Horus Heresy (novels)

Horus Heresy (novels)
The Horus Heresy  
Author(s) Various
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Genre(s) Science fiction novel
Publisher Black Library
Media type Print (Paperback)

The Horus Heresy is an ongoing series of science fiction novels, the first of which was published by the Black Library in 2006. The books are set during the Horus Heresy, a galaxy-spanning civil war occurring 10,000 years prior to the setting of Games Workshop's Warhammer 40,000 tabletop miniatures wargame, and a major contributing factor to the dystopic setting of the game.



The Horus Heresy novels are:

  1. Horus RisingDan Abnett – April 2006[1]
  2. False GodsGraham McNeill – June 2006[2]
  3. Galaxy in Flames – Ben Counter – October 2006[3]
  4. The Flight of the EisensteinJames Swallow – March 2007[4]
  5. FulgrimGraham McNeill – July 2007[5]
  6. Descent of Angels – Mitchel Scanlon – October 2007[6]
  7. LegionDan Abnett – March 2008[7]
  8. Battle for the Abyss – Ben Counter – August 2008[8]
  9. MechanicumGraham McNeill – December 2008[9]
  10. Tales of Heresy – Compilation. Nick Kyme & Lindsey Priestley, editors – April 2009[10]
  11. Fallen Angels – Mike Lee – July 2009[11]
  12. A Thousand SonsGraham McNeill – March 2010[12]
  13. NemesisJames Swallow – August 2010[13]
  14. The First Heretic – Aaron Dembski-Bowden – November 2010[14]
  15. Prospero BurnsDan Abnett – January 2011[15]
  16. Age of Darkness – Compilation. Christian Dunn, editor – April 2011[16]
  17. The Outcast DeadGraham McNeill – October 2011[17]
  18. Deliverance Lost – James Hampshire – January 2012[18]
  19. Know No FearDan Abnett – March 2012[19]
  20. The Primarchs – Compilation. Christian Dunn, editor – June 2012[20]
  21. Fear to TreadJames Swallow – September 2012[21]


The novelization is not strictly sequential and the story of the Heresy may be presented in a non-linear fashion from book to book; novels may concern events in the Heresy story that happen earlier than their position in the series would suggest, or may include time periods already covered in other books of the series.

1. Horus Rising: The seeds of heresy are sown

Horus Rising details the rise to power of Warmaster Horus, Primarch of the Luna Wolves, after the Emperor appoints him commander of the Imperial military and in charge of the Great Crusade. Much of the focus is on the Captain of the Luna Wolves' Tenth Company, Garviel Loken, as he becomes a member of the Mournival (an advisory body to Horus), and his involvement in campaigns against traitors and aliens at the close of the Great Crusade.

2. False Gods: The heresy takes root

False Gods describes Horus' fall. In a complicated conspiracy implemented by Chaos allies, Horus is wounded on the moon of the planet Davin by an alien, Chaos-tainted weapon. In a desperate effort by his lieutenants to see him healed, Horus is taken to a temple on Davin. However the temple is secretly in service to Chaos and both Horus' wound and its supposed healing makes him susceptible to Chaos' influence. He ultimately turns against his "father", the Emperor. The events of False Gods describe the point at which Horus sets in motion the entire Heresy, an event that will change the galaxy forever.

3. Galaxy in Flames: The heresy revealed

Galaxy in Flames concerns the virus-bombing of Isstvan III and Warmaster Horus' ultimate falling into madness, which resulted in a galaxy where brother would fight brother. In a virus-choked wasteland of death and destruction, Loyalist elements of the Luna Wolves, World Eaters, Emperor's Children and Death Guard Legions fight against the traitors in a desperate show of defiance, as the first move of the Heresy is played out.

4. Flight of the Eisenstein: The heresy unfolds

Flight of the Eisenstein follows the Eisenstein, a frigate of the Death Guard Legion commanded by Battle-Captain Nathaniel Garro of the 7th Company, one of the few commanders in the Traitor Legions that remained loyal to the Emperor. The story is about Eisenstein's escape from Isstvan III (see Galaxy in Flames above) and its voyage across the galaxy in an attempt to reach and warn the Emperor of Mankind on Holy Terra.

5. Fulgrim: Visions of treachery

Fulgrim centers around the Primarch of the Emperor's Children Legion, as he and his Legion fell into corruption and eventually became the Chosen of Slaanesh, one of the Chaos Gods. Primarch Ferrus Manus and his Iron Hands also play a prominent role in the novel, and the pivotal Battle of Isstvan V (the so-called Dropsite Massacre) is described in passing.

6. Descent of Angels: Loyalty and honour

Descent of Angels is told from the point of view of Planet Caliban native Zahariel El'Zurias, who begins the novel as an Aspirant of the Order (an organization of techno-barbarian knights). The first half of the novel is set on Caliban and covers the final battles of the Order under the future Primarch of the Dark Angels Space Marine Legion, Lion El'Jonson. The book's second half describes Caliban's re-unification with the Imperium of Man as well as the actions of the Dark Angels Legion during the early years of the Great Crusade. Zahariel, selected as candidate Space Marine, is accepted as a neophyte for the Dark Angels. A future schism within the Legion is intimated in this section of the book.

7. Legion: Secrets and lies

Legion features the Alpha Legion, the 20th (and last to be formed) Astartes Legion, which was known as the most secretive and inscrutable of all the Legions. It also features the Imperial Army, and a mysterious interspecies organization called The Cabal. The book describes the events that eventually lead to the decision of Alpharius-Omegon, the Legion's Primarch, to support Horus.

8. Battle for the Abyss: My brother, my enemy

Battle for the Abyss describes the lead-up to the Battle of Calth fought between Primarch Guilliman's Ultramarines and the Word Bearers Legion. The Word Bearers plan to use an immense warship, the Furious Abyss, to spearhead their attack. The protagonists must pursue the ship and prevent it from reaching Macragge, Ultramar's capital world. If the Ultramarines break and give way to the traitorous Word Bearers, Guilliman's legion will suffer a blow they may never recover from.

9. Mechanicum: War comes to Mars

Mechanicum[22] is about the civil war on Mars as traitor and loyalist forces fight to determine which side in the struggle will receive the support of the Adeptus Mechanicus. Horus obtains the secret allegiance of highly placed Mechanicum Adepts who plot and eventually carry out a coup in order to eliminate those on Mars who are loyal to the Emperor.

10. Tales of Heresy

Tales of Heresy is a collection of short stories set mostly during the Horus Heresy, but also including stories from other periods in the Warhammer 40,000 universe. The collection provides a wider background to the Heresy, the Great Crusade, and the Imperium of Man. Compiled and edited by Nick Kyme and Lindsey Priestley.

11. Fallen Angels: Deceit and betrayal

Fallen Angels continues the Dark Angels story begun in Descent of Angels. The book tells two stories: one of Primarch Lion'El Johnson and a small group of Dark Angels as they try to deny a forge world to Horus' forces on Isstvan; the other of Luther (Lion'El Johnson's second), Zahariel (by now a full Space Marine), and a Dark Angels contingent sent back to Caliban as they fight against a growing insurgency that seeks to free the planet from under the Imperium's thumb.

12. A Thousand Sons: All is dust...

A Thousand Sons is the story of Magnus the Red and the Thousand Sons Legion of Space Marines, and for the most part takes place before the Heresy starts to play out. Following a reprimand by the Emperor of Mankind for dabbling in sorcerous arts, Magnus and his Legion secretly continue to study sorcery despite being forbidden to do so. Magnus learns through sorcery of his brother Horus' impending betrayal, and tries, again through sorcery, to warn the Emperor hoping the news would justify his disobedience. However, Magnus overreaches with his powers and causes damage to a vital and secret project the Emperor was undertaking, endangering the safety of Terra itself in the process. The Emperor is enraged and orders Leman Russ and his Space Wolves Legion, accompanied by other Imperial forces, to bring Magnus and his Legion to Terra to account for themselves.

13. Nemesis: War within the shadows

Nemesis is set about two years after the events on Isstvan V described in Book 5, Fulgrim. It deals with a plan by a secret Imperial organization, the Officio Assassinorum, to eliminate Horus using an Execution Force drawn from all the "clades" (specialist assassin schools) that make up the Officio. There have been several previous unsuccessful attempts against Horus' life, and this gives a high-ranking officer of the traitor Word Bearers Legion the idea to field a nemesis weapon of his own (a highly specialized assassin) in an audacious scheme to kill the Emperor.

14. The First Heretic: Fall to Chaos

The First Heretic details the fall to Chaos of Primarch Lorgar and his Word Bearers, the 17th Astartes Legion. The story is told largely from the point of view of Argel Tal, a Captain of the Word Bearers, and spans about 50 years, starting 47 years before the events on Isstvan V and leading up to the time when the Word Bearers are on their way to assault Calth as related in Book 8. Following the humiliating censure of Lorgar and the 17th Legion by the Emperor himself for introducing religious worship, Lorgar is swayed by two of his most trusted lieutenants, who were already in secret allegiance with Chaos. Eventually both Primarch and Legion abandon the Imperium, and in full accord with Horus take part in the Isstvan V battle.

15. Prospero Burns: The wolves unleashed

Prospero Burns is part of the story arc of Book 12, A Thousand Sons. However it begins more than a century before the Space Wolves-led assault on Prospero. It is told from the point of view of Kasper Hawser, formerly a noted Terran academic, who becomes the Oral Historian (Skjald) of the 3rd Company of the Space Wolves Legion. On the surface it is his story; however the important subplot concerns the long-term machinations of Chaos to destroy both the Space Wolves and the Thousand Sons by pitting one against the other. The book also gives some important background on Warmaster Horus's fall to Chaos, thus providing a more coherent view of the Heresy and of its planning by the Chaos forces.

16. Age of Darkness

Age of Darkness is a compilation of stories providing background information on the Horus Heresy. These cover the seven-year period between the Dropsite Massacre on Isstvan V (Book 5) and the start of the campaign against Terra by the traitor forces. "The age of knowledge and enlightenment has ended. The Age of Darkness has begun."[23]

17. The Outcast Dead: The truth lies within

This is the first story in the series to take place entirely on Terra. It covers a relatively short period, from shortly before the Dropsite Massacre at Isstvan V (Book 5), to shortly after Primarch Magnus' catastrophic visit at the Imperial Palace (Book 12), an event that is central to the story. The main character is Kai Zulane, previously a gifted astropath attached to the Ultramarine voidship Argo. He unwittingly becomes the keeper of a secret that could decide the victor in the developing galactic civil war. The Outcast Dead are a small, disparate group of Space Marines suspected as traitors, with whom Zulane falls in during the second half of the story. In the end, the secret kept by Zulane is revealed to the one person it is actually intended for, and provides one explanation for the post-Heresy stagnation of the Imperium of Man.[24]

18. Deliverance Lost: Ghosts of Terra

[To be published January 2012].[25]

19. Know No Fear: The Battle of Calth

[To be published March 2012].[26]

20. The Primarchs

[To be published June 2012. Compilation].[27]

21. Fear to Tread

[To be published September 2012. No subtitle provided as of August 2011].[28]

Special editions

  • Horus Rising (anniversary edition) – Dan Abnett – April 2011. "5th Anniversary Edition" to mark the 5-year publishing history of the Horus Heresy Series. "With titanium-blue foiling and a specially commissioned introduction from author Dan Abnett."[29]
  • Promethean Sun – Nick Kyme – May 2011. Subtitled "Into the fires of war". Specially priced collector's edition in 3,000 copies only, hardcover. Offered as a "web exclusive", as of May 2011 it had reportedly sold out, with mass market release expected in 2013.[30]
  • Aurelian – Aaron Dembski-Bowden – October 2011. Subtitled "The Eye stares back". Offered in two editions (Silver and Gold). Part of the publisher's "Web Exclusives", this is another limited collector's edition.[31]


Legion, by Dan Abnett, and Battle for the Abyss, by Ben Counter, were listed in Nielsen BookScan's list of top-20 fictional works by small publishers (defined as a publisher whose sales made up less than 0.3% of the Total Consumer Market during the previous year) for the year ending on 23 August 2008, appearing in eighth and sixteenth place respectively.[32]

A Thousand Sons was released in February 2010, and swiftly rose to the top of the British science fiction charts. It also arrived at number 22 on the New York Times Bestseller List,[33] the first ever novel on the Black Library imprint to do so. Nemesis followed, reaching number 26 on the New York Times Bestseller List in August 2010. The First Heretic reached number 28 in November 2010, and stayed in the chart for a second week, reaching number 33. Prospero Burns reached number 16.


  1. ^ Abnett, Dan (2006). Horus Rising: The seeds of heresy are sown. Horus Heresy Series. 1. Nottingham, UK: Games Workshop. ISBN 978-1-84416-294-9. 
  2. ^ McNeill, Graham (2006). False Gods: The heresy takes root. Horus Heresy Series. 2. Nottingham, UK: Games Workshop. ISBN 978-1-84416-370-0. 
  3. ^ Counter, Ben (2006). Galaxy in Flames: The heresy revealed. Horus Heresy Series. 3. Nottingham, UK: Games Workshop. ISBN 978-1-84416-393-9. 
  4. ^ Swallow, James (2007). The Flight of the Eisenstein: The heresy unfolds. Horus Heresy Series. 4. Nottingham, UK: Games Workshop. ISBN 978-1-84416-459-2. 
  5. ^ McNeill, Graham (2007). Fulgrim: Visions of treachery. Horus Heresy Series. 5. Nottingham, UK: Games Workshop. ISBN 978-1-84416-476-9. 
  6. ^ Scanlon, Mitchel (2007). Descent of Angels: Loyalty and honour. Horus Heresy Series. 6. Nottingham, UK: Games Workshop. ISBN 978-1-84416-508-7. 
  7. ^ Abnett, Dan (2008). Legion: Secrets and lies. Horus Heresy Series. 7. Nottingham, UK: Games Workshop. ISBN 978-1-84416-536-0. 
  8. ^ Counter, Ben (2008). Battle for the Abyss: My brother, my enemy. Horus Heresy Series. 8. Nottingham, UK: Games Workshop. ISBN 978-1-84416-657-2. 
  9. ^ McNeill, Graham (2008). Mechanicum: War comes to Mars. Horus Heresy Series. 9. Nottingham, UK: Games Workshop. ISBN 978-1-84416-606-0. 
  10. ^ Kyme, Nick; Priestley, Lindsey, eds (2009). Tales of Heresy. Horus Heresy Series. 10. Nottingham, UK: Games Workshop. ISBN 978-1-84416-682-4. 
  11. ^ Lee, Mike (2009). Fallen Angels: Deceit and betrayal. Horus Heresy Series. 11. Nottingham, UK: Games Workshop. ISBN 978-1-84416-728-9. 
  12. ^ McNeill, Graham (2010). A Thousand Sons: All is dust.... Horus Heresy Series. 12. Nottingham, UK: Games Workshop. ISBN 978-1-84416-808-8. 
  13. ^ Swallow, James (2010). Nemesis: War within the shadows. Horus Heresy Series. 13. Nottingham, UK: Games Workshop. ISBN 978-1-84416-869-9. 
  14. ^ Dembski-Bowden, Aaron (2010). The First Heretic: Fall to Chaos. Horus Heresy Series. 14. Nottingham, UK: Games Workshop. ISBN 978-1-84416-885-9. 
  15. ^ Abnett, Dan (2011). Prospero Burns: The wolves unleashed. Horus Heresy Series. 15. Nottingham, UK: Games Workshop. ISBN 978-1-84416-777-7. 
  16. ^ Dunn, Christian, ed (2011). Age of Darkness. Horus Heresy Series. 16. Nottingham, UK: Games Workshop. ISBN 978-1-84970-037-5. 
  17. ^ McNeill, Graham (2011). The Outcast Dead: The truth lies within. Horus Heresy Series. 17. Nottingham, UK: Games Workshop. ISBN 978-1-84970-086-3. 
  18. ^ Thorpe, Gav (2012). Deliverance Lost: Ghosts of Terra. Horus Heresy Series. 18. Nottingham, UK: Games Workshop. ISBN 978-1-84970-061-0. 
  19. ^ Abnett, Dan (2012). Know No Fear: The Battle of Calth. Horus Heresy Series. 19. Nottingham, UK: Games Workshop. ISBN 978-1-84970-134-1. 
  20. ^ Dunn, Christian, ed (2012). The Primarchs. Horus Heresy Series. 20. Nottingham, UK: Games Workshop. ISBN 978-1-84970-207-2. 
  21. ^ Swallow, James (2012). Fear to Tread. Horus Heresy Series. 21. Nottingham, UK: Games Workshop. ISBN 978-1-84970-195-2. 
  22. ^ In some editions this book is subtitled Knowledge is power.
  23. ^ From the preface.
  24. ^ The timelines of this novel and of Book 12 and Book 15 may involve a continuity conflict. In Book 17, Magnus's warning about Horus was late: it is delivered after Terra has received news of Horus's betrayal, and of the Dropsite Massacre. In Books 12 & 15 Magnus' warning and the Imperial campaign on Prospero apparently happen before Horus was revealed as traitor.
  25. ^ "Deliverance Lost (Coming Soon)". blacklibrary.com. Games Workshop. http://www.blacklibrary.com/Horus-Heresy/coming-soon/deliverance-lost.html. Retrieved 2011-05-08. 
  26. ^ "Know No Fear (Coming Soon)". blacklibrary.com. Games Workshop. http://www.blacklibrary.com/Horus-Heresy/coming-soon/know-no-fear.html. Retrieved 2011-07-01. 
  27. ^ "The Primarchs". blacklibrary.com. Games Workshop. http://www.blacklibrary.com/all-products/the-primarchs.html. Retrieved 2011-08-26. 
  28. ^ "Fear to Tread (Coming Soon)". blacklibrary.com. Games Workshop. http://www.blacklibrary.com/Horus-Heresy/coming-soon/fear-to-tread.html. Retrieved 2011-08-26. 
  29. ^ "Horus Rising (anniversary edition)". blacklibrary.com. Games Workshop. http://www.blacklibrary.com/Horus-Heresy/horus-rising-anniversary-edition.html. Retrieved 2011-05-23. 
  30. ^ "Promethean Sun". blacklibrary.com. Games Workshop. http://www.blacklibrary.com/Horus-Heresy/promethean-sun.html. Retrieved 2011-05-23. 
  31. ^ "Aurelian Gold Edition (Collector's Editions)". blacklibrary.com. Games Workshop. http://www.blacklibrary.com/Horus-Heresy/aurelian.html. Retrieved 2011-10-01. ; "Aurelian Silver Edition (Collector's Editions)". blacklibrary.com. Games Workshop. http://www.blacklibrary.com/Horus-Heresy/aurelian-silver-edition.html. Retrieved 2011-10-01. 
  32. ^ Stone, Phillip (September 2008). "Packing a punch". The Bookseller (Sep2008): 6–7. ISSN 0006-7539. 
  33. ^ "Best Sellers". nytimes.com. The New York Times. 14 March 2010. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/14/books/bestseller/bestpapermassfiction.html. Retrieved 2011-05-22. 

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