Best Horus Heresy Books

Top 16 Best Horus Heresy Books In Reading Order – Which To Skip?

by Rey Sagar

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Ever tried to find the best Horus heresy books on the internet?

And found so many books all over the place, and don’t know which one to pick up first and more importantly which one to skip it?

Then don’t worry, I’m here to give you all the Horus heresy book order list, so it will be much easier for you to whether listen the audiobooks or read it from physical books.

Back at the beginning of 2021, One of my friend was looking for recommendations on how to navigate the huge backlog of Horus Heresy books.

I put together this list with my must-read and not so much must-read Horus Heresy recommendations.

I’m also including my star rating for each book. Your mileage may vary, so keep that in my It’s just my personal opinion.

Best To Wrost Horus Heresy Book List Summery

So, you got the list of the best Horus heresy books to read, but I've more than that because there are so many books out there you might be wondering why didn't I keep on the list.

That is why I made the below list, so it's much easier for you to pick on and more on which Horus heresy books to skip.

Now, let's see all the best Horus heresy books tier list according to the best, good, not recommended, and alternatives.

Happy to read at any time >>

Best Horus heresy novels

  1. Horus Rising (The Murder section is a bit dull for me, though)
  2. False Gods (The origin of the fall of Horus.)
  3. Age of Darkness (Ngl, I'd buy this just for Savage Weapons)
  4. Shadows of Treachery (Literally everyone at the top of their anthology game)
  5. Unremembered Empire (Euten is love, Euten is life)
  6. War Without End (Most of these are so much fun, Some are iffy, but the gems really shine!)
  7. Praetorian of Dorn (Basically the first three Siege books and Sons of the Selenar, but better in every way)
  8. Master of Mankind (I'd sacrifice approximately three bulls with a Labrys to Zeus if it meant ADB wrote more BAngels and Mechanicum)
  9. Betrayer (Some of the best WB stuff, I also sometimes hate it)
  10. Slaves to Darkness (Wait, you mean allying with the people that use poisonous homicidal bestiality orgies to commune with the God of the beat was a bad idea?)
  11. Saturnine (Glares at the Inability of Spoilers to make fun one-liners)
  12. The Primarchs: Ferrus Manus (Gardinaal are cool, Akurduana is bae and Ferrus Manus can bitch-slap lasers and beat dreadnoughts to death for their insufficient badassery)
  13. The Primarchs: The Lion (I am a simple man, show me a Librarian fighting a sapient meme with a magical minigun and I'll be happy)
  14. Valdor: Birth of the Imperium (More like 'Valdor: Awkward Teen Years of the Imperium' but it suits my 'Wraight and Custodians' Fetish)
  15. The Primarchs: Fulgrim (Best thing ever, I will duel anyone that says otherwise (provided I am allowed to bring ten friends and ambush you before the duel to break your knees)

Enjoyable in a series read-through >>

Horus heresy must reads

  1. Tales of Heresy (FUN! The Last Church is the wet dream of a priest looking to convert someone with a poor grasp of theology, though)
  2. Legion (This one divides people, but it’s Abnett and it’s awesome. Do not expect an Alpha Legion book. There are big reveals in this book related to the 40K universe.)
  3. A Thousand Sons (A bit exhausting and the villains are shallower than plastic wrap, but boy is it silly-fun)
  4. Prospero Burns (Really like the parts of it that the character doesn't spend higher than a squirrel tied to a kite in a hurricane while on meth)
  5. Galaxy in Flames (The conclusion of the initial trilogy that is the tragedy of Horus. I don’t find the writing in this book as strong as the first two, but the plot carries it.)
  6. Know No Fear (Behold the Grand Blueberry)
  7. Mark of Calth (The Murder Knife stuff is fun, Oll is fun. But for the love of the gods did it make me develop a very specific need to destroy all tunnels in existence.)
  8. Scars (Local speedy boy is very slow)
  9. Legacies of Betrayal (The most random of the Anthologies by my mileage, consequently fun as heck)
  10. Tallarn (Holy Moly was this fun to read, or agonizingly exhausting, can't recall which. Want to listen to it again though)
  11. The First Heretic (Must read. ADB and Lorgar and the real start of the Heresy.)
  12. Ruinstorm (Prose be iffy, but a WALL MADE OF BONES BIGGER THAN A SOLAR SYSTEM (Rock Music Blares in the Background)
  13. The Burden of Loyalty (There are a lot of big robots and giant mecha snakes eating suns in this book, also Land. Gimme moar)
  14. Heralds of the Siege (Kyme rarely knocks out of the park, when he does, though...)
  15. The Solar War (Praetorian of Dorn but worse. Also, Cthonian Savagery is Savage)
  16. The Lost and the Damned (There is a surprising amount of mud on Terra, most of it seems to be on Katsuhiro)
  17. The Primarchs: Jaghatai Khan (Horrid on its own, great beyond words as part of a read-through of the WS books)
  18. The Primarchs: Corax (I like big hats, those humans have big hats. Corax is an asshat)
  19. The Primarchs: Angron (Gee, it's almost as if it is surprising that a guy nicknamed the 'Betrayer' has a history with bad judgment and deflecting blame...)
  20. The Primarchs: Perturabo (Pert's Sister is funnier than he is... that tracks)

I wouldn’t bother reading it Again >>

Best Horus heresy books to read one more time

  1. Flight of the Eisenstein (Yes, young BlackLibrary. Let the compulsive need to center a Legion's arc on a Terran PoV that is at odds with the actual Legion flow through you!)
  2. Mechanicum (So much wasted potential, also a YA novel for some reason)
  3. The Primarchs (Primarch beat with an evil butt plug, Omegon having a peculiar notion of resource allocation and Iron Hands being so incompetent that they literally kill themselves, It's so silly that I low-key love it)
  4. Pharos (Night Lords, seem like the kind of people that would wear scarves in summer)
  5. Path of Heaven (Ever read Scars and thought 'everyone here needs to be one-degree more punchable'?)
  6. Old Earth (Surprisingly tolerable)
  7. Wolfsbane (Fun in parts, but an apt name for its treatment of the Sixth)
  8. The Primarchs: Konrad Kurze (This would be higher, but damn are some of the Nostromans punchable, it's kinda distracting)
  9. The Primarchs: Lorgar (In the most expected development since fire being hot, Kor Phaeron is a dick)

Please, No >>

Not recommended - Horus heresy books to skip

  1. Fulgrim (Why have only one demigod be turned by a magic sword when you can have two!)
  2. Battle for the Abyss (Highly Recommended for Sleep Therapy)
  3. Fear to Tread (Aptly named)
  4. Angel Exterminatus (Time to make a Primarch schizophrenic)
  5. Betrayer (Yes, I'm putting this here twice, ADB gets weird reactions out of me. Angron complains more than a Pregnant Cat possessed by Little Horus's ghost)
  6. Vulkan Lives (I'd have rather he didn't if it had spared me this)
  7. Vengeful Spirit (Incest Snakes and Cthonian Savagery, Horus also ploughs deep into Chaos's Magical Hole)
  8. Deathfire (My most earnest request upon finishing this book)
  9. Eye of Terra (Why did they make Abbadon petty enough to use his topknot for a height gain again? And why on earth are people commenting on this insetting?)
  10. Angels of Caliban (I'm not sure the Lion grasps the notion of the consent)
  11. Master of Mankind (Ever read the Emperor's Legion Books and wondered 'what if every Custodian was an insufferable butt?)
  12. The Buried Dagger (Malcador is an effective bug-zapper, otherwise this book aptly describes the backs of most DG fans)
  13. The Primarchs: Leman Russ (The Space Wolves in the Heresy Era had a lot of balls, the only way they could survive getting them kicked in so frequently)
  14. The Primarchs: Magnus the Red (I get it, Magnus didn't excel at pattern recognition, can he have a success story now please?)
  15. The Primarchs: Vulkan (Literally fell asleep listening to this one)

Equivalent to Skraivok's Fate >>

  1. Outcast Dead (*Puts on Nemes and turns on Goa'uld eyes* McNeill!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (Yes, I know that character is O'Neill, just let me have this))
  2. The Crimson King (Gave me a splitting migraine and I think I read this but better somewhere else)
  3. Born of Flame (Die in a Fire)
  4. Titandeath (Also known as 'Oof')
  5. The First Wall (Roomsky once equated my opinion on this one to the popular view of The Room... That might be giving it too much credit)

16 Best Horus Heresy Books Ranked In Reading Order

Before I give you the list of the best Horus heresy books,

Let's see how you can read these books altogether, one by one.

Firstly, the reading order of the Horus Heresy is known by every Warhammer 40K enthusiast.

There are a bunch of ways to read these best Horus heresy books ranked in reading order.

You can start from the release date straight from the beginning.

But I don't recommend you to do that because not every book is worth reading. That's why I made the summary list at the end of this article on which one to read and which to skip.

There are some books, like Horus Rising: The Horus Heresy by Dan Abnett and Toby Longworth. It’s a clear winner. It’s one of the best books for new readers and enthusiasts.

Having said that, I will recommend my personal list of Horus heresy books to read, and you can go through my summary list if you want more books.

Now, let's see my top 12 list of the best Horus heresy books to read for everyone.

1. Horus Rising

“Perhaps we are cursed to crave something which does not exist. There are no gods, no spirits, no daemons. So we make them up, to comfort ourselves.”

Horus rising is an excellent book. Surprisingly so, even.

The reader can happily throw all predispositions aside and relish in the fact that this a spectacular story with intriguing characters, excellently written and filled with well-thought-out philosophical background.

Not only is it a tale of space marines conquering the world for the Emperor and the cause, but it also sparks deep questions on religion, race, freedom, warfare, and enlightenment.

The introduction to the Horus Heresy provides a brilliant background framing for the defining event of what is eventually to become the occult, twisted and Grimdark with a capital G Warhammer 40K universe.

It truly is a seed-sowing book, as the description hammers in, although in addition to sowing the seeds of heresy, it sows the seeds of exceptional world-building and a unique and fascinating narrative.

A fresh look and an amazing read that makes an already full universe, fuller and an avid reader of the genre, richer.

Best read late at night in quiet. Not a book fit to be read on the bus/metro etc.

Read this one three times. “I was there, the day Horus slew the Emperor.”

Our Ratings

2. False Gods

False Gods is the second book in the Horus Heresy series.

Warmaster Horus and the 63rd Expeditionary Fleet continue the quest to bring the galaxy under control of the Emperor.

A world formerly brought into compliance has seemingly rebelled, so the Sons of Horus prepare to squash the rebels, only to bring about a course of events that will bring about the great heresy.

I loved this book! Lots of great fighting action, nurgle-ly undead fun and the beginnings of the slide into chaos. Fun times!

From 40K lore I knew what was coming….but there was so much action, emotion and great story along the way. Some events I did not expect, and a couple characters got what I felt they deserved.

Several, of course, got what they did not deserve — it is the 40K world, after all.

This second book is more gritty and bloody, more action oriented.

The more in-your-face style works better for this second story, as it shows the violence inherent in the quest to bring a galaxy into compliance, one planet at a time.

And, to show the beginnings of disintegration and descent into the heresy.

Great book! Moving on to the next — Galaxy in Flames.

The origin of the fall of Horus

Our Ratings

3. Galaxy in Flames

The third and final book of the Horus Heresy trilogy signals the start of the Galactic Civil War. After the events on Davin, Horus has fallen to Chaos.

He has converted some of his brothers, and now they will have to cull the Loyalists for their own legions.

This third book is not only dark but also poignant. Quite a few characters you are familiar with will meet their ends, while others begin their ascension to fame and infamy.

In time names like Kharn, Lucius, Abbadon, and Garro will be known at the very top of the Imperium.

A great novel, gory, action-packed, epic and dramatic. The darkest parts were the best!

It shows what could have been and then near the end, in the scenes of devastation and loss, a hint of what is to lay in store for the future of the Imperium.

Conclusion to the opening trilogy in the Horus Heresy series

Our Ratings

4. The Flight of the Eisenstein

The Flight of the Eisenstein was just as amazing as the first 3 Horus Heresy novels.

One thing I love about the HH(so far) is that the action and war take a back seat to character development and politics and such.

Don’t get me wrong, the action scenes in Fote were god-tier as usual. The battle aboard the Jorgall(?) ship, Istvaan Extremis, the Eisenstein, and finally Luna were incredible to read.

Really fun battles and I only wish we got to see more pre-heresy Death Guard because they seem like such a badass legion! Mortarion and Typhos in particular are definitely worthy of a few pre-heresy novels.

Now, while this novel was about the Death Guard and the journey of taking warning back to Terra, Nathaniel Garro really takes the fore in this one.

It is HIS story. It is HIS witnessing of the legion’s betrayal and HIS story to bring the warning to Terra.

Which was stunning.

Garro was a steadfast character, and I really took a liking to him pretty immediately, and I really enjoyed his group of battle-brothers. Rahl, Sendrek, etc. even his housecarl was downright awesome in all of his scenes!

This one reads like an action movie. Introduces Garro

Our Ratings

5. Legion

This was great!

“Secrets and lies” indeed.

Dan Abnett’s books really do stand out in this series.

At the expense of action, he excels at world building and character development. This spy/sci-fi/thriller is presented quite differently than the earlier entries.

The story is set before the very beginning of the Heresy, and is told mostly from the perspective of the common (?) soldiers dealing with espionage and intrigue.

We get a glimpse at the inner workings of the mysterious Alpha Legion, and are left with many questions.

John Grammaticus is an absolute favorite, but the book is filled with equally interesting characters. The story offers a few twists and turns, and is never dull.

The Horus Heresy is a tremendous series and this book continued with that tradition.

There are big reveals in this book related to the 40K universe

Our Ratings

6. A Thousand Sons

A fantastically entertaining blend of about forty different genres,

this book is one of the best Horus heresy books that you can read, and I’m twelve deep now.

I know I’ve dug pretty much every Warhammer 40K book I’ve read, but this one is just that much better than those other ones,

It’s bigger and more complex than most of them and does a very decent job at emotion instigation, as evidenced by heartbreak and disappointment as well as excitement and thrill.

I like each one for a different reason, but this one shines just a little brighter, it is very much an amazing book.

A superb piece of 40k fiction, It’s an absolute masterpiece

A Thousand Bad Decisions, all made with absolute best of intentions

Our Ratings

7. Prospero Burns

This book transcends the limitations of its genre and leaves you feeling like you just read a great book. You feel that way because you just did.

This is a novel of old lore, tenebrous foreboding, and startling revelation. It sinks you deep into a culture mysteriously clad in hoarfrost and unfolds its charms and secrets through the repetitious prayers of whispered page-turning.

Run with the wolves, hunt, stalk, and fight; bludgeon, bleed and freeze on the red snow of your cut thread. Do not fear.

You will not be forgotten. Yours is a story worthy of remembering.

It will be told when times have grown cold with ice when the fire’s hot heat and amber light grow wane and calm sleep is disturbed.

It is a story of raw courage, and it will ignite a spirit-spark that will see the whole indigo-hued world melt in ravenous flame. Hard hearts will be moved and kindled. In our future’s farthest gloaming, we are going to still know a swift, ax-drawn fondness for you and add laughter to your unshadowed fame.

I would have given this book 5 stars if not the slow and confusing start.

There are no wolves on Fenris. LOL

Our Ratings

8. The First Heretic

You get not only an excellent and tragic story from ADB here, but also a lot of insight and straight-up explanations into the how’s and why’s Chaos does what it does.

This book was filled with wonderful details of Lorgar’s character, it was a very unique experience to get into a primarchs mind and see how he thinks.

Also, personally this was one of the most creepy Horus Heresy novels that you can read.

All the demon stuff and the extensive lies that had to be told, the double-crossing and betrayals. By the end, you almost begin to like Custodians. Almost.

A must-read for anyone who likes heresy.

About the only thing holding this back from 5 stars is a not-insignificant number of typos and editing oversights. Otherwise, this entry is the best in the series so far.

Fascinating explanation of how the seeds of Chaos were planted

Our Ratings

9. Know No Fear

The 19th book in the Horus Heresy series, and one of the best so far. That’s not astounding to me, it’s written by Dan Abnett, and I find him to be one of the best writers that the Black Library has.

Know No Fear deals with the Battle of Calth, the epic battle between the XIII and XVII legions.

The Ultramarines and the Word Bearers respectively. From the word go, this book is a non-stop, fast-paced action. This is a huge, epic battle between two legions, and the book definitely expresses that.

There is fighting on the ground, fighting on ships, space combat, and surrounding it all is the grievous betrayal by the Word Bearers.

It begins with their sneak attack, and it is so brutal, so overwhelming that it’s almost impossible to see how the Ultramarines could survive, let alone retaliate. It’s a roller coaster, and it’s fantastic.

Dan Abnett does a wonderful job communicating his story. He is constantly shifting scenes. There is so much going on concurrently that you’re never in the same place for more than a couple of pages.

It does a lot to help show the huge scale of the conflict. There is also an abundance of characters, over 75 just from checking the dramatis personae at the beginning of the book.

He uses them all, and he uses them well. By the end of the book, you’ve come to know these characters very well indeed.

Must Read. The Battle of Calth and it’s Abnett

Our Ratings

10. The Unremembered Empire

So, The Unremembered Empire. This is probably one of the bigger pieces of lore to be really “new” when it comes to the HH(Though I could be wrong), and man was it a nice thing to read about!

The politics behind Roboute Guilliman’s Imperium Secondus, the lighting of the beacon at MaCragge and the arrival of all the lost souls from so many books was awesome.

Guilliman definitely seemed different compared to the beginning of Know No Fear, and getting to see a Primarch that has his doubts and be confronted by some of his brothers on that doubt was awesome.

With the end of ‘The Unremembered Empire’ we’re finally going to be moving into some truly undiscovered areas before heading to the EPIC Battle Of Terra.

It’s an absolutely masterfully written story that yet again brings the Heresy into focus as the Xenos and human kind both try and cope with the advances of Horus.

Mystery, drama, battles, primarch vs primarch

Our Ratings

11. Scars

Rejoice, White Scar fans!

Chris Wraight delivers a phenomenal story in “Scars” here.

This is an exciting read from start to finish, and a breath of fresh air for a Legion so overlooked by both the Imperium and Warhammer fans alike. To me, what really stands out here are the characters and how well-written they are.

Not just Jaghatai either.

The whole cast gets time in the sun and have their own rich, distinctive personalities.

Admittedly, there is one small gripe, which is the Space Wolf storyline. It doesn’t really go anywhere, and as a result, was forgettable.

Overall, I wholeheartedly recommend this book, even if space Mongols don’t sound like your thing.

It’s a story for anyone interested in Astartes, period. “Scars” gets a 4.7 star from my side.

Which side will the Khan take? Will he take any side at all?

Our Ratings

12. The Path of Heaven

If you thought ‘Scars’ was good, then you need to do yourself even more of a favor and get on and read this absolute beast (see the cover) and page-turner of a book!

Chris Wraight has outdone himself here as he negotiates his White Scars on their rocky return to Terra.

This book ticked absolutely all of my boxes regarding what I expect from The Horus Heresy series: war, death, immense amounts of inter-legion detail, heartbreak, AAA’s (absolute, a-hole antagonists) and some very cool twists to provide the proverbial cherry on top.

Most importantly, this narrative arc features some of the most endearing characters of the entire series (ahem, Yesugei, ahem),

and Wraight clearly loves them too, as they are written with all the verve required for a reader to invest their time in simply brilliant characters.

This also makes for a much more moving read when one sees some excruciating trials these genuinely loveable characters, and indeed, not-so-loveable characters, have to go through. This book makes you care.

The Path of Heaven takes the scars through hell, and I was glad to be along for the journey.

Jaghatai is a badass White Scars are good boys

Our Ratings

13. Praetorian of Dorn

Praetorian of Dorn is John French’s first true novel for the Heresy, and it showcases exactly why he is one of Black Library’s greatest authors and Games Workshop’s greatest assets.

French manages to work in references and asides to so much of his sweeping Heresy short form work, as well as his notable contributions to the Forge World rule books for tabletop Heresy.

He commits them to the page with an almost historical relish, to the point that it’s a novel that would almost benefit from footnotes.

This is a novel that subverts every expectation and delights in it. The perfect novel to usher in the beginning of the end.

Alpha to Omega.

Game changing part of the "Horus heresy" story.

Our Ratings

14. The Master of Mankind

Without any doubt, this is one of the best Horus heresy books.

There is a caveat, however, do not read this book until you have a good to very good background in the lore.

That is not to say that this book can not stand on its own. It most certainly can, but to truly appreciate what is going on requires some measure of lore background.

A great book, but one that is best enjoyed with a good background. Then this is a gem. That’s the only reason this got 4.5 stars.

It fleshes out the Emperor and gives some interesting answers to burning questions.

Still, highly recommended for any 40K fan, but someone immersed in the lore will truly appreciate this amazing novel.

It is about the Emperor's Dream for Mankind

Our Ratings

15. Slaves to Darkness

This was an absolutely riveting book.

Commenting too much gives away major spoilers, but the look at the fallen Primarchs and how their plan to invade Terra came together and was influenced by Chaos itself…..just magnificent.

This book is the best look so far into the forces of Chaos and setting the table for the major events to come.

John French really brings the Ruinous Powers to life in ‘Slaves to Darkness’.

It will get you so stoked for the Siege of Terra, which is right around the corner!

And he wrote the first Siege book too! I can only imagine what he has in store for us in ‘The Solar War’ if it is even half as entertaining as this novel was! Bravo John French!!

Terrific read if you are a fan, if not, you’ll need to backtrack.

Horus has to get the band back together and head for Terra

Our Ratings

16. The Buried Dagger

You know what? I’ll just give it 5 stars.

Wasn’t sure if it should be 4, normally I give 5 only when I am completely and utterly blown away, but I think this book deserves it for several reasons.

It took 54 novels and numerous shorts to FINALLY give us a proper Mortarion story. This is the main reason why The Buried Dagger is a must-read.

As much as traitor Primarchs’ daddy issues are becoming pretty repetitive, that’s what the Heresy is all about, isn’t it? Through this story with a rather poetic name, we learn more about Morty’s personality, and we get to finally become empathetic towards him.

The fall of Death Guard next to the birth of Malcador’s Knights is a lovely combination of stories to tell, every chapter is engaging, no “filler”, especially considering the multitude of big names from the older novels taking part.

Very well written, beautiful scenes that just come to life in the reader’s brain, powerful ending too. Makes me very excited to finally start reading the Siege of Terra.

The final fall of Mortarion to chaos

Our Ratings

[Bonus] - Betrayer

So my list is done? I don’t think so, I still want to recommend you one more book.

Which is this one.

The book builds to a terrific crescendo, much like the song Lorgar conducts throughout the novel.

Certain characters get a satisfactory conclusion, others not so much, but that doesn’t detract from the quality of the story.

Kharn is the standout character for me, that’s why I’m recommending this to anybody wanting to learn more about this compelling chosen champion of Khorne!

Another thing I found to make this book go above and beyond, was how it delved into Angron’s pained past. To Deah’ea, where Angron and his brothers and sisters died.

Very interesting to see both the past and his return to the past. As well as his awakening, and humbling of the rowboat.

Some of the best WB stuff,

Our Ratings

So that’s pretty much it from my side of Horus heresy reading order & which Horus heresy books to read & which Horus heresy books to skip.

Lastly, If you have any books on your mind to add to the list, let me know in the comment section below, I’ll be happy to hear your thoughts on it.

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