Omnibus cover image

The Story

The guardian and the spy. The builder and the liar. The rock and the smoke. Rogal Dorn, Praetorian of Terra, and Alpharius Omegon, the Head of the Hydra, were both invaluable assets in their father's war to reclaim the galaxy. In the cauldron of Horus' rebellion, both seem to go on naturally divergent paths, the former becoming the bedrock of the Imperium's defences and the latter siding with those that seek to unearth it. But is all as it seems?

Faced with the erosion of everything that he thought fundamentally fixed about the order of things, Rogal Dorn has to ever further adapt and compromise his morals and methods to fulfil his duty to Terra's safekeeping. And when even the Man of Stone can become flexible, what lengths would the ever-slippery Hydra go to to succeed in their goals?

This Omnibus tracks the roads of the two Primarchs through a war that is waged on many fronts and with many faces at once, heading towards a bloody conclusion under the light of Sol itself…

Reading Order

Legend: Novels; Novellas (anthology); Short Stories (anthology)
  1. The Lightning Tower (SoT)
  2. Champion of Oaths (LW)
  3. Legion
  4. The Crimson Fist (SoT)
  5. Deliverance Lost
  6. Templar (TSW)
  7. The Last Remembrancer (AoD)
  8. The Serpent Beneath (Prim)
  9. Hands of the Emperor (WwE)
  10. The Seventh Serpent (ShLg)
  11. The Harrowing (WwE)
  12. Praetorian of Dorn
  13. Duty Waits (HotS)

*Templar was originally produced as an audio-drama and only later released as a short-story.

Why this Reading Order?

Rogal Dorn and Alpharius Omegon are a study in contrasts. While Dorn and his Imperial Fists are the Immovable Object personified, the Alpha Legion seems to live by the words of the great Bruce Lee:

Empty your mind. Be formless, shapeless. Like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle, it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teacup, it becomes the teapot. Water can flow, and it can crash. Be water, my friend.

A perfect set-up for the confrontation in Book 39 of the series, Praetorian of Dorn. This Omnibus was reverse-engineered from that book backwards.

"I am Alpharius."

First, a few words on the Alpha Legion. There are arguably two primary “Alpha Legion novels”: Legion and Praetorian of Dorn (I've added Deliverance Lost to the list, but more on that below). They are the Alpha and Omega of their story: Legion is set way before the start of the Heresy and introduces the Legion, their primarch and the reasoning behind them joining Horus’ rebellion later on. Praetorian of Dorn sits at the other end of the spectrum and is the culmination of the Legions’ arc, seeing them duke it out with Dorn and the Imperial Fists in the Sol System itself. So while beginning and end are clear, in between things get scattered.

Due to their nature, the Legion doesn’t move or act as a whole, but is splintered in dozens or hundreds of separate cells, mission teams and operatives. Fittingly, their story is mostly told across short-stories/novellas and in (often surprising) cameo-appearances in stories about other Legions (“No one expects the Alpha Legion!”).

Exodus & Armillus 'Griefbringer' Dynat

Without getting too much into spoilers, let it be said that the Alpha Legion is a fractured Legion. While Legion ends with a seemingly clear direction for Alpharius & Co., things quickly get more complicated as we see Alpha Legionnaires working towards seemingly contradictory goals, sometimes even outright fighting each other. Has the Legion split in two? Are individual cells playing their own game? Or is it all part of some devious masterplan, inscrutable to anyone but Alpharius himself? You be the judge.

Sheed Ranko & Autilon 'Hydra's Headsman' Skorr

One of the most detailed Alpha Legion "mission reports" we get is in Deliverance Lost: while that novel is primarily about the Raven Guard, large parts of the book are also dedicated to the Alpha Legion’s mission to infiltrate and sabotage them. Deliverance Lost also adds some vital cues to the puzzle of the internal goings-on within the Alpha Legion. Both of these aspects combined justify including the novel here in addition to its placement in the “Raven Guard Omnibus” Jaws of Defeat (you only have  to read the novel once, of course).

The second story "borrowed" from another Omnibus is The Seventh Serpent, a novella by Graham McNeill about a Shattered Legions strike-cruiser that goes on a mission to attack a vital Alpha Legion target. Again, even if it's not told from an Alpha Legion perspective, the story is a worthwhile addition to the Alpha Legion canon for reasons that become clear during reading.

Sons of Dorn: Fafnir Rann, Archamus & Maximus Thane

Now, to the other side of the coin: Rogal Dorn.

Dorn is kind of a paradoxical character. He spends the whole Heresy stuck on one planet, literally at maximum distance from the battlelines, doing one thing: Preparation. And yet, he's one of the primarchs with the most continuous presence and one of the most dynamic character developments across the series.

The former is based on what Track Of Words once called Dorn's "cameo-friendlyness". Almost every time when the point of view of the Heresy moves towards the Throneworld, Dorn will make at least a short appearance, being consulted by someone, making a decision about something or sometimes even personally moving out to clear out some mess. Dorn is a primary character who lives through appearances as a secondary character.

Across these appearances, he becomes a remarkably vital character. The immovable facade of the Man of Stone hides a man who had unshakeable certainty ripped away from beneath him, someone who is wrestling with a universe he doesn't understand anymore and yet bears the burden of saving. He sits in a triangle of conflict with Malcador and Constantin Valdor, who regularly fight over the right course of action both strategically and morally.

Dorn's cameo-driven character-arc starts with the novels Flight of the Eisenstein and Nemesis, both collected in Shadow of the Warmaster I: Knives in the Dark. Further along, to quote myself:

Dorn’s arc will continue with stories like The Last Remembrancer, in which the Primarch is forced to make hard choices of compromise to adapt to this new kind of war that he’s being forced to wage, all leading along a road that will see him evolve into the Dorn that is able to take on the Alpha Legion at their own game in Praetorian of Dorn.

First Captain Sigismund, 'the Eternal Crusader'

Arguably the second most important character for the Imperial Fists after their primarch is First Captain Sigismund, "the Eternal Crusader". Narratively, Sigismund is similar to Dorn in that he's also mostly in a waiting position during the Heresy itself and will have his finest moments during the Siege of Terra (especially in Warhawk). His most important pieces of character development are his meeting with Euphratie Keeler at the end of Flight of the Eisenstein, his conflict with Dorn in The Crimson Fist (collected here) and the audio-drama/short-story Templar (also collected here). The Crimson Fist is already collected in two (!) other omnibuses, but it's such a vital piece of character development for both Dorn and Sigismund that an omnibus about either of them would simply be incomplete without it. As usual, if you've already read it once you do come across it here, feel free to skip it.

A late addition to the omnibus was Champion of Oaths by John French. The story is a character study of Sigismund, which makes it a perfect fit for this omnibus. To be honest, I wasn't aware of the story's existence until recently because it was only available as an eShort for a long time. I only became aware of it through the release of Lupercal's War (see the note beneath 'Required Books' below), in which it was included as one of the three included short stories that weren't pulled from the numbered Horus Heresy anthologies. So for all of you who bought Lupercal's War for one reason or other, I figured I should look for decent spots to slot these three stories in, and I think Champion of Oaths makes for a fine addition to the stories at hand here.

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

Alpharius: Head of the Hydra by Mike Brooks is the story of told by Alpharius. The book covers a wide range of time during and even before the Great Crusade and is full of interesting twists on the lore...if you are inclined to believe any of the words that the serpent speaks. Read this only after you've read (at least) Legion. Here's Mike Brooks talking about Head of the Hydra.

Rogal Dorn: The Emperor's Crusader by Gav Thorpe came out as a Limited Edition in August 2022. From Warhammer Community: 'Six decades into the Great Crusade, the Emperor asks Rogal Dorn and three of his brothers to expand the Imperium to the far side of the Northern Major Warp Storm. There they will encounter a foe the likes of which they have never been encountered before – will Dorn’s strategic genius be enough to ensure victory?'

Sigismund: The Eternal Crusader by John French from the Horus Heresy Characters range focuses on the First Captain of the Imperial Fists. It is set during the Great Crusade, where Sigismund's talks to a remembrancer about his career as a Space Marine as well as his philosophical outlook on the Imperium, the Great Crusade and the fate of humanity - and why he thinks that only war awaits.

Required and Recommended Reading

The Alpha Legion don't really have a prequel except general information from the opening Omnibus and their involvement in the Dropsite Massacre.

The first part of Dorn's journey happens in Shadow of the Warmaster I: Knives in the Dark. Even while none of the stories in Knives are explicitly "about" the primarch of the Imperial Fists, I strongly recommend reading that Omnibus in preparation for this one.


This Omnibus is part of a loose duology with Omnissiah II: End of Empires. While this Omnibus ends with the physical attack of the Alpha Legion on the Sol System, Omnissiah II shows what the Custodes and the Emperor Himself were busy with during that time. Reading both Omnibuses brings you mostly up-to-date with the status quo on Terra prior to the Siege and ultimately makes you ready to proceed to the two closing Omnibuses Shadow of the Warmaster IV: The Dead and the Dying and Through the Neath.

If you want to know what happened to Alexis Polux in the aftermath of The Crimson Fist, make your way over to Imperium Secundus I: Hope’s Kindling.

If you want to know how the story of the Raven Guard continues after Deliverance Lost and to get more context on that novel, read Shadow of the Warmaster III: Jaws of Defeat.

Required Books

Novels (in order of appearance)

  1. Legion
  2. Deliverance Lost
  3. Praetorian of Dorn

Novellas (in order of appearance)

    Anthologies (in order of appearance)

    1. Shadows of Treachery (SoT)
    2. The Silent War (TSW)
    3. Age of Darkness (AoD)
    4. The Primarchs (Prim)
    5. War Without End (WwE)
    6. Shattered Legions (ShLg)
    7. Heralds of the Siege (HotS)
    8. ALTERNATIVE: Lupercal's War (LW) (s. notes below)

    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.

    Champion of Oaths is only available as an eShort or as part of the anthology Lupercal's War (LW). Lupercal's War 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:

    • The Beast Arises-series by various authors, starting with I Am Slaughter by Dan Abnett

      • This 12-book series is set 1,500 years after the end of the Heresy and details a massive Ork invasion of the Imperium. The whole series is also available in omnibus format across three tomes.
    • Shroud of Night by Andy Clark

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

    • The Mysteries of Alpharius Omegon by Oculus Imperia: "Wherein a discussion is unfolded pertaining to the mysteries of Alpharius Omegon, secretive and unknowable primarch of the XX Legion 'Alpha Legion'."

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