30 Best Warhammer 40k Books of all Time (2021 Update)

30 Best Warhammer 40k Books of all Time (2021 Update)

Warhammer 40k or WH40K books are science fiction novels set in the distant future. It began as a small wargame developed by Games Workshop. Warhammer 40K is currently the most sought-after miniature wargame. The enormous appeal of this fictional universe stems from the narrative and location. Additionally, the plot centers on the futuristic human civilization’s survival.

Warhammer 40K offers it all, from hostile aliens to otherworldly monsters and demonic infestations. As a result, the game and novels have maintained their appeal to the present day. Therefore, let us embark on a voyage to this realm—a universe that combines elements of fantasy, science fiction, and horror. And let us begin by looking at the top 30 Warhammer 40K books of all time.

1. For The Emperor- Sandy Mitchell

30 Best Warhammer 40k Books of all Time (2021 Update)

For the Emperor serves as the introduction of the Ciaphas Cain trilogy. Commissar Ciaphas Cain, Imperium’s hero, revered by his colleagues, and an inspiration to his soldiers – or so history’s distorted lens would have you think! 

The truth is much different since Ciaphas is only seeking to complete his term as Commissar without being assassinated. Ciaphas Cain is sent to assist in maintaining order on an outpost world on the outside of Tau space. 

However, when the alien envoy is assassinated and the situation soon spins out of hand, Cain and his Valhallan army find themselves embroiled in a conflict. While the Imperial Guard struggles to manage widespread social unrest, can the astute Commisar Cain uncover the true villain before the planet is permanently lost to the Imperium?

2. Horus Rising- Dan Abnett

Horus Rising is the ideal synthesis of military 40k cuisine and character development, and Horus Growing is only the beginning. The Imperium of man has reached its zenith after thousands of years of growth and conquest. 

The Emperor withdraws from the front lines on the verge of triumph. With his vision for mankind virtually realized, the emperor gives up control to his Warmaster, Horus, and returns to Terra. Horus attempts to carry out the Emperor’s grand scheme as seeds of heresy and revolt are sown among his siblings. 

However, is Horus powerful enough to maintain control over his fellow commanders and carry out the emperor’s big design?

3. Galaxy In Flames- Ben Counter

Galaxy in Flames is the third novel in Ben Counter’s Horus Heresy trilogy. Warmaster Horus, having recovered from his severe injuries, leads the victorious Imperial troops on the rebel world of Isstvan III. 

An unprecedented coalition of the Sons of Horus, Death Guard, World Eaters, and Emperor’s Children Legions appears capable of overcoming mortal defenses – indeed, such a display of force seemed unnecessary? Though the rebels are quickly destroyed, Horus’s treachery is revealed when the planet is burned by virus bombs and Space Marines turn against their combat brothers in the most bloody conflict conceivable. 

Garviel Loken and his faithful kinsmen take their troops to the surface, only to discover the whole, terrible truth, and the famous Horus Heresy starts with the most heinous act of treachery conceivable.

4. Fulgrim – Graham McNeill

30 Best Warhammer 40k Books of all Time (2021 Update)

This 40k novel is the fourth installment in the Horus Heresy Series, in which the Warmaster Horus continues his Good Crusade. The Emperor’s Children’s Primarch, Fulgrim, however, leads his soldiers into combat. And he does so oblivious to the fact that evil forces have focused their attention on the Imperium of Man.

Since loyalties are evaluated. Friendships are tested; each violent and insatiable desire will manifest itself as the Emperor’s Children begin their slide into true corruption and onto the streets, which will eventually take them to the slaughter grounds known as Isstvan V. A fighter capable of dragging the reader along with them.

5. Legion- Dan Abnett

Legion is the eighth novel in Dan Abnett’s Horus Heresy series. A Great War is on the horizon, one that will consume the Imperium of Man. The Alpha Legion’s Space Marines, the final and most secretive of the Astartes brotherhoods, arrive on a heathen world to assist the Imperial Army in pacifying the globe against unusual and eerie forces. 

However, what motivates the Alpha Legion? Are they trustworthy, and which side will they take when the Great War begins? As humanity’s fate hangs in the balance, loyalty is tested and the cunning machinations of extraterrestrial intelligence are exposed.

6. The First Heretic- Aaron Dembski-Bowden

This is the fourteenth book in the Horus Heresy, and it continues the story of Lorgar and the Word Bearers. They make no attempt to conceal the fact that they regard the Emperor as their deity. Regrettably, the Emperor is not pleased and chastises them. Lorgar and the Word Bearers, disappointed, decide to seek the true deity.

During the Great Crusade’s galaxy-wide battle, the Emperor castigates the Word Bearers for their devotion. Lorgar and his Legion, distraught by this judgment, seek another way, destroying world after planet and unleashing their wrath and ardour on the battlefield. The novel chronicles their path of devastation to expose the Imperium. Unbeknownst to them, greater power is at work and is the WH40K Universe’s first heretic.

7. Hero of the Imperium- Sandy Mitchell

The first three books – For the Emperor, Caves of Ice, and The Traitor’s Hand – are collected in Hero of the Imperium, together with three special short tales.

Commissar Ciaphas Cain, Imperium’s hero, is admired by his colleagues and an inspiration to his soldiers in the war-torn future of the 41st Millennium – or so the propaganda would have you think. The truth, however, is much different, since Ciaphas is only seeking an easy life and a method to avoid danger. However, fate has a habit of placing him into the most perilous situations, and chance always manages to bring him through and elevate him to the highest of pedestals. Commissar Cain must dodge, bluff, and cheat his way out of difficulty to survive, even if it enhances his prestige in ways he cannot control!

8. Xenos- Dan Abnett

30 Best Warhammer 40k Books of all Time (2021 Update)

Xenos is the first installment of Dan Abnett’s trilogy about Inquisitor Gregor Eisenhorn. Gregor Eisenhorn has finally brought Murdin Eyclone to a halt on Hubris, within the massive cryonic vaults where the majority of the planet’s aristocracy spend the nine-month winter season.

The Inquisition stalks humanity like an avenging shadow, ruthlessly eliminating humanity’s adversaries. When Inquisitor Gregor Eisenhorn apprehends an old adversary, he is dragged into a dark scheme. 

As events unravel and Eisenhorn collects allies – and foes – he finds himself up against a huge galactic conspiracy and the evil might of daemons, all of whom are racing to retrieve an esoteric manuscript of awful power: the Necroteuch.

9. A Thousand Sons- Graham Mcneill

Graham McNeill’s novel A Thousand Sons is the twelfth installment in the Horus Heresy Series. Magnus the Red and his Thousand Sons Legion flee to their homeworld of Prospero after being condemned by the Council of Nikea for their blatant use of sorcery. 

However, when the unfortunate primarch foresees Warmaster Horus’s betrayal and informs the Emperor using the very powers he has been forbidden to use, the Master of Mankind orders fellow primarch Leman Russ to assault Prospero. Magnus, however, has observed more than Horus’s treachery, and the discoveries he has witnessed will permanently alter the fate of his fallen Legion and its primarch.

10. The Founding (Gaunt’s Ghosts)- Dan Abnett

The Founding (Gaunt’s Ghosts) is a collection of the first three volumes in the series that follow Ibram Gaunt, the commissar of this Tanith First-And-Only regiment. This omnibus edition collects the first three Gaunt’s Ghosts books. 

It follows the Tanith First-and-Only regiment (nicknamed the Ghosts) and their flamboyant commissar, Ibram Gaunt. While traveling between warzones in the Chaos-infested Sabbat Worlds system, the Ghosts must not only carry out the most perilous missions but also survive the Imperial Guard’s deadly politics.

Chaos wrecks their whole universe in the afternoon of the regiment’s inheritance. Today, Gaunt and his army traverse the world, combating political and physical battles.

11. The Flight Of The Eisenstein- James Swallow

The fourth installment of the Horus Heresy, chronicles Captain Nathaniel Garro’s escape from Istvaan III’s Betrayal. He is embarking on a dangerous trip aboard the Eisenstein with his crew. After witnessing the events on Istvaan III, Deathguard Captain Garro commandeers a ship and sails to Terra to alert the Emperor of Horus’s betrayal. Garro’s mission is to contact the Emperor and inform him about Horus’ betrayal and the resulting revolt. 

Garro, on the other hand, is one of the few faithful commanders, and as such, he is not without suspicion. Eisenstein is collapsing, and some of his crew believes the Emperor is divine. Can Garro and his soldiers escape Chaos’s depravity and deliver their message to Terra in time? The book chronicles his fight to survive in this hostile environment.

12. Storm of Iron- Graham McNeill

30 Best Warhammer 40k Books of all Time (2021 Update)

Storm of Iron, Graham McNeill’s second Black Library novel, was published in 2002 and introduced readers to Honsou, a villain who would appear prominently in subsequent volumes. 

The 383rd Jouran Dragoons defend an Adeptus Mechanicus citadel on the desolate planet of Hydra Cordatus. Nobody appears to be quite certain of what they are guarding, but a huge invading force of Iron Warriors implies it is significant. Now, Hydra Cordatus is in the grip of hell, as a large force of frightening Iron Warriors, Chaos’s ruthless assault soldiers, has invaded the planet and laid siege to its magnificent imperial fortress. 

The Imperial defenders feel they are secure behind strong castle walls, but the Iron Warriors bring 10,000 years of cunning and cruelty in addition to their siegecraft skill. However, what prize could be worth this level of savagery and destruction, and how long can the defenders possibly hold out?

13. Ravenor- Dan Abnett

Of Ravenor, Abnett’s first novel in a trilogy, we enter a world that is similar to us. Gideon Ravenor, an Inquisitor, is a former protege of the notorious (and now-missing) Gregor Eisenhorn. Ravnor is severely injured in the tragedy on Thracian Primaris, but his tremendous psi-powers continue unabated, and his associates and operatives are among the greatest in their disciplines.

Ravenor’s newest case takes him and his squad to Eustis Majoris, the capital world of subsector Angelus, where they are on the lookout for ‘flects,’ a novel narcotic that causes a state of psychological pleasure in the patient. 

Believing the drug trade is being influenced by Chaos, Ravenor teams up with the planet’s law enforcement organizations to bring the destructive trade to an end but soon learns that the case involves a slew of opposing interests.

14. Ravenor Returned- Dan Abnett

This book is the second in the ‘Ravenor’ series, continuing the exploits of Imperial Inquisitor Ravenor and his Warband in a dark and gothic future. Gideon Ravenor and his squad avoided a fatal trap and returned to Eustis Majoris incognito. Ravenor invokes Special Condition status, diving deep undercover and acquiring the ability to deal with the situation in whatever way he sees fit.

The narrative develops substantially as years-long plans come to a climax. Secrets are both exposed and maintained. Additionally, decisions must be taken and consequences must be accepted. His discourse was inadequate. He desired to impress, and, like many affluent, hollow men, he could only conceive of exploiting his ostentatious money.

15. Watchers of the Throne: The Emperor’s Legion- Chris Wraight

The Adeptus Custodes serves as the Emperor’s praetorian guard, defending Terra and keeping an eye on the Golden Throne. However, if a threat materializes, they and their Sisters of Silence friends may find themselves strained to the breaking point…

Since the Imperium’s inception, the Custodian Guard has guarded the Emperor’s Palace on Terra. Charged with the responsibility of defending the Master of Mankind from all dangers, both internal and external, their fierce determination is legendary across the galaxy, and their golden armor is the last thing an assassin or saboteur would ever see. 

Along with the Sisters of Silence’s Null-maidens, who are anathema to psykers and sorcerers alike, there has been no threat to the Golden Throne that they cannot overcome alone… until now.

16. Fallen Angels- Mike Lee

30 Best Warhammer 40k Books of all Time (2021 Update)

This is the eleventh installment of the Horus Heresy. With word of Horus’s betrayal spreading throughout the galaxy, the Great Crusade comes to a grinding stop as the primarchs and their Legions decide whether to remain loyal to the Emperor or the renegade Warmaster. 

The Dark Angels, too, are through a period of trial, both in space and on their homeworld Caliban. Luther, formerly Lion El’Jonson’s trusty second-in-command, now lives in virtual exile as his master battles to halt the traitors’ progress on the forge planet Diamat. However, an ancient evil is gathering power under Caliban’s surface, and the First Legion will soon be pushed into a terrible war that will call into question all they know.

17. Ravenor Rogue- Dan Abnett

Inquisitor Ravenor’s pursuit of his arch-nemesis Molotch brings him and his crew to dark and deadly places in the third book of the series. Unbeknownst to Ravenor, one of his team members is concealing a lethal secret that might spell the end of them all.

Inquisitor Ravenor continues his pursuit of arch-heretic Zygmunt Molotch – a pursuit that has become an obsession for him. Ravenor and his squad defy Inquisition instructions and pursue their prey relentlessly. 

Thrown through time and space and fought against foes of unfathomable might and cunning, how much will Ravenor and his squad be willing to give up to rescue the day?

18. False Gods- Graham McNeill

False Gods is the second novel in Graham McNeill’s Horus Heresy trilogy. False Gods is a direct sequel to Horus Rising, detailing Horus’s descent into Chaos.

The Great Crusade that has propelled humanity to the stars is still ongoing. The Emperor of humanity has delegated leadership to his preferred son, the Warmaster Horus. However, everything is not well among the Imperium’s army. 

Horus is still facing his brother primarchs’ envy and hatred, and after being injured in combat on the planet Davin, he must also face his inner daemons. Can the weakening Horus withstand the temptations of Chaos?

19. Descent of Angels- Mitchel Scanlon

This is the sixth installment in the Horus Heresy series, although it appears to take a little detour from the main plot and explore some extremely different fantasy themes. The knightly orders of Caliban have defended the populace from the monsters that lurk in the planet’s gloomy forests. 

Zahariel and Nemiel desire to join the order, led by Lion El’Jonson, but the approaching Imperium raises new worries, and the sons of Caliban must decide for themselves whether to join the Lion in the Great Crusade.

20. Betrayer- Aaron Dembski-Bowden

30 Best Warhammer 40k Books of all Time (2021 Update)

Betrayer is the third installment in the famous Horus Heresy series, which delves into the history of the Warhammer 40,000 universe. Betrayer picks up immediately after the events in Dan Abnett’s Know No Fear, continuing the narrative of the Word Bearers and delving into the origins of Angron and the World Eaters. Betrayer is the twenty-fourth installment in the Horus Heresy series. It is a narrative of loss, rage, and treachery.

The first phase of the Shadow Crusade has begun. While the Ultramarines recover from Kor Phaeron’s surprise attack on Calth, Lorgar and the rest of the Word Bearers advance deep into Ultramar’s domain. Their odd friends, Angron and the World Eaters continue to wreak havoc on each new system they encounter – and on the garrison world of Armatura, this unrelenting brutality may prove to be their doom. Worlds will be destroyed, Legions will clash, and a primarch will be assassinated.

21. Anarch- Dan Abnett

Anarch is the sixteenth and final installment of Gaunt’s Ghosts, which began with the First and Only and Blood Pact.

Ibram Gaunt is compelled to resume his duty as commander of the Imperial lines at Urdesh, picking up where Warmaster left off. The world has been transformed into a critical battleground, yet as the Ghosts advance, Chaos seeks to destroy them from within, and previous errors come back to haunt them.

The fight for Urdesh has begun – and its conclusion will decide the Sabbat Worlds Crusade’s fate. Ibram Gaunt, the Warmaster’s new right hand, and his Ghosts hold the key to triumph – but will they be able to overcome the evil Anarch and his Sons of Sek?

22. Pariah- Dan Abnett

The Bequin Trilogy begins with Pariah. It is the sequel to the Inquisitor and Ravenor trilogies.

Nothing is quite as it appears in Queen Mab’s city. Alizebeth Bequin is a pariah, a spy, and an Inquisitorial operative. She is all of these things and yet none of them. She is an enigma, even to herself, caught between Inquisitors Gregor Eisenhorn and Gideon Ravenor, erstwhile comrades who are now adversaries in a shadow game against an enigmatic and lethal opponent. 

Bequin becomes entangled in a sinister plan for which she has no idea what her part or purpose is, while she is desired by the Archenemy and sought by the Inquisition. With the assistance of an unlikely collection of allies, she must solve the mysteries of her life and history if she is to escape an impending war in which the line between friends and adversaries is dangerously blurred.

23. Night Lords- Aaron Dembski-Bowden

Aaron Dembski-Night Bowden’s Lords trilogy is a collection of three Black Library books. The story follows Talos, a member of the Night Lords Legion’s First Claw, 10th Company.

The definitive collection of this engrossing science fiction series. Driven by their hate for the False Emperor, the Night Lords hunt the galaxy’s darkness, seeking vengeance for their primarch’s death. A warband from this evil Legion strives to live in a continuous war against the Imperium’s soldiers, guided by the prophet Talos’ prophecies. 

However, as they come into conflict with other renegades and are pursued by the Eldar of Craftworld Ulthwe, the Night Lords are pulled back to the scene of their greatest loss and drawn into a war they cannot win.

24. Space Wolf- William King

30 Best Warhammer 40k Books of all Time (2021 Update)

William King and Lee Lightner’s Space Wolf book series includes Space Wolf, Ragnar’s Claw, Grey Hunter, and numerous others. THE TRUE STORY

The Space Wolves’ screaming wrath is about to be unleashed! On Fenris’s desolate dead world, the small people must fight for life against dangerous creatures and other tribes regularly. 

However, Fenris is also home to the Space Marines’ formidable Space Wolves Chapter, the Emperor’s best soldiers in a world teeming with aliens, heretics, and mutants. Ragnar’s exploits begin when he is resurrected from a brutal combat death and recruited into the Space Wolves. But can the fierce Ragnar overcome the beast within and fulfill his destiny on the 41st millennium’s battlefields?

25. Deliverance Lost- Gav Thorpe

Deliverance Lost is Gav Thorpe’s 18th novel in the Horus Heresy Series. Corax and his few remaining Raven Guard evade the carnage at Isstvan V as the Horus Heresy splits the Imperium. 

While tending to their wounds, the bloodied Space Marines attempt to refill their ranks and rejoin the conflict, ready to confront the renegade Warmaster. Corax comes to Terra, distraught by the severe blow delivered to his Legion, to seek the assistance of his father, the Emperor of Mankind. 

Corax begins rebuilding the Raven Guard after gaining access to ancient knowledge, plotting his retribution against his traitorous fellow primarchs. However, not all of his remaining soldiers are what they look like… The enigmatic Alpha Legion has infiltrated the survivors and intends to kill the Raven Guard before they can regroup and jeopardize Horus’ objectives.

26. Ghostmaker- Dan Abnett

Ghostmaker is Dan Abnett’s second Gaunt’s Ghosts novel and the second installment in the Founding trilogy. On the world of Monthax, the Tanith First and Just face not only Chaos cultists but also the environment and their views. 

Multiple accounts of their earlier missions, dating back to the unit’s creation, are interspersed throughout this narrative, showcasing both individual members of the regiment and how it has evolved over time.

27. Titanicus- Dan Abnett

Titanicus is a Dan Abnett novel about the Legio Invicta Titan Legion. When an army of Chaos Titans attacks the world of Orestes, the Imperial Titans of Legio Invicta rush to defend the crucial forge world.

Following a bloody military conflict, one of the Imperium’s most illustrious Titan Legions, the Legio Invicta, prepares to deploy to the Sabbat Worlds’ warzones. However, while refueling and repairing at the forge world of Orestes, the Legio Invicta is pushed back into conflict by a force of Chaos Titans. 

However, as the god-machines of the Adeptus Titanicus march to battle, an unexpected theological rift threatens to split the Adeptus Mechanicus and destroy the very Earth they have sworn to preserve, putting the Imperial defenders’ dedication to the test.

28. Traitor General- Dan Abnett

30 Best Warhammer 40k Books of all Time (2021 Update)

Commissar Gaunt and a small squad from his regiment, the Tanith First-and-Only, are dispatched on a covert operation behind enemy lines in a world dominated by the wicked Chaos forces.

Magister Sek’s soldiers have advanced into the Khan group of the Sabbat Worlds on the instructions of Archon Urlock Gaur and seized a high-ranking Imperial Lord General. Colonel-Commissar Ibram Gaunt and a hand-picked squad of his Tanith elite have been charged with the mission of recapturing or assassinating this critical figure.

29. Soul Hunter- Aaron Dembski-Bowden

Soul Hunter is a Night Lords novel written and released in March 2010 by Aaron Dembski-Bowden.

They are the rebels of the 41st Millenium, betrayed, driven out of the Emperor’s light, and persecuted as heretics. The Night Lords, clad with death emblems, are ruthless hunters and assassins. They will never repent for the blasphemy that resulted in their expulsion. 

They feed on the Imperium’s demise, delivering death from the void between planets. Their dark mission will take them to the world of Crythe Primus, where they will battle Imperial soldiers for the planet’s reclaim.

30. First And Only- Dan Abnett

Dan Abnett’s first novel, First and Only, is a military science fiction novel set in the Warhammer 40,000 setting. Imperial Commissar Gaunt must lead his soldiers through as much infighting among competing regiments as against Chaos forces in the Chaos-infested Sabbat system.

For a thousand years, the Imperium has been denied access to the Sabbat Worlds, which have been seized by the terrible powers of Chaos. Now, a great crusade aims to restore Imperial control to the area. And Colonel-Commissar Ibram Gaunt and the Tanith First and Only – dubbed Gaunt’s Ghosts – are at the vanguard of that crusade. 

Trapped in Fortis Binary’s grueling trench warfare, the Ghosts are dragged into a plot to murder the crusade’s commander, Warmaster Macaroth. With adversaries on every side and no one to trust, Gaunt and his soldiers must devise a plan to rescue the Warmaster and prevent the Sabbat Worlds Crusade from collapsing – even if it means waging war on their ostensible friends.

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