40k novels and we think of it as one of our favorites.
Eisenhorn, an Inquisitor, is in the ranks of the Imperial Inquisition’s senior members. Eisenhorn’s main duty is to cross the stars of the galaxy in an effort to find out any heretic proclivities that some might have. However, Eisenhorn finds himself alone in the search for the true culprit when the darkness of heresy reaches the Imperium.
Face to Face
Eisenhorn’s actions in this novel paint him as the character we would, going further, expect him to be. However, Eisenhorn isn’t a set and stone character, but one that grows. As the treachery is revealed to Eisenhorn, he seems to have no choice, but to come face to face with this malignant force.
Xenos by Dan Abnett
The first book of the Eisenhorn trilogy is none other than the 2001 published Xenos. In Xenos, a book spanning less than three-hundred-and-fifty pages, we see the Inquisition for what it actually is. This is, without a doubt, one of the best Warhammer fantasy novels.
Those that stand against humanity, even if they are of humanity, will meet the swift judgment and punishment of the Inquisition. Mankind has been kept intact and has prospered by the helping hand of the Inquisition, especially one of its mightiest members, Eisenhorn.
As Eisenhorn finds himself in the middle of a war between daemons and the good side, the Necroteuch tome their end goal, he is not in the slightest in over his head. If anything, those messing with mankind and the Inquisition are in over their head with Eisenhorn. If we made you interested in the work of Dan Abnett, you must check out our article about The Beast Arises books!
Malleus by Dan Abnett
As the Inquisition is still doing battle with the keenest, most foul enemies of mankind, the likes of Xenos, Daemons, and Rogue Psykers, there is in the backdrop of things a force that dwarves the ones previously mentioned.
Ordo Malleus and his might is the subject of much fear throughout the galaxy, but it has come the time when he must either be faced and completely destroyed or the blueprint for his destruction must be made. Who better to do this than the brightest of the Inquisition’s agents, Eisenhorn?
Hereticus by Dan Abnett
In Hereticus, we see the final tale of Eisenhorn as Dan Abnett paints us a picture made up out of emotion that is both forlorn and dynamic.
From the olden days of the mighty Inquisitor Gregor Eisenhorn, comes back into the limelight a shrouded, tenebrous character whose intent is tinged with the ferocity of vengeance-seeking and the hardheadedness of determination.
Ways of Today
Dan Abnett really did bring his A-game here and this might just be the most emotional book in the series. While such things often go unnoticed, one can genuinely feel how much these characters really do mean to one, and what losing them actually brings forward.
A tale that has much to say about our ways today, about the ways of the world that Dan Abnett has helped shape, and about the beauty and dismal sadness of it all. Truly, one of the best Warhammer fantasy books. If you love Dan’s books as much as we do, you have to take a look at our The Beast Arises series review.
A Thousand Sons by Graham McNeill
Spanning nearly six-hundred pages, A Thousand Sons was published in 2010 and received rave reviews. Graham McNeill is the author of A Thousand Sons and its magnificence is owed to him only.
Magnus the Red and the Legion of a thousand sons that he led were forced to find shelter or reprieve in Prospero, their planet of origin.
Magnus the Red was censured at Nikea’s Council because of his wanton and gratuitous usage of sorcerous means. As the tale of Warmaster Horus is envisioned by the Primarch, Leman Russ is sent with his men so as to devastate Prospero in turn.
However, Magnus the Red’s visions don’t stop with Horus’ Heresy, but go much further and reveal darker, viler secrets. One of the most complete books in the whole series and one without which no Warhammer 40k book reading order can be established.
Prospero Burns by Dan Abnett
Magnus the Red and his Thousand Sons Legion are held in a regard that foretells a despicable nature. They are thought of as being enemies of the state, as Leman Russ, the Space Wolves’ Primarch, makes his way towards Magnus’ planet Prospero.
Whirlwind of Devastation
Prospero is known as being the home-world of mighty and powerful sorcerers, but Leman and his men are scarcely dissuaded by this prospect.
Leman’s heart, brimming with the fury of The Beast Arises or which he is known, is what leads him and his men to Prospero as he is dead-set and resolute about throwing Prospero into a whirlwind of devastation and about defeating Magnus and his seemingly treacherous ways.
The First Heretic by Aaron Dembski-Bowden
Londoner Aaron Dembski-Bowden is one of the brightest of minds that has worked on the some of the best Warhammer 40k books. His 2010 tale titled The First Heretic is a wonderful piece of writing that we can’t quite marvel enough at.
As the Great Crusade is still underway, the World Bearers find themselves chastised due to their worshipping ways. As a result, Lorgar and his army go on sewing destruction on planet after planet, bringing warriors to their knees.
Seized by Chaos
In their conquest, though, they come upon a force that is old as they can conceive of it. In their troubled path, they find themselves seized by Chaos, by heresy and treachery, as they start upon their new road – the road of a damnable people. One of the best Warhammer 40k books if our word means anything.
Know No Fear by Dan Abnett
Dan Abnett’s work on the Horus Heresy series and the greater Warhammer 40k series brings us to the 2012 tale Know No Fear. If you really want to get into the series, make sure to read it in recommended Warhammer 40k book order. Know No Fear is the twelfth book of the series.
Roboute Guilliman was not aware of the treacherous and heretic betrayal that was going on when he followed Horus’ words and came back to Ultramar. His intention was to gear up for a battle with the orks, but then he and his men are attacked by the same ones he and they counted as their brethren.
As Guilliman and his Ultramarines are now aware of the ongoing events, he is dead-set on taking revenge, but what when revenge and a years-long grudge come knocking on Roboute’s own doors?
Lorgar has come to Calth, the planet that is soon set ablaze by the terror and vigorous nature of war, so as to exact his revenge against Roboute and to claim victory in the rivalry that the two have had for so long. This is truly one of the best Warhammer fantasy books.
Ravenor: The Omnibus by Dan Abnett
Without a doubt, the Ravenor trilogy is a number of books that we genuinely and honestly love and revere. Dan Abnett’s work is deserving of veneration and we think that Ravenor: The Omnibus, containing all three tales of Ravenor, is a worthy entry on the list at hand.
Two shorter stories are also present in the omnibus that will expand the knowledge and the insight one has concerning Ravenor and his group.
Brilliance of the Series
In our opinion, Ravenor’s story displays the peak of the best Warhammer 40k books as it is a tale containing the highlights, the brilliance, and the quirky intricacies that the series espouses.
If one wants to get a comprehensible grasp on Ravenor and his men’s story, then look no further than Ravenor: The Omnibus. We really could not recommend it quite enough. Abnett’s writing game is at its top in this trilogy, as well.
Ravenor by Dan Abnett
Gregor Eisenhorn, for one, was the one to whom Ravenor looked up, though the former is missing in action. This book is an essential for anyone searching for the correct Warhammer 40k reading order.
Ravenor, himself, was injured on Thracian Primaris, so that he is bound to a chair that grants him the support for life that he desperately needs. The abilities and dormant powers of Ravenor, though, have not lost a single iota. The newest of circumstances has led Ravenor, together with his group, to Eustis Majoris.
Eustis Majoris is the main world of Angelus, a subsector. They are investigating a drug named Flects, one that they suppose will bring many to downfall. When Ravenor sees that the drug bears sentiment to his current condition, though, his intentions might be askew or at least taken as askew.
Ravenor Returned by Dan Abnett
It is widely known that Ravenor’s group is not averse to counting casualties and they aren’t the victor always in the battles that they partake in, but this is what makes them special. They are not infallible, but very much rooted in the reality of it all.
Gideon Ravenor, having successfully eluded a terrible trap, find themselves on Eustis Majoris. Ravenor knows of the ongoing situation and what it can lead to, so he is forced to adduce the Special Condition status.
Ravenor takes the guise of an undercover agent so that he can find out the truth and stop the forces of evil from gaining the upper hand in this ghastly war. In our eyes, this one of the best Warhammer 40k books that is very much deserving of the attention of the reader and one that we recommend wholeheartedly.
Ravenor Rogue by Dan Abnett
Dan Abnett is, as one can surely come to the conclusion based on the many books that he authored in the Warhammer 40k series – to be frank, Abnett’s work is a crucial one to anyone trying to come by a proper Warhammer 40k book reading order –, a name synonymous with the series.
In the final novel in his terrific Ravenor trilogy, Ravenor Rogue, we see pretty much the best that the series has to offer. Inquisitor Gideon Ravenor’s investigation and case-study has led him to Molotch, a truly terrible enemy.
As Ravenor and his team gear up for the chasing of and defeat of their nemesis, they are forced to go to very many places that reek of foul darkness. Then, an awful truth is revealed as Ravenor must come to terms with a heresy in the ranks of his own brethren.
The Founding by Dan Abnett
Dan Abnett’s lifework is a large, grand one. It would be incomplete, though, if he had not penned the brilliant Gaunt’s Ghosts series, especially the first three novels. These first three books were incorporated in the wonderful omnibus edition of The Founding.
Tanith First and Only led by the expert mind of Ibram Gaunt are forced to enter a war at the heart of the Sabbat System and its dangerous, Chaos-infested worlds.
Ripples Through Galaxy
In the endeavors before Gaunt and the First and Only there is no security, there is no protection save the one they can offer themselves.
As the Imperial Guard’s deadly politicizing of events begins causing ripples throughout the galaxy, it is Gaunt’s Ghosts that are in the first lines. In our eyes, there is no way around it: The Founding with its three books is one of the best Warhammer 40k books that money can buy.
First and Only by Dan Abnett
Imperial commissar gaunt.
The Sabbat system is one of much chaotic dwellings. Imperial Commissar Gaunt is set to walk forward with his group, though his road is paved not just with battles against the Chaos’ warriors, but against those he considers kindred to his cause.
While a millennia passed, the Sabbat system slowly fell into disarray and was taken by Chaos. Gaunt’s Ghosts, Tanith First and Only and Ibram Gaunt, are the ones at the first lines of battle. However, when heresy becomes a manifest occurrence, the two investigate and find out the truth, the truth that does not set them free. One of the best Warhammer 40k books.
Ghostmaker by Dan Abnett
Dan Abnett first began the Gaunt’s Ghosts trilogy with the First and Only book. The sequel to First and Only is none other than the novel from 2000 titled Ghostmaker. Ghostmaker is a book that we can’t not mention when we’re discussing the best Warhammer 40k books, so here it is.
With the many foes of mankind came many battles and wars with these same foes. These same battles and wars necessitated mankind’s own response to the unflinching enemies they had. And, thus, we come to the battle-worn bodies of the Imperial Guard, the first responders and first defenders of humanity.
Not only are their bodies weary, though, but also their spirit. In Ghostmaker, the story of Gaunt and First and Only is continued, but it is tinged with a melancholic quality not of this Earth.
Necropolis by Dan Abnett
The prowess of Abnett was lent to Necropolis, the ending of the first Gaunt’s Ghosts trilogy, and made the tale receive a higher, more nuanced dimension. Verghast, a devastated world, is where Gaunt’s Ghosts are located after being dragged into a Civil War that has been roaring for a long time now.
A city that is supposedly faithful to the Imperium does battle with another whose devotion lies with the forces of darkness. As the situation turns dire, Gaunt and his men see that if they do not take control and decide what is best for all of them, then all of them will fall prey to the Dark Gods’ emissaries.
The time after which no decision can be hoped to be made will soon be upon them. Necropolis, in our eyes, highlights the magic and the majesty that the Gaunt’s Ghosts trilogy espouses while delivering a climax that satisfies very much. This novel is highly recommended from us in our best Warhammer 40k books review.
The Saint by Dan Abnett
As the battles that Ibram Gaunt and the Tanith First and Only are not yet over, we see the group fighting the many enemies that are waiting for them in the Chaos-riddled Sabbat System worlds. These enemies can appear in many shapes, forms, and cloaked appearances, so that wariness is a must if any kind of progress or success is intended to be achieved.
Warrior of Legend
Ibram Gaunt’s character grows as the novels go by and we see him develop into the mighty warrior of legend. Definitely a worthwhile read and worthy of our recommendation. A completed Warhammer 40k book reading order can’t be made without this amazing novel.
Honour Guard by Dan Abnett
World of shrines.
Chaos Never Sleeps
Chaos never rests, however, and armies are sent so as to cause trouble to Gaunt and his men soon after. Having no other recourse, Gaunt is dispatched in order to keep a relic that very much symbolizes the world being defended: an ancient saint’s remains, ones that first brought humanity to the stars where Gaunt now treads.
Nothing short of scary and insane are the efforts to which Gaunt is prepared to go, but this might just be what he needs so as to win the war at hand.Honour Guardis a novel that one cannot not place on their Warhammer 40k book order list.
Traitor General by Dan Abnett
In the year of 2014, Dan Abnett released one of his finest works in recent years titled Traitor General, one of the Gaunt’s Ghosts books. Warhammer 40k book order would not be completed without this amazing novel.
In Traitor General, we see Magister Sek and the armies that he commands as they are forced to go towards the Sabbat Worlds’ Khan group.
Archon Urlock Gaur
By the command of Archon Urlock Gaur was this venture of theirs and the intention was to capture an Imperial Lord General. It is Ibram Gaunt, however, along with his team of elite of the Tanith First and Only that are granted the duty of first catching and then eliminating of the officer at hand.
However, in the endeavor that is before Gaunt, there is a road riddled with travesty and bloodshed that would petrify the common men, but Ibram Gaunt is by no means a normal man. This is, in our opinion, one of the best Warhammer fantasy novels and we recommend it with our hearts full to the attentive readers.
Titanicus by Dan Abnett
However, when they find themselves under incursion and unceasing attack by the Chaos Titans’ might, aid is what Orestes needs immediately.
Legio Invicta’s Titans are the only ones that can arrive at a timely fashion and help the forge-based world, though they are battle-tired as it stands. Nonetheless, they pack up and arrive on Orestes in spite of the weariness of their bodies and souls. There is scarcely any might in the galaxy like that of the Legio Invicta’s, but in one of the best Warhammer fantasy books – this one – the tables might have turned.
For the Emperor by Sandy Mitchell
Alex Stewart is a terrific author that utilizes the Sandy Mitchell pseudonym. Earls Colne, of North Essex, is the home of Sandy and his brilliantly inventive mind. For the Emperor, a 2003 book by Mitchell, is one of our favorites and a book worthy of its place on our list of the best Warhammer 40k books.
Ciaphas Cain, a Commissar, is regarded as an Imperium hero and has been granted much glory for the might that he shows even in the scariest of times. At the present, Cain has been sent to aid with the order-setting of a world in Tau Space.
The killing of an extraterrestrial ambassador, however, spells trouble for everyone involved, especially Cain as everything begins taking an uncontrolled aura. The Valhallans and Cain thus are embroiled in a grim war, but Cain is much more interested in finding out who the true culprit for the war’s start actually is.
What is revealed, however, will shake to the core the very buttresses of the Warhammer 40k series and all that the reader thought he or she knew.
Ciaphas Cain: Hero of the Imperium by Sandy Mitchell
Hero of the imperium.
Sandy Mitchell or Alex Stewart’s terrific way of writing is what makes Ciaphas Cain: Hero of the Imperium such a worthwhile read, in our opinion. There can be no Warhammer 40k book order without this marvelous treat here.
Ciaphas Cain: Hero of the Imperium is a collection of the three tales that Ciaphas Cain faced in his terrific story. Commissar Ciaphas Cain, having been the infinitely venerated and well-regarded hero of the Imperium, was a man of great deeds.
However, when the shroud of public image is snuffed out by the light, the truth is much grimmer. Cain’s intention seems to be just a leisurely life, one far away from dangers, in spite of his proclivity to enter perilous journeys. In front of him, though, is a road more dangerous, more insecure, and more hazardous than any before.
Soul Hunter by Aaron Dembski-Bowden
Dread and fear.
Aaron Dembski-Bowden’s helping hand in the broader Warhammer 40k series is always a welcomed attraction. Soul Hunter, published in 2010, is the first book in the Night Lords shorter series as well.
The Night Lords are taken and regarded as being one of, if not the fiercest force that the Imperium boasted. They were Space Marines whose main line of attack involved dread and fear.
However, at the present moment, they are regarded as being heretics by the Imperium, they are systematically hunted for their transgressions. In light of this occurrence, the Night Lords bear the cloaks of deathly men and take part in the Long War.
When Warmaster Abaddon calls upon them, they are sent into a confrontation with the Blood Angels, one of the most feared warriors that the Emperor has in his disposal. Soul Hunter is, in our opinion, one of the very best Warhammer 40k books out there.
What Warhammer 40k Books Should I Start With?
In our opinion, there is no right or wrong Warhammer 40k reading order to start this wonderful series, but if we had to pick three for our readers to start with, they would be Brothers of the Snake, Horus Rising, and False Gods.
How Many Warhammer 40k Books Are There?
As far as it is known, there are an astonishing one-thousand-two-hundred-and-twelve books in the Warhammer 40,000 series.
In What Order Should I Read the Warhammer 40k Books?
Just like there’s no clear-cut way to enter the series, there is no universal order that you can read the books in. The one that we laid out above can be a helping hand, though, as it is the one we adhere to. Nonetheless, the Horus Heresy series of books are crucial to getting an understanding.
Are There Any Good Warhammer 40k Book Without Humans?
Path of the Eldar, Evil Sun Rising, and Valedor are three books where humans aren’t the main protagonists that we think the reader ought to pick up!
The Warhammer 40K reading order of books we’ve reviewed and recommend goes as follows:
- Brothers of the Snake
- Horus Rising
- Galaxy in Flames
- The Flight of the Eisenstein
- Eisenhorn, made up of Xenos, Malleus, and Hereticus
- A Thousand Sons
- Prospero Burns
- The First Heretic
- Know no Fear
- Ravenor: The Omnibus, made up of Ravenor, Ravenor Returned, and Ravenor Rogue
- The Founding, made up of First and Only, Ghostmaker, and Necropolis
- The Saint, made up of books four through seven of the Gaunt’s Ghosts series, including Honor Guard
- Honor Guard
- Traitor General
- For the Emperor
- Ciaphas Cain: Hero of the Imperium, containing books one – For the Emperor – though three of the Ciaphas Cain series
- Soul Hunter
Robert is a science fiction and fantasy geek. (He is also the best looking Ereads writer!) Besides reading and writing, he enjoys sports, cosplay, and good food (don't we all?). Currently works as an accountant (would you believe that?)
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The best Warhammer 40,000 novels
There is no time for peace. No respite, no forgiveness. There is only READING THE BEST 40K BOOKS.
Best 40K books for beginners
Best 40k series, best standalone 40k novels, best horus heresy books, best 40k comics, further reading.
Douglas Adams used to add the word "hyper" to things to make them sound more sci-fi. The authors of the best Warhammer 40,000 books do the same thing, only their prefix of choice is "mega". Orks pilot mega bommers and mega gargants. The Imperium's agri-worlds are threshed by mega-harvesters, and its industrial worlds powered by megafurnaces. Spider-like aliens? They are called, delightfully, "megarachnids".
It's the perfect word for 40K, a science-fantasy setting based on taking everything too far, then pushing it further. Not content with extrapolating the future to a reasonable distance, it imagines 38 or 39 millennia ahead (individual books hop around the timeline) to a galaxy that's full to bursting with evil empires who are all at war with each other and frequently themselves.
They're pretty extra when it comes to gore and dismemberment as well, the writers competing to find new ways to describe violence. Some of the books are clever and twisty, but they always find room for something to be painted with arterial spray, or a head to pop like a specific over-ripe fruit or vegetable. In one turn of phrase that will stay with me till I die, someone's intestines flopped out like gray snakes. You don't get that anywhere else.
The other thing 40K books push beyond reason is their quantity. There are so many it's hard for new readers to find a way in, and easy for regular readers to miss books they'd enjoy in the megaflood. Here are the best 40K books.
If you want to dip a toe in the dark future, Deathwing (opens in new tab) is a short-story anthology that gives a solid overview of the setting's breadth. Devil's Marauders by Bill King is about a company of Imperial Guard racing to escape their own bombardment across a planet where trees are so big their branches form highways. Charles Stross writes about a judge and an assassin dispatched to bring an entire world back under Imperial control, while Storm Constantine writes about psykers falling in love while their ship travels through the alternate reality horrorshow of the Warp. Heck, there's even a couple of stories about space marines.
For a standalone novel, read Lord of the Night (opens in new tab) . It's about a traitor marine searching a hive city for a relic, which he does by terrorizing its inhabitants from the shadows while talking like a Frank Miller protagonist. As he murders his way through the city's gangers and underclass, an apprentice inquisitor tries to convince her superiors that he exists, and that they should actually care there's an evil Batman out there ripping apart disposable citizens.
The Eisenhorn (opens in new tab) books turn 40K into hardboiled fiction, with Inquisitor Eisenhorn as a Raymond Chandler detective narrating in first-person. His investigations into Chaos frequently lead to conflict with the machinery of the Imperium he's supposed to protect, which plays well with the genre's cynical view of authority. Eisenhorn's written by Dan Abnett, one of the better 40K writers but one with a weakness—endings that feel rushed. The third book in the Eisenhorn trilogy suffers from this, but waiting on the other side is a sequel trilogy called Ravenor. Ravenor jumps genre and protagonist, following an inquisitor who works with a team of badass specialists. Suddenly it's more like the X-Men than The Big Sleep, a change that revitalizes the series and makes it worth sticking with.
For classic military sf, Gaunt's Ghosts (opens in new tab) is the series you want. Colonel-Commissar Ibram Gaunt is an unusually compassionate officer, dedicated to keeping alive a regiment who are the only survivors of a dead world. Unfortunately for them, the war engine of the Imperium is full of glory hounds and bastards happy to throw away thousands of lives to move a trench forward half a mile. While the enemies faced by the Ghosts are terrible, Gaunt struggles just as much against the orders he's given.
Ciaphas Cain (opens in new tab) is another series about an unusual commissar, only what makes Cain different is that he's a liar and fraud. Cain schemes his way out of responsibilities and danger, and ends up taking credit for every triumph, accompanied by a filthy sidekick named Ferik Jurgen who plays Baldric to his BlackAdder. The Ciaphas Cain books are more comedic than most 40K fiction—if Gaunt's Ghosts takes Bernard Cornwell's Sharpe stories and moves them from Waterloo to Warhammer, the Ciaphas Cain books are George MacDonald Fraser's Flashman Papers shifted to the 41st millennium.
Then there's the Dark Coil, which isn't a formal series, but a name for Peter Fehervari's 40K stories, connected by an esoteric tangle of recurring characters, places, and themes. Start with Fire Caste (opens in new tab) , which follows an Imperial Guard regiment called the Arkan Confederates who walked straight out of a western and have names like "Kletus Modine". They join an endless war against the tau on a planet covered in fungal jungle and a maze of rivers called the Dolorosa Coil. It's a "war is hell" story, Apocalypse Now if it was about cowboys versus aliens who wear anime battlesuits. The short story Vanguard (opens in new tab) is its epilogue, and from there anything with the name Peter Fehervari on it leads further into the Coil.
For a non-human perspective, try The Infinite and the Divine (opens in new tab) . It's about the necrons, pseudo-Egyptian cybermen who were tricked out of their souls and into immortal machine bodies, and have been mad about it for millennia. Trazyn the Infinite is so obsessed with the past he fills a museum with warriors in stasis like life-sized collections of Warhammer miniatures, while his rival Orikan the Divine can see the future and even alter it, which he uses for reasons as petty as jury-tampering. One of the funnier 40K books, it extrapolates the idea of beings who essentially cannot die to imagine an entire species filling infinity with pointless one-upmanship—as well as plays that take literal decades to perform and nobody enjoys.
Honourbound (opens in new tab) is another book about a commissar, but where Gaunt and Cain are atypical, one of the first things Severina Raine does in Honourbound is execute one of her own soldiers for cowardice. Which is exactly what commissars are meant to do. And yet, Raine comes off sympathetic, as do the soldiers who serve under her—even though one's an addict who does some terrible things and the others are so superstitious they shun the psyker attached to their squad and call her a "witch". Written in present-tense, Honourbound constantly pauses to dive into the thoughts of its ensemble cast, peppering the battles and intrigue with psychological insight that makes it as much character study as war story.
The Horus Heresy line jumps back 10,000 years to a formative point in the setting's history. Like most prequels they're better experienced after the stories they're set before, full of foreshadowing that pays off if you know what's coming. The first three are the essential ones: Horus Rising (opens in new tab) , False Gods (opens in new tab) , and Galaxy in Flames (opens in new tab) . In these, the perspective is split between superhuman space marines and ordinary remembrancers—artists, photographers, poets, and journalists brought along to record their Great Crusade for posterity, who instead witness its fall into corruption and betrayal. It's a look at the Imperium before religious dogma dominated it, imperfect but far from "the cruelest and most bloody regime imaginable" it becomes.
Unfortunately the Horus Heresy books were a victim of their own success, selling well enough that initially modest plans were expanded into a line that numbers over 50 books, full of padding and stories that bounce back in the timeline to fill gaps no one cares about. One exception is Legion (opens in new tab) , a spy novel that uses yet another of 40K's grand pointless wars as a backdrop. Best of the books that rewind the timeline is The First Heretic (opens in new tab) , which goes back to the roots of the heresy among the Word Bearers, and nicely sets up probably the best Horus Heresy book of all, Know No Fear (opens in new tab) . It turns an attack on an Ultramarines homeworld into a disaster movie in present-tense, and actually makes the most boring chapter of marines interesting for once.
Beyond those, the best way to approach the later Heresy books is to cherry-pick ones that focus on factions or characters you're already interested in and skip the rest. If you like the White Scars read Scars (opens in new tab) , if you like the Space Wolves read Prospero Burns (opens in new tab) , and if you like giant robots read Mechanicum (opens in new tab) .
When Marvel Comics got the 40K licence the result was both a solid introduction to the setting for comics readers, and an enjoyable blast of the old megaviolence. Marneus Calgar (opens in new tab) is a five-issue series about how the chapter master of the Ultramarines first became a space marine, told in flashback as a tech-adept tries to discuss the finer points of budgeting ammunition with him. This is constantly interrupted by battles with entire armies of heretics, pages of impaled bodies and blood. Which is great.
The other 40K comic worth reading leans into comedy even harder. Deff Skwadron (opens in new tab) is about ork fighter pilots in junker planes with three speeds: stop, fast, and "Waaagh!" They act like The Dam Busters on a raid, if you replaced tactics with pure brutality and a belief that parachutes are for wimps. The dogfights are chaotic, sketchy swirls of ink where engine parts and limbs fly through the air like confetti at a wedding. Deff Skwadron is an older one and can be hard to find in print, but worth it.
Warhammer Fantasy books to read after you play Vermintide Every Warhammer 40,000 game ranked Major events in the Warhammer 40,000 timeline The best Warhammer 40K starter set guide, and beginner tips Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War deserves a remaster
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Jody's first computer was a Commodore 64, so he remembers having to use a code wheel to play Pool of Radiance. A former music journalist who interviewed everyone from Giorgio Moroder to Trent Reznor, Jody also co-hosted Australia's first radio show about videogames, Zed Games (opens in new tab) . He's written for Rock Paper Shotgun (opens in new tab) , The Big Issue, GamesRadar (opens in new tab) , Zam (opens in new tab) , Glixel (opens in new tab) , Five Out of Ten Magazine (opens in new tab) , and Playboy.com (opens in new tab) , whose cheques with the bunny logo made for fun conversations at the bank. Jody's first article for PC Gamer was about the audio of Alien Isolation , published in 2015, and since then he's written about why Silent Hill belongs on PC , why Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale is the best fantasy shopkeeper tycoon game , and how weird Lost Ark can get . Jody edited PC Gamer Indie from 2017 to 2018, and he eventually lived up to his promise to play every Warhammer videogame.
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Warhammer 40K: Five Introductory Book Series For New Fans
Warhammer 40,000 has a LOT of lore to cover. So where should you start? Here’s a few suggestions.
Let’s pretend for a moment that you’re completely new to Warhammer 40,000. Maybe you saw it being played and thought it looked cool. Maybe you picked up one of the video games and gave them a whirl and liked them and wanted to learn more. Then you did a quick search and just as quickly got overwhelmed. Turns out Games Workshop and the Black Library have been cranking out books for a LONG time. So where should you start?
Don’t worry – we’re here to help. These series are just the tip of the spear that is the Warhammer 40,000 lore. If you’re looking for a starting point these will point you in the right direction. We’re listing them in the order you want to read them with explanations why.
Horus Heresy (The First Three Books)
If you want a starting point: read these books . To understand the Grimdark universe you need to know how it started – or rather, what made it go both grim and dark. If you only read the first three books in the Horus Heresy series, you’ll have a pretty good grasp on things. You can keep going if you want to – but if you truly want to “ Get It ” you need to read these books. We debated on including Flight of the Eisenstein but three books is plenty to get started.
Indomitus by Gav Thorpe
Next up, we’re fast forwarding 10,000 years. Indomitus takes you right to the current happenings of 40k. Longtime players might eyeroll and talk about how “t here are so many other series to read ” – but you’re new and not jaded yet. And we’ve got some suggestions down the page for those, too. Plus this book will help you understand what the heck is going on right now .
We’ll get you up to speed with the current events of the Grimdark and then back track a bit for more explanation. Indomitus does a great job of getting you caught up with the Warhammer 40,000 of today. Welcome to the modern and current edition of 40k – 9th edition.
Dark Imperium Series by Guy Haley
Alright – you’ve got an idea of how it started, and you know where the Grimdark is at right now . The next step is actually backwards in the timeline, just a tad, to get you enlightened on some of the previous events in the Grimdark. Dark Imperium covers the events after the Gathering Storm – which was the campaign series for 7th Edition. So in a way this is basically 8th edition 40k in a nutshell (sort of). Funny thing is the series is still on going with a book ( Godblight ) slated for release in 2021.
Anyhow, this is a basically a re-introduction of Roboute Guilliman, how we collectively ended up with Primaris Marines, and the new “normal” for the Grimdark.
Dawn of Fire Series / Watchers of the Throne Series
Yes, this is two series in one entry. Why are we combining them even though they are different series? Well, these books show the aftermath of Guilliman’s return. They also introduce some new points of view as the previous entries have all been pretty Space Marine centric. Don’t get me wrong, still lots of Space Marines, but this also shows off some of the other major players in the Imperium. Plus, with Watchers of the Throne, you get to see how the Adeptus Custodes are changing thanks to Guilliman’s return. Political intrigue in the Grimdark? Yep – it’s a nice palette cleanser.
Okay – so that’s technically Five series to get you up to speed on the Grimdark. However, we’ve got a couple bonus ones that you’re probably going to want to read to really get a taste of the Grimdark from before the Great Rift.
Bonus: Gaunt’s Ghosts by Dan Abnett
Ask anyone who’s been around for a recommendation and this series is bound to pop-up. It’s a fantastic series from Dan Abnett and it really shines a light on the Imperium from a completely different Point of View. That perspective is that of a “normal” human in the Imperial Guard. This series follows the tale of Colonel-Commissar Ibram Gaunt and the Tanith First and Only. No spoilers here but this series is how the Grimdark works for those folks not in Power Armor.
Yet another perspective from the Grimdark – this one is from an Inquisitor. You’ll probably want to read this one just for the fact that it’s in development for a TV show. Get ahead of the curve and read this one before the show comes out. Then impress all your friends with all your Grimdark Knowledge. And now YOU are the Loremaster and no longer the apprentice.
Hopefully these suggestions helped if you didn’t know where to start. If you’re a loremaster and have some good starting suggestions, drop them in the comments and help your fellow lore-junkies out!
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The 8 Best Warhammer 40k Books – Best Novels You Should Read in 2021
The Warhammer universe is immense, as you might expect from a game that was first developed over thirty years ago and has been continually developed and expanded upon since. Set in a distant future, humankind is at war with a host of hostile aliens and supernatural creatures, allowing the series to combine aspects of both sci-fi and fantasy in its makeup. Though Warhammer is primarily popular for the game, there have been several books published through Black Library-a division of Game Workshop-and they are also very popular.
If you factor in Warhammer 40k books and short stories, there are over 500 stories building on the lore of the Warhammer universe. Understandably, that can make choosing a book or story to read somewhat of a daunting task, whether you are new to the franchise or not.
Fortunately, you don’t have to make these decisions alone. The Warhammer community is full of friendly people who are happy to give you their opinions and advice… and there are also posts like this. So without further preamble, let’s get into our Warhammer 40k book recommendations.
Contents of this Page
Highly-Recommended Best Warhammer 40k Books Today
1. legion by dan abnett (one of the horus heresy novels series).
The seventh book in the Horus Heresy series
Like Fulgrim, Legion is part of the sprawling Horus Heresy series, including books like Fallen Angels, Scars, and Corax.
Alpha Legion is a secretive collective of space marines who arrive at a heathen world to assist the Imperial Army in their pacification campaign. Their enemies are strange and intelligent, but the true motives of Alpha Legion begin to be called into question. As the paranoia flies, a Great War approaches. With the fate of humankind in the balance, which side will Alpha Legion choose?
Sticking with a book by Heresy for our best recommendation, we once again return Dan Abnett for the seventh book in the series, and Abnett’s second.
The writing is everything you would expect from Mr. Abnett, while the story itself is quite unique for the world of Warhammer 40k. A tale of espionage and mystery, it almost reads like a James Bond, though in a quite different setting, of course.
As is par for the course for Abnett, the action takes a bit of a back seat to the characters and their plights, which is not to say the novel is lacking in action, but compared to some other books in the series, it is noticeably calmer.
The Horus Heresy Books is a series of sci-fi novels set in the world of Warhammer 40K. The book Legion by Dan Abnett is one of the 25 books of the series and is the 7th book after Descent of Angels by Mutchel Scanlon and moves on with the story in the Battle for the Abyss by Ben Counter .
If you’re not familiar, the book series is written by multiple authors which is written to connect to larger events and characters. But even though it’s written as such, it still isn’t necessarily sequential. Because of how it’s designed to be written, it’s truly an impressive collaboration.
- A standout book in the series with a unique take on Warhammer 40k fiction
- Well-written characters
- Plenty of intrigue and mystery
- Less action than Warhammer 40k readers might be used to
2. Xenos by Dan Abnett
A great introduction to the Warhammer 40k universe
Xenos is the first book in the Eisenhorn Trilogy, which includes Hereticus, The Magos, and Ravenor.
Xenos follows Inquisitor Eisenhorn as he locks horns with a vast interstellar cabal, not to mention the dark power of the daemons, all of whom are racing to be the first to lay hands on an arcane text of immense power.
Xenos is a first-person tale of mystery and gritty sci-fi. It does a great job at introducing the reader to the Warhammer universe without overwhelming them with lore. It is also not necessary to be familiar with or even aware of the game, which makes it an ideal gateway book if you’re trying to get a friend or family member into the universe.
The narrator is witty, the plot is well-paced, and the overall experience redefines the expectations of what tie-in fiction can look like. At times, the plot can feel a little simple, which is perhaps more obvious because of how good everything else is, but it is a minor gripe.
- A great introductory book for the Warhammer universe
- Good pacing and plot building
- Clever and engaging narrator
- Plot may feel a bit simple for experienced sci-fi readers
3. Ciaphas Cain: Defender of the Imperium (Omnibus) by Sandy Mitchell
Omnibus of the middle novels from the Ciaphas Cain stories
This omnibus collects together Death or Glory, Duty Calls, and Cain’s Last Stand, as well as the short stories, Traitor’s Gambit and Sector Thirteen.
One of the great heroes of the Imperium, Ciasphas Cain, is once again thrust into danger by circumstance. Unfortunately, despite his reputation, Cain has no interest in being on the battlefield.
We know we already have a Ciaphas Cain omnibus in this article, but that’s just how good these stories are. Like the previous entry, Defender of the Imperium injects some refreshing comedy into the Warhammer 40k universe. It has plenty of adventure to keep you turning pages, a supporting cast of interesting and entertaining characters, and great writing.
Like the previous books in the series, the story is told through the memoirs of Cain himself, edited and organized by a mysterious inquisitor. Despite this omnibus covering books 4-6 in a series, it is still quite beginner-friendly.
- Not too daunting for newcomers
- Comedy can be a refreshing break from the seriousness of 40k
- Excellent value for money
- Can be too light-hearted for some 40k fans
4. Anarch by Dan Abnett
The final chapter in The Victory arc
Anarch is the fifteenth and latest entry in the long-running Gaunt’s Ghosts series, which includes First and Only, and Blood Pact.
Picking up from where Warmaster left off, Ibram Gaunt is forced to fulfill his duties commanding the defense of the Imperial lines at Urdesh. The world has become a key battleground, but as the Ghosts make their move, Chaos attempts to destroy them from within, and past mistakes come back to haunt them.
Anarch is not necessarily the last book in the Gaunt’s Ghosts, but it does mark the end of The Victory arc. In truth, the book fails to reach the lofty heights of some of its predecessors, but that by no means makes it a bad book-it is just a high bar to clear. It contains a good mix of drama, action, and horror, and should be considered a must for any fan of the series. That being said, if you’re new to Gaunt’s Ghosts, you’ll want to start earlier in the series.
- Brings a beloved story arc to a close
- Plenty of action
- Will satisfy fans of the series
- Not suitable for newcomers to the series
- Story can feel a little bloated in places
5. Ciaphas Cain: Hero of the Imperium (Omnibus) by Sandy Mitchell
An omnibus of the early novels in the Ciaphas Cain series
This omnibus collects together For the Emperor, Caves of Ice, and The Traitor’s Head, as well as some short stories from the series.
Ciaphas Cain is a hero, respected, beloved… at least that’s what the propaganda tells us, but things are not always what they seem. Will Ciaphas be able to keep his reputation intact?
Hero of the Imperium takes the form of the memoirs of the eponymous Ciaphas Cain, a style that is used across the three books collected into this omnibus. The stories may catch some off guard, as what seems at first like a regular hero-drive sci-fi turns out to be the plight of a man constantly thrust in harm’s way despite being completely unqualified to be there.
Expect plenty of humor and sarcasm that break the mold of typical novels in this universe, all the while being respectful to the Warhammer franchise at large.
- Offers a nice break from more typical Warhammer stories
- Lead character is engaging and well-developed
- Several novels and stories in one
- Memoir style is not to everyone’s taste
6. Pariah by Dan Abnett
The first book in the final trilogy of Dan Abnett’s “Trilogy of Trilogies”
Pariah is the first book in the Bequin Trilogy, which at the time of writing this post only consists of one other book, Penitent, as the final book has not been released yet. It follows on from previous trilogies, the Inquisitor Trilogy and the Ravenor Trilogy.
Alizebeth Bequin is a Pariah who finds herself caught between Inquisitor Eisenhorn and Gideon Ravenor as the former allies battle a mysterious yet deadly foe. Bequin must unravel her own past if she is to have a future and survive the coming battle.
Pariah was a long-awaited Warhammer novel that received a bit of a mixed reaction at first but overall has been welcomed by the fandom. The book attempts to bring two beloved trilogies together while introducing new characters and a new lead in the form of Bequin.
The novel brings Dan Abnett’s usual talented writing to the fore, but it does feel a bit unfinished. While previous Abnett books could stand well on their own, this novel relies on the previous trilogies and clearly leads into the next novel in this series. In other words, not a great choice for a first read.
- Brings two incredibly popular series together
- Excellent and engaging writing
- Pariah does not stand very well on its own
7. The Founding by Dan Abnett
Gaunt’s Ghosts omnibus
An omnibus of the first three books in the Gaunt’s Ghosts series, collecting the novels First and Only, Ghostmaker, and Necropolis.
Follow Ibram Gaunt and his First and Only regiment-nicknamed the Ghosts-as they move from war zone to war zone in Chaos infested space, carrying out the most dangerous missions while also trying to survive the political games of the Imperial Guard.
In what is allegedly Dan Abnett’s first novel, he introduces us to the Tanith First and Only regiment, and their heroic leader, Ibram Gaunt. As a complete work, it is heavy on the action in the first and final third, with a bit more world and character building in the middle. Of course, the “middle” is the second book in the series.
Despite being his first book, Abnett shows the feel for pacing and page-turning storytelling that readers of the 40k franchise know and love. The characters are interesting and well-developed. All in all, this omnibus is a great introduction to the universe, and to Dan Abnett.
- Great Warhammer 40k introduction novel
- Contains three novels and one short story
- Early sections can be hard to follow as writer finds his feet
8. Fulgrim by Graham McNeill
The best Horus Heresy novel narrated perfectly
Fulgrim is book five of the Horus Heresy series, which includes Horus Rising, Descent of Angels, Legion, and over fifty other novels and counting!
It’s the 31st millennium, and humanity is as powerful as it has ever been. Under the stewardship of Warmaster Horus, the Great Crusade continues its conquest of the galaxy. Fulgrim, Primarch of the Emperor’s Children, leads his warriors into a battle that would change everything, and sow the seeds of treachery in their loyal hearts.
Set a good 10,000 years before the “present” of the Warhammer 40k universe, the Heresy series can be thought of as a prequel series of sorts. This particular storybook, five in the series–is a tragedy following the fall from grace of a great hero.
Unlike many other series in the franchise, the Heresy books are written by different authors, with no one author writing successive stories. This makes the books incredibly easy to pick up at any point in the series since the reliance on previous books is minimal.
In terms of writing, the book is well-paced and the characters are interesting and believable, something that is especially important in a tragedy.
- Builds the history of the Warhammer 40k universe
- Does not rely on previous novels
- Well-paced and interesting characters
- Can feel a little disconnected in places
Other Warhammer 40k Books to Consider
This is by no means a comprehensive list, of course. When you have hundreds of loved books to choose from, recommending just 8 is obviously going to result in a lot of great options being left off of the table. Further complicating the issue is the fact that the 8 books we chose can’t even be said to be the best in any objective sense, since taste is subjective.
These were our top 8 picks, but yours might differ. In any case, here are a few more recommendations for you to sink your literary teeth into:
- Space Wolf: The First Omnibus by William King
- Betrayer by Aaron Dembski-Bowden
- Night Lords: The Omnibus by Aaron Dembski-Bowden
- Horus Rising by Dan Abnett
- A Thousand Sons by Graham McNeill
Powerful Expert Tips to Help You Choose Your Next Book
With so many books about Warhammer now, finding the next book to immerse yourself in can be a struggle. This section specifically talks about the best practices you should consider asking yourself first before picking your next book.
Check Your Favorite Author’s Other Pieces
Probably the easiest way to find which book to read first is to check your favorite author’s other works. If you haven’t checked out your favorite author’s other works, then you might just want to do that right away. On the other hand, if you have already, sift through the rest of the works of your other top favorite authors.
It’s crucial to first come up with a list of favorite authors before you do this, but it’s likely that most of us already have a favorite or a couple of favorite authors. Probably among my top favorites would be William King. After all, his Macharian Crusade trilogy is what really got me into 40K. Among his other works, which I now love but didn’t really think to be interesting at first was his Tyrion and Teclis trilogy .
Checking other works of your favorite author is easily the best move to make since the chances are high that you will be fond of the style.
Come Up with a Personal Reading List
Apart from creating a list of favorite authors, creating a personal reading list is also a strategy that’s just as effective. Don’t stress yourself too much about this as it doesn’t have to be a list that consists of complex genres and whatnot. Even just 5 to 10 books that you’re curious to read sometime should be more than enough.
When coming up with this list, it’s best to consider how relevant the book is to you during such period of time. Mind your mood, check your stress levels, and even consider your schedule to see whether or not you have time to read the book.
Be reminded that at the end of the day, there’s no final list of books as it is intended to be ever-changing, depending on your natural needs, and considering which books resonate more to your current needs.
Head Over to Your Favorite Bookstore and Pick a Book that Interests You
Online shopping has definitely become the norm these days. But strolling inside a bookstore will be an activity you’ll never get old. If there’s a library close to you, then it will definitely pay to visit and find something that will surely spark your interest.
Unlike online shopping, looking up at shelves full of books you can physically feel, going through each page, and looking at the back covers is just an experience that feels more authentic. It is an experience that a handful of bookworms would choose over purchasing books online. Still, if you’re left with no option but to buy a book online, then this page has done the physical labor part for you to present you all the worthy books about 40K you should read.
Experts Don’t Recommend You to Buy Books in Bulk
Apart from the actual content, books have the power to attract bookworms at first sight. A book can be made exciting with fancy covers, exciting summaries, and how they hit our feelings at the moment. Because of such, we don’t necessarily recommend you buy multiple books at once because this act will always remind you to finish the current one as soon as possible to move one to the rest.
Our current feelings can sway us to buy sets of books that won’t appeal to us as they did before. You may manage to finish the first two but after some time, there is a chance that the rest won’t be interesting to you anymore, especially when the feeling isn’t mutual anymore.
As such, you either have to finish the entire set of books first by forcing yourself to it, or by not picking them up for extended periods because you’re burnt out. In plenty of cases, for casual readers and even in some cases for bookworms, some books are left hanging around their bookshelves for quite a long time or even almost forever. If you don’t feel like continuing at all, don’t force yourself into it.
Avoid The Mistake of Forcing Yourself to Continue Reading a Book If You Don’t Feel Like It
It is a common mistake that most of us are found guilty of. You could have already invested yourself into hundreds of pages now but still don’t feel any butterflies in your belly yet. In other cases, you’re still left wondering how to put all the story together you’ve read so far. Nevertheless, you still continue because you feel like you’re bound to finish it.
When such feelings kick in, it’s strongly suggested by experts to give yourself a break or to even quit reading the book.
If you’re not enjoying it anymore, then don’t read the book. What’s the point if your reading is not fun anymore? This will just give you a meaningless reading experience. This act doesn’t make the book go to waste, but instead, will save you more time than if you choose to continue even if you’re just forced to.
Remember that apart from the fact that people have different tastes, books also have distinct levels that require a certain level of reading skills for it to be fun. Bookworms know this and are smart enough to focus first on books on par with their current intellectual levels. Don’t worry, because the more you read, the more you’ll understand how some books are written in certain ways.
You’ll know when you’ve found a book that is interesting to you. If you do, you’ll always be curious about what’s going to happen next and will always find time to learn more. If you don’t feel these experiences, then I suggest you don’t stop until you find a book that does.
Not every piece of information you consume about a thing needs to be a full novel, sometimes you just like quick little bites, which is exactly what these are. Whether you’re new to the franchise or a longstanding player of the game and reader of the lore, here are some facts you might find interesting.
Warhammer Started Off as a DnD Game
The first iteration of the Warhammer franchise was released in 1983, and was called Warhammer Fantasy Battle. This was a medieval fantasy game similar to Dungeons and Dragons that gamers love. Warhammer 40k was an evolution of that.
Warhammer 40k was Originally Called Rogue Traders
The new game was to be called Rogue Trader initially, but this was dropped to avoid confusion with a game called Rogue Trooper that was in development at the time. Warhammer 40k was marketed as a spinoff of Warhammer Fantasy Battle and was released in 1987.
Tolkien and Lovecraft are Influences
With a sprawling fictional setting like this that is continually being developed, it is likely that influences on the series range far and wide. That being said, Rick Priestley, one of the creators of Warhammer, has cited the likes of J.R.R. Tolkien and H.P. Lovecraft, as well as stories like Dune, Paradise Lost, and 2000 AD as being major influences.
There are 24 Factions
The factions are the different armies that are at play in the Warhammer 40k universe and are playable in the game. The most popular faction in terms of taking a central role in fiction and having the widest selection of models available is The Imperium of Man, which is a human empire.
There are no “Evil” Factions in Warhammer 40k
It is quite commonplace for fictional worlds to have some kind of “big bad” that all the characters will eventually butt heads with. This is not the case in 40k. All the factions are doing what they need to do to survive, and no single faction can be said to be morally or ethically superior.
There Have Been Nine Editions of Warhammer 40k
Since its initial release in 1987, there have been nine editions of the game at the time of writing this post, with the most recent one being released in 2020.
Warhammer 40k is a Multimedia Empire
Though it started out as a tabletop game, Warhammer 40k media has been released in book form, as video games, there has been Warhammer 40k musical releases, a film, and a TV series following the adventures of Gregor Eisenhorn has been announced.
Warhammer 40k has won Several Awards
It shouldn’t come as a surprise for such a long-running and beloved franchise, but Warhammer 40k has picked up a number of awards in its time. These include the 1993 Origin Award for Best Miniature Rules, being inducted into the Origins Hall of Fame in 2003, and the 2017 Origin Award for Best Miniature Game and Fan Favorite Miniature Game.
There’s a Space Combat Spin-Off
Space Hulk is a tabletop game set in the Warhammer 40k universe that focuses on close-quarters combat, with the game taking place in the narrow corridors of derelict spaceships, as well as other locations. Space Hulk was first released in 1989, and has had four subsequent editions, multiple video games, and an official card game based on it.
Frequently Asked Questions
Something as grand as Warhammer 40k will naturally engender a lot of questions, so we’ve done our best to scoop up some of the most frequently asked of those questions and answer them.
Is Warhammer and Warhammer 40k connected?
Despite the similar elements (and name), there is no direct link between the two fictional worlds.
Who is the Strongest Race in Warhammer 40k
A question like this rarely has a simple, non-contentious answer, and there will always be someone with a different opinion. However, the most common answer to this question is Chaos.
Are 40k Orks Evil?
Though orcs commit what many would consider evil acts, it is a biological imperative to them. In that sense, they are no more “evil” than something like smallpox.
What is the Least Popular 40k Army?
Given the nature of popularity, it is impossible to give a definitive answer that all 40k players would agree with. That being said, Dark Eldars seem to come up as the answer to this question more than any other army.
What is the Cheapest 40k Army to Collect?
Similar to DnD Minis , there is a range of options you can choose from. But thanks to the high number of points required to field each model, Adeptus Custodes is probably the most affordable army to assemble, as a complete army will contain fewer models.
The universe of Warhammer 40k is quite imposing when you are just starting out, with a wealth of content across several mediums, diving into the franchise from any angle can feel a little like starting a long-running TV series halfway through.
Fortunately, much of the Warhammer 40k media stands up well on its own, and you do not need a thorough grounding in any of the other aspects of the franchise in order to enjoy it. Of course, that’s false or not true for all books-some of them certainly rely on the reader’s previous knowledge-but there is such a vast selection to choose from that there is no reason you need to go straight for one of those books.
And for those of you already well versed in the Warhammer universe, the chances are you haven’t read everything yet (if you have, well done!), so there’s always something for you to explore, and as we’ve stated, the books we included in this article are far from the only Warhammer 40k books worth reading.
So go read the books, play the game, listen to the music, and enjoy this immense science fiction playground.
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Warhammer 40k books that are good
I've recently been fascinated by the 40k lore, and I tend to read on the relevant subreddit. I've been thinking about reading some of the books, and I've seen recommendations for where to start (Horus Heresy, Eisenhorn series) ... but are any of those actually good books, and not just good in the sense that they give you info dumps of lore? Are there any other 40k books that qualify as good books in general?
What I mean by that is: I've read a lot of D&D books, for instance, set in the Forgotten Realms, because I'm pretty invested in that setting. Most of them range from mediocre to complete garbage, which I can forgive if I get some good lore. I do think that some of them qualify as good books in general though, like the Drizzt books, or Erin Evans' Brimstone Angels series.
So my question is whether any of the 40k books are good, in the sense that the prose is good, there's good characterisation and character development, good plot, and interesting relationships between characters? Books that you could honestly recommend to someone who isn't already heavily invested in the setting or any of the games?
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Top 16 Best Warhammer 40k Books Updated 03 /2023
Dennis lehane mar 5, 2023 10:34 pm.
Here we ranked and reviewed the top 16 Best Warhammer 40k Books that are highly rated by 5,696 customers.
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Best Warhammer 40k B
Warhammer 40,000 is a very big world that can be hard for people who want to start learning about it to figure out where to start. Black Library releases a lot of new Warhammer 40k books each year. They range from short stories to multi-book series. With this, there is so much to choose from and it can be hard to find a spot. Fortunately, some of Black Library's best work is also good for people who are new to the game.
Best Warhammer 40k books
A lot of Black Library books focus on the Imperial Guard, Space Marines, and Inquisition because these are the most accessible groups in the Warhammer 40,000 game. Most of the time, human factions become more popular when they work together, which leads to more knowledge and more money to keep this up. It may be disheartening to see your favorite Xenos race not get the attention they deserve, but there is still some literature out there. It's just in smaller amounts.
Also, you don't need to know anything about the game to enjoy the source material because these are good sci-fi novels on their own. However, if you play or collect the miniatures, these Warhammer books will help you better understand the characters and events that happen in the world.
Eisenhorn: Omnibus by Dan Abnett
"My patience isn't unlimited, but I have a lot of power."
After Gregor Eisenhorn, who was an Inquisitor for the Ordo Xenos. All across the galaxy, Eisenhorn fights against people who are bad. These people range from mutants, to daemons, to heretics. You believe that Eisenhorn has everything under control, but he loses his grip as Chaos takes over and takes over his mind. This means that things have changed his moral compass, which makes the line between loyalty and betrayal very blurry. In this omnibus edition, there are three full-length novels: Xenos, Malleus, and Hereticus. All of them have the same name as the Orders in the Inquisition, which are also called Orders.
Eisenhorn is a great book for someone who wants to start reading about Warhammer 40,000. It has a lot of action, character development, and morality in a way that is easy to read. It's like Sherlock Holmes for the 41st century with Jack Bauer thrown in for good measure. If you like science fiction, especially when it's mixed with religion, this is the Warhammer book for you.
Space Wolf: The First Omnibus by William King
"At War Within. Without war: War will never end. We live that way, little brother. We are who we are."
Space Wolf: The First Omnibus tells the story of Ragnar Blackmane. Every hero starts somewhere, and this book tells his story. A unique thing about this series is that Ragnar is not an all-powerful hero right from the start. If you want to learn more about one of Warhammer's most famous characters, you'll want to read the First Omnibus. It has three stories: Space Wolf: Ragnar's Claw: Grey Hunter:
A look at how the Space Marines came to be and what it was like to join them. A book by William King is a great place to start if you want to learn more about the Space Marines. He does a great job of slowly introducing you to the history of the group. There are a lot of things that the Codex: Space Wolves doesn't cover, like why the Chapter doesn't wear helmets and how they act differently from other groups. Among the things Space Wolf: The First Omnibus has to offer is a lot of action, character development, and information about one of Space Marines' most-loved chapters, the Space Wolves. It's also fun to see Vikings in space.
Night Lords: The Omnibus by Aaron Dembski-Bowden
"The Warp may be with you."
Aaron Dembski-Bowden, who wrote Night Lords: The Omnibus, has the members of Night Lord First Squad interact with and fight a wide range of people. Talos Valcoran, a genetically modified super-soldier, is in charge of the fight. He wants to get back at the human empire he helped build. You can read Soul Hunter, Blood Reaver, and Void Stalker in one book called Night Lord: Omnibus.
Because Dembski-Bowden can make these characters feel, you'll end up liking the Night Lords even though they're a bad group. In some cases, you'll cheer them on as they face different challenges, even though they've done terrible things to both humans and Xenos. Outside of war, the Night Lords think about their lost Primarch, the Imperium, and themselves. In the Warhammer 40,000 setting, you can read Night Lords: Omnibus, which is one of the best books you can read. It's dark, tragic, and gives a lot of information about a group that's been misunderstood. It doesn't matter if you don't read any more Black Library books, because the trilogy is its own thing.
Ciaphas Cain: Hero of the Imperium by Sandy Mitchell
During times when you're in danger or have doubts, run in circles, wave your arms, and shout!
In Warhammer 40,000, the name of Blackadder would be Ciaphas Cain. The show is about Commissar Ciaphias Cain, a happy-go-lucky leader who has to keep order in a group of people who don't want to follow rules. As long as the Imperium sees him as a hero, Cain is good at hiding his bad behavior. The show is a real treat because it brings some lightheartedness to an environment that is often harsh and harsh. Cain's honesty and sarcasm make the Warhammer 40,000 world seem more like a whole. This makes the book more fun to read.
Three short stories are also included: "The Traitor's Hand," "Caves of Ice," and "Hero." if you want to read more stories about this person, there are seven more novels that follow the adventures of this person. For people who are new to Warhammer 40,000, Hero of the Imperium is a good place to start. It has a light tone and makes it easy to learn about the different groups in the game. To break up the grimdark theme with humor and dry wit, Ciaphas Cain is the book for you.
Gaunt's Ghosts (Series) by Dan Abnett
"The Tanith came first. All-in-One. What makes us "ghosts," you see?"
Gaunt's Ghosts is based on Bernard Cornwell's Sharpe series. It tells the story of Colonel-Commissar Ibram Gaunt and his Tanith First and Only regiment, better known as Gaunt's Ghosts. They are fighting in the Sabbat Worlds Crusade, which is an Imperial effort to retake a part of space that has been taken over by the forces of Chaos.
It was written by Dan Abnett. Gaunt's Ghosts is one of the most popular Black Library series because it has a human tone. You can easily feel for the characters because they live in a harsh and uncaring world. These characters are more relatable than the Space Marines, who seem to be almost gods, so this makes them more relatable. There are 15 books in the series, but you'll want to start with First and Only because it sets the tone and gives the Imperial Guard a strong foundation (now known as the Astra Militarum). It's like Band of Brothers in that it has a lot of action, camaraderie, and sacrifice. Gaunt's Ghosts is for you if you like that.
Betrayer by Aaron Dembski-Bowden
"Blood for the God of Blood."
Betrayer, by Dan Abnett, continues the story of the Word Bearers and looks into the history of Angron and the World Eaters. It takes place soon after the events of Dan Abnett's Know No Fear. This is the 24th book in the Horus Heresy series. It tells the story of someone who loses a lot of things, gets angry, and is betrayed.
The story of the Legion of Chaos World Eaters and their leader, Angron, is told in the book. A lot of people had thought of the World Eaters as one-dimensional before this point. They had the typical "blood for the blood god" rage and Angron's bitterness as the things that made them who they were. He does a great job of adding flavor and depth to these traits, which is something that happens all the time in the Horus Heresy series. It's true that Betrayer isn't for the faint of heart because it's very detailed about violence and has a lot of action. The book is also better if you already know about the Heresy Legions or the Chaos Space Marines. If you want to learn more, you should start with Abnett's first book in the series, Horus Rising.
If you like to listen to your books while you're on the go or if you want to add more narrative to your stories, Black Library books can be found in audiobook form. Even if you don't play or collect the miniatures, Black Library has some of the best sci-fi content out there, and it's only going to get better.
With all the new Black Library releases, it can be hard to keep up with them all. It's best to start with your favorite characters or groups, and then expand from there. When you want to change things up, you can always try something else. Black Library publications aren't just for Warhammer 40,000. You can read up on Age of Sigmar or Necromunda if you want to learn more about the games before you buy them. This way, you can see if something is right for you without having to spend money on it. Often, Black Library content can help you think of new ideas for your next competitive list, or help you think of new ways to make your next kit-bash. Every year, there are dozens of new Warhammer books and short stories, so there is something for everyone and it's never a bad time to start learning about the world.
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5 warhammer 40k novels every player should read.
Warhammer 40K's novels are a huge part of the franchise and its expansive lore. Here's where newcomers should start if they want to learn more.
The Warhammer 40K series is a sprawling, complex and downright daunting franchise to get into. From the tabletop game to video games to novels, there's so much content and lore for fans to consume. The 30K and 40K series of novels have so many installments that claiming a specific number is near-impossible, and including all formats creates a list that's over 500 hundred novels strong.
The number of series -- let alone individual novels -- is dizzying, from the Bastion Wars to the Chaos Space Marines , the Imperial Knights to the Inquisitors . With so many stories to explore and so many titles from which to choose, fans of the franchise looking to gain more insight into this colossal wealth of lore may struggle to figure out where to even consider beginning. These five novels are great places to start.
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Nightbringer by Graham McNeill - Ultramarines Series
The 40K universe is nothing without the Space Marines. The most iconic class of the franchise's most recognizable faction, the Ultramarines are the entry-level players with whom novices should become instantly familiar before branching out in search of more involved lore or esoteric races . Nightbringer serves as the perfect primer to the Ultramarines thanks mainly to how author Graham McNeil brings complexity and characterization to a faction in danger of seeming generic and soulless.
Nightbringer centers on Captain Uriel Ventris, the Ultramarine captain responsible for investigating Pavonis, a planet plagued by corruption, instability and political turmoil. Packed with intrigue and action but layered enough to still be satisfying, Nightbringer is an excellent place to start for those looking to get a sense of what the 40K novels are all about in one easily-digestible package.
Horus Rising by Dan Abnett - Horus Heresy Series
The Horus Hersey is considered by most 40K fanatics to be one of the most important series in the entire canon, helping to define the lore of the Imperium. To understand the significance of Horus and his collaborators, it's essential to have a baseline knowledge of the 31st millennium. Horus Rising is the novel that starts a chain of events that ultimately lead to chaos, civil war and the potential extinction of the entire human race.
RELATED: Why Dungeon & Dragons' Biggest Joke Is Its Most Powerful Class
Horus Rising serves as the introduction to Horus Heresy , a series that boasts more than 50 novels. While not every novel in the Heresy series is essential reading, Rising is the definitive introduction to a setting and period that every 40K novice needs to learn about if they want to eventually go deeper into the lore.
First and Only by Dan Abnett - Gaunt's Ghosts Series
The Gaunt's Ghosts series is an undeniable fan favorite, and it's easy to see why. Dan Abnett's stellar writing and brilliant storytelling, coupled with his dense, three-dimensional characterization, make him one of the franchise's most beloved and respected writers. What the Gaunt's Ghosts series demonstrates best is Abnett's ability to bring humanity to an uncaring, often inhuman world.
Following the exploits of the Tanith First under Colonel-Commissar Ibram Gaunt, the Gaunt's Ghosts series is vast array. Of them, First and Only is essential in providing an introduction to Gaunt and his regiment, bringing the focus onto Gaunt's plucky, extremely human protagonists as they are entangled in a conspiracy to replace one of the Crusade force's supreme commanders.
RELATED: Total War: Warhammer III Could Be Leading to Age of Sigmar
Xenos by Dan Abnett - Eisenhorn Series
The Eisenhorn series (the most famous and beloved of Dan Abnett's acclaimed Inquisitor sequence of novels) is a must-read for 40K novices. The series stands out for shining a spotlight on the inquisitors, an enigmatic, powerful and nearly autonomous group that moves moving freely throughout the empire eradicating heresy, demonology and darkness.
Xenos is the perfect introduction to the inquisitors, a tightly plotted, sharply written adventure that builds from a foundation of strong characters with complex motivations . Eisenhorn's strength is its focuses on the internal struggles of its characters and their decisions, particularly those of their titular character. Gregor Eisenhorn straddles the line between puritan morality and radical heresy in his quest to preserve mankind. Additionally, Xenos was such a success that it spawned a spin-off game, while the entire Eisenhorn series is set to receive a TV adaptation with The Man in The High Castle 's Frank Spotnitz as showrunner.
RELATED: Who Are Warhammer 40K: Space Marine 2's Tyranids?
Ciaphas Cain: Hero of the Imperium by Alex Stewart - Ciaphas Cain Series
It can be easy to get bogged down in the sprawling, dense and overwhelming amount of material that makes up the 40K canon. It's also a world of intergalactic warfare, imperial wranglings, genocide, bloodthirsty orcs, tyrannical empires and legions of faceless Space Marines, which quickly starts to feel unrelentingly grim.
Ciaphas Cain is the perfect tonic to that. Funny, clever and full of satirical vigor, Hero of the Imperium delights in telling the misadventures of an Imperial Guard Commissar, a bungling coward who stumbles his way through a deadly universe while somehow concealing his own incompetence. For those overwhelmed by the dark and bloody lore of the 40K universe, Ciaphas Cain is refreshing and delightful in equal measure, offering fans another side of the franchise.
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30 Best Warhammer 40k Books of all Time
Warhammer 40k or WH40K books are science fiction novels set in the distant future. It began as a small wargame developed by Games Workshop. Warhammer 40K is currently the most sought-after miniature wargame. The enormous appeal of this fictional universe stems from the narrative and location. Additionally, the plot centers on the futuristic human civilization’s survival.
Warhammer 40K offers it all, from hostile aliens to otherworldly monsters and demonic infestations. As a result, the game and novels have maintained their appeal to the present day. Therefore, let us embark on a voyage to this realm—a universe that combines elements of fantasy, science fiction, and horror. And let us begin by looking at the top Warhammer 40K books of all time.
There are also some great Black Library books, especially related to Age of Sigmar , so check them also out.
1. For The Emperor- Sandy Mitchell
We start of our list of best Warhammer 40k books with For the Emperor. For the Emperor serves as the introduction of the Ciaphas Cain trilogy. Commissar Ciaphas Cain, Imperium’s hero, revered by his colleagues, and an inspiration to his soldiers – or so history’s distorted lens would have you think!
The truth is much different since Ciaphas is only seeking to complete his term as Commissar without being assassinated. Ciaphas Cain is sent to assist in maintaining order on an outpost world outside of Tau space.
However, when the alien envoy is assassinated and the situation soon spins out of hand, Cain and his Valhallan army find themselves embroiled in a conflict. While the Imperial Guard struggles to manage widespread social unrest, can the astute Commisar Cain uncover the true villain before the planet is permanently lost to the Imperium?
2. Horus Rising- Dan Abnett
Horus Rising is the ideal synthesis of military 40k cuisine and character development, and Horus Growing is only the beginning. The Imperium of man has reached its zenith after thousands of years of growth and conquest.
The Emperor withdraws from the front lines on the verge of triumph. With his vision for mankind virtually realized, the emperor gives up control to his Warmaster, Horus, and returns to Terra. Horus attempts to carry out the Emperor’s grand scheme as seeds of heresy and revolt are sown among his siblings.
However, is Horus powerful enough to maintain control over his fellow commanders and carry out the emperor’s big design?
3. Galaxy In Flames- Ben Counter
Galaxy in Flames is the third novel in Ben Counter’s Horus Heresy trilogy. Warmaster Horus, having recovered from his severe injuries, leads the victorious Imperial troops on the rebel world of Isstvan III.
An unprecedented coalition of the Sons of Horus, Death Guard, World Eaters, and Emperor’s Children Legions appears capable of overcoming mortal defenses – indeed, such a display of force seemed unnecessary. Though the rebels are quickly destroyed, Horus’s treachery is revealed when the planet is burned by virus bombs and Space Marines turn against their combat brothers in the most bloody conflict conceivable.
Garviel Loken and his faithful kinsmen take their troops to the surface, only to discover the whole, terrible truth, and the famous Horus Heresy starts with the most heinous act of treachery conceivable.
4. Fulgrim – Graham McNeill
This 40k novel is the fourth installment in the Horus Heresy Series, in which the Warmaster Horus continues his Good Crusade. In the Emperor’s Children’s Primarch, Fulgrim, however, leads his soldiers into combat. And he does so oblivious to the fact that evil forces have focused their attention on the Imperium of Man.
Since loyalties are evaluated. Friendships are tested which will eventually take them to the slaughter grounds known as Isstvan V. A fighter capable of dragging the reader along with them.
5. Legion- Dan Abnett
Legion is the eighth novel in Dan Abnett’s Horus Heresy series. A Great War is on the horizon, one that will consume the Imperium of Man. The Alpha Legion’s Space Marines, the final and most secretive of the Astartes brotherhoods, arrive on a heathen world to assist the Imperial Army in pacifying the globe against unusual and eerie forces.
However, what motivates the Alpha Legion? Are they trustworthy, and which side will they take when the Great War begins? As humanity’s fate hangs in the balance, loyalty is tested and the cunning machinations of extraterrestrial intelligence are exposed.
6. The First Heretic- Aaron Dembski-Bowden
This is the fourteenth book in the Horus Heresy, and it continues the story of Lorgar and the Word Bearers. They make no attempt to conceal the fact that they regard the Emperor as their deity. Regrettably, the Emperor is not pleased and chastises them. Lorgar and the Word Bearers, disappointed, decide to seek the true deity.
During the Great Crusade’s galaxy-wide battle, the Emperor castigates the Word Bearers for their devotion. Lorgar and his Legion, distraught by this judgment, seek another way, destroying world after planet and unleashing their wrath and ardor on the battlefield. The novel chronicles their path of devastation to expose the Imperium. Unbeknownst to them, greater power is at work and is the WH40K Universe’s first heretic.
7. Hero of the Imperium- Sandy Mitchell
Next up on our list of best Warhammer 40K books is a compilation of works Hero of the Imperium written by Sandy Mitchell. The first three books – For the Emperor, Caves of Ice, and The Traitor’s Hand – are collected in Hero of the Imperium, together with three special short tales.
Commissar Ciaphas Cain, Imperium’s hero, is admired by his colleagues and an inspiration to his soldiers in the war-torn future of the 41st Millennium – or so the propaganda would have you think. The truth, however, is much different, since Ciaphas is only seeking an easy life and a method to avoid danger. However, fate has a habit of placing him into the most perilous situations, and chance always manages to bring him through and elevate him to the highest of pedestals. Commissar Cain must dodge, bluff, and cheat his way out of difficulty to survive, even if it enhances his prestige in ways he cannot control!
8. Xenos- Dan Abnett
Xenos is the first installment of Dan Abnett’s trilogy about Inquisitor Gregor Eisenhorn. Gregor Eisenhorn has finally brought Murdin Eyclone to a halt on Hubris, within the massive cryonic vaults where the majority of the planet’s aristocracy spend the nine-month winter season.
The Inquisition stalks humanity like an avenging shadow, ruthlessly eliminating humanity’s adversaries. When Inquisitor Gregor Eisenhorn apprehends an old adversary, he is dragged into a dark scheme.
As events unravel and Eisenhorn collects allies – and foes – he finds himself up against a huge galactic conspiracy and the evil might of daemons, all of whom are racing to retrieve an esoteric manuscript of awful power: the Necroteuch.
9. A Thousand Sons- Graham Mcneill
Graham McNeill’s novel A Thousand Sons is the twelfth installment in the Horus Heresy Series. Magnus the Red and his Thousand Sons Legion flee to their homeworld of Prospero after being condemned by the Council of Nikea for their blatant use of sorcery.
However, when the unfortunate primarch foresees Warmaster Horus’s betrayal and informs the Emperor of using the very powers he has been forbidden to use, the Master of Mankind orders fellow primarch Leman Russ to assault Prospero. Magnus, however, has observed more than Horus’s treachery, and the discoveries he has witnessed will permanently alter the fate of his fallen Legion and its primarch.
10. The Founding (Gaunt’s Ghosts)- Dan Abnett
The Founding (Gaunt’s Ghosts) is a collection of the first three volumes in the series that follow Ibram Gaunt, the commissar of this Tanith First-And-Only regiment. This omnibus edition collects the first three Gaunt’s Ghosts books.
It follows the Tanith First-and-Only regiment (nicknamed the Ghosts) and their flamboyant commissar, Ibram Gaunt. While traveling between warzones in the Chaos-infested Sabbat Worlds system, the Ghosts must not only carry out the most perilous missions but also survive the Imperial Guard’s deadly politics.
Chaos wrecks their whole universe in the afternoon of the regiment’s inheritance. Today, Gaunt and his army traverse the world, combating political and physical battles.
11. The Flight Of The Eisenstein- James Swallow
The fourth installment of the Horus Heresy, chronicles Captain Nathaniel Garro’s escape from Istvaan III’s Betrayal. He is embarking on a dangerous trip aboard the Eisenstein with his crew. After witnessing the events on Istvaan III, Deathguard Captain Garro commandeers a ship and sails to Terra to alert the Emperor of Horus’s betrayal. Garro’s mission is to contact the Emperor and inform him about Horus’ betrayal and the resulting revolt.
Garro, on the other hand, is one of the few faithful commanders, and as such, he is not without suspicion. Eisenstein is collapsing, and some of his crew believes the Emperor is divine. Can Garro and his soldiers escape Chaos’s depravity and deliver their message to Terra in time? The book chronicles his fight to survive in this hostile environment.
12. Storm of Iron- Graham McNeill
Storm of Iron, Graham McNeill’s second Black Library novel, was published in 2002 and introduced readers to Honsou, a villain who would appear prominently in subsequent volumes.
The 383rd Jouran Dragoons defend an Adeptus Mechanicus citadel on the desolate planet of Hydra Cordatus. Nobody appears to be quite certain of what they are guarding, but a huge invading force of Iron Warriors implies it is significant. Now, Hydra Cordatus is in the grip of hell, as a large force of frightening Iron Warriors, Chaos’s ruthless assault soldiers, has invaded the planet and laid siege to its magnificent imperial fortress.
The Imperial defenders feel they are secure behind strong castle walls, but the Iron Warriors bring 10,000 years of cunning and cruelty in addition to their siegecraft skills. However, what prize could be worth this level of savagery and destruction, and how long can the defenders possibly hold out?
13. Ravenor- Dan Abnett
In Ravenor, Abnett’s first novel in a trilogy, we enter a world that is similar to us. Gideon Ravenor, an Inquisitor, is a former protege of the notorious (and now-missing) Gregor Eisenhorn. Ravnor is severely injured in the tragedy on Thracian Primaris, but his tremendous psi-powers continue unabated, and his associates and operatives are among the greatest in their disciplines.
Ravenor’s newest case takes him and his squad to Eustis Majoris, the capital world of subsector Angelus, where they are on the lookout for ‘flects,’ a novel narcotic that causes a state of psychological pleasure in the patient.
Believing the drug trade is being influenced by Chaos, Ravenor teams up with the planet’s law enforcement organizations to bring the destructive trade to an end but soon learns that the case involves a slew of opposing interests.
14. Ravenor Returned- Dan Abnett
This book is the second in the ‘Ravenor’ series, continuing the exploits of Imperial Inquisitor Ravenor and his Warband in a dark and gothic future. Gideon Ravenor and his squad avoided a fatal trap and returned to Eustis Majoris incognito. Ravenor invokes Special Condition status, diving deep undercover and acquiring the ability to deal with the situation in whatever way he sees fit.
The narrative develops substantially as years-long plans come to an end. Secrets are both exposed and maintained. Additionally, decisions must be taken and consequences must be accepted. His discourse was inadequate. He desired to impress, and, like many affluent, hollow men, he could only conceive of exploiting his ostentatious money.
15. Watchers of the Throne: The Emperor’s Legion- Chris Wraight
The Adeptus Custodes serve as the Emperor’s praetorian guard, defending Terra and keeping an eye on the Golden Throne. However, if a threat materializes, they and their Sisters of Silence friends may find themselves strained to the breaking point…
Since the Imperium’s inception, the Custodian Guard has guarded the Emperor’s Palace on Terra. Charged with the responsibility of defending the Master of Mankind from all dangers, both internal and external, their fierce determination is legendary across the galaxy, and their golden armor is the last thing an assassin or saboteur would ever see.
Along with the Sisters of Silence’s Null-maidens, who are anathema to psykers and sorcerers alike, there has been no threat to the Golden Throne that they cannot overcome alone… until now.
16. Fallen Angels- Mike Lee
This is the eleventh installment of the Horus Heresy. With word of Horus’s betrayal spreading throughout the galaxy, the Great Crusade comes to a grinding stop as the primarchs and their Legions decide whether to remain loyal to the Emperor or the renegade Warmaster.
The Dark Angels, too, are through a period of trial, both in space and on their homeworld Caliban. Luther, formerly Lion El’Jonson’s trusty second-in-command, now lives in virtual exile as his master battles to halt the traitors’ progress on the forge planet Diamat. However, an ancient evil is gathering power under Caliban’s surface, and the First Legion will soon be pushed into a terrible war that will call into question all they know.
17. Ravenor Rogue- Dan Abnett
Inquisitor Ravenor’s pursuit of his arch-nemesis Molotch brings him and his crew to dark and deadly places in the third book of the series. Unbeknownst to Ravenor, one of his team members is concealing a lethal secret that might spell the end of them all.
Inquisitor Ravenor continues his pursuit of arch-heretic Zygmunt Molotch – a pursuit that has become an obsession for him. Ravenor and his squad defy Inquisition instructions and pursue their prey relentlessly.
Thrown through time and space and fought against foes of unfathomable might and cunning, how much will Ravenor and his squad be willing to give up to rescue the day?
18. False Gods- Graham McNeill
False Gods is the second novel in Graham McNeill’s Horus Heresy trilogy. False Gods is a direct sequel to Horus Rising, detailing Horus’s descent into Chaos.
The Great Crusade that has propelled humanity to the stars is still ongoing. The Emperor of humanity has delegated leadership to his preferred son, the Warmaster Horus. However, everything is not well among the Imperium’s army.
Horus is still facing his brother primarchs’ envy and hatred, and after being injured in combat on the planet Davin, he must also face his inner daemons. Can the weakening Horus withstand the Chaos?
19. Descent of Angels- Mitchel Scanlon
19th place on our list of best Warhammer 40k books goes to Descent of Angels written by Mitchel Scanlon. This is the sixth installment in the Horus Heresy series, although it appears to take a little detour from the main plot and explore some extremely different fantasy themes. The knightly orders of Caliban have defended the populace from the monsters that lurk in the planet’s gloomy forests.
Zahariel and Nemiel desire to join the order, led by Lion El’Jonson, but the approaching Imperium raises new worries, and the sons of Caliban must decide for themselves whether to join the Lion in the Great Crusade.
20. Betrayer- Aaron Dembski-Bowden
Betrayer is the third installment in the famous Horus Heresy series, which delves into the history of the Warhammer 40,000 universe. Betrayer picks up immediately after the events in Dan Abnett’s Know No Fear, continuing the narrative of the Word Bearers and delving into the origins of Angron and the World Eaters. Betrayer is the twenty-fourth installment in the Horus Heresy series. It is a narrative of loss, rage, and treachery.
The first phase of the Shadow Crusade has begun. While the Ultramarines recover from Kor Phaeron’s surprise attack on Calth, Lorgar and the rest of the Word Bearers advance deep into Ultramar’s domain. Their odd friends, Angron and the World Eaters continue to wreak havoc on each new system they encounter – and on the garrison world of Armatura, this unrelenting brutality may prove to be their doom. Worlds will be destroyed, Legions will clash, and a primarch will be assassinated.
21. Anarch- Dan Abnett
Anarch is the sixteenth and final installment of Gaunt’s Ghosts, which began with the First and Only and Blood Pact.
Ibram Gaunt is compelled to resume his duty as commander of the Imperial lines at Urdesh, picking up where Warmaster left off. The world has been transformed into a critical battleground, yet as the Ghosts advance, Chaos seeks to destroy them from within, and previous errors come back to haunt them.
The fight for Urdesh has begun – and its conclusion will decide the Sabbat Worlds Crusade’s fate. Ibram Gaunt, the Warmaster’s new right hand, and his Ghosts hold the key to triumph – but will they be able to overcome the evil Anarch and his Sons of Sek?
22. Pariah- Dan Abnett
The Bequin Trilogy begins with Pariah. It is the sequel to the Inquisitor and Ravenor trilogies.
Nothing is quite as it appears in Queen Mab’s city. Alizebeth Bequin is a pariah, a spy, and an Inquisitorial operative. She is all of these things and yet none of them. She is an enigma, even to herself, caught between Inquisitors Gregor Eisenhorn and Gideon Ravenor, erstwhile comrades who are now adversaries in a shadow game against an enigmatic and lethal opponent.
Bequin becomes entangled in a sinister plan for which she has no idea what her part or purpose is. With the assistance of an unlikely collection of allies, she must solve the mysteries of her life and history if she is to escape an impending war in which the line between friends and adversaries is dangerously blurred.
23. Night Lords- Aaron Dembski-Bowden
Aaron Dembski-Night Bowden’s Lords trilogy is a collection of three Black Library books. The story follows Talos, a member of the Night Lords Legion’s First Claw, 10th Company.
The definitive collection of this engrossing science fiction series. Driven by their hate for the False Emperor, the Night Lords hunt the galaxy’s darkness, seeking vengeance for their primarch’s death. A Warband from this evil Legion strives to live in a continuous war against the Imperium’s soldiers, guided by the prophet Talos’ prophecies.
However, as they come into conflict with other renegades and are pursued by the Eldar of Craftworld Ulthwe, the Night Lords are pulled back to the scene of their greatest loss and drawn into a war they cannot win.
24. Space Wolf- William King
William King and Lee Lightner’s Space Wolf book series includes Space Wolf, Ragnar’s Claw, Grey Hunter, and numerous others. THE TRUE STORY
The Space Wolves’ screaming wrath is about to be unleashed! On Fenris’s desolate dead world, the small people must fight for life against dangerous creatures and other tribes regularly.
However, Fenris is also home to the Space Marines’ formidable Space Wolves Chapter, the Emperor’s best soldiers in a world teeming with aliens, heretics, and mutants. Ragnar’s exploits begin when he is resurrected from a brutal combat death and recruited into the Space Wolves. But can the fierce Ragnar overcome the beast within and fulfill his destiny on the 41st millennium’s battlefields?
25. Deliverance Lost- Gav Thorpe
Deliverance Lost is Gav Thorpe’s 18th novel in the Horus Heresy Series. Corax and his few remaining Raven Guard evade the carnage at Isstvan V as the Horus Heresy splits the Imperium.
While tending to their wounds, the bloodied Space Marines attempt to refill their ranks and rejoin the conflict, ready to confront the renegade Warmaster. Corax comes to Terra, distraught by the severe blow delivered to his Legion, to seek the assistance of his father, the Emperor of Mankind.
Corax begins rebuilding the Raven Guard after gaining access to ancient knowledge, plotting his retribution against his traitorous fellow primarchs. However, not all of his remaining soldiers are what they look like… The enigmatic Alpha Legion has infiltrated the survivors and intends to kill the Raven Guard before they can regroup and jeopardize Horus’ objectives.
26. Ghostmaker- Dan Abnett
Ghostmaker is Dan Abnett’s second Gaunt’s Ghosts novel and the second installment in the Founding trilogy. On the world of Monthax, the Tanith First and Just face not only Chaos cultists but also the environment and their views.
Multiple accounts of their earlier missions, dating back to the unit’s creation, are interspersed throughout this narrative, showcasing both individual members of the regiment and how it has evolved over time.
27. Titanicus- Dan Abnett
Titanicus is a Dan Abnett novel about the Legio Invicta Titan Legion. When an army of Chaos Titans attacks the world of Orestes, the Imperial Titans of Legio Invicta rush to defend the crucial forge world.
Following a bloody military conflict, one of the Imperium’s most illustrious Titan Legions, the Legio Invicta, prepares to deploy to the Sabbat Worlds’ warzones. However, while refueling and repairing at the forge world of Orestes, the Legio Invicta is pushed back into conflict by a force of Chaos Titans.
However, as the god-machines of the Adeptus Titanicus march to battle, an unexpected theological rift threatens to split the Adeptus Mechanicus and destroy the very Earth they have sworn to preserve, putting the Imperial defenders’ dedication to the test.
28. Traitor General- Dan Abnett
Commissar Gaunt and a small squad from his regiment, the Tanith First-and-Only, are dispatched on a covert operation behind enemy lines in a world dominated by the wicked Chaos forces.
Magister Sek’s soldiers have advanced into the Khan group of the Sabbat Worlds on the instructions of Archon Urlock Gaur and seized a high-ranking Imperial Lord General. Colonel-Commissar Ibram Gaunt and a hand-picked squad of his Tanith elite have been charged with the mission of recapturing or assassinating this critical figure.
29. Soul Hunter- Aaron Dembski-Bowden
Soul Hunter is a Night Lords novel written and released in March 2010 by Aaron Dembski-Bowden.
They are the rebels of the 41st Millenium, betrayed, driven out of the Emperor’s light, and persecuted as heretics. The Night Lords, clad with death emblems, are ruthless hunters and assassins. They will never repent for the blasphemy that resulted in their expulsion.
They feed on the Imperium’s demise, delivering death from the void between planets. Their dark mission will take them to the world of Crythe Primus, where they will battle Imperial soldiers for the planet’s reclaim.
30. First And Only- Dan Abnett
Last but not least books on this list of best Warhammer 40k books i First & Only written by Dan Banett. Dan Abnett’s first novel, First and Only, is a military science fiction novel set in the Warhammer 40,000 setting. Imperial Commissar Gaunt must lead his soldiers through as much infighting among competing regiments as against Chaos forces in the Chaos-infested Sabbat system.
For a thousand years, the Imperium has been denied access to the Sabbat Worlds, which have been seized by the terrible powers of Chaos. Now, a great crusade aims to restore Imperial control to the area. And Colonel-Commissar Ibram Gaunt and the Tanith First and Only – dubbed Gaunt’s Ghosts – are at the vanguard of that crusade.
Trapped in Fortis Binary’s grueling trench warfare, the Ghosts are dragged into a plot to murder the crusade’s commander, Warmaster Macaroth. With adversaries on every side and no one to trust, Gaunt and his soldiers must devise a plan to rescue the Warmaster and prevent the Sabbat Worlds Crusade from collapsing – even if it means waging war on their ostensible friends.
Hrvoje, based in Osijek, Croatia, with a Master's degree from the Zagreb University of Applied Sciences, is a co-founder of Incomera, a media company that has launched several entertainment sites including Fiction Horizon, Game Horizon, and Anime Horizon. He is also a co-owner of...
6 best Warhammer 40,000 books from the Black Library
For adeptus readers.
Warhammer 40,000 is a broad, expansive setting which can be daunting for those looking for a starting point into the lore. Black Library releases dozens of new Warhammer 40k books every year, ranging from short stories to multi-novel series. With this, there is so much to choose from and finding an opening can be tricky. Fortunately, some of Black Library's best work also lines up well for franchise newcomers.
Best Warhammer 40k books
- Eisenhorn: Omnibus by Dan Abnett: “My patience isn’t limitless… unlike my authority.”
- Space Wolf: The First Omnibus by William King: "War Within. War Without. War Unending. That is how we live, little brother. That is who we are."
- Night Lords: The Omnibus by Aaron Dembski-Bowden: "May the Warp be with you."
- Ciaphas Cain: Hero of the Imperium by Sandy Mitchell: "When in deadly danger, When beset by doubt, Run in little circles, wave your arms and shout!"
- Gaunt's Ghosts (Series) by Dan Abnett: "The Tanith First. The First-and-Only. That's what makes us 'Ghosts', you see."
- Betrayer by Aaron Dembski-Bowden: "Blood for the Blood God."
It's worth noting that a hefty chunk of the Black Library literature centres around the Imperial Guard, Space Marines and the Inquisition, as these are the most accessible factions within the Warhammer 40,000 franchise. Often human factions see popularity through association, which leads to deeper lore and extra resources to continue this trend. It may feel discouraging to see your favourite Xenos race not get the recognition they deserve, but the literature does exist - only in smaller doses.
Also, you don't require a background in the game to appreciate the source material as these are independently good sci-fi novels. However, if you do play or collect the miniatures, these Warhammer books will help paint a clearer picture of the characters and events that occur within the universe.
1. Eisenhorn: Omnibus by Dan Abnett
“my patience isn’t limitless… unlike my authority.”.
Eisenhorn follows the successful career of Gregor Eisenhorn, Inquisitor of the Ordo Xenos. Eisenhorn tackles corruption in every corner of the galaxy, from mutants and daemons to heretics. Throughout the series, Eisenhorn manages to convince you that he has everything under control while slowly losing his grip due to the influence of Chaos. As a result, the events temper Eisenhorn's moral compass that presents a fine line between loyalty and betrayal. Within this omnibus edition, there are three full-length novels - Xenos, Malleus and Hereticus - which all share the same name as the Ordos (or commonly known as Orders) within the Inquisition.
Eisenhorn is ideal for the entry-level Warhammer 40,000 enthusiast as it offers a blend of action, character development and moral disposition in an easy to follow writing style. To that end, think of Eisenhorn as the 41st Millennium’s own Sherlock Holmes with Jack Bauer thrown in for good measure. If you enjoy science fiction, especially with technology blended within a religious backdrop, then this is the ideal Warhammer book for you.
Buy Eisenhorn: Omnibus on Amazon US or Amazon UK .
2. Space Wolf: The First Omnibus by William King
"war within. war without. war unending. that is how we live, little brother. that is who we are.".
Every hero begins somewhere, and Space Wolf: The First Omnibus follows the story of Ragnar Blackmane. The series is unique from the other Space Marine material as Ragnar isn't an all-powerful hero from the get-go. The First Omnibus features a trilogy of stories - Space Wolf, Ragnar's Claw and Grey Hunter - which offers a glimpse into one of Warhammer's most beloved characters.
With this, you get a sneak peek into the history of the Space Marines and the fabled process to induction. Author William King does an outstanding job of slowly exposing you to the Space Marine lore, making this an ideal starting point for Space Marine enthusiasts. There's a lot of detail that the Codex: Space Wolves does not provide, such as why the Chapter avoids wearing helmets and how they behave differently compared to other factions. Space Wolf: The First Omnibus is full of action, character growth and offers insight into one of Space Marine's most-loved Chapters. Besides, who doesn't love Vikings in space?
Buy Space Wolf: The First Omnibus on Amazon US or Amazon UK .
3. Night Lords: The Omnibus by Aaron Dembski-Bowden
"may the warp be with you.".
Throughout Night Lords: The Omnibus, Aaron Dembski-Bowden has the members of Night Lord First Squad interact with and battle a diverse cast of allies and adversaries. Leading the charge is Talos Valcoran, a genetically modified super-soldier with a quest to seek vengeance upon the human empire he helped create. Night Lord: Omnibus is a compilation of three novels: Soul Hunter, Blood Reaver and Void Stalker.
Although a Traitor Legion, you'll end up sympathising with the Night Lords due to Dembski-Bowden's ability to give these characters emotion. In some cases, you'll cheer them on as they are faced with various challenges throughout, despite their horrific deeds against humankind and Xenos alike. Outside of conflict, the Night Lords grapple with the memories of their lost Primarch, the Imperium and themselves. Night Lords: Omnibus is one of the best book series you can read within the Warhammer 40,000 setting. It's dark, tragic and offers insight into a deeply misunderstood faction. Even then, you don't need to do any further reading as the trilogy is independent of any other Black Library material.
Buy Night Lords: The Omnibus on Amazon US or Amazon UK .
4. Ciaphas Cain: Hero of the Imperium by Sandy Mitchell
"when in deadly danger, when beset by doubt, run in little circles, wave your arms and shout".
If Blackadder translated to Warhammer 40,000, it would be Ciaphas Cain. The series follows the struggles of Commissar Ciaphias Cain, a happy-go-lucky leader with the infamous task of holding discipline amongst an army of unruly people. Cain is clever at covering his shenanigans while keeping the image as a hero of the Imperium. The series is positively charming as it offers comedic relief in an atmosphere that is often severe and brutal. Thanks to Cain's honest and sarcastic approach, it breaks the disparity that you typically see in the Warhammer 40,000 universe, resulting in an enjoyable read.
Hero of the Imperium collects the first three novels - For the Emperor, Caves of Ice and The Traitor’s Hand - plus three exclusive short stories. If you want more tales, there are seven more novels that follow the adventures of this likeable protagonist. Due to its light tone and easy understanding of the factions within Warhammer 40,000 , Hero of the Imperium presents a decent entry into the lore for franchise beginners. If you are looking for a lighter read to break the grimdark motif with humour and dry wit, then Ciaphas Cain delivers.
Buy Ciaphas Cain: Hero of the Imperium on Amazon US or Amazon UK .
5. Gaunt's Ghosts (Series) by Dan Abnett
"the tanith first. the first-and-only. that's what makes us 'ghosts', you see.".
Inspired by Bernard Cornwell's Sharpe series, Gaunt's Ghosts follows the adventures of Colonel-Commissar Ibram Gaunt and his regiment of Tanith First and Only - or better known as Gaunt's Ghosts. Their battleground is the Sabbat Worlds Crusade: an Imperial effort to reconquer a sector of space overwhelmed by the armies of Chaos.
Written by Dan Abnett, Gaunt's Ghosts is one of the most successful series within the Black Library catalogue as it offers a human tone. You can easily sympathise with the characters as they are individuals in a harsh and uncaring galaxy. As a result, it makes these characters more relatable compared to the almost god-like Space Marines. With 15 books in the series, you'll want to begin with First and Only as it sets the tone and offers a solid foundation to the Imperial Guard (now known as the Astra Militarum). If you enjoy end-to-end action, camaraderie and sacrifice similar to Band of Brothers, then Gaunt's Ghosts is for you.
Buy The Founding: A Gaunt's Ghosts Omnibus on Amazon US or Amazon UK .
6. Betrayer by Aaron Dembski-Bowden
"blood for the blood god.".
Continuing the story of the Word Bearers and jumping into the origins of Angron and the World Eaters, Betrayer takes place shortly after the events of Dan Abnett's Know No Fear. Betrayer is the 24th entry in the Horus Heresy series that describes a story of loss, anger and - you guessed it - betrayal.
The novel expands on the back story of the Chaos World Eaters Legion and their Primarch, Angron. Before this, it was easy to think of the World Eaters as one-dimensional, with the usual ‘Blood for the Blood God’ rage and Angron’s bitterness as their defining features. However, Aaron Demski-Bowden does remarkable work of building on these traits to add flavour and depth, which is a common theme throughout the Horus Heresy series. Admittedly, it's not for the faint-hearted as Betrayer is incredibly detailed on the violence and jammed-packed with action. The novel is also best appreciated if you already have foreknowledge of the Heresy Legions or the Chaos Space Marines; if you want to find out more, then you'll want to begin with Horus Rising, the first entry in the Horus Heresy series written by Abnett.
Buy Betrayer on Amazon US or Amazon UK .
If you prefer to digest your content on-the-go or prefer a stronger narrative to your storytelling, Black Library publications are accessible in audiobook form. Even if you aren't engaged in playing or collecting the miniatures, Black Library offers some of the best sci-fi content around and it's only going to continue.
While it's challenging to keep up with every Black Library release, it's best to stick to your favourite characters or factions then expand from there. Even then, you can always dip into something else if you fancy a change of pace or setting. Black Library publications extend outside of Warhammer 40,000 too, so you can read up on Age of Sigmar or Necromunda if you are curious about the franchise before investing into the games. It's a safe way to see something is right for you before bearing any financial commitment. Often you’ll find Black Library content can spark creativity in your next competitive list, or inspire your next kit-bash conversion. With dozens of Warhammer books and short stories released every year, there is something for everyone and it’s never a bad time to jump into the lore.
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- Ultramarines (Novel Series)
The Ultramarines series by Graham McNeill follows the actions of Ultramarine Captain Uriel Ventris . The first three novels are collected in "The Ultramarines Omnibus", along with the short story "Chains of Command."
The fourth, fifth, and sixth novels, along with the short story Eye of Vengeance and the graphic short Black Bone Road are collected in a second omnibus titled "Ultramarines: The Second Omnibus", released on May 22, 2012.
In addition to the novels, short stories featuring the same characters and events are featured in several anthologies. An original audio drama, Eye of Vengeance (Audio Book) , was released in April 2012.
- 1 Novels in the Series
- 2.1 Nightbringer
- 2.2 Warriors of Ultramar
- 2.3 Dead Sky, Black Sun
- 2.4 The Killing Ground
- 2.5 Courage and Honour
- 2.6 The Chapter's Due
- 2.7 The Swords of Calth
- 3.1 Chains of Command
- 3.2 Leviathan
- 3.3 Consequences
- 3.4 Eye of Vengeance
- 3.6 Torias Telion: The Eye of Vengeance
- 3.7 Marneus Calgar: Lord of Ultramar
- 3.8 Two Kinds of Fool
- 3.9 Do Eagles Still Circle the Mountain?
- 4 Graphic Novels
- 5 Omnibus Collections
- 6 Related Articles
Novels in the Series
Cover ilustration by Clint Langley , ISBN 0-7434-4299-7
Cover ilustration by Alex Boyd , ISBN 0-7434-4352-7
Cover ilustration by Clint Langley , ISBN 1-84416-148-X
Cover illustration by Karl Kopinski ISBN 9781849703338
Cover illustration by Karl Kopinski , ISBN 978-1-84416-562-9
Cover illustration by Karl Kopinski , ISBN 9781844167142
Cover illustration by Karl Kopinski . ISBN 9781849701730
Cover illustration by Hardy Fowler .
After replacing his former Captain and mentor, Idaeus , Captain Uriel Ventris embarks on his first mission, to the planet Pavonis with the 4th Company of the Ultramarines. Beset by doubt in his abilities, alien foes and traitorous opportunists, Ventris must battle against them all if he is to defeat an ancient horror soon to be awakened.
Warriors of Ultramar
A Tyranid splinter fleet is heading towards the planet Tarsis Ultra , consuming everything in its path. Captain Uriel Ventris and the Fourth Company of the Ultramarines, called to honour an ancient debt, along with brother Space Marines of the Mortifactors Chapter and the Imperial Guard units are the only ones standing in their way. Uriel must decide whether to act by the code set down by the Codex Astartes or against it, if he is to succeed against the alien threat.
Dead Sky, Black Sun
Captain Uriel Ventris and Sergeant Pasanius Lysane have been exiled from the Ultramarines Chapter for breaching the Codex Astartes during the events on Tarsis Ultra ; Sent on a Death Oath by Marneus Calgar to atone for their transgression, they are taken captive by a Daemon known only as the Omphalos Daemonium , and transported to the Iron Warriors' Homeworld of Medrengard . Trapped within the Eye of Terror , Ventris and Pasanius must garner all of their courage and strength if they are to regain their honour and survive against the forces of Chaos .
The Killing Ground
Ventris, Pasanius and the Unfleshed find themselves apparently stranded on the world of Salinas ; their presence seemingly fanning the flames of a local rebellion into a heretical fire that threatens to consume everything and everyone. The warrior brothers must fight one more time before being able to return to Macragge , but this is a conflict where sympathies are divided and it isn't quite so easy to see who stands among the righteous.
Courage and Honour
Newly returned from the Eye of Terror, Captain Uriel Ventris must redeem himself in the eyes of his battle-brothers, who fear he may have been tainted by Chaos. When the planet Pavonis is invaded by the Tau Empire , what better opportunity could Uriel have to join his Chapter in combat and prove that his honour is beyond reproach?
The Chapter's Due
Seeking revenge against Uriel Ventris, Iron Warriors Warsmith Honsou assembles an enormous warband and invades the region of Ultramar , in league with the Daemon Prince M'kar . The entire Chapter must mobilize for war, to prevent Ultramar from being laid to waste, and Chief Librarian Tigurius predicts that Uriel will play a crucial part in the battle's outcome, for good or ill.
The Swords of Calth
Uriel Ventris is elevated to a Primaris Space Marines and battles the Necrons on Sycorax . 
Chains of command.
Set before the events of Nightbringer , in 999.M41, the Ultramarines 4th Company assault Bridge Two-Four on the planet of Thracia under Captain Idaeus . They seek to close up the flank of the main advance on a rebel held city, by destroying a series of bridges crossing a canyon. However they are attacked by the Night Lords Legion , losing their Techmarine in the process and the ability to trigger the explosives placed on the bridge. Captain Idaeus is fatally injured and concocts a non-Codex pattern plan where he triggers the explosives with a krak grenade, destroying the bridge and himself. Before doing so, Idaeus passes his Captaincy and power sword to Uriel Ventris , his Veteran Sergeant and second-in-command.
After the Pavonis campaign (in Nightbringer ), Uriel and Pasanius have their first taste of action when boarding an Ork -infested space hulk .
Set between the events of Warriors of Ultramar and Dead Sky, Black Sun . After his controversial actions defending Tarsis Ultra , Uriel is brought to account before the Chapter hierarchy.
Eye of Vengeance
Set during the events of The Chapter's Due , Torias Telion leads a Scout Squad on a dangerous mission to sabotage the Dark Mechanicus forges powering the Bloodborn 's war effort on Quintarn .
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Torias Telion: The Eye of Vengeance
In the aftermath of The Chapter's Due , Sgt. Telion must track down an elusive threat on Macragge , left behind by the Bloodborn army.
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In the aftermath of The Chapter's Due , Lord Calgar and Varro Tigurius reflect on past mistakes and face hard choices about the future of the Ultramarines.
Two Kinds of Fool
Captains Agemman and Sicarius clash over the cleansing of the space hulk Final Absolution .
Do Eagles Still Circle the Mountain?
In the aftermath of Codex , Captain Uriel Ventris of the Ultramarines returns to action against teh vicious greenskins .
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Blood and lies publisher's summary.
For Ianthe, war is all too familiar. A former soldier in the Astra Militarum, she now serves Inquisitor Covenant as an agent of the Throne. Her first mission sees her investigating a cult called the Children of Eternity. Falling foul of the local Enforcers, Ianthe soon learns that war in the shadows is seldom straightforward and that the local, angry law-keepers are the least of her troubles.
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Book 1, agent of the throne: warhammer 40,000.
Blood and Lies
- Agent of the Throne: Warhammer 40,000, Book 1
- By: John French
- Narrated by: Colleen Prendergast, Steve Conlin, Cliff Chapman, and others
- Length: 1 hr and 6 mins
- Overall 4.5 out of 5 stars 193
- Performance 5 out of 5 stars 171
- Story 4.5 out of 5 stars 171
- 5 out of 5 stars
Good little short story
- By WELSBERN on 04-06-21
- Narrated by: Colleen Prendergast , Steve Conlin , Cliff Chapman , Annie Aldington , Toby Longworth
- Release date: 11-29-17
- Language: English
- 4.5 out of 5 stars 193 ratings
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Book 2, Agent of the Throne: Warhammer 40,000
Truth and Dreams
- Agent of the Throne: Warhammer 40,000, Book 2
- Narrated by: Beth Chalmers, Cliff Chapman, Steve Conlin, and others
- Length: 1 hr and 4 mins
- Overall 4.5 out of 5 stars 107
- Performance 5 out of 5 stars 92
- Story 4.5 out of 5 stars 89
As an agent of the Throne, former soldier Ianthe serves Inquisitor Covenant and faces some of the most dangerous and insidious threats the galaxy has to offer. On the hunt for the rogue psyker Silas Norn, Ianthe and her associates run afoul of the Imperial authorities and are imprisoned. Norn too is captured and incarcerated, but with the ability to manipulate the minds of his victims he is far from easy quarry. To stop him, Ianthe must not only find him; she must overcome the buried ghosts of her hidden past.
A good in-depth thriller
- By Henry on 04-24-18
- Narrated by: Beth Chalmers , Cliff Chapman , Steve Conlin , Jonathan Keeble , Colleen Prendergast , Luis Soto , Andrew Wincott
- Release date: 04-10-18
- 4.5 out of 5 stars 107 ratings
Book 3, Agent of the Throne: Warhammer 40,000
Ashes and Oaths
- Agent of the Throne: Warhammer 40,000, Book 3
- Length: 1 hr and 13 mins
- Overall 4.5 out of 5 stars 105
- Story 4.5 out of 5 stars 90
Subterfuge and compromise walk hand in hand for an agent of the Throne. On the blighted world of Dustcorn, an assault on an Inquisitorial target goes badly awry, forcing Ianthe and her associates into a pact with an unscrupulous ally, the mysterious Zand. With her mission in tatters, Ianthe has little choice but to agree to Zand’s terms, the assassination of a perfidious traitor. But nothing is simple where Zand is concerned, and Ianthe soon finds herself in a situation that will have far-reaching consequences for her and her team.
The best episode so far made me hyped for more
- By Anonymous User on 07-27-21
- Narrated by: Beth Chalmers , Cliff Chapman , Steve Conlin , Gesella Ohaka , Colleen Prendergast , Richard Reed
- Release date: 05-18-19
- 4.5 out of 5 stars 105 ratings
Book 1, Ahriman: Warhammer 40, 000
The First Prince
- Ahriman: Warhammer 40,000, Book 1
- Narrated by: Gareth Armstrong, Robin Bowerman, Jonathan Keeble
- Length: 42 mins
- Overall 4.5 out of 5 stars 142
- Performance 5 out of 5 stars 131
- Story 4.5 out of 5 stars 131
Ahriman is thrust into a deadly conflict with a creature of darkness whose cunning and thirst for power are the equal of his own - the first daemon prince, the dreaded Be'lakor.
great story but way to short for the price
- By Gavin Vigor on 12-22-22
- Narrated by: Gareth Armstrong , Robin Bowerman , Jonathan Keeble
- Release date: 11-14-17
- 4.5 out of 5 stars 142 ratings
Book 2, Ahriman: Warhammer 40,000
Key of Infinity
- Ahriman: Warhammer 40,000, Book 2
- Narrated by: John Banks, Steve Conlin, Jonathan Keeble, and others
- Length: 17 mins
- Overall 4.5 out of 5 stars 74
- Performance 5 out of 5 stars 68
- Story 4.5 out of 5 stars 68
As they interrogate the necron Setekh, he is also learning about them - over and over again as he uses ancient technology to relive the moment and plot his escape. Will he succeed, or will Ahriman prevail?
A neat introduction for me
- By travis on 02-04-18
- Narrated by: John Banks , Steve Conlin , Jonathan Keeble , Saul Reichlin
- Release date: 01-11-18
- 4.5 out of 5 stars 74 ratings
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Book 1, Augur of Despair: Warhammer 40,000
Augur of despair: part 1.
- Augur of Despair: Warhammer 40,000
- By: Chris Dows
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Book 2, Augur of Despair: Warhammer 40,000
Augur of despair: part 2, book 3, augur of despair: warhammer 40,000, augur of despair: part 3, book 1, black legion: warhammer 40,000.
The Talon of Horus
- Black Legion: Warhammer 40,000, Book 1
- By: Aaron Dembski-Bowden
- Narrated by: Jonathan Keeble
- Length: 12 hrs and 54 mins
- Overall 5 out of 5 stars 3,133
- Performance 5 out of 5 stars 2,818
- Story 5 out of 5 stars 2,804
When Horus fell, his Sons fell with him. A broken Legion, beset by rivalries and hunted by their erstwhile allies, the former Luna Wolves have scattered across the tortured realm of the Eye of Terror. And of Abaddon, greatest of the Warmaster's followers, nothing has been heard for many years. Until now....
Superb story, superb performance
- By AKS on 11-29-17
- Release date: 09-27-17
- 5 out of 5 stars 3,133 ratings
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Book 2, Black Legion: Warhammer 40,000
- Black Legion: Warhammer 40,000, Book 2
- Length: 10 hrs and 32 mins
- Overall 5 out of 5 stars 2,698
- Performance 5 out of 5 stars 2,420
- Story 5 out of 5 stars 2,409
Ezekyle Abaddon and his warlords strive to bind the newborn Black Legion together under threat of destruction. Now Khayon, as Abaddon's most-trusted assassin, is tasked with ending the threat of Thagus Daravek, the self-proclaimed Lord of Hosts - a rival to the Ezekyle's final fate. Fighting the vile whispers of the Dark Gods within his mind, Abaddon turns a fevered gaze back to the Imperium, where his destiny awaits. Yet the Emperor's Champion and his Black Templars stand guard at the gates of Hell, and Sigismund has waited centuries to face Abaddon in battle.
Crafted and Performed Perfectly
- By Adam Watson on 01-28-19
- 5 out of 5 stars 2,698 ratings
Book 1, Broken Saints: Warhammer 40,000
Broken Saints: Part 1
- Broken Saints: Warhammer 40,000
- By: Alec Worley
- Narrated by: Claire Wyatt, Richard Reed, Sean Connolly, and others
- Length: 24 mins
- Overall 4.5 out of 5 stars 40
- Performance 5 out of 5 stars 38
- Story 4.5 out of 5 stars 38
Sister Adamanthea is an oddity among the Adepta Sororitas - a Sister Repentia who has been cleansed of her sin and returned to her duty, rather than finding penance in death. Seen by the faithful as a living miracle, she herself is unsure. Still feeling the weight of her crime, she wonders if she belongs in the sisterhood at all. When she is forced to appear with a famed priest on a most holy day, Adamanthea's doubts itensify...until disaster strikes.
- 1 out of 5 stars
Battle Sister has stage fright. That's it
- By Andrew on 01-26-20
- Narrated by: Claire Wyatt , Richard Reed , Sean Connolly , Genevieve Swallow , Penelope Rawlins , Steve Conlin , Jonathan Keeble
- Release date: 12-18-19
- 4.5 out of 5 stars 40 ratings
Book 2, Broken Saints: Warhammer 40,000
Broken Saints: Part 2
- Length: 23 mins
- Overall 5 out of 5 stars 24
- Performance 5 out of 5 stars 24
- Story 4.5 out of 5 stars 24
Treachery has been revealed on an Imperial world - human acolytes of the Alpha Legion have infiltrated the faithful populace and triggered a catastrophe. As the Adepta Sororitas battle the unmasked heretics, they look to their leader for guidance - but Sister Adamanthea faces trials of her own. With her faith in herself and the Emperor in doubt, she must rally herself and her warriors to combat the enemy - even as she discovers that they may be closer than she thought.
- By Michael C Redl on 03-04-20
- Release date: 12-19-19
- 5 out of 5 stars 24 ratings
Book 3, Broken Saints: Warhammer 40,000
Broken Saints: Part 3
- Length: 25 mins
- Story 5 out of 5 stars 24
The architect of treachery has been revealed...and Sister Adamanthea is in his clutches. The arch-heretic believes he can bend the devout Battle Sister to his cause, and will stop at nothing to turn one of the Adepta Sororitas away from the Emperor's light and into the embrace of Chaos. Adamanthea must set aside her doubts and fears and marshal her faith in the Emperor if she is to resist temptation and defeat the traitors in her midst.
- By Michael C Redl on 03-05-20
- Release date: 12-20-19
Book 1, Ciaphas Cain: Warhammer 40,000
For the Emperor
- Ciaphas Cain: Warhammer 40,000, Book 1
- By: Sandy Mitchell
- Narrated by: Stephen Perring, Penelope Rawlins, Emma Gregory
- Length: 8 hrs and 57 mins
- Overall 5 out of 5 stars 4,957
- Performance 5 out of 5 stars 4,372
- Story 5 out of 5 stars 4,359
On an Imperial outpost world on the fringes of tau space, the renowned Commissar Ciaphas Cain and his fractious regiment of Valhallan Guard, newly created from the remnants of two devastated units, find themselves in the middle of a war. As the Astra Militarum struggle to contain worldwide civil insurrection, can the wily Commissar Cain identify the real villain before the planet is lost to the Imperium forever?
Now the rest
- By Christopher on 09-18-18
- Narrated by: Stephen Perring , Penelope Rawlins , Emma Gregory
- Release date: 09-10-18
- 5 out of 5 stars 4,957 ratings
Book 2, Ciaphas Cain: Warhammer 40,000
Caves of Ice
- Ciaphas Cain: Warhammer 40,000, Book 2
- Length: 6 hrs and 46 mins
- Overall 5 out of 5 stars 2,994
- Performance 5 out of 5 stars 2,638
- Story 5 out of 5 stars 2,628
On the ice world of Simia Orichalcae a spate of mysterious disappearances is causing unrest amongst the mine workers, and, as senior officer of the Astra Militarum, Commissar Ciaphas Cain is nominated to investigate. Unbeknownst to him, the planet is right in the path of a major ork incursion, and, as the savage greenskins attack, a malevolent evil begins to stir deep in the ice caves.
Glad to Have More Cain!
- By Wolfgang Mercer on 10-20-19
- Release date: 10-19-19
- 5 out of 5 stars 2,994 ratings
Dead in the Water
- Ciaphas Cain: Warhammer 40,000
- Narrated by: Toby Longworth
- Original Recording
- Overall 4.5 out of 5 stars 471
- Performance 4.5 out of 5 stars 425
- Story 4.5 out of 5 stars 424
Commissar Ciaphas Cain is a renowned and revered hero of the Imperium, a man who has faced and survived some of the vilest creatures the universe can throw at him. But when he is sent to a river-world, he must deal with a dangerous enemy, an enemy whose true identity remains unknown. As his vessel traverses the straits of the planet, Cain must uncover the face of this new foe so that he can understand and escape it. Caught in the enemy crossfire, the commissar has no place to run and his nerve will be tested to the very limits.
Bring out the rest of the stories ASAP!
- By CassieX on 11-04-18
- Release date: 11-15-17
- 4.5 out of 5 stars 471 ratings
The Devil You Know
- Narrated by: Gareth Armstrong, Jonathan Keeble, Angue King, and others
- Length: 56 mins
- Overall 4.5 out of 5 stars 625
- Performance 5 out of 5 stars 560
- Story 4.5 out of 5 stars 560
As the Tyrannic Wars sweep across the face of the Eastern Fringe, Cain and Jurgen find themselves on the jungle moon of a gas giant, fighting off a splinter fleet. The world is uninhabited, but must be protected to prevent the tyranid advance threatening several nearby systems. The situation goes from bad to worse when Cain and the Catachans run into a force of insidious xenos, and the two factions are thrown into a temporary alliance purely to survive.
- By Derpykiin on 01-21-21
- Narrated by: Gareth Armstrong , Jonathan Keeble , Angue King , Harriet Kershaw , Toby Longworth
- Release date: 11-17-17
- 4.5 out of 5 stars 625 ratings
Augur of Despair
- Blackstone Fortress: Warhammer 40,000
- Narrated by: Lanna Joffrey, Luis Soto, Tom Alexander, and others
- Length: 54 mins
- Overall 4.5 out of 5 stars 25
- Performance 5 out of 5 stars 22
- Story 4.5 out of 5 stars 22
The Blackstone Fortress is silent no longer. Through heretical rituals, the followers of the risen Obsidius Mallex have activated more of the Talisman of Vaul’s apocalyptic weapons and created a corrupted citadel in the heart of the fortress itself. Where once only the most desperate and determined adventurers struck out into the Unfathomable in search of riches, now a new breed of explorer delves into the Blackstone to do battle with the forces of the Ruinous Powers.
- Narrated by: Lanna Joffrey , Luis Soto , Tom Alexander , Andrew Wincott
- Release date: 09-05-20
- 4.5 out of 5 stars 25 ratings
The Beast Inside
- By: Darius Hinks
- Narrated by: Tom Alexander, Sean Connolly, Paul Panting, and others
- Overall 4.5 out of 5 stars 88
- Performance 4.5 out of 5 stars 81
- Story 4.5 out of 5 stars 80
Of the countless monstrosities inhabiting the Blackstone Fortress, none wreak such destruction as the dreaded ambull. Capable of rending a human in two with a swipe of its claws, hunting this apex predator is a suicidal task. Naturally, this leaves only one man for the job: Rogue Trader Janus Draik, gentlemen, scholar, scoundrel and duellist par excellence. Accompanied by the kroot tracker Dahyak Grekh, Draik must venture into the labyrinth for his most dangerous mission yet.
I wish there was more. Atleast 3 hrs.
- By Mitchard Apides on 09-30-19
- Narrated by: Tom Alexander , Sean Connolly , Paul Panting , Fiona Skinner
- Release date: 09-28-19
- 4.5 out of 5 stars 88 ratings
- Heirs of the Laughing God: Warhammer 40,000
- By: Gav Thorpe
- Narrated by: Grace Andrews, John Banks, Steve Conlin, and others
- Length: 58 mins
- Overall 4.5 out of 5 stars 94
- Performance 4.5 out of 5 stars 84
- Story 4.5 out of 5 stars 84
Following the whim of the Laughing God, the Masque of the Fading Dawn conduct an audacious attack against mon-keigh invaders. Battling to secure their legacy, the troupe put on a performance worthy of remembrance against a backdrop of acerbic remarks from their Death Jester, Adroniel. Intent on a spectacular finale, Adroniel becomes hell-bent on obliterating their unremarkable human foe with deadly artistry, until a strange encounter challenges her role in the final act....
The Best One Yet
- By Jonathon on 08-04-19
- Narrated by: Grace Andrews , John Banks , Steve Conlin , Emma Gregory , Matthew Hunt
- Release date: 06-29-19
- 4.5 out of 5 stars 94 ratings
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What is the best place to start Warhammer 40k?
I've got three omnibus books containing 9 total Warhammer 40,000 stories. Before I mention which ones I've got, which book would you recommend as a good place to start the series?
- 1 Difficult to answer without some clarification; "best" is a subjective term at best. – Goodbye Stack Exchange Jan 14, 2011 at 3:43
- 2 I had been thinking of asking this for quite a while. Thanks :) – apoorv020 Jul 25, 2011 at 2:47
- Not sure if you can still find it these days, but the original Rogue Trader manual is an excellent primer on the world of Warhammer 40k. – Omegacron May 22, 2015 at 13:27
- 1 @neilfein "best" is a subjective term at best. That seems like saying that to understand recursion, you first have to understand recursion. (I got your point). – KorvinStarmast Feb 3, 2016 at 16:52
15 Answers 15
For a universe as rich as Warhammer 40k, I would recommend starting with a faction that you like the most. I'm assuming that since you grabbed 3 Omnibus books that you are into 40k at least to some extent. Personally I most enjoyed Gaunt's Ghost stories and Horus Heresy (no omnibus for Horus though I believe). But if you are into Eldar or Orcs or whatever, I would start with books that feature that faction. There are so many parallel stories going on that can be read in any order that I would not be concerned about hitting the story-order sweet spot. Enjoy!
- Good idea. I've decided to start off with stories on the Imperial Guard. – jedihawk Jan 19, 2011 at 5:08
- 3 Also worth mentioning is that even though there are tons of WH40k books, they don't necessarily all tie together in any consistent way. The Gaunt's Ghosts stories obviously all go together, but they're completely unrelated to the Space Wolf series or the Last Chancers, other than the fact that they're all set in the WH40k universe. – Toby Jul 27, 2011 at 14:06
Both Eisenhorn and The Horus Heresy books are aimed at introducing you to WH40K in some way.
This is a three book omnibus detailing different aspects of the Imperial Inquisition, who are like the 'Space Police' of the setting, and it really gives a flavour of the Grim Dark setting as whole. It covers all three orders of the inquisition (Xenos, Malleus, and Hereticus) as well as a few aliens (including Eldar), psychic powers, corruption and Space Marines.
There have since been a few short stories featuring Eisenhorn, as well as his pupil Ravenor, so you won't be short on stories to read.
The Horus Heresy
This series starts of with Horus Rising , and aims to lay down some of the assumed backstory behind the current Warhammer 40K universe. In essence these should be the first books you read, as they take place in the 31st millennium, 10 thousand years before the current storyline. So far I've only read the first book, but it explains things very well.
The only reason I'd be wary of trying to read all of the Horus Heresy is that it's currently on 18 / 24 / 49 /50+ books, unfinished and is being written by several authors so writing styles will vary. It also deals with the big picture of the WH40K background focusing on Space Marines, and doesn't give the same personal feel as Eisenhorn . It does however cover some aliens and corruption. It gets across the grand scale of the WH40K setting very well.
If you want to know the shortest route through the Horus Heresy , the linked answer is good start!
I'd also mention that all of the codices have the 'intro' description for the armies which goes a long way to filling out their part in the universe.
- 3 I second this recommendation, but I would put less emphasis on reading the Horus Heresy books in publication order. I have not read some of the HH books and of those I've read, I read the first five in order and the others in arbitrary order. The first three books in Horus Heresy definitely go together and in order, so I recommend reading all three of those first if you want to dive into Horus Heresy. But for the others, I just looked at their descriptions and reviews on amazon, wikipedia, and goodreads and picked the ones that sounded the most interesting to me. – Upgrayedd Jan 25, 2012 at 18:27
- updated the answer, and linked a reading order for the Horus Heresy! – AncientSwordRage ♦ Jan 22, 2021 at 11:43
I'd suggest reading an overview of the setting before diving into the novels; the novels don't do a great job at that, as they are aimed primarily at extant fans of the tabletop games. Then pick any one omnibus and go from there.
You can often find older editions of the 40K rules inexpensively in the used bins at gaming stores, and the universe information there is much more easily digested, and allows finding your favored faction easier.
Just wanted to add that it's been suggested to start with the short story collection Let the Galaxy Burn as an introduction to the WH40k universe, and then follow your interests from there. I personally started with LtGB, then read Blood Ravens: The Dawn of War Omnibus , then from there on to Imperial Guard and Ultramarines novels. I did find it necessary at times to search online for background info that I was missing (e.g. the history and culture of the Eldar).
- 1 Never heard of it. Thanks! I'll see if I can find it for my Kindle. – jedihawk Jul 27, 2011 at 4:14
Eisenhorn / Ravenor
Ciaphas Cain: Hero of the Imperium / Ciaphas Cain: Defender of the Imperium by Sandy Mitchell
Space Wolf 1 & 2
Hammer of the Emperor
- 8 Er, what? I'm part of this question's intended public (having never read any of Warhammer 40k), and I have no idea what your answer means. I suppose these are titles, but why should I read these and in this order? – user56 Jul 25, 2011 at 8:43
In reply to Gilles and Horus My personal recommendation is starting with a imperial guard series like gaunts ghosts or the lay chancers. They will give you a perspective of the average human. After that a space marine or a inquisition based series would be wise. The blood angels series is one i recommend due to its strong imagery and good story. After that it is up to you. The list i have is a expanded version of horus's answer minus the few i have not read.
Eisenhorn / Ravenor: Covers the Inquisition and the different Ordos. My personal favorite was the Ravenor series.
Ciaphas Cain: Hero of the Imperium / Ciaphas Cain: Defender of the Imperium by Sandy Mitchell: My one of my favorite series. The plot revolves around a hero of the Empire who believes himself to be a coward. Very light hearted compared to other series.
Ultramarines: A standard space marine series with themes of honor and duty. A great world but the characters are a little dry. The enemies are chaos and tyranids.
Grey Knights: I also enjoyed this series. Covering the grey knights and their wars against deamons. It covers the inquisition and its methods and it s relation to the grey knights.
Gaunt's Ghosts: an imperial guard series, among my friends it is either hated or loved. This series is considered the bread and butter of the imperial guard stories. The overall feel is that of band of brothers or another world war 2 series.
Blood Angels: A great story about a pair of brothers in the blood angel legion. I read the omnibus and i would recommend you do that also, there is a short story that reveals a another dimension the antagonist.
Last Chancers: This novel is an imperial guard novel that is about a penal legion and the main character Cage. Covering chaos, the tau, and 'nids. Truly a good series.
As several people have already recommended I think "Eisenhorn" is a fantastic Warhammer 40k book and is a pretty good place to start.
I also really enjoyed the Word Bearers series, which begins with "Dark Apostle", if you would like to dig into the corrupt world of Chaos Space Marines.
Over on my blog I have actually made a list of suggestions for new readers, which you might want to check out: Suggestions for new 40k Readers
I'd recommend getting onto the Warhammer 40k wikia site and researching a little bit into each faction (the first few paragraphs in an entry are usually an overview of the article involved).
You can do so by just searching a few of the major factions and reading part or all of the article that shows up. For instance, if you like humans, just search 'Imperium of man' and you will find an article that overviews the Human Empire and its internal factions as well as lists several of humanity's major enemies. Inside of this article is a list of major alien factions.
"Several alien species and dark forces (the Forces of Chaos, the Tyranids, the Eldar, the Dark Eldar, the Orks, the Tau, the Necrons, etc.) increasingly challenge the supremacy of the Imperium and humanity's predominant place in the galaxy".
From there just read about whatever you find most interesting. Horus Heresy for Chaos and Space Marines, the assorted Space Marine Omnibi for (obviously) Space Marines, etc.
People tend to find Space Marines most interesting, so I would recommend searching Space Marines as well, as most books are focused on Space Marines anyways.
Assuming one knows nothing about Warhammer 40'000, I'd start by reading the Factions part on the Warhammer 40000 entry in Wikipedia. That already gives a very broad oversighht of the different factions and the reader then knows at least something about the setting. I.e., when confronted with Eldar / Aeldari or T'au, one knows what these factions are.
After that, you can continue by watching Lore Videos on Youtube. I'd recommend Luetin , his lore videos are very respected. He also has a Beginners Guide to Warhammer 40'000 playlist that gives one a good oversight of the different factions, the history of the universe and so on.
While watching the Luetin videos, you can start reading books. I would not recommend (at all) to start with the Horus Heresy , I'd even recommend not to do it. Although it tells the story of the Horus Heresy in great details, at that point, it is way too long for a new reader (54 books and after that, there are more books for the siege of the Imperial Palace).
Good books to start are
- Ciaphas Cain novels
- Eisenhorn novels, there is also a series in production about him.
- Farseer novel
- Path of the Eldar novels
I'd recommend not to read the Path of the Dark Eldar too early. Dark Eldar are very dark and twisted and could scare away somebody not familiar with the setting and the role of the Dark Eldars.
For Space Marines, pick a chapter that suits what you like and start reading (not a complete list as there are about 1'000 chapters):
- Ultramarines: poster boy of Games Workshop and what Space Marines should be.
- Space Wolves: Genenhanced space Vikings in power armour
- Black Templar: Genenhanced templar knights that want to purge all that is not human
- Imperial Fists: Honourful and stubborn
- Salamanders: Paladins, they do care about humans
- White Scars: Mongolians in Space
- Blood Angels: Very proud and honourable fighters with a dark twist
- Raven Guard: Sneaky
Here is a list of novels on the universe.
I can't say I've ever ready any Warhammer books, but from my experience, I always start reading books at the beginning of a series. For example: if the first book published in a series ends up being the third book because two prequels are published years later, I always start with the prequels.
- Agreed. That's usually how I approach a universe. But I don't see much sequence with these books. – jedihawk Jan 19, 2011 at 5:07
- 1 Most of them don't have a sequence timeline-wise. Sure, the exterminatus trilogy is a sequential trilogy, and the Eisenhorn books have a sequence, but the overall line doesn't. – aramis May 14, 2011 at 17:45
- I agree with regards to prequels, with one added condition: they need to be written by the original author, otherwise I read the "original" material first, then the prequels. (Haven't read any Warhammer though.) – zenzelezz Jul 25, 2011 at 10:47
- To all: Not only is the published order of WH40K books unrelated to the way it unfurls in-universe it's largely co-authored by the Black Library staff; tl;dr :There is no 'beginning' to the series, nor is there an original author. – AncientSwordRage ♦ Sep 24, 2012 at 13:59
Eisenhorn, Gaunt's Ghosts, Space Wolf, Horus Heresy, in that order, roughly.
I personally started with Let the Galaxy Burn and the Caiaphas Cain omnibuses. From there I went into Space Marines with the Ultramarines series followed by the Soul Drinkers.
But by far my favorite two have been the Eisenhorn series and the Caiaphas Cain novels.
I have only recently started to read Warhammer 40k. I have read the first two books in the Horus Heresy and although at first I didn't understand some things it then later clarifies. By half way through Horus Rising (the first one) I had a pretty firm grasp on the Warhammer 40k world and found the books easy to understand and read.
As someone who enjoyed playing the computer games, but not played the tabletop yet, these are my recommendations based on how I followed it.
First start with the Horus Heresy books; Horus Rising, False Gods etc. Then start Galaxy In Flames then The Flight of Eisenstein. After the first 2 books you would have what I believe is a reasonable grasp of the 40k universe with regards to the Imperium of Man v/s Chaos and why there are Traitor Legions within. You could then move on to discovering the other xenos aka Orks, Eldar etc.
The books are a pretty easy read, but don't let that put anyone off as they are quite politically focused intertwined with some good narrative.
However the downside, in the humblest of my opinions, is that I am starting to find the "Imperium of Man" is a bad organization. Especially with Horus being a Warmaster or have I read them wrong even before Heresy sets in. Of course Loken and his comrades are still good guys :). Maybe a spoiler there sorry :(
So go with Horus Heresy 1st 1-4 books if you're like me and only dabbled in the periphery of W40k.
I've fiddled about the edges of WH40K for years, then a buddy dumped a bunch of books on me, mostly in the middle of various series. What I can do at this point is recommend anything by Dan Abnett or Sandy Mitchell. Neither is in any danger of winning a Hugo, let alone a Nebula, but both have the hang if the "ripping good yarn". One thing that sets them apart is that they have each modelled a series on an extant historical fiction, adapting it to the WH40K milieu. Abnett has the Gaunt's Ghosts series, based on the "Sharpe's..." series (wot got Sean Bean his start), and Mitchell basing Ciaphas Cain, HERO OF THE IMPERIUM, on McDonald's "Flashman" series, which is essentially Italy a deconstruction of Sharpe. Now, I've read some Abnett, but none of Gaunt, yet. High 9n my list based on multiple recommendations, though. I can recommend Cain without reservation. 3/4 through the first omnibus, and it's both well written and spot on the setting, and a laugh riot.
Those more versed than I: is there a Hornblower or Aubrey/Maturin pastiche out there?
- This reads as more recommendation based than an actual answer to the best place to start I.e. these books are good not these are a good please to start because X. Also the last paragraph appears to be a question of its own so would be best if you edit ed it out. – TheLethalCarrot ♦ Dec 27, 2018 at 8:11
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Top Warhammer 40,000 Books (95 books) Discover new books on Goodreads Meet your next favorite book Join Goodreads Listopia Top Warhammer 40,000 Books Novels from the universe of Warhammer 40K and Horus Heresy. flag All Votes Add Books To This List 95 books · 42 voters · list created December 3rd, 2014 by Andy (votes) .
Best Warhammer 40k Books Brothers of the Snake by Dan Abnett First One In the Warhammer 40,000 world, there is scarcely any author as prolific as Dan Abnett. With this 2007, three-hundred-page book, Abnett cements the might that he has in terms of the greater series.
40k Books More 40k books... Lists The Black Library (Tales from Warhammer & Warhammer 40,000) 175 books — 124 voters The Fanboy's SciFy List 29 books — 14 voters Horus Heresy Novels 46 books — 7 voters
Best standalone 40K novels For a non-human perspective, try The Infinite and the Divine. It's about the necrons, pseudo-Egyptian cybermen who were tricked out of their souls and into immortal...
Welcome to the modern and current edition of 40k - 9th edition. Dark Imperium Series by Guy Haley Advertisement Alright - you've got an idea of how it started, and you know where the Grimdark is at right now. The next step is actually backwards in the timeline, just a tad, to get you enlightened on some of the previous events in the Grimdark.
Highly-Recommended Best Warhammer 40k Books Today 1. Legion by Dan Abnett (One of the Horus Heresy Novels Series) 2. Xenos by Dan Abnett 3. Ciaphas Cain: Defender of the Imperium (Omnibus) by Sandy Mitchell 4. Anarch by Dan Abnett 5. Ciaphas Cain: Hero of the Imperium (Omnibus) by Sandy Mitchell 6. Pariah by Dan Abnett 7. The Founding by Dan Abnett
Theory: The pain points of current 40k are exacerbated by the tightening confines of the battlefield and the upward creep of how many units are fielded at 2000 points. 524. 229. r/WarhammerCompetitive. Join.
ADB has also done a lot of 40K novels, but your mileage might vary on some of them. The Night Lords Trilogy is about a warband of Chaos Space Marines reaving their way across the galaxy and desperately searching for a purpose to their existence.
The Infinite and The Divine (Warhammer 40,000) View on Amazon SCORE 9.6 AI Score AI Score is a ranking system developed by our team of experts. It from 0 to 10 are automatically scored by our tool based upon the data collected (at the time of writing, more than 4,000 books and 3,000 authors).
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Horus Rising by Dan Abnett - Horus Heresy Series The Horus Hersey is considered by most 40K fanatics to be one of the most important series in the entire canon, helping to define the lore of the Imperium. To understand the significance of Horus and his collaborators, it's essential to have a baseline knowledge of the 31st millennium.
Next up on our list of best Warhammer 40K books is a compilation of works Hero of the Imperium written by Sandy Mitchell. The first three books - For the Emperor, Caves of Ice, and The Traitor's Hand - are collected in Hero of the Imperium, together with three special short tales.
1-16 of over 2,000 results for "warhammer 40k" RESULTS. Legacy of Caliban: The Omnibus (Warhammer 40,000) Book 1 of 4: Legacy of Caliban | by Gav Thorpe | Sep 22, 2016. 4.6 4.6 out of 5 stars (184) Paperback. ... Books With Free Delivery Worldwide: Box Office Mojo Find Movie Box Office Data: ComiXology Thousands of Digital Comics: DPReview ...
6 best Warhammer 40,000 books from the Black Library | Dicebreaker Eisenhorn: Omnibus by Dan Abnett: "My patience isn't limitless… unlike my authority." Space Wolf: The First Omnibus by William King: "War Within. War Without. War Unending. That is how we live, little brother. That is who we are."
This is a good book, not just a good 40k book, or a good science fiction book. The action is very good but the politics of the 40k universe is outstanding and you don't need to deeply understand the politics of the 40k universe to understand it. Other than the obvious vilains of the warp, there is no bad guys. good men, well what passes for ...
In Gaunt's Ghosts, Abnett paints a clear picture of what it means to be an average human living in a universe filled with the creatures and soldiers of the 40k world, including orks, dark eldars, and space marines. This is a great book to begin with, as it helps new readers to get a basic understanding of the 40k universe.
The Ultramarines series by Graham McNeill follows the actions of Ultramarine Captain Uriel Ventris.The first three novels are collected in "The Ultramarines Omnibus", along with the short story "Chains of Command." The fourth, fifth, and sixth novels, along with the short story Eye of Vengeance and the graphic short Black Bone Road are collected in a second omnibus titled "Ultramarines: The ...
Warhammer 40K is a massive universe with hundreds of books and thousands of characters. So, where to start reading is probably your biggest question.
On the warship Messenger of Hermes, Ahzek Ahriman and his servant, Ignis, study a most unusual prisoner - a metal construct containing the consciousness of a member of a long-extinct race - the necrontyr.. As they interrogate the necron Setekh, he is also learning about them - over and over again as he uses ancient technology to relive the moment and plot his escape.
1. As several people have already recommended I think "Eisenhorn" is a fantastic Warhammer 40k book and is a pretty good place to start. I also really enjoyed the Word Bearers series, which begins with "Dark Apostle", if you would like to dig into the corrupt world of Chaos Space Marines.