Omnibus cover image

The Story

Whatever the Emperor’s ultimate intentions for his gene-forged sons, he succeeded in one thing: creating perfect engines of destruction. Now that these demi-gods have been loosed upon each other, the galaxy shakes beneath their wrath. With his rebellion in full swing and his treacherous kin rampaging across his father’s empire, the Warmaster prepares for his next move: It takes a god to kill a god, so he must become one. While the Warmaster’s dark intentions gnaw away at the strength of the Imperium, he is yet opposed at every turn in open warfare, on hidden battlefields and even amidst the metaphysical plane.

Called to his side are Mortarion and his Death Guard, who have always prided themselves on their stoic endurance of hardship and their fierce resistance to the use of sorcery and magic. But now that they have thrown in their lot with the chosen of the Dark Pantheon, how long will it take until the self-proclaimed Lord of Death has to realise that there’s already a place carved out for him in the firmament of Chaos? And what will he do when the Grandfather of Plagues forces him to make an impossible choice?

In this omnibus, return to the Warmaster and the Sons of Horus and read about the next stage on Horus’ dark journey to dethrone the Emperor and the valiant efforts of the Thrones agents to stop him. Read further and you’ll see the fated spiral of Mortarion and his sons towards the gleeful arms of the Warp come to its harrowing conclusion in the event that will become known as the Doom of the Death Guard…

Reading Order

Legend: Novels; Novellas (anthology); Short Stories (anthology)
  1. Warmaster (LoB)
  2. Little Horus (AoD or LW)
  3. Garro: Weapon of Fate - Ch. 9-14
  4. Daemonology (WwE or LW)
  5. Grey Angel (TSW)
  6. Luna Mendax (TSW)
  7. The Devine Adoratrice (WwE)
  8. Vengeful Spirit
  9. Wolf Mother (WwE)
  10. Gunsight (WwE)
  11. Garro: Weapon of Fate - Ch. 15-21
  12. Exocytosis (HotS)
  13. Blackshields (HotS)
  14. Distand Echoes of Old Night (TSW)
  15. The Buried Dagger
  16. Old Wounds, New Scars (eShort)
  17. Lantern's Light (eShort)

* Garro Ch. 9-14 are a novelization of the audio dramas Garro: Legion of One and Garro: Shield of Lies. You could alternatively listen to these instead of reading the novelization. For additional notes on this, see. “Why this order?” below

** Warmaster and Grey Angel were originally produced as audio dramas and only later published as short stories.

Why this Reading Order?

Lords of Death consists of three arcs woven together: firstly the next moves of Horus and the Sons of Horus after Isstvan, secondly the latter half of the story of Garro and the Knights-Errant and thirdly the story of Mortarion and the Death Guard. Both Garro’s as well as Mortarion’s story began with Flight of the Eisenstein and ultimately find their pre-Siege conclusion in The Buried Dagger, so I thought it’d be neat to have these two novels as the beginning and the end of the Omnibus two-parter Shadow of the Warmaster I and II.

Horus Aximand after the Battle of Dwell

The Omnibus is roughly divided in two parts. The Knights-Errant are a continuous presence throughout the whole Omnibus. The Sons of Horus are the prime antagonists of the first half up until and including the novel Vengeful Spirit. Vengeful Spirit is the knot where all three arcs meet in the middle, with Mortarion joining Horus’ assault on the planet Molech and the Knights-Errant embarking on a mission to assassinate the Warmaster. The short-stories included up until then feed either into the story of the Knights-Errant or the Sons of Horus, with the exception of The Devine Adoratrice, which is a prequel to the aristocrats of the planet Molech from Vengeful Spirit.

First Captain Calas Typhon & 'The Eater of Lives'

From then onwards, the focus shifts away from the Sons of Horus as antagonists across epilogues to Vengeful Spirit towards Mortarion and the Death Guard (e.g. Daemonology; Exocytosis; Distant Echoes of Old Night). The story of the Knights-Errant continues parallel to them (e.g. the final chapters of Garro: Weapon of Fate) and both arcs culminate in the novel The Buried Dagger. As it is, the Omnibus should give a reader everything they need to enjoy the dramatic conclusions of The Buried Dagger and prepare them for the final act of Horus' story in Shadow of the Warmaster III and IV.

The Buried Dagger is actually the final, 54th novel of the mainline Horus Heresy imprint, released just two months before the first Siege of Terra novel The Solar War. It ends literally at the threshold of the Siege of Terra. So why include it this early in the reading order? I think it’s justified to include it at this relatively early point in Phase V, because the Death Guard and Mortarion stay relatively isolated after their involvement on Molech. Their hunt for the White Scars in Ordu of the Khan happens on the fringes of the wider conflict and the Death Guard stay apart from the eventual big gathering of Traitors in preparation for the Siege in Slaves to Darkness. Because of this, a reader can safely follow this branch of the Heresy to its end without foregoing any conclusions from other story-arcs.

Knights-Errant: Tylos Rubio, Cerberus & Macer Varren

A note on splitting up Garro: Weapon of Fate: this book, which details the journey of Nathaniel Garro after the events of Flight of the Eisenstein, is a weird novel. It is technically a novel, not an anthology, but that novel is a novelization of what used to be a series of six distinct audio dramas (Garro: Oath of Moment, Garro: Legion of One, Garro: Sword of Truth, Garro: Shield Lies, Burden of Duty and Garro: Ashes of Fealty) and a limited edition novella (Vow of Faith) which were all released over the course of half a decade - so it is also kind of an anthology. Because of this hybrid nature, the novel moves along a wide range of the series' timeline and connects to various other events and stories running adjacent to it. There was also a major character reveal in the audio drama Garro: Legion of One, also now bundled into the novelization, which many readers of the Heresy originally missed because they weren’t following the audio publications.

I couldn’t find a good way to place the novel as a whole. For example, the chapters that cover the events of Garro: Legion of One should definitely be read before the novel Vengeful Spirit, while the later chapters that basically reprint the aforementioned novella are set way later on the timeline and are best read afterwards. My solution is to split Garro: Weapon of Fate in three parts along its chapters 1-8, 9-14 and 15-21. The first part is a novelization of four of the audio-dramas, the second of the other two audio-dramas and the third is basically a reprint of the novella Vow of Faith. I encourage readers to take a break after each of these parts and read the novel in three pieces at the recommended points of Shadow of the Warmaster I and II.

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

Mortarion: The Pale King by David Annandale came out regularly in September 2022 - a few years too late, in my opinion. The primarch of the Death Guard remained a slightly underdeveloped character until the very end of the series, when The Buried Dagger finally put some missing pallid flesh on his bones (narratively speaking). Luckily for you, you don't have to wait that long any more and can instead read his Primarchs-book whenever you feel an itch to learn more about the XIVth son. From Warhammer Community: 'Having only recently taken command of the Death Guard, Mortarion is sent to pacify the Galaspar System, whose leaders greedily enrich themselves at the expense of their population. The response is so swift and brutal that even the Imperium baulks at the carnage, although Mortarion shows no sign of remorse.'

Required and Recommended Reading

This is a direct sequel both to Heresy Rising and Shadow of the Warmaster I: Knives in the Dark. The former told the story of the Sons of Horus up until Molech, the latter of Garro and the formation of the Knights-Errant.

In between Vengeful Spirit and The Buried Dagger, Mortarion goes out to hunt for Jaghatai Khan and the White Scars in Ordu of the Khan. Despite a bit of back-and-forth on the timeline between the two omnibuses, I’d recommend reading Ordu before Lords to get the full picture of Mortarion as a character leading up to The Buried Dagger. Reading both Lords of Death and Ordu of the Khan fully prepares a reader for the sixth Siege Of Terra novel Warhawk, where Mortarion and the Khan clash for a final time.

Fulgrim and the Emperor’s Children are part of the attack on Molech in Vengeful Spirit. Their story is quite advanced at this point and the events that led up to Molech can be read about in Shattersong.


The Death Guard and Knights-Errant basically finish their pre-Siege stories here.

The final act of the story of the Warmaster and the Sons of Horus will be told in Shadow of the Warmaster III: Jaws of Defeat and IV: The Dead and the Dying. A natural sequel to this Omnibus would therefore be Jaws.

If you haven’t already, you could now also read Ordu of the Khan to better understand the feud between Mortarion and Jaghatai Khan (s. above). Both Omnibuses combined give a reader full preparation for the sixth Siege Of Terra novel Warhawk, in which the primarchs of the Death Guard and the White Scars clash for a final time.

The concluding piece of Garro's story is the Siege of Terra novella Garro: Knight of Grey.

Required Books

Novels (in order of appearance)

  1. Vengeful Spirit
  2. The Buried Dagger

Anthologies (in order of appearance)

  1. Legacies of Betrayal (LoB)
  2. Legacies of Betrayal (LoB)
  3. Garro: Weapon of Fate (Garro)
  4. The Silent War (TSW)
  5. War Without End (WwE)
  6. Heralds of the Siege (HotS)
  7. ALTERNATIVE: Lupercal's War (LW) (s. notes below)

eShorts (in order of appearance)

  1. Lantern's Light
  2. Old Wounds, New Scars

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.

eShorts are stories that have so far only been made available as stand-alone digital products and are not included in any of the Horus Heresy anthologies.

An alternative source for Little Horus and Daemonology 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:

  • Lords of Silence by Chris Wraight

  • The Emperor's Gift by Aaron Dembski-Bowden

    • The story of the Knights-Errant is paving the way for another secretive group of grey-clad warriors, and in this novel you can take a look at this final bulwark of humanity against the daemonic horrors of the warp: the Grey Knights of Titan.
  • Kingsblade & Knightsblade by Andy Clark

    • Liked the concept of the Knights of Molech in Vengeful Spirit? Care for more action with giant robots that are treated like knightly steeds? Then these two novels might offer you a good ride for your money. Here's a Spotlight on author Andy Clark

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