What’s 6 Months Amongst Friends?

Six Months of Updates!!!

So… it’s been the mere matter of 6 months since my last update. I could offer up all manner of excuses for this, but to be honest the simple answer is that it’s not good enough! So my friends, I am back… I can’t guarantee when my next post will appear, but I can honestly tell you I do have the intention to write more frequently!

To ease back into the blog, I thought it worth recapping what’s happened since my last update. In January, I reviewed Betrayer by Aaron Dembski-Bowden, the 24th novel in the Horus Heresy series. Since then, we’ve apparently not had much new content – just one full title, the Mark of Calth anthology. But of course, this doesn’t paint the full picture – there are reasons we haven’t seen as much of the traditional storyline content, and there have been a lot of other formats released. So let’s talk about this in more detail.

A Change of Format

With the release of Angel Exterminatus in October 2012, Black Library moved to a different publishing schedule for each of the novels.

  • Each novel is now available initially as a hardback ‘Collector’s Edition’ format exclusively from GW stores or the Black Library website.
  • Three months after the release of the hardback format, the standard ‘Trade’ format will be released – this is a standard publishing industry paperback size.
  • Six months after the trade paperback, the ‘Legacy’ paperback edition will be released.

For anyone who wants to collect the original, or legacy, format books, this has meant a significant wait. In fact, it’s only recently that Angel Exterminatus has come out in this format, and it will still be a little time before Betrayer is available. Whilst this isn’t great, the consolation is that it’s a one off pushback of the release schedule, and from now on there will be a regular release of new titles. For those who want to keep up with latest stories as soon as they are released, but are concerned to have matching versions of the earlier books with the newer releases, the older books are being gradually re-released in the Collector’s Edition format.

I don’t fully understand the change of formats – I believe it’s something to do with matching the Black Library formats with the industry standards so that it’s easier to sell to book retailers. I am however a fan of the hardback format, even if the price of £20 per book is a little off-putting, mainly because the books look superb on my book shelf. I’m not going to mention the condition of some of my earlier paperbacks, other than to say they don’t always stand up well to bath time reading!

For anyone who prefers reading in different formats, Black Library continues to offer eBook and Unabridged Audio versions of the new Horus Heresy novels and all of the rereleased Collector’s Editions. For the new, forthcoming novels, these should be available alongside the release of the hardback – so even if you don’t want to move over to the hardback format there is no need to wait 9 months to catch up on the latest novels. This is part of a wider Black Library plan to provide all of the Horus Heresy written material in all three formats. As it was explained to the audience at the Horus Heresy Weekender;

‘Everything, in every format, eventually’ – Laurie Goulding, Black Library editor

Betrayer, in every format, now!

Betrayer bundle

So, only one book? Really?

My earlier pronouncement of only one book being released in the last 6 months was a bit of a red herring. Whilst it’s true that the only novel within the full series to be released is Mark of Calth, the release of the next full novel, Vulkan Lives is due in the very near future. I’m in a fortunate position, living close enough to Warhammer World to travel over there, and have managed to get my hands on a signed copy of Vulkan Lives already. I don’t want to spoil anything for you, dear readers, but I will say that I really enjoyed the novel. I’m also happy to report, that after a little personal scepticism over the book’s title, upon reading the novel I don’t think there could be a more fitting title.

There have also been a couple of limited edition releases; The Imperial Truth, which is an event exclusive anthology featuring some excellent short stories from the great and good of the Horus Heresy authors, and Corax: Soulforge which is the first in a trilogy of limited edition Raven Guard novellas by Gav Thorpe.

 The Imperial Truth cover art

The Imperial Truth

We’ve also had several new audio dramas; The Sigillite by Chris Wraight, Honour to the Dead by Gav Thorpe, and Wolf Hunt by Graham McNeill. I really like the audio drama format – these are stories that are specifically written for audio, and are acted by a cast rather than narrated by a single narrator. The sound effects in the dramas add an extra dimension, and I would suggest anyone interested in Titan legions should give Honour to the Dead a try.

Finally, there have also been several e-shorts released. Most of these have been featured in another format previously (or subsequent to their e-short release), but in some instances in might be more cost effective or convenient to just buy the e-short to complete your collection. These are;

  • The Gates of Terra – originally released in French in the 2012 Games Day France chapbook
  • Angron – an anthology of short stories containing After Desh’ea (from the Tales of Heresy anthology), Lord of the Red Sands (subsequently included in The Imperial Truth anthology) and Butcher’s Nails (a prose version of the previously released audio drama)
  • Dark Heart – subsequently released in the Mark of Calth anthology

Only this week, we have also had released (at the time of writing) three short stories that featured in previous event exclusive anthologies; Death of a Silver Smith (originally released in the Games Day 2011 anthology, and subsequently included in the Shadows of Treachery anthology), Distant Echoes of Old Night (originally released in the Games Day 2012 anthology) and Lost Sons (originally released in the Black Library Weekender 2012 anthology). I have no certainty on this, but I also expect to see the release of The Divine Word (also from the Black Library Weekender 2012 anthology).

 

Lost Sons cover artLost Sons

Personally I am disappointed with the release of these short stories in electronic format. Not because they are now available to the wider audience, but because had I realised the 2012 short stories would be out so soon, I would have preferred to wait to get them individually (I have little interest in the stories set in the 40K or Warhammer universes). It would certainly make me think twice before buying another event anthology… although I suppose that depends on how big they make the Horus Heresy logo!!

Feedback

Well that’s a relief – a blog post written and completed. If you have any comments about anything I’ve written, please drop me a message on here or on twitter @Marcoos14

All the best,
Marcus

A Shortlist of essential Horus Heresy reading

A Shortlist of essential Horus Heresy reading

The Horus Heresy is a big series, consisting of 24 novels, a number of short stories and at least half a dozen audio dramas.  One question that I’m frequently asked is how someone new to the series can catch up on all the events.  Or more specifically, exactly which stories should be read.  Now this isn’t a particularly straightforward answer, which probably won’t surprise anyone, given the complexity of the storyline.  However I’ve spent some time considering the question and I have come up with what I believe is a list of the essential elements that must be read.

Before going any further though, I will state for the record that I recommend reading the entire collection (even the less regarded works) if you have the opportunity.  There are great details, back stories and descriptions in all of the works, and they all add to the rich tapestry of the 30K universe. It’s also inevitable that some of the (in my not-so-humble opinion!) best novels wouldn’t make my list of ‘essential’ reading, and in fact none of the best short stories do, and if you only read the shortened list then you’ll be missing some real treats.  You can see my earlier blogs on the top 5 novels here and top 5 short stories here.

Before Black Library started the heresy series, the Horus Heresy was firmly embedded in the history of Warhammer 40K, but the known details were limited to a few key events. And of these, even fewer had been covered to any extent.  The Siege of Terra is the most well known and the only one to have significant coverage, and clearly this is going to be the culmination of the Heresy series.  After this, the most well known events were the three main ambushes of the loyalist legions during the opening moments of the Heresy; the Iron Hands, Raven Guard and Salamanders at the Dropsite Massacre, the Blood Angels at the Signus Cluster, and the Ultramarines at Calth.  It is these events that I consider to be essential to any Horus Heresy short list.

The early novels in the series set up the background to the heresy; a newly created Imperium of Man, full of optimism, dynamism and full of belief in the crusade to reclaim the lost colonies of mankind… and unknowingly destined for a cataclysmic fall.  The first 3 novels work together to build towards the climax of the events on Istvaan III (where 4 traitor legions purge the remaining loyalist warriors from their ranks).  All 3 would make my must read list.

The next novel, The Flight of the Eisenstein, also makes my must read list.  There is some overlap between this and the earlier 3 novels, covering the build up to Istvaan III.  More significantly for the short list, it also covers how the news of Horus’s betrayal reaches the loyalist forces and the Emperor on Terra.  In my opinion, this is a key element of the story, not only in itself, but also because it frames the Imperium’s response… and therefore the next novels in the series.

The 5th novel in the series, Fulgrim, is also the 5th book on my shortlist.  Much of the early part of the novel isn’t required reading. It covers the reasons why the Emperor’s Children legion, and their Primarch, decided to follow Horus, which in my opinion is interesting and nice to know about, but not essential.  Where it is absolutely critical is during the later elements of the novel, which covers the Istvaan V campaign (more commonly referred to as the Dropsite massacre) in the greatest detail of any novel we have currently.  As mentioned earlier, the Dropsite massacre is one of the signature events of the heresy, as it is where the full extent of the Heresy is revealed.  From a strategic standpoint, it is this event that allows the traitor forces to gain the upper hand and therefore take the initiative within the Heresy.

At this point, my shortlist is looking more like the standard ‘list’ of novels! However, of the next 10 novels there is only one that makes the shortlist.  These novels typically run concurrent to the first 5 novels, giving background detail, parallel story arcs and generally providing more context to the 31st Millenium.  Most (possibly all) are worthy of reading, but few of them come close to making my essential short list.  The one that stands out to me as being required reading is The First Heretic.  I include this because it brilliantly book ends the entire period from the very beginnings of the Heresy to the events of the Dropsite massacre.  The First Heretic is the story of the first Primarch to fall to Chaos (Lorgar, Primarch of the Word Bearers) and details how and why the heresy started.  However Lorgar’s story develops by returning to Istvaan V, where it builds on the events covered earlier in the series in Fulgrim.

To me The First Heretic marks a clear dividing line which draws the early stages of the Heresy to a conclusion.  Although unavoidable delays meant that Prospero Burns was released after The First Heretic, this book was originally scheduled earlier.  Following these two novels, The Age of Darkness anthology is the 17th book released.  From here on, the main themes of the books are set in the post-Istvaan heresy period, and therefore it moves into new territory for us as readers.

It is possible to consider everything from The Age of Darkness as essential reading. Whilst we may have heard of some of the events covered, there is little detail within the heresy lore.  We also have little idea how the heresy will develop from here onwards, and therefore we don’t know which existing novels will be essential reading from a continuity persepctive for future novels.  However not only is that playing it safe, it also doesn’t cut down the list to allow a new reader to easily catch up, which is really the point of this blog!

Of the remaining novels within the series, there are two that cover the signature events I talked about earlier in this blog.  Know No Fear details the Word Bearers attack on the Ultramarines legion at Calth.  Fear to Tread is the story of the Blood Angels being ambushed by a daemonic horde at Signus.  I believe both should be read, partly because they’re great novels, partly because they are recently released anyway, but mostly because they complete the story of the major known events.

After this, I would leave it up to the reader as to when they join the series.  The latest novel is Betrayer, which I reviewed here, is the 24th novel in the series.  I wouldn’t call this essential reading based on my definition in this post.  However I would recommend everyone gives it a go, as it is one of the best (if not the best) heresy novels to date.  Of course, depending on how quickly you catch up, there may be a better point to join in the future.

My shortlist

  1. Horus Rising (1st novel)
  2. False Gods (2nd novel)
  3. Galaxy in Flames (3rd novel)
  4. Flight of the Eisenstein (4th novel)
  5. Fulgrim (5th novel)
  6. The First Heretic (14th novel)
  7. Know No Fear (19th novel)
  8. Fear to Tread (21st novel)

Of the novels I’ve missed out, I’m sure there are good arguments for including any or all of them in this list.  Certainly I expect the omission of the novels A Thousand Sons and Prospero Burns (effectively a duology dealing with the Space Wolves being sent to punish the Thousand Sons for disobeying an edict from the Emperor) to be controversial. However (on the basis that cuts have to be made) in my mind it is enough to know this conflict happened without having to read the details.

Feedback

Well, that’s all from me folks.  As ever, if you have any comments about anything I’ve written, please drop me a message on here or on twitter @Marcoos14 . I know I always say this, but I genuinely am interested in whether you think I’ve included anything that could be left out, or missed anything that you consider a must read!

All the best,

Marcus

 

Betrayer review

Betrayer ‘Blood for the Blood God’ Review

Apologies for the delay since my last blog.  A planned break leading up to Christmas, coinciding with a dose of the plague over Christmas, means that I’ve been away far  longer than I had planned.  I can only assume Papa Nurgle was disappointed that I didn’t put Flight of the Eisenstein into my top 5 novels!  Anyway, I’m back now, and it’s my pleasure to review the latest novel within the Horus Heresy series, Betrayer by Aaron-Dembski-Bowden.

The Shadow Crusade has begun. While the Ultramarines reel from Kor Phaeron’s surprise attack on Calth,
Lorgar and the rest of the Word Bearers strike deep into the realm of Ultramar. Their unlikely allies,
Angron and the World Eaters, continue to ravage each new system they come across – upon the
garrison planet of Armatura, this relentless savagery may finally prove to be their undoing.
Worlds will burn, Legions will clash and a primarch will fall.

The 24th novel in the Horus Heresy series, and the second full Horus Heresy novel by Aaron Dembski-Bowden, Betrayer covers the events of the Shadow Crusade, a lightning campaign by the joint forces of the Word Bearers and World Easters Legions against the Ultramarines realm of Ultramar.  Within the heresy timeline, Betrayer follows directly on the events covered in the novel, Know No Fear, and the audio drama, Butcher’s Nails, and also has links to the novels, Battle for the Abyss and The First Heretic, and the novella, Aurelian.

Whilst Betrayer heavily features the Word Bearers and Ultramarines Legions, it is undoubtedly the story of the World Eaters.  Just as some of the best novels within the series to date (think The First Heretic and A Thousand Sons) have taken specific legions and given them background and depth, so too Betrayer expands on the back story of the World Eaters and their Primarch, Angron.  Before Betrayer, it was all too easy to think of the World Eaters as a one dimensional legion, with all the ‘blood for the blood god’ rage and Angron’s bitterness their defining characteristics.  Dembski-Bowden does a superb job of building on these features to add real flavour to the legion.  Most notably, there is exploration of the butcher’s nails (implants that moderate the behaviour of the wearer) and their impact on Angron and the legionaries who are desperate to receive these modifications to feel closer to their Primarch.

Betrayer is packed full of action, probably second only to Know No Fear in terms of how much combat we actually see.  It features two huge battles, firstly over the Ultramarine world of Armatura, and secondly over a planet of deep significance to the World Eaters.  Both battles are combined void warfare between fleets of capital ships, and brutal ground warfare.  We see the contrast between the main protagonists; the berserk, close in brawling of the World Eaters, compared to the more orthodox, classical fighting style of the Ultramarines.  Both battles contain monumental individual clashes, and without giving any spoilers, some of these will certainly go down in Heresy folklore.

There has been some grumbling on various internet forums about the pace of the heresy series, and how the series isn’t progressing towards the climactic Siege of Terra (not a view I share!). For anyone concerned about this, the strategic aspect of the Shadow Crusade is covered from the viewpoint of Lorgar.  We gain an insight into Lorgar’s plans of how he intends to take the Ultramarines out of the balance of power.  Crucially, it appears Lorgar never believed it was possible to utterly destroy the Ultramarines legion, and this retrospectively casts new light onto the previous Word Bearer/Ultramarine conflicts from Know No Fear and Battle for the Abyss.  Betrayer, without doubt, progresses the series timeline, and although there are some insightful flashback sequences, the novel is definitely set within the ongoing timeline of the Heresy.

More than anything else, Betrayer is a story of brotherhood and loyalty.  This is demonstrated through two key relationships; Lorgar with Angron, and Argel Tal with Kharn (both captains within their respective legions, and both effectively the right hand man to their Primarchs).  For the two Primarchs, Dembski-Bowden charts the development of their relationship, the fraternal concern of Lorgar who wants to save Angron from being eventually killed by his implanted ‘butcher’s nails’, and the growing respect between the two of them as Angron sees the newfound strength and power of Lorgar.  Argel Tal and Kharn’s relationship is simpler.   Two powerful, renowned champions of their respective legions, these two figureheads are sword-brothers.  Their friendship is critical to maintaining the partnership between two legions who otherwise have little in common, and even less respect for each other!  Both captains show ultimate loyalty to one other throughout the course of the novel, with a hugely surprising twist at the end.

I’ve talked earlier about the amount of action involved in Betrayer.  In a novel with the by-line, ‘Blood for the Blood God’, this is perhaps unsurprising.  The unrelenting pace of the conflict, the desperate close range brawling as the World Eaters get to grips with their opponents, and the abandonment of all tactical plans as the butcher’s nails take hold, left me feeling breathless at times.  The reality of warfare; the confusion, loss of contact, poor visibility, and the sheer desperation of brutal hand to hand combat, are superbly portrayed by Dembski-Bowden.

Highlights:

  1. I can’t believed I haven’t even talked about Titans yet.  There are a number of scenes involving Titans on both sides of the conflict that help to demonstrate the scale of the conflict and the power involved on both sides.
  2. For anyone well versed in 40K (and 30K lore), we are familiar with the Ultramarines as a stoic, tactically superb and disciplined fighting force.  In Betrayer, we see a completely different side to their Primarch, Roboute Guilliman, who deliberately ignores the most sensible strategic option in order to vent his anger and take revenge upon the legions that have inflicted so much damage to his legion and realm.
  3. Erebus, First Chaplain of the Word Bearers and one of the main architects of the heresy, reaches new heights of villainy. It’s also really interesting to see the change in his relationship with Lorgar.

I’m really struggling to think of anything I would change.  If anything, I wish the book was longer.  There are a couple of sections within each of the key battles that I’d love to have seen expanded.  In particular, the battle involving the Titan, Corinthian, and the closing stages on Armatura seemed truncated.  I can understand the editorial decisions to keep these brief – neither event is key to the story – so this is only a minor gripe.

Overall, it’s difficult for me to judge this novel outside of the context of the heresy, but within the Horus Heresy this book is an absolute masterpiece.  I would put this at the very top of anything we have seen thus far. Dembski-Bowden had a great reputation beforehand, and with Betrayer he has put himself at the pinnacle of Black Library authors.  I would certainly recommend Betrayer to anyone with an interest in 30K or 40K, and it would be a great introduction to the Horus Heresy series for anyone who hasn’t yet tried it.

Rating: 10/10

Feedback

Well, that’s all from me folks.  A written book review is a new departure for me, so I would be really interested in your feedback. As ever, if you have any comments about anything I’ve written, please drop me a message on here or on twitter @Marcoos14

All the best,

Marcus

 

Whispers from the Warp

Whispers from the Warp

Firstly, I’d like to thank everyone for the positive response to my last blog post.  Whilst writing it I worried that I was alone in my fascination for the subject, but it appears that I was wrong.  Special thanks to Angel of Blood, who posted up additional information around the discoveries of Lorgar and the Lion.  There’s more information than I had collated, and this might lead to a reappraisal of my discovery order.

This is a quick blog to bring you up to speed with some of the rumours of what is happening in the world of the Horus Heresy, information that has been made available through mostly unofficial channels, hence the title of the blog.

It would be remiss of me not to start with the special Black Library announcement due tomorrow (or today depending on when this is published and you read it!).  Sat here waiting, it would be easy for me to say nothing, but I’m going to hazard a guess that this is the announcement of the Horus Heresy audio script book.  This was mentioned at the Black Library Weekender and is due out around Christmas, so the timing fits.  The script book will contain the following audio books;

  • Raven’s Flight by Gav Thorpe
  • Butcher’s Nails by Aaron Dembski-Bowden
  • Dark King by Graham McNeill
  • The Lightening Tower by Dan Abnett
  • Garro: Oath of Moment by James Swallow
  • Garro: Legion of One by James Swallow

To hedge my bets, it could also be an announcement of some new 10 minute audio dramas, which I believe will be available on download only.  These were discussed at the Black Library Weekender, but I’m afraid in amongst all the hectic scribbling I may possibly have made an error with the titles.  I certainly believe one will be called Warmaster, written by John French (of The Crimson Fist fame), and it goes without saying will feature Horus quite heavily!  The other two will focus on the ‘shattered legions’, although I don’t believe this will be the title of either.  These will be penned by Guy Haley and David Annandale, both Horus Heresy newcomers, and it will be interesting to see some new creative input into the series.

The ‘shattered legions’ denomination refers to the three Loyalist Legions that were ambushed at the Dropsite Massacre on Istvaan V, namely the Iron Hands, Salamanders and Raven Guard, so expect one or more of these legions to feature heavily.  Of the three, I’m expecting to see the Iron Hands and Salamanders, partially because the Raven Guard have already received a lot of coverage in their own novels, but mostly because this was strongly hinted at by CZ Dunn (Author and Black Library Editor whose credits include the Age of Darkness anthology) on twitter.  He also confirmed the recording of 4 new Horus Heresy audio dramas, which means a 4th one that I have no idea about (possibly one of the 2013 released included in my Black Library Weekender day 1 update here.

Next up, we have the customary Black Library advent calendar.  This year, we’re being treated to a new short story each day. These stories are going to be set in all of the various worlds and timelines that Black Library cover, so as well as the Horus Heresy we will also get regular 40K, Warhammer and Time of Legends.  Given the massive coverage of 40K novels, I would expect half of the 24 stories to be in that setting, so at best I hope to see 4 Horus Heresy shorts.  As yet, we haven’t had one, but it can’t be long now.  Another Black Library Editor, Graeme Lyon, tweeted that, “the Horus Heresy stories will be something a bit different and interesting…” and, “all the Heresy stories share a common link. They all deal with the consequences of a certain massacre”.  The obvious guess would be Istvaan V, but there are numerous other possibilities (apparently there’s an abundance of massacres during the Horus Heresy).  At £0.79 each, I’m sure these short stories will be popular!  You can find them here.

It’s been a busy week on twitter! Whilst the Black Library website has remained tight lipped on when we can expect the next full length Horus Heresy novel, Betrayer by Aaron Dembski-Bowden, their twitter feed has confirmed it will be available for pre-order (in Hardback format) on the 7th December.  I’ve already waxed lyrical (or at least, as lyrically as I can manage) about ADB’s previous Horus Heresy work, so it should come as no surprise to say I really am excited about this one!  Betrayer follows on from Butcher’s Nails, and even has links to Battle for the Abyss, and is set running almost parallel to Know No Fear.  We’re going to see Angron, Lorgar and their Legions destroying several (many?) of the worlds of Ultramar, the homeworld system controlled by the Ultramarines Legion.  40K fans should really like this one too as it will heavily feature Kharn, a senior captain of the World Eaters Legion, and no doubt explain why he became known as ‘the Betrayer’.

So that’s all of the Whispers from the Warp for this time.  I’m sure I’ll be returning to this at some point in the future though!

Competitions and Book Share

The competition to win a signed copy of Dan Abnett’s Horus Rising Audio Book are now closed.  I’ll be drawing the winner of this competition with Ben Curry later this week, so listen into the Bad Dice Daily podcast to find out if you’ve won.  Lupercal!

I’d also like to plug something new I’ve started, the ‘Horus Heresy book share’.  As I upgrade my collection of novels to the new hardback format, I will be giving the paperback versions to anyone who wants to read the series, provided they promise to hand it on once read.  I’ve already started with False Gods, which will be heading to Ian Brown as soon as I find a suitable envelope. Next up I’ve got a copy of Galaxy in Flames that needs a new home, and this is available to send me a direct message on twitter with their address to post it to.

Feedback

Well, that’s all from me folks.  As ever, if you have any comments about anything I’ve written, please drop me a message on here or on twitter @Marcoos14

All the best,

Marcus

 

Primarch Discovery Order

Primarch Discovery Order

The Primarch Discovery Order
The Primarchs anthology cover art

One of the fascinating aspects of the Horus Heresy is the little mysteries that are deliberately seeded into the overall story. Clearly the biggest of these is the lost legions and unknown Primarchs, something which is consistently wondered over and asked about (at the recent Black Library Weekender there was a running joke about how long it would take for someone to ask about this). However Black Library have stated they are never going to explain this away, so the best we can hope for are more hints and teasers.

One of the mysteries that I hope and believe will eventually be cleared up is the order that the Primarchs were discovered in. At the moment, there are very few clear facts, and lots of hints and teasers dropped into various sources. This blog is going to cover the information and references that have been revealed throughout the body of material produced by Games Workshop.

So let’s start with a bit of a disclaimer. There is some contradictory information within the series regarding the Primarch discovery order. This is without question due to the way the series has been written by a number of different authors who each add their own layer of detail to the story.  In my opinion this is a clear indication that up until very recently there has not been a confirmed discovery order. I will explain the contradictions in due course, and explain how I would alter the given details so that there could be a logical discovery order.

I should also state at this point that after speaking to the mysterious Powers-That-Be at the Black Library Weekender, I do know they are compiling a list of any continuity errors, potentially to rectify them in future print runs of the Horus Heresy novels. I also believe that work has begun on producing a definitive canonical discovery order.  It is my sincere hope that this information will be released to us in the form of more delightful hints in future novels – I hope we don’t (and doubt we will) ever see a published list. No doubt, over the course of time, this will show the errors of my personal choices in all their glory.  But until then I will continue to hold faith with my selection, and look forward to updating my list with each successive piece of information.

Primarch Discovery Order Information

So onto the details. Let’s cover the clear facts that give us precise information first.

  1. All 20 Primarchs were recovered throughout the course of the Great Crusade.
  2. Horus was the first Primarch discovered (various sources, dating back throughout the history of writing on the Heresy).
  3. Rogal Dorn was discovered 7th (source The Lightning Tower short story).
  4. Alpharius was the last Primarch discovered (source Index Astertes: Alpha Legion).

There are numerous other pieces of information that allow us to piece together the puzzle. I’m going to cover these for simplicity in legion order, by Primarch..

I Legion Astartes ‘Dark Angels’ – Lion El’Jonson

  • After Magnus, Jaghatai Khan and Sanguinius – according to A Thousand Sons, these 3 Primarchs founded the Librarian order, and then introduced Librarians into other legions. In Descent of Angels, one of the Astartes who lands on Caliban (original home world of the Dark Angels) was a Librarian. Therefore the Lion must have be found after these three.
  • Before Mortarion – According to the short story, The Lion from The Primarchs anthology, Lion El’Jonson fought alongside the ‘newly renamed Death Guard’ legion during the Great Crusade.  The legion was only renamed as the Death Guard upon being reunited with Mortarion.

II Legion Astartes – Unknown

III Legion Astartes – ‘The Emperor’s Children’ – Fulgrim

  • Before Konrad Curze – Fulgrim mentored Curze when he was first recovered (Index Astartes: Night Lords)
  • Before Peturabo – in Angel Exterminatus there’s a scene where Peturabo reminisces about pledging his fealty to the Emperor. It records that Fulgrim had done this ‘years before’.

IV Legion Astartes ‘Iron Warriors’ – Peturabo

  • After Fulgrim (see above) and Magnus – during the same scene mentioned above from Angel Exterminatus, Magnus is also discussed.
  • Before Angron – in the excellent short story After Desh’ea (from Tales of Heresy), Kharn (a World Eater’s captain) is talking to Angron immediately after the finding of Angron, and he explains seeing the change in the Iron Warriors upon the discovery of their Primarch.

V Legion Astartes – ‘White Scars’ –  Jaghatai Khan

  • Before Lion El’Jonson – see above.

VI Legion Astartes – ‘Space Wolves’ – Leman Russ

  • Nothing known.

VII Legion Astartes – ‘Imperial Fists’ –  Rogal Dorn

  • Before Konrad Curze – the short story Prince of Crows details the first meeting between the Emperor and Curze at which there are 4 Primarchs present, one of whom is Rogal Dorn.

VIII Legion Astartes ‘Night Lords’ – Konrad Curze

  • After Rogal Dorn, Ferrus Manus, Lorgar and Fulgrim – from the aforementioned Prince of Crows short story.

IX Legion Astartes ‘Blood Angels’ –  Sanguinius

  • Before Mortarion – there is a passage in Flight of the Eisenstein where Nathaniel Garro (Captain in the Death Guard) recounts the recovery of a number of Primarchs before Mortarion is recovered – Sanguinius is one of these.
  • Before Lion El’Jonson – see above.
  • Before Angron – from the Forge World Betrayal sourcebook, it notes a comment made by Sanguinius about the Warhounds legion, which is the name of the World Eaters legion prior to the recovery of Angron.

X Legion Astartes ‘Iron Hands’ – Ferrus Manus

  • Before Mortarion – the same information in Flight of the Eisenstein listed above (under Sanguinius) mentions Ferrus.
  • Before Curze – see above.

XI Legion Astartes – Unknown

XII Legion Astartes ‘World Eaters’ – Angron

  • After Peturabo and Vulkan – detailed by World Eater’s Captain Kharn in After Desh’ea.
  • After Sanguinius – see above.

XIII Legion Astartes ‘Ultramarines’ –  Roboute Guilliman

  • Before Mortarion – the same information in Flight of the Eisenstein listed above (under Sanguinius) mentions Guilliman.

XIV Legion Astartes ‘Death Guard’ –  Mortarion

  • After Sanguinius, Ferrus, Guilliman and Magnus – detailed in Flight of the Eisenstein.

XV Legion Astartes ‘Thousand Sons’ – Magnus

  • Before Lorgar – Magnus is with the Emperor when Lorgar is first discovered.
  • Before Mortarion – see above.
  • Before Peturabo – see above.
  • Before Lion – see above.
  • After Mortarion, Corax and Rogal Dorn – Ahriman, First Captain of the Thousand Sons relays information about how these 3 Primarchs were against the use of sorcery by the legion prior to the recovery of Magnus.

XVI Legion Astartes ‘Luna Wolves’/’Sons of Horus’ – Horus

  • Nothing known.

XVII Legion Astartes ‘Word Bearers’ – Lorgar

  • After Magnus – see above.
  • Before Curze – see above.

XVIII Legion Astartes ‘Salamanders’ – Vulkan

  • Before Angron – see above.

XIX Legion Astartes ‘Raven Guard’ – Corax

  • Before Magnus – see above.
  • After both the ‘lost’ primarchs – in Deliverance Lost, the Emperor tells Corax that he has 17 (not 19) brothers, the implication being that two were already lost.

XX Legion Astartes – ‘Alpha Legion’ – Alpharius

  • Nothing known.

There are also references within the series to the number of years that certain Primarchs have taken part in the Great Crusade (the period covering the conquest of the Galaxy by the Emperor’s armies, and during which the Primarchs were rediscovered). This is problematic because, to my knowledge, there is no set time period for the Great Crusade. It also seems to me that in the early days of the series, the authors treated the length of the crusade fairly loosely, something which appears to have tightened up more recently (Botherhood of the Storm and Angel Exterminatus are both good examples of this).

By my best estimate the Great Crusade lasted around 240-250 years, from when expeditionary fleets left the Sol system (the system containing Terra) up to the start of the Horus Heresy. This would place the discovery of Horus himself around 235 years before the start of the Heresy, and the second Primarch’s discovery approximately 20 years later around 215 years before the start of the Heresy. This would then help to place some of the Primarchs who have been referred to as being around for a certain number of years:

  • Ferrus Manus – approximately 200 years.
  • Fulgrim – approximately 160 years (based on when his flagship was built – Fulgrim).
  • Peturabo – 150 years (Angel Exterminatus).
  • The Khan – 120 years (Brotherhood of the Storm).

The final piece of information I can offer is of a more speculative nature. It’s based on direct quotes from the novels, but the quotes themselves are open to interpretation:

  • According to Promethean Sun, Vulkan is found after ‘several’ of his brothers.
  • According to Deliverance Lost, ‘most’ of Corax’s brothers have already been found.

So, let’s return to the bone of contention.  Anyone paying attention to the details above will have noticed the contradiction within the discovery order. Magnus is found before Mortarion (according to Flight of the Eisenstein), but after him (according to A Thousand Sons). When trying to define a discovery order for the Primarchs this has to deal with this.

My belief is that Magnus is found before Mortarion. There is supporting information that Magnus is found before the Lion, who is found before Mortarion.  This would invalidate a sentence within A Thousand Sons which refers to three Primarchs who speak out against the Thousand Sons legion prior to the discovery of Magnus – Mortarion, Corax and Rogal Dorn.  Ignoring this sentence would also have the benefit of reconciling Corax’s position; he is discovered after most of his brothers according to Deliverance Lost, so havinghim before Magnus is problematic.

Well, that’s all the information I have managed to compile. If you do have anything that you think I have missed, or anything that you disagree with, please let me know at the usual place. So to leave you, I’m going to head away from the facts that we know, and head into the realms of speculation.

Marcus’ Best Estimate – Primarch Discovery Order
1. Horus – XVI Legion Astartes ‘Luna Wolves / Sons of Horus’
2. Leman Russ – VI Legion Astartes ‘Space Wolves’
3. Lost Primarch A – unknown
4. Sanguinius – IX Legion Astartes ‘Blood Angels’
5. Ferrus Manus – X Legion Astartes ‘Iron Hands’
6. Vulkan – XVIII Legion Astartes ‘Salamanders’
7. Rogal Dorn – VII Legion Astartes ‘Imperial Fists’
8. Fulgrim – III Legion Astartes ‘Emperor’s Children’
9. Lost Primarch B – unknown
10. Roboute Guilliman – XIII Legion Astartes ‘Ultramarines’
11. Magnus – XV Legion Astartes ‘ Thousand Sons’
12. Peturabo – IV Legion Astartes ‘Iron Warriors’
13. Jaghatai Khan – V Legion Astartes ‘White Scars’
14. Lion El’Jonson – I Legion Astartes ‘Dark Angels’
15. Lorgar – XVII Legion Astartes ‘Word Bearers’
16. Angron – XII Legion Astartes ‘World Eaters’
17. Mortarion – XIV Legion Astartes ‘Death Guard’
18. Corax – XIX Legion Astartes ‘Raven Guard’
19. Konrad Curze – VIII Legion Astartes ‘Night Lords’
20. Alpharius – XX Legion Astartes ‘Alpha Legion’

Feedback
If you have any comments about anything I’ve written, please drop me a message on here or on twitter @Marcoos14

All the best,
Marcus

Top 5 Horus Heresy Novels

Top 5 Horus Heresy Novels

All in all it’s been an exciting couple of weeks for me Horus Heresy-wise. The Black Library Weekender was a brilliant event that highlighted exactly why I love this series of books (I may have mentioned this in my previous blog). It’s not only the weekender though, as I’ve also had the chance to catch up on a number of new Horus Heresy stories. Both the limited edition novella, Brotherhood of the Storm, and the latest novel, Angel Exterminatus (as previewed previously here), have arrived and, I have to say, they have both more than lived up to my expectations.  I won’t say more at this stage, but I’m sure I’ll return to both of these in a future blog.

There have also been a couple of short stories released in the Black Library Weekender anthologies. To be honest, I’m fairly ambivalent about event anthologies in general. On the one hand, it is an opportunity to get more Horus Heresy, which is never a bad thing, and it’s also an opportunity to sample the wider GW fantasy and 40K universe. On the other hand, at £12 for 6 short stories, they’re at little overpriced, especially if (like me) you’re only really after one of the stories. As these event anthology short stories tend not to be essential to the narrative thrust of the series, and it is a near certainty that they will eventually be compiled into a specific Horus Heresy anthology, it is often better (and certainly more cost effective) to wait to get them.

With all that said, I really enjoyed both of the short stories from the Black Library Weekender anthologies. Lost Sons by James Swallow combines the Garro audio story arc with Fear to Tread, dealing with the few Blood Angels left behind to guard their homeworld, Baal, whilst the rest of the entire Blood Angels legion heads into the Signus Cluster under orders from Horus (who at that stage was not known to have turned traitor). We find out a little more about Malcador the Sigillite’s (basically the Emperor’s right hand man within the ruling council of Terra) intentions, and it poses an interesting question of the Blood Angels and what they would do if the rest of their legion was lost.

The Divine Word by Gav Thorpe revisits Marcus Valerius (of audio drama Raven’s Flight fame), a Praefector in the Imperial Guard, and what he is up to after the events of the novel, Deliverance Lost. This brings in elements of the ongoing struggle between the loyalist Raven Guard and traitor Alpha Legion, as well as revisiting the Lectitio Divinatus (the idea of the Emperor of Mankind as a deity).

Top 5 Horus Heresy Novels

I’ve written this blog post in direct response to a question asked by Neil Peckett on twitter. Based upon a couple of book recommendations I had made to Neil, he asked me what my top 5 Horus Heresy books are. Before answering this, I’ll set a single ground rule; only full novels count. I’ve already discussed my favourite short stories, and I am not going to consider any of them, or the anthologies they are contained within, for this blog. I’m also not considering novellas, although if I did the incredible Aurelian would definitely feature in this list, or audio dramas. Full written novels only! All this means that out of 23 books released thus far, after excluding the 3 anthologies, I am picking my top 5 from 20 novels. Easy, right?

Well no, actually! I don’t want to do a ‘Curry’ and pick 8 options for my top 5, but picking only 5 is incredibly difficult. There are a number of worthy contenders, and I am pretty sure that most people would choose something different to me. And that’s absolutely fine. Maybe I’m missing something from The Battle for the Abyss that you have spotted. If so, please drop me some feedback on twitter, it would be great to hear some alternative views. So without further ado, in reverse order…

5. Angel Exterminatus by Graham McNeill

Angel Exterminatus

The latest novel in the Horus Heresy series is an absolute belter. I have never really had a lot of sympathy for the Iron Warriors legion in general, or their Primarch Peturabo specifically, possibly because he has previously been treated almost like a petulant and sulky child. Angel Exterminatus really gives depth to Peturabo, giving him a fully fleshed out character with real depth, which makes it much easier to sympathise with his position and to understand why he made the choices he did. His interaction with, and respect for, some of the other legions was also fascinating. As well as Iron Warriors, we get to see a lot of the Emperor’s Children, and watch their descent into Slaanesh-worshipping debauchery. All the favourites from earlier novels are back, including one very surprising return. McNeill certainly knows how to write for these guys, and the climax of the novel is particularly fulfilling for the Emperor’s Children.

Highlights:

  • A flashback to Peturabo meeting the Emperor, really helping to flesh out the character of Peturabo.
  • The culmination of Fulgrim’s (Primarch of the Emperor’s Children) descent into chaos.
  • A fight between Emperor’s Children Lucius, a master swordsman (Lucius the Eternal from 40K) and Nykona Sharrowkyn, a Raven Guard survivor from Istvaan V.

4. A Thousand Sons by Graham McNeill

A Thousand Sons

A second entry in the top 5 from McNeill. A Thousand Sons is a really complex novel dealing with a number of key events from the early (and pre-) Heresy era. Covering events from Nikea, where the Emperor banned the use of psychic powers, Magnus’ visions of Horus’ treachery, and his warning to the Emperor, this handles the fall of Magnus with a great deal of sympathy. I was left with the profound feeling that Magnus’ fall was so unnecessary. This is brilliantly portrayed in how Magnus handles the arrival of the Space Wolves, and their allied Sisters of Silence (powerful anti-psykers) and Custodes (the Emperor’s bodyguard).

Highlights:

  • The Council of Nikea – seeing the trap set for Magnus, and watching him try to deal with it, is incredibly interesting.
  • Magnus’ utter devastation at the moment he realises he has shattered the Emperor’s great project.
  • A huge Astartes vs Astartes battle across Prospero – utter carnage!

3. Fear to Tread by James Swallow

Fear to Tread

Blood Angels fighting daemons! Sanguinius fighting a Blood Thirster! This novel is breath taking because of the sheer amount of action in it, with an extended close as the Blood Angels fight back against the demonic powers that had looked as though they were going to overwhelm them. However, this novel is more than just action. It deals with the relationship between Sanguinius, Primarch of the Blood Angels, and Horus, Warmaster and Arch-traitor, and beautifully captures the magnitute of his betrayal as Sanguinius finally understands exactly what Horus has done.

Highlights:

  • Horus conspiring to take out Sanguinius – the Chaos powers considered Sanguinius to be the alternative option for their champion, and Horus ruthlessly decides to take Sanguinius out rather than try to convert him.
  • Sanguinius and the Bloodthirster – superhero battles! Twice!!
  • There was a Space Wolves unit attached to the Blood Angels.  Their story, and conclusion, is really interesting.

2. The First Heretic by Aaron Dembski-Bowden

The First Heretic

To date, this is Dembski-Bowden’s only full Horus Heresy novel (Betrayer is the next Heresy novel, due out early in 2013). However, alongside his novellas and audio dramas, this novel marks him as a serious player in the Horus Heresy writers. The First Heretic is an origins novel, charting the Word Bearer’s legion’s decision to turn to Chaos, and showing how they begin to corrupt their brother legions.  It features a number of hints and revelations as the Chaos powers start to subvert Lorgar, Primarch of the Word Bearers, until he and his legion become fully enmeshed in chaos.

Highlights:

  • The anguish of Lorgar, Primarch of the Word Bearers, as he is chastised by the Emperor for worshipping him as a god. The sanction passed on what appears to be a perfectly loyal human world is a brutal reminder of the power of the Astartes and the will of the Emperor.
  • Ever wondered what would happen in a fight between Astartes and Custodian Guards? Well you find out here!
  • The confrontation between Lorgar and Corax, Primarch of the Raven Guard, on Istvaan V during the Dropsite Massacre. A brilliant fight, with an almost certain ending, until the intervention of another character (no spoilers from me).

1. Horus Rising by Dan Abnett

Horus Rising

The opening novel in the Horus Heresy series, written by Dan Abnett, who I might (just might) have idolised in a previous blog. This novel was set before the fall of Horus, before the start of the Heresy, and brilliantly portrayed the optimism of the newly founded Imperium of Man as they crusaded across the stars. Abnett superbly developed the character of Horus, as well as a number of other key players within the series, and left you in no doubt as to why he was held in such high regard and chosen to be the Warmaster.

Highlights:

  • The optimism of a great alliance for the betterment of humanity with the Interex (a powerful human civilisation) shattered at the last moment.
  • War against the Megarachnids on Murder. Space Marines smashing big gribblies – without tyranids in 30K, the Megarachnids are the next best thing.
  • ‘I was there…’ – the opening passage to the novel, which brilliantly foreshadows future events.

So that’s my top 5. I hope you have enjoyed the run down, and I look forward to seeing your top 5 novels instead. I’d also like to take this opportunity to remind you all about the chance to win a signed copy of the Horus Rising audiobook – you can find out why I rate it at number 1 yourself. To find out how to enter the competition, go back to my previous blog post.

Feedback

If you have any comments about anything I’ve written, please drop me a message on here or on twitter @Marcoos14

All the best,
Marcus