Posts Tagged ‘Horus Heresy’


Whoop! Uncork the fermented grape juice with bubbles, and imbibe! Pharos, my first, full-length Horus Heresy book is now out in hardback, ebook, and audiobook. The listen-with-your-ears version runs to 13 hours. Wow. Okay, the length is not unusual, but when I see audio running times in black and white it begs the question:  if it takes that long to read a book out loud, how long do you think the things take to write, eh? AGES, that’s how long.

Here’s the blurb.

With the noble Emperor Sanguinius ruling from Macragge, Imperium Secundus stands as a lone beacon of hope even as the Warmaster’s forces continue to ravage the rest of the galaxy. Roboute Guilliman, still Master of Ultramar, has convinced his brother that Terra has fallen and that the mysterious Mount Pharos on Sotha now holds the key to mankind’s future. But the Night Lords, those cruel and pitiless sons of Konrad Curze, have been watching from the shadows, and make ready to launch their long-planned attack on the Pharos itself…

I felt privileged to be asked to write Pharos. A tough book, because the Horus Heresy is Games Workshop’s best-selling novel range, and written by so many talented writers before me. Pharos also moves the story of the Heresy on a fair bit, so not only is it a book in brilliant series, it’s a pivotal book in a brilliant series. I was actually bricking it all the way through that I was going to screw it up. However, the I’m proud of the end result, and comments back from folks who bought the pre-release ebook on Christmas day have been overwhelmingly positive. Thanks for that.

Pharos came out on Saturday. If I were a more diligent author with my marketing noggin screwed firmly on, then I’d have been blaring loud on the internets about this then. But I have a kid who I was looking after solo all weekend, and a kid moreover that I was playing Helldivers with (for the hour I wasn’t run ragged, cooking, cleaning, ferrying etc.), so sorry if you missed the news, I was killing aliens.

If you’ve any questions about Pharos, ask me here or use the “Ask the Author” feature on my Goodreads page. I will answer them, I promise.



I haven’t written a general update for a while, but having read Aaron’s post on this matter on Wednesday, I thought I’d do one too. Me, I’m totally original.

So, in brief…

I still haven’t moved yet. I’m still waiting for the conveyancing on my new house to go through (note to non-Brits − in England this takes FOREVER, even in Scotland it’s easier, and that’s part of the same state). This is taking a long time. Help.

My wife went North six weeks ago. Aside from the odd weekend, I have been playing single parent to a large dog and a fractious child. I have new-found respect for single parents, and for whisky.

I’ll write a heartfelt and slightly drunken post about leaving Somerset when it transpires that I can actually LEAVE.

Sadly, it transpires that Doctor Magnus (the big dog mentioned above. He’s not my live-in shrink or anything) has hip dysplasia, which means that I’m probably not going to be able to work him any more (except as a psychiatrist). Life sucks sometimes, but he’s mostly okay.

Work wise, I’ve pretty much sold myself to the Black Library for the whole year. Valedor and The Last Days of Ector are out at the weekend. I’ve been writing lots of BL stuff the last couple of months. Audios, shorts, novellas, and prepping novels. You name it, I’m doing it. I’ve got other stuff on for other people, but it’s either pretty minor or SHHHH! secret.

I’m at the Horus Heresy Weekender from Friday night (tonight, I suppose), so you can guess some of what I’ve been writing (exciting times). But really, I’ve a staggering amount of GW-flavoured stuff on the way. (Well, it seems staggering to me, but probably only because I have to write it. ‘Meh!’ you’ll probably say when you see the list. ‘That’s not staggering.’) If you see me weeping in a corner over my tattered, bloody fingers, buy me a drink. I promise to consider prioritising the favourite projects of those people who do.

I finally finished my work on the big, non-fiction project The Sci-Fi Chronicles I’ve been editing. This is a big relief, as I was going nuts looking at timelines. But it’s shaping up to be a handsome tome.

Hobby wise, I’m still a little bit in love with The Hobbit Strategy Battle Game, and have been painting up a force of Second Age Elves, mainly so I can use them as First Age Elves and play “Fight Morgoth”. When I’m done, I’m going to restage Glorfindel’s battle with a Balrog for laughs.

However, I’ve been adding to my Ork army in dribs and drabs, and am very excited about the new Warhammer 40,000.

And that, yeah, that about covers it. I’m very close to finishing putting all my archive Death Ray material up on this site, which is another minor, yet pleasing, thing. Three issues to go!

I had my very first Horus Heresy meeting yesterday. No, I’m not going to tell you what it was about, or what project it concerns or any of that stuff. Sorry, I just can’t. I can say that it was the coolest meeting I have ever not been to.

I had to attend via Skype. I’ve always been dubious about teleconferencing, most of the times I’ve been involved it’s worked very badly. This time it went like a dream. Not quite as good as being there, but not far off, with the added bonus that I could take my lad Benny to the park at halftime. Yes, despite being a parent for five and a half years, I still managed to agree to a meeting bang in the middle of the Easter holidays. To be fair to me, ordinarily this wouldn’t be a problem. Emma’d take some time off and take care of Benny, but she was away up in Yorkshire ahead of our move there (I booked the meeting before the Great Migration North was on the cards, really I did, really!). Credit due to junior Haley that he behaved so well. Good boy.

Although not a week goes by without me reading of how work, powered by the internet, is creeping deeper into personal time, my work/life balance is playing out nicely thanks to digital technology. In my case, it’s a powerful tool to allow me to do things I otherwise couldn’t, like being able to parent and yet still be involved. I suppose I’m one of them there digital artisans cutting edge types write about. Long live the third industrial revolution. Hopefully it’ll benefit everyone eventually, then we can all spend more time mucking about on the swings.

Usually, I would attend a meeting like this, primarily because it’s just nice to get out of the house. Human contact’s low in this line of work, and I need it.  And to sit with giants, in whose mighty company I no longer feel ashamed! Dan Abnett, Graham McNeill, Gav Thorpe, Nick Kyme, David Annandale, Laurie Goulding, Lindsey Priestley… most of whom I’ve known for years. Even so, I’ve not had very many meetings on shared creative work beyond magazines, especially ones like this where we all have an equal stake (by which I mean I was not in charge). I was a little cautious, partly because I’m still not convinced I’m wholly up to speed on the Horus Heresy, partly because I didn’t really know what to expect, especially from myself. I can suddenly become irritable and defensive, you see, because I’m a terrible misanthrope half the time (and an awful attention tart the rest) who likes to get his own way.

But it was remarkable. The others were very supportive despite my first-timer gaucheness. Ideas were  flying, and not simply good ideas, but ideas that built on each others’ to create something greater than we’d manage on our own. Like a night in the pub full of whimsical storytelling, or a great RPG session, only this time, we’re weaving the universe. Weaving it! Like cosmic Norns man! Far out!

Another aspect of my 50/50 personality is the split between vile cynic and irritating optimist. Mr Cynic lost out, this really was quite something. I can’t wait for the next one, or for you to read what’s going to come out of what happened yesterday. I can honestly say I want to do more work like this. Lots more. Thanks chaps for such a positive experience.

Yesterday I posted a calendar of the coming year. It was quite woefully wrong, a consequence of working on my own and never speaking to anyone. Chief among its errors was mention of a couple of short stories that will appear in Hammer and Bolter. They won’t, as the ezine is now defunct, a fact that was revealed at the Black Library Weekender. In its stead, new stories will be available every Monday, to buy individually. My stories, very loosely connected to Skarsnik and Baneblade, will be two of those. When, I dunno, although if I were a betting man I’d say around the time of the books’ releases.

Here’s an updated version of the calendar.


My first story for Interzone will be published in issue 243 (not 244).


I’ll be at Black Library Live in Nottingham on 3rd March, then the day after at The Scifi Weekender in Pwllheli.


I am going to be at Salute with BL, on 20th April in London.

Out this month is the Mark of Calth anthology, in which is my second Horus Heresy story, “The Shards of Erebus”, and this opens the collection. Cool, eh? I was wrong about the date originally as I got it from Amazon. Lesson for the future, always check the BL website first…  Mark of Calth will first be released as a BL/GW exclusive.


Baneblade, my first published novel for The Black Library (and the first one I wrote), is out on 7th May.


The Crash is out on 25th June. My second original novel for Solaris, it’s about a colony expedition that goes horribly wrong. Published this same month is The Best of Hammer and Bolter II, included therein is my story, “The Rite of Holos”, originally published in Hammer and Bolter 24, and a direct prequel to The Death of Integrity.


Skarsnik is out, my second BL book. This hits the shelves on 19th July.


My third novel for The Black Library/Games Workshop is released 3rd September. Space Marines galore, Genestealers, and a twist.


I’ll be at the Black Library Weekender II.

As I said yesterday, there’s a few more appearances I’ll be making for BL, but they’re yet to be finalised. Other than that, I better sort some more work out, or I’ll be on the street…

In the grim darkness of the 31st Millennium, there is even more war than in the grim darkness of the 41st Millennium, ain’t that a fact? I’ve been lucky enough to write a piece set in this period of galactic-scale civil war, and it is published today! Friday the 14th will forever be remembered by me as a day of firsts. Strike and Fade,  my first Horus Heresy piece and my first audio drama, is story fourteen on the Black Library’s advent calendar, a war-packed countdown to Christmas penned by the brightest and best in BL’s firmament of writerly stars (and, er,  me).

There have been some fantastic pieces this year. Each story is around 1000 words long, with the occasional audio, like Strike and Fade, salted in for extra spice. This is short Warhammer and 40k fiction at its most exciting; pithily told and as sweetsome as a Christmas chocolate, and boy, are there are plenty of nice chocolates in that tin. Go and check it out!

This is the latest in a string of Black Library stories and novels you’ll be seeing from me over the coming year, some of which I have revealed earlier on this blog, others are hush-hush, top-secret, so don’t ask. The pace is picking up, and stories will be arriving thicker and faster as we go into spring.  2013 is going to be an exciting year, and I hope some of you feel inclined to join me there.

And yet, spring is a ways away, so if Strike and Fade whets your appetite, you can always try my Blood Drinkers story,  The Rite of Holos in Hammer and Bolter 24. Or perhaps I could tempt you with some of my non-BL fiction? Freebies on the drop-down “Fiction” menu at top of the site, and details of my novels down the side to the left.

This feature, written for SFX 213, is a primer for Black Library’s best-selling Horus Heresy series, and includes some nice quotes from two of its authors, Dan Abnett and Graham McNeill.

Heretical Texts

Intricately detailed universes are not the sole province of lone authors. They can also come from games.

After 30 years in business, Games Workshop’s toy soldiers are now a part of many people’s childhood; the motifs of its Warhammer 40,000 (or “40K”) have imprinted themselves upon the public conscience, not least in the shape of those multi-coloured guardians of humanity, the Space Marines.

The worlds of GW began as disparate scraps, concepts dreamt up or borrowed in isolation to provide backstory to a model or rule. But by the cumulative efforts of many creative minds over many years, these elements have grown together into something vibrant. Publisher The Black Library was set up to explore these rich worlds in novel form, it was only a matter of time before they turned their attention to the Horus Heresy, one of 40K’s most important events.

“The weight of responsibility is huge,” says Dan Abnett, one of the series authors. “This is the mythology of the 40K Universe (although Horus Heresy is set 10,000 years earlier, so we refer to it as ‘30K’). It’s been mentioned in background text for more than two decades, sometimes in quite contradictory ways. We’ve got to make sense of the facts and weave a story that doesn’t disappoint anyone. The rules are very different to mainstream 40K novels, there’s a lot more to invent, and the scale is bigger: these are galaxy-changing events, not ‘just’ big space wars. Plus, it’s a team effort. Authors, who are solitary beasts by nature, have to work with other authors. It’s great fun, but you have to leave your ego at the door and come to the table in collaboration mode.”

With several of the books entering The New York Times bestseller list, the series’ appeal has reached far beyond the gaming fraternity. Author Graham McNeill maintains this is an SF epic the equal of anything. “The Heresy novels are exciting, chock full of interesting characters, high stakes and a plot that offers as many inventive twists and turns as any other series out there. In fact, when you think you know it back to front, that’s when you’re more likely to get surprised.”

Senior range editor Nick Kyme sums it up. “The worlds of Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000 have a certain rigour and identity that our fans clearly love. In worlds that are so utterly bleak, the heroes shine that much more brightly, their deeds are more heroic, the conflicts greater and tragedies more cutting. There’s depth to them, a gravitas brought about by a weight of imagination and creativity over thirty years. The Horus Heresy is the seminal event that sets up what comes after it in the Warhammer 40,000 ‘now’. That has resonance.”

In fact, it’s all that and more. It’s nigh on impossible to get across the complexity of a universe like Warhammer 40,000 here. It truly is one of the richest collaborative worlds out there – Star Trek and Star Wars are frankly simplistic in comparison. And the Horus Heresy is its greatest story.

“Imagine a science fiction Paradise Lost,” says Abnett. “It’s a HUGE scale, epic story of the fight to control a massive empire. It’s set in a gothic universe that’s brilliantly realised. And despite the fact that there’s a large amount of thunking action going on, it’s pretty clever stuff with great characters and ideas. You don’t have to be a fan or player of Warhammer 40,000 to get into it.”

Future Imperfect

In the grim darkness of the far future, there is only war.

In the 41st Millennium mankind stands upon the brink of utter destruction.

In these dying days, the human Imperium is beset by aliens, but the greatest threat is that of Chaos. A second universe of energy exists alongside our own. Travel and communication through this “warp” allows interstellar civilisation, but it is not empty. The warp’s energy is moulded by the emotions of sentient beings, aggregating into four powerful consciousnesses – the Chaos Gods.

The Imperium’s Emperor is a psyker of godlike power, but he is near death, his shattered body trapped in stasis for 10,000 years. His multitudinous servants try to interpret his will as best they can, but without his direct guidance, mankind is doomed.

It was not always so. The Emperor once walked among men. In the 31st Millennium, a time when the wonders of the Dark Age of technology were millennia past, and humanity was deep in an age of barbarism, the Emperor revealed himself. From where he came, no one knows, although some say he was an ancient immortal and had been manipulating history for long ages. The Emperor resolved to save mankind, creating twenty superhuman sons from his own genetic material to aid him.

As these “Primarchs” grew, the powers of Chaos stole them away, scattering them across the galaxy. Thinking his sons lost, the Emperor proceeded with his plans. From the genetic templates of the Primarchs, he made legions of super soldiers, the Space Marines. With these he conquered Earth, and headed into the heavens on his Great Crusade.

As his armies advanced, The Emperor rediscovered the Primarchs one after another, and appointed them leaders of the legions. Returning to Earth, the Emperor left his most favoured son Horus to lead the reconquest of the galaxy.

Terrified of the Emperor, the Chaos gods set a conspiracy underway to seduce Horus. The Primarchs had not been untouched by Chaos during their childhood transit through the warp, and under Horus’ influence half of them renounced their oaths, turned on their brothers, and plunged the galaxy into civil war.

The Horus Heresy had begun.

Forbidden Knowledge

The novels of the Horus Heresy

Horus Rising (2006, Dan Abnett)

The seeds of heresy are sown

Horus is appointed “Warmaster”, and leads the Emperor’s armies to victory.

False Gods (2006, Graham McNeill)

The heresy takes root

Horus is wounded by a Chaos-tainted weapon. His fate is sealed.

Galaxy in Flames (2006, Ben Counter)

The heresy revealed

Horus, corrupted, becomes brutal, destroying the planet of Istvaan IV with virus bombs. The Luna Wolves, World Eaters and the Death Guard legions turn traitor, but loyalists within their ranks stage a desperate fight back.

Flight of the Eisenstein (2007, James Swallow)

The heresy unfolds

Captain Garro of the Death Guard witnesses Horus’ betrayal and flees in the frigate Eisenstein to warn the Emperor.

Fulgrim (2007, Graham McNeill)

Visions of treachery

Fulgrim, Primarch of the Emperor’s Children is perverted by Chaos. The book is also the first to detail the dropsite massacres of Istvaan V, a pivotal event in Warhammer 40,000 history.

Descent of Angels (2007, Michael Scanlon)

Loyalty and honour

The early life of the Primarch Lion El’Jonson is revealed as a future schism in his legion, the Dark Angels, is hinted at.

Legion (2008, Dan Abnett)

Secrets and lies

The twin Primarchs of the Alpha Legion, Alpharius-Omegon, join the Warmaster but their motivations are perhaps not what they seem.

Battle for the Abyss (2008, Ben Counter)

My brother, my enemy

The loyal Ultramarines attempt to stop the Word Bearers assaulting their homeworld of Ultramar.

Mechanicum (2008, Graham McNeill)

War comes to Mars

Horus tries to subvert the Techpriests of Mars to his cause.

Tales of Heresy (2009, edited by Lindsey Priestley and Nick Kyme)

A collection of short stories providing background to the Horus Heresy, the Great Crusade and The Imperium.

Fallen Angels (2009, Mike Lee)

Deceit and betrayal

As Lion El’Jonson tries to prevent Horus seizing control of an important world, the Dark Angels’ homeworld of Caliban is riven with strife.

A Thousand Sons  (2010, Graham McNeill)

All is dust…

Magnus, cyclopean Primarch of the Thousand Sons, has a thirst for arcane knowledge. Despite being forbidden him, Magnus uses magic to warn the Emperor of Horus’ perfidy, but only succeeds in enraging him…

Nemesis (2010, James Swallow)

War within the shadows

Treason in high places is revealed as super-assassins clash.

The First Heretic (2010, Aaron Dembski-Bowden)

Fall to Chaos

Lorgar, Primarch of the Word Bearers, turns to Chaos when the Emperor rebukes him for worshipping him as a god.

Prospero Burns (2011, Dan Abnett)

The wolves unleashed

Much is revealed of how the Chaos plot came to be, leading up to and covering the destruction of the Thousand Sons’ homeworld by the Space Wolves legion.

Age of Darkness (2011, edited by Christian Done)

Short stories covering the seven years between the Istvaan V massacre and the campaign to seize Terra.