Omnibus cover image

The Story

Lion El’Johnson and Konrad Curze grew up on worlds of monsters.

While “the Lion” took it upon himself to hunt down the mighty beasts that stalked the feral jungles of Caliban, Konrad Curze vowed to subdue the monsters he was sure were hiding behind the façade of the humans around him. His gruesome methods made Nostramo, the night-shrouded world of his youth, shake before “the Night Haunter”, the terror that had fallen from the stars to punish their crimes, no matter how small.

Both primarchs managed to break their chosen prey, become the undisputed rulers of their worlds and accepted command of a Legion of Astartes when the Emperor eventually found them. The Dark Angels and the Night Lords each took up the respective monster hunt of their primarch and went to the stars with the promise of their own brand of Imperial Justice: destruction through His Angels or the terror of the Night.

This omnibus interweaves the stories of the sons of Caliban and Nostramo from their early histories through their decisions of loyalty unto their bloody battle with each other in the Thramas Crusade.

Reading Order

Legend: Novels; Novellas (anthology); Short Stories (anthology)
  1. Descent of Angels
  2. The Dark King (SoT)
  3. Call of the Lion (ToH)
  4. Fallen Angels
  5. Massacre (EoT)
  6. Savage Weapons (AoD or LW)
  7. The Lion (Prim)
  8. By the Lion's Command (WwE)
  9. Prince of Crows (SoT)

Why this Reading Order?

The Dark Angels were a curious case to adapt for the Heresy book series. Unlike other Legions, their defining event from the background-lore happened only after the end of the Heresy: their discovery of the rebellion of the parts of the Legion garrisoned on their homeworld Caliban, led by the Lion's foster-father Luther. The subsequent infighting led to the destruction of Caliban, the Lion becoming comatose and the Dark Angels engaging in a millennia-long hunt for the "Fallen" that escaped the battle.

The question of the true loyalties of the Lion was also up for debate. Was he a loyal son of the Emperor? Was he envious of Horus, embracing the Heresy as an opportunity to become Warmaster himself? If he was loyal, why wasn't he on Terra to defend the Palace? Was he biding his time, waiting to see who would end up on top, ready to throw in his lot with the victor? And what about Luther's rebellion: how could that have been allowed to happen? Might the taint have run deeper than just in those left on the homeworld?

Sons of Caliban: Zahariel & Nemiel

To tackle all these issues, the Dark Angels got a fair amount of stories written about them. The responsible author changed several times, with Mitchel Scanlon writing a prequel novel mostly set even before the times of the Great Crusade (Descent of Angels), Mike Lee taking over for the sequel Fallen Angels and Dark Angels-veteran Gav Thorpe basically given the reins after his novella The Lion to eventually write Angels of Caliban. Roughly a dozen short-stories, most also penned by Thorpe, but notable ones also written by Aaron Dembski-Bowden, work as connective tissue in between.

The Lion's elite: Corswain & Alajos

Most of the Dark Angels-stories after the end of Descent of Angels are, by necessity, told across two separate strands or focus on one of each: one on Caliban with Luther & Co. and one with the Dark Angels under the Lion fighting the traitors across the galaxy. To this day, the eventual discovery of Luther's treachery and the battle on Caliban hasn't been covered in the books. It remains to be seen whether Black Library will tackle that in some post-Siege novel.

Lords of Night: First Captain Jago Sevatarion & Lord Commander Shang

The Angels' defining conflict in the Heresy-novels is with the Night Lords, who they fight a bloody campaign against in the Thramas Crusade. There was always rumour of a dedicated Night Lords-novel being planned for the Heresy, but that never happened. Instead, the story of insane vigilante Konrad Curze and his Legion of professional psychopaths in the Heresy-series is told through a bunch of (really good) short-stories and lots and lots of appearances as antagonist(s) in stories with other Legions or primarchs as protagonists. While a full novel about them would have been cool, I think Curze and the Night Lords still got quite a lot of entertaining stories to them and have a compelling arc across their various appearances in the Heresy.

This Omnibus collects many of the early Dark Angels stories, establishing their internal conflict and their early moves in the Heresy. Stories about the Night Lords are woven in between, starting out with Graham McNeill's The Dark King, one of the very first stories written about the Heresy at all. A personal favorite of mine, Aaron Dembski-Bowden's Savage Weapons, marks the (narrative) midpoint with a memorable meeting between the two estranged primarchs. The Omnibus is closed off by the excellent novella Prince of Crows (also by Dembski-Bowden), the only novella-length Heresy story explicitly about the Night Lords. Prince of Crows segues nicely into The Unremembered Empire, in which the shared narrative thread of the two warring Legions will be tied into the events of Imperium Secundus (see Follow-Up below).

Talos Valcoran, Apothecary of the 10th Company

A personal highlight for me is short story Massacre by Aaron Dembski-Bowden. Massacre is a prequel to Dembski-Bowden's Night Lords-trilogy, arguably one of the most beloved and well-regarded 40k book series of all time. The trilogy (Soul Hunter, Blood Reaver & Void Stalker) follows a worn-down warband of Night Lords across their journeys through the universe of the 41st millenium, always on the hunt for smaller prey and on the run from bigger fish. Massacre takes a look deep into the past of these characters and takes a glimpse at them during the war whose shadow they will try to escape for the next ten millenia.

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

Lion El'Johnson: Lord of the First by David Guymer looks back at the First Legion during the Great Crusade. Having just finished the infamous Rangdan Xenocide, the Lion and the Dark Angels are sent against the next alien threat with which the Emperor will only task the First. The book concentrates on a role of the First Legion that is a little underdeveloped in the Horus Heresy novel: that of the ultimate extermination force of the Imperium, sent against threats so dire that even the memory of the conflict with them will later be expunged. It also frames the Dark Angels' obsession with secrecy as being grounded in their appointed role and function rather than being a cultural artefact from their roots on Caliban.

I recommend reading the Primarchs-book about Konrad Curze and the Horus Heresy Characters novel about Luther, the Lion's foster-father, only later once you've finished their respective arcs in Imperium Secundus II: Fate's Ashes.

Required and Recommended Reading

This doesn't really have a direct prequel except the opening Omnibus Heresy Rising.

I'd still advise to read this only once you've read some of the Phase II Omnibuses. If nothing else, I'd recommend Shadow Crusade I: Only the Faithful, which lays important groundwork and is also, like Angels, part of the "Prelude to Imperium Secundus" (s. Follow-up below).


This Omnibus is part of a group of five omnibuses that I have labelled "Prelude to Imperium Secundus": Shadow Crusade I, II & III, Anvil of War and Angels of Darkness. These three major narrative threads all converge in Imperium Secundus I: Hope's Kindling. Check the upper half of the Omnibus Map for a visualisation.

The story of the Dark Angels (both on Caliban and in space), the Night Lords and their respective primarchs continues in Imperium Secundus I, but I definitely recommend reading all the other "Preludes" before starting with that one. If you have already read Shadow Crusade I, a good follow-up to Angels would be either Shadow Crusade III: Chosen of Chaos or Anvil of War.

Shadow Crusade III: Chosen of Chaos is, among other things, about Erebus' plan to corrupt the Blood Angels as well as the next steps on Lorgar's road after Shadow Crusade I, this time alongside Angron and the World Eaters.

Anvil of War tells the story of the Salamanders and their primarch Vulkan, who are one of the Legions massacred at Isstvan V. There are hints across Angels to a story involving both Konrad Curze and Vulkan; if you haven't already, check out Anvil to discover what that's all about. The Omnibus also introduces you to the spies of the Alpha Legion and the origins of their decision to side with Horus.

On an unrelated note, you could also head over to Omnissiah I: Death of Innocence if you're interested in the Mechanicum and their own schism within the civil war. Omnissiah I doesn't really have a prequel beside the opening omnibus and can be approached at your own leisure.

Required Books

Novels (in order of appearance)

  1. Descent of Angels
  2. Fallen Angels

Anthologies (in order of appearance)

  1. Shadows of Treachery (SoT)
  2. Tales of Heresy (ToH)
  3. Eye of Terra (EoT)
  4. Age of Darkness (AoD)
  5. War Without End (WwE)
  6. The Primarchs (Prim)
  7. ALTERNATIVE: Lupercal's War (LW) (s. notes below)

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. The price per story is higher when buying individual eBooks compared to buying them as part of an anthology.

An alternative source for Savage Weapons is the anthology Lupercal's War (LW). It was released as a "Start Here" option for readers alongside the 2nd edition of the Horus Heresy tabletop game in 2022. The collection contains 18 short stories picked from across the numbered Horus Heresy anthologies as well as 3 stories that were previously only available as eShorts (Child of Chaos, Bloodhowl & Champion of Oaths).

Beyond the Heresy

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

Books from the 41st millenium:

  • Night Lords-trilogy by Aaron Dembski-Bowden, starting with Soul Hunter (also available as an omnibus):

    • I already talked about about this trilogy under "Why This Reading Order?". Highly recommended, but best read once one is at least a bit familiar with the Horus Heresy and the Night Haunter's role in it.
  • Lord of the Night by Simon Spurrier

    • Written in 2005 before the start of the Heresy-series, Lord of the Night was the first Black Library novel that exclusively focused on the Night Lords. It follows Zso Sahaal on his quest for power and revenge on his bloody path through an Imperial Hive.
  • Angels of Darkness by Gav Thorpe (also available as part of the Knights of Caliban-omnibus)

    • Even older than Lord of the Night, being published as early as 2003, Gav Thorpe's debut Dark Angels-novel is analogues to Lord of the Night in that it is a formative novel that laid the groundwork for much of what would from then on be written about its protagonist Chapter/Legion. It's about an Interrogator-Chaplain of the 41st millenium-era Dark Angels who reminisces about the times he interrogated a most fearful subject: the "Fallen Angel" Merir Astelan, who has interesting things to say about the ancient times of the Horus Heresy...
  • The Purging of Kadillus by Gav Thorpe

    • Gav Thorpe wrote a lot of M41 Dark Angels-novels. This is one of those with links back towards the Heresy. It's available alongside the aforementioned Angels of Darkness and another of Thorpe's Dark Angels-novels (Space Marine Legends: Azrael) in the Knights of Caliban-omnibus.
  • Legacy of Caliban-series by Gav Thorpe, starting with Ravenwing

    • Another Dark Angels-trilogy written by Gav Thorpe. Also available in omnibus-format.

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