Omnibus cover image

The Story

How do those grieve that know no fear? What lament comes from hearts of steel? What fruits will anguish, pain and loss bear for those with naught but rage?

When the head of the Gorgon was cut off by his closest friend and their brothers were butchered by their erstwhile allies, something fundamental broke for the Iron Hands. Now known as a Shattered Legion, the remnants of the Iron Tenth struggle to reclaim some measure of strength and enact vengeance upon the Warmaster, the Phoenician and all their treacherous kin.

Forced into a guerilla war against the traitors, the Legion fights an even more significant battle within themselves: a battle for the soul of the Legion and the question of whether there should be anything left for them but hate in the grim darkness of the future…

Reading Order

Legend: Novels; Novellas (anthology); Short Stories (anthology)
  1. Feat of Iron (Prim)
  2. The Phoenician (WwE)
  3. Riven (LoB)
  4. Meduson (ShLg)
  5. Kryptos (LoB)
  6. Veritas Ferrum (LoB)
  7. The Damnation of Pythos
  8. The Noose (ShLg)
  9. Grey Talon (ShLg)
  10. Deeds Endure (ShLg)
  11. The Seventh Serpent (ShLg)
  12. The Hand Elect (ShLg)
  13. The Either (ShLg)
  14. The Keys of Hel (ShLg)

Veritas Ferrum, Grey Talon & The Either were originally procuded as audio dramas and only later re-published as short stories in prose.

Why this Reading Order?

Like many others, this omnibus went through several iterations before I landed on a shape that I was satisfied with. As it is now, it is a exploration of the Legion that's arguably the most traumatized by the betrayal and murder at Isstvan V: the Iron Hands.

Captain Durun Atticus

The omnibus builds on the editing work of Laurie Goulding and includes most of the stories collected in the Shattered Legions anthology. I rearranged the stories a bit, sparsed some out to other omnibuses and anchored the whole thing around the novel The Damnation of Pythos.

Damnation of Pythos is often decried as the prime example for "This sucks, it doesn't move the story forward!". While it's true that Damnation indeed doesn't contain a necessary piece of information for the meta-plot of the Heresy, I really liked the novel a grim (and, in my opinion, very entertaining) exploration of the secular mindset of the Imperial Truth in general and the iron-hard logic of the Iron Hands in particular being confronted with the mind- and reality-bending horror of Chaos. It's basically a haunted house story with the house being a planet, the teenagers being traumatized super-soldiers and the poltergeist being a god-like daemon from beyond the fabric of reality. The novel also fits perfectly amidst the Shattered Legion-stories about the Iron Hands - and therefore into the structure of this omnibus - because it shows another shade of the spectrum of the Iron Hands' coping in the wake of their primarch's death.

The short story Veritas Ferrum was originally released as an audio drama and is a short prequel to the novel.

Autek Mor & Amadeus DuCaine

Upon re-reading the Shattered Legions anthology I was impressed with the emotional depth and crushing sadness of John French's short-story duology Riven and The Keys of Hel (the former, a prequel to the latter, is regrettably not included in the anthology). This one-two-punch became the alpha and omega of this omnibus and inspired the final shape that it's presented in here.

First Captain Gabriel Santar

You start with a rare look at Ferrus Manus in his living prime in the portentous Great Crusade-era novella Feat of Iron, which is then directly contrasted with the replay of a key scene from Fulgrim from a different perspective in the short story The Phoenician. This forms the background for the emotional reaction and subsequent journey of the protagonist of Riven in response to being informed about his father's death.

Shadrak Meduson & Tybalt Marr

The following short stories from the Shattered Legions-anthology then all explore the Iron Hands thoughts and deeds post-Isstvan, notably of course the guerilla warfare of the "Shattered Legions" - the remnants of the Iron Hands, the Raven Guard and the Salamanders - under Shadrak Meduson. The feud between Meduson, who tries to rebuild the Shattered Legions into a functioning fighting force against the misgivings of conservative elements from his own Legion, and Tybalt 'the Either' Marr, Captain of the 19th Company of the Sons of Horus who makes it his personal mission to hunt down the leader of the guerilla fighters, is a thread that weaves itself through many of these stories.

The crew of the Sisypheum: Atesh Tarsa, Cadmus Tyro & Nykona Sharrowkyn

The crew of the Sisypheum from Shattersong gets revisited in The Seventh Serpent. I included Kryptos, the story that introduced the Sisypheum in the first place, again here for complections sake - if you've already read it in Shattersong, feel free to skip it.

Concluding the omnibus is The Keys of Hel, the second half of Riven, giving the darkest look into the Hands' psyche yet.

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

Ferrus Manus: Gorgon of Medusa by David Guymer gives a rare glimpse at Ferrus Manus in his prime before he became the first casualty amongst the Emperor’s sons. Ferrus was actually one of the first primarchs to be returned into the Emperor's fold and had a real shot at being handed the laurels of Warmaster in Horus' stead. This book shows his attempt to consolidate his claim and shape the Xth Legion into the perfect tool of conquest that he sees as their rightful place. If you want to get to know the Gorgon before he got taken off the board at the very start of the Heresy, this book is the rare chance to do so (apart from Feat of Iron). Here's David Guymer talking about Gorgon of Medusa.

Required and Recommended Reading

This Omnibus is a direct sequel to Shattersong, especially to the finale of Fulgrim and the Sisypheum-parts of Angel Exterminatus.


The Iron Hands' story and the rivalry between Meduson and Tybalt Marr will be concluded in Through The Neath. In addition to this the stories in there also pick up other themes and story-threads from The Truth of Iron.

Some elements from The Truth of Iron will be revisited again in Imperium Secundus II: Fate's Ashes.

The crew of the Sisypheum's final adventure gets told in the Siege of Terra novella Sons of the Selenar by Graham McNeill.

Required Books

Novels (in order of appearance)

  1. The Damnation of Pythos

Anthologies (in order of appearance)

  1. The Primarchs (Prim)
  2. War Without End (WwE)
  3. Legacies of Betrayal (LoB)
  4. Shattered Legions (ShLg)

The anthologies listed above together contain every short-story and novella assembled into the reading order for this omnibus. Instead of buying whole anthologies, you also have the option of buying any of the individual stories from the reading order as an individual eBook. The price per story is higher when buying individual eBooks compared to buying them as part of an anthology.

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:

  • Wrath of Iron by Chris Wraight

    • Long after the end of the Heresy, the Iron Hands battle again against the forces of the God of Excess. This novel really shows how much the Iron Hands have changed since the end of the Heresy, and how much the death of Ferrus Manus has tainted their souls. Very grim and very dark.
  • The Eye of Medusa and The Voice of Mars by David Guymer

    • A duology about an Iron Hand that strikes out in hatred against those that seek to corrupt the holy logic of the machine, this books have a strong focus on the intricate relationship between the Iron Hands and the Mechanicum of Mars. Here's David Guymer talking about The Voice of Mars
  • Pandorax by C Z Dunn:

    • Ten thousand years after the events of The Damnation of Pythos, the death-world of Pythos is again the arena for an apocalyptic conflict, this time between the Dark Angels, the Grey Knights and a whole armada of Chaos forces.
  • the Warhammer Horror range, for example The Wicked and the Damned by Josh Reynolds or The Reverie by Peter Fehervari

    • If you liked the genre of horror that The Damnation of Pythos leaned heavily into, the Warhammer Horror range might be for you. Launched in 2019, the novels, novellas and short stories of Warhammer Horror are dedicated to, well, horror stories, usually set away from the frontlines in more "domestic 40k". For an overview, here's an article about 'The Range So Far' from February 2022
  • Fire Caste by Peter Fehervari

    • If you liked the concept of 'the corrupted planet' from Damnation of Pythos, you might also like Fire Caste by Peter Fehervari. While in both cases the planet is almost like a monster unto itself, in Fire Caste the threat is much more sinister und subtle: instead of giant beasts and titanic daemons, the protagonists are plagued by encroaching madness, sickness, drug abuse, incompetent, uncaring or downright bloodthirsty commanders and an all-encompassing sense of despair.

Videos (for more video suggestions, visit the Additional References)

  • Iron Hands & The Keys of Hel by Oculus Imperia: "Being a record of the psychological trauma inflicted upon the Iron Hands following the loss of their primarch, and their utilization of the heretical technologies of the Keys of Hel."

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