Omnibus cover image

The Story

The grim darkness of the far future has many origins, yet there's hardly one that marked humanity's fate as decisively as the civil war known as the Horus Heresy. 10.000 years before the events of the 41st Millenium, humanity was on the cusp of becoming the undisputed ruler of the universe. United under the Emperor of Terra, the Imperium of Man had steamrolled all alien threats and crushed all human resistance in front of its Great Crusade.

The first generals of the Emperor's armies were gene-forged giants of His own making: the primarchs, collectively known as his twenty sons. Each of the primarchs led an army of gene-enhanced super-soldiers beholden to his will and created in his shape, the transhuman warriors of the Legiones Astartes. Eventually, one of the primarchs was chosen to lead the Great Crusade in his father's stead: Horus Lupercal.

First among equals, Horus is the brightest star and known as the Emperor's most beloved son. Ten thousand years later, he will be known as Horus the Arch-Traitor, the one who unleashed the horror of Chaos on mankind. This is the start of his story, of the corruption that blackened his heart and forever doomed the dream of the Great Crusade…

Reading Order

Legend: Novels; Novellas (anthology); Short Stories (anthology)
  1. Horus Rising
  2. The Wolf of Ash and Fire (EoT)
  3. Death of a Silversmith (SoT)
  4. False Gods
  5. Galaxy In Flames
  6. Lord of the Red Sands (WwE)
  7. Flight of the Eisenstein
  8. Fulgrim

Why this Reading Order?

Welcome to the Horus Heresy! And thanks for looking to this reading order for guidance. I hope you'll have a good time. I recommend checking out our FAQ before starting out.

If you want to learn more about Warhammer 40,000 before reading on, I invite you to visit our Additional References section, which includes beginner videos and links to sources where you can read more about the 40k-universe.

Garviel Loken, captain of the Luna Wolves' 10th company

'I was there,' he would say afterwards, until afterwards became a time quite devoid of laughter. 'I was there the day Horus slew the Emperor.'

Thus begins Horus Rising, the first book in the Horus Heresy book series. What follows from these words, written by Dan Abnett and first published in 2006, is the story of a grand tragedy about an empire at war with itself. After all is said and done, this story will have taken the team of authors behind it 17 years and 62 books to tell in total.

The Horus Heresy book series is not just truly massive in scope, but also an intricately interwoven narrative with dozens of factions, hundreds of characters and years of intergalactic warfare to cover. Over the years, many fans of the series have discussed the question of how best to approach this mountain of pages - in which order to read all of these stories, on which to focus on, or which to leave out. This website is one such attempt to bring a kind of order to this series that makes the long journey along with it more well-arranged, more comprehensive and ultimately more enjoyable.

'The Hand of Fate': Erebus of the Word Bearers

This website structures all the Horus Heresy novels, novellas and short stories into twenty-one story-packages. We call these story-packages 'omnibuses'. An omnibus is "a themed anthology of previously available works", a term that Black Library, the publisher behind the Horus Heresy, also likes to use for its collected editions.

Black Library once started to collect the Horus Heresy stories into books of such an omnibus format, but stopped after the release of three omnibuses. These three books had by then only covered a fraction of all the available stories; this website is basically the answer to the question of what it could have looked like if the publisher would have extended this format to the whole series, all the way to its end.

Each of our omnibuses is a recommended reading order for a selection of novels, novellas and short-stories from the series. After each omnibus, we recommend omnibuses to tackle next. Because there's not a unilateral order in which to read the omnibuses - there are almost always several equally valid options - we created a map that visualizes all the ways to move from omnibus to omnibus. Click here to check out the map.

If you still have questions at this point, visit the FAQ before proceeding. Again, if you want to become more familiar with the Horus Heresy or Warhammer 40.000, the science-fiction universe that the Heresy takes place in, check out the Additional References for beginner videos, wikis and other useful content.

XVI. Legion: Luna Wolves & Sons of Horus

Heresy Rising is the omnibus that starts off the whole series. It consists of five novels and three short-stories. The inspiration for it comes from Crusade's End, the first of the three original Horus Heresy omnibuses published by Black Library (which they have since stopped selling).  Crusade's End collected the first three novels of the series alongside three additional short-stories.

In my own version of an opening omnibus, I made two changes to this original blueprint: Firstly, I added the fourth and fifth novel of the series to the list. I don't think there's a better way to get into the Heresy series and to get a more stable grounding for its branching narrative than by reading the first five novels in order of publication. They cover many of the main characters, a variety of factions and the first two "main events" of the civil war.

Secondly, I rearranged the three interspersed short-stories a bit compared to their arrangement in Crusade's End. I wasn't a fan of the original omnibus putting two short-stories in front of the first novel, which is why I rearranged it here in such a way that Horus Rising, the novel that started the series in the first place, actually starts the story here, too.

The omnibus kicks off with the opening trilogy of novels, released all the way back in 2006: Horus Rising by Dan Abnett, False Gods by Graham McNeill and Galaxy In Flames by Ben Counter. These three books introduce many of the main characters of the series, the world of the 31st millenium and the origins of the escalating conflict that will become known as the Horus Heresy.

The Mournival: Tarik Torgaddon, Hastur Sejanus, Ezekyle Abaddon & 'Little Horus' Aximand

The trilogy focuses on Horus Lupercal and his Legion, the Luna Wolves (later renamed the Sons of Horus). It's set at the tail end of the Great Crusade, with Horus just having anointed with the title of Warmaster and supreme command of the Great Crusade in his father's stead. The main point-of-view character is Garviel Loken, a Luna Wolf that makes it into Horus' inner circle. Unbeknownst to Loken, dark plans have been set in motion to turn Horus against his father and the sons of the Emperor upon each other, and he will find himself at the forefront of a war for the heart of his Legion, the soul of his primarch and the fate of humanity.

The opening trilogy tells a satisfying, tragic story in three Acts, but is only the start: the end of Galaxy In Flames rings the bell for the civil war to begin in earnest.

Veterans of the Great Crusade: Nathaniel Garro & Iacton Qruze

The fourth novel, Flight of the Eisenstein by James Swallow, starts after some prelude again at Isstvan III, where the finale of Galaxy In Flames takes place. A ship escapes the ongoing battle and goes on an arduous voyage towards Terra, to warn the Imperium of what is happening. It features some characters from the opening trilogy, introduces important characters for the rest of the series and lays the groundwork for some series-spanning arcs.

Legionnaires of the Third: Lucius the Swordsman & Saul Tarvitz

The fifth novel, Fulgrim by Graham McNeill, looks in detail at the corruption of one particular Legion, the Emperor's Children, and their titular primarch. It takes a step backwards on the timeline and opens again at some point before the events of the opening trilogy. Time-line wise it overlaps for long parts with the first four novels, but eventually goes beyond and reaches one of the most critical events of the whole series: the Dropsite Massacre of Isstvan V.

These five novels give a respectable grounding to read the rest of the series, covering the first three major plot-points of the series: the corruption of the Sons of Horus, the Purge of Isstvan III and the Dropsite Massacre of Isstvan V.

The XIIth Legion World Eaters

Interspersed between the novels are three short-stories: The Wolf of Ash and Fire and Death of a Silversmith by Graham McNeill and Lord of the Red Sands by Aaron Dembski-Bowden. These add texture to the novels and give little vignettes to significant aspects of them. Wolf is a look back at the glory days of the Great Crusade, showing Horus fighting together with the Emperor Himself against an Ork empire. Silversmith is a little story about the dark goings-on aboard the vessels of Horus' fleet. And finally Lord of the Red Sands is a quick, but tragic glimpse into the hearts and minds of the World Eaters and their primarch Angron.

I explain in more detail how this reading order deals with short-stories and novellas from anthologies in the FAQ.

A note for first time readers: I know I'm kinda arguing against my own concept here, but if you're just getting started with the Heresy and aren't sure whether you'll stick with it, it's absolutely viable to, for starters, skip the three short-stories. It lowers your buy-in price to just the novels, which work perfectly well on their own. If you're hooked after those, you can still get the anthologies that contain the three short-stories and read them as an epilogue to the novels. You definitely get a lot of bang for your buck with these three anthologies beyond the three short-stories that are relevant to this omnibus: Eye of Terra, Shadows of Treachery and War without End combined give you 3 novellas and over 40 short-stories. That's a pretty respectable "Getting Started" package right there that you'll get back to all across the Omnibus reading order.

If you've read the stories from this omnibus and intend to keep following the omnibus reading order, you've now already read the respective opening novels of two of the potential follow-up omnibuses: Shadow of the Warmaster I: Knives in the Dark and Shattersong (see Follow-Up below). You're now free to just go ahead and finish the rest of these two omnibuses or start with one of the other two "Phase II"-Omnibuses, Shadow Crusade I: Only the Faithful or The Burning of Prospero.

Additions from 'The Primarchs' & 'Horus Heresy Characters'

The book range of the Primarchs series consists of eighteen novels total, each one being a character study of one of the sons of the Emperor. Most of the books are set pre-Heresy during the times of the Great Crusade, some even earlier. They can mostly be read out-of-order with the mainline Horus Heresy stories, so if you want to learn more about a certain Primarch, you could seek out his Primarchs-book.

Various short-stories and audio-dramas have also been released under the Primarchs-label. The Loyal Sons-anthology collects over a dozen short stories about loyalist primarchs for a reasonable price, while the Traitorous Scions collection does the same for the eventual rebels.

The Horus Heresy Characters series does the same with notable non-primarch characters from the times of the Heresy, like, for example, Constantin Valdor or Sigismund.

If one of these stories is a valuable addition to a certain omnibus, you will find a recommendation for this Primarchs or Horus Heresy Characters novel under this section on the various omnibus sites.

Required and Recommended Reading

These are the stories that start it all. Start here.

If you have open questions regarding the Heresy or the Reading Order, head over to the FAQ.

I also talk about the "beginner friendliness" of the Horus Heresy in the FAQ. See Q: I’ve heard some say that you should only start with the Heresy once you already know a bit about Warhammer 40,000. What about that?

If you want to look into ways for getting more familiar with the universe of Warhammer 40,000, visit the Additional References.


For a map of the whole Reading Order, visit the Omnibus Map

Either of the four Phase II-Omnibuses can be tackled next. It's Choose Your Own Adventure-time!

In general, I’d recommend reading all of the four Phase II Omnibuses at some point before going into the later Phases, no matter what road you'd like to pursue. All of them cover important events for the series (the flight of the Eisenstein and the formation of the Knights-Errant; the Dropsite Massacre of Isstvan V and its fall-out; the corruption of the Word Bearers and the Battle of Calth; the destruction of Prospero) and introduce characters that will be recurring players all across the series.

You've now already read the first novel of Shadow of the Warmaster I: Knives in the Dark, which is Flight of the Eisenstein. If you want to continue with Garro & Co. and see where Malcador's plans for them go next, go there.

You've now also already read the first novel of Shattersong, which is Fulgrim. That Omnibus continues along the road to damnation of Fulgrim and the Emperor's Children. It also properly introduces Perturabo and the Iron Warriors to the series.

If you want to take a closer look at the true originators of the Heresy, Lorgar and the zealous Word Bearers, read Shadow Crusade I: Only the Faithful. This will give you insights into the origins of the first followers of Chaos and their hateful feud with Roboute Guilliman and the Ultramarines, culminating in the massive Battle of Calth.

The Burning of Prospero covers an event with nearly as much, if not more, of an impact as the Dropsite Massacre: the tragic events that lead to the destruction of Prospero, home of Magnus the Red and the Thousand Sons. The Omnibus takes a look at this event both from the perspective of the Thousand Sons as well as those who’re eventually sent to censure them, the Space Wolves.

Required Books

Novels (in order of appearance)

  1. Horus Rising
  2. False Gods
  3. Galaxy In Flames
  4. Flight of the Eisenstein
  5. Fulgrim

Anthologies (in order of appearance)

  1. Eye of Terra (EoT)
  2. Shadows of Treachery (SoT)
  3. War Without End (WwE)

A note on anthologies: The anthologies listed above together contain every short story and novella listed under “Reading Order” for this Omnibus. Instead of buying whole anthologies, you can also buy each of the individual stories as an individual eBook from or digital book vendors. The price per story is higher when buying individual eBooks compared to buying them as part of an anthology.

Beyond the Heresy

In this, section, you will find recommendations from other series and the wider Black Library canon. If you are interested in the characters, factions or themes that were part of this omnibus, the following books might also be to your liking.

Books from the 41st millenium:

  • Gotten a taste for Warhammer 40,000, but want to check out stories from beyond the Heresy? Then visit the Getting Started with Black Library article from Track of Words. It contains dozens of recommendations for stories that you could read as entry points to the grim darkness of the far future.

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