I’ve been meaning to do a ‘My suggestions for getting started in the Warhammer 40k and Warhammer Age of Sigmar universes’ for a good while now, but sadly just haven’t gotten around to it. I decided to get it done for this week and a fellow blogger asked a similar question around the same time. So it appears fate wanted me to get it down and out.
What follows is a list of my suggested reading. A good deal of the books out there, so long as you start with the first in the series, are quite good to just pick up and go. But just saying ‘grab a series is hardly a way to make a suggestions list. If you like your books, grim, dark and full of war, aliens, demons etc … then this universe is one you need to dip your toes into. One common, daunting and flat-out wrong thought is that you need to read ALL of the books in the warhammer universes. You don’t. the books for each faction are self-contained. It’s literally no different than picking up a fantasy or sci-fi series that is already established.
There are various factions within the universes so here are a few suggestions for some of them (any title with a * next to it can be purchased as an omnibus, in which case the image used will be the omnibus image.) Whatever faction you are interested in, there will be something here for you to sink your teeth into:
The Inquisition are essentially so above the law that they can do whatever they want, whenever they want. They are essentially the Warhammer 40k version of the CIA, except the CIA seem like a playground organisation of curious kids compared to the Emperor’s Inquisition. If they come for you, it’s far better to just jump off of something high than it is to let them catch you.
Suggested starting point:
- The Eisenhorn series * – Inquisitor Gregor Eisenhorn is an Imperial inquisitor, one of the tireless defenders of humanity. With his warband he scourges the galaxy, walking in the shadows of darkness in order to root out heresy. When that heresy is found to infiltrate the hierarchy of the Imperium and the Inquisition itself, Eisenhorn must rely on himself alone to deal with it – even if it means making deals with the enemy and compromising everything he has ever believed in.
- The Ravenor series (Sequel series to Eisenhorn) * – In the war-torn future of the 41st Millennium, the Inquisition fights a secret war against the darkest enemies of mankind – the alien, the heretic and the daemon. When Inquisitor Gideon Ravenor and his band of lethal operatives are drawn into a conspiracy to spread the taint of Chaos across a sector, their investigations take them into the gravest peril through space and even time. Wherever they go, and whatever dangers they face, they will never give up until their mission succeeds.
Imperial Guard/Astra Militarum:
The Imperial Guard are your standard army units. Every world raises their own guard regiments so each world’s regiment is vastly different. The Jungle World of Catachan raised jungle fighters (their jungle planet was full of man-eating plants), the Ice world of Valhalla raised the Valhallan Ice Warriors (adept at fighting on icy worlds) and so and so forth. When reading the different books it keeps the Guard interesting and when building the models for the table top game it keeps them way more interesting.
Suggested starting point:
- Ciaphas Cain series * –Enjoy tall tales of adventure and derring-do in Commissar Cain’s memoirs. Tau, necrons and Chaos cultists all fall before the self-proclaimed hero of the Imperium… In the war torn future of the 41st Millennium Commissar Ciaphas Cain, hero of the Imperium, is respected by his peers and an inspiration to his men – at least that’s what the propaganda would have you believe. The reality is very different, for Ciaphas is simply looking for an easy life and a way to stay out of peril. However, fate has a habit of throwing him into the deadliest situations, and luck (mixed with self preservation) always manages to pull him through and onto the loftiest of pedestals. To survive Commissar Cain must dodge, bluff and trick his way out of trouble, even if it increases his status beyond his control!
- Gaunts Ghosts series * – In the Chaos-infested Sabbat System, the massed ranks of the Astra Militarum – more commonly known as the Imperial Guard – stand shoulder to shoulder as they counter an invasion by heretical forces. Amongst the defenders of the Imperium are the troops of the Tanith First-and-Only, a displaced regiment forced to flee their home planet before it succumbed to the unrelenting assault of Chaos. Nicknamed ‘the Ghosts’, their specialist scouting role sees them thrown into the thickest of the fighting. Led by Colonel-Commissar Ibram Gaunt, they must evade the treacherous scheming of rival regiments and the lethal firepower of the enemy if they are to have any hope of achieving victory over the forces of Chaos.
Space Marines/Adeptus Astartes:
The space marines are what 9 out of 10 people see in their minds eye when they think of Warhammer. Large, super-human killing machines genetically altered and encased in power armour. They are the avenging angels of the Emperor and they are sent to wage war where simply sending the mere humans of the Imperial Guard would not be enough to stem the tide.
Suggested Starting point:
- The Ultrmarine series* – The Ultramarines are a byword for loyalty and courage. Their martial prowess is legendary and is second only to the God-Emperor. Graham McNeill’s epic trilogy of Ultramarines novels is a masterpiece of non-stop action! Containing the novels Nightbringer, Warriors of Ultramar and Dead Sky, Black Sun, plus connecting short stories, this omnibus follows the adventures of Space Marine Captain Uriel Ventris and the Ultramarines as they battle against the enemies of mankind. From their home world of Macragge, into the dreaded Eye of Terror and beyond, Graham McNeill’s prose rattles like gunfire and brings the Space Marines to life like never before.
- Space Wolves series* – On the grim death world of Fenris, the sparse population faces a daily battle for survival against lethal monsters and rival tribes. But Fenris is also home to the mighty Space Wolves Chapter of Space Marines, the Emperor’s elite warriors in a universe full of aliens, heretics and mutants. The adventures of Ragnar begin when he is revived from a savage death in battle and inducted into the ranks of the Space Wolves. But can the ferocious Ragnar conquer the beast within and fulfil his destiny on the battlefields of the 41st millennium?
I put renegade in with Chaos as my 2nd suggestion is a renegade chapter (one that is still loyal but, due to genetic mutations has been outlawed by the Imperium … poor guys). Chaos is the evil faction in Warhammer. They reside in the Eye of Terror, home to daemons and all manners of terrible, dreadful things.
- Night Lords series* – Driven by their hatred of the False Emperor, the Night Lords stalk the shadows of the galaxy, eternally seeking revenge for the death of their primarch. Guided by the visions of the prophet Talos, a warband from this sinister Legion struggles to survive in a constant war against the forces of the Imperium. But when they come into conflict with fellow renegades and are hunted by the Eldar of Craftworld Ulthwe, the Night Lords find themselves returning to the scene of their greatest defeat and drawn into a battle they cannot possibly win.
- Soul Drinkers series* – Like all Space Marine Chapters, the Soul Drinkers are bound to serve the Imperium by ancient vows. But when an ancient relic of the Chapter is misappropriated, the Soul Drinkers face a terrible dilemma – betray the Imperium, or lose their honour? Their final choice, and its consequences, form the theme of this classic trilogy of SF stories set in the nightmare world of the 41st millennium.
Age of Sigmar
I don’t have a massive amount of experience reading this series, so your introduction to it is essentially going to be what my introduction was. But, saying that, I feel I have a decent grasp of the scenario due to this. Admittedly it does help that I was a massive fan of their fantasy setting before they blew it up and restarted with Age of Sigmar.
There are only two suggestions I have as these are what I class as ideal entry points. One is a short story anthology and the other is a novel. Gods and Mortals really is ideal for a general overlook on the whole universe.
- Gods and Mortals (Review here) – For too long, the Mortal Realms have suffered under Chaos’ twisted crusade. Tainted lands writhe in agony and once great cities lie in ruins, the hopes of their people extinguished. But the storm winds rise. Sigmar’s greatest creation, the Stormcast Eternals, strike with His vengeance. Their lightning drives the darkness away and their thunder drowns out the screams of the Foul Gods’ acolytes as they fall to sword and halberd. The sons and daughters of the storm know they cannot fail. For now is the time where the fate of a world will be decided. Where Gods and mortals must rise and fight, or face their final damnation.
- Hamilcar: Champion of the Gods (Review here) – Throughout the Realmgate Wars, Sigmar’s centuries long crusade against Chaos in the Mortal Realms, there has never been a hero like Hamilcar Bear-Eater, famed Lord Castellant of the Astral Templars. Would Gardus have charged headlong into the stronghold of Uxor Untamed with a mere handful of warrior at his back? Would Vandus have had the foresight or magnetism to drink himself euphoric, start a war with the Skarabrak lodge, and then wake come morning to a sore head and fifty thousand moonclan berserkers avowed to Sigmar’s cause? No. Only Hamilcar. But when an ancient skaven warlock with a thirst for godhood turns his attention towards Hamilcar’s divine soul, the Bear-Eater knows he will have to call upon his martial prowess and uncanny wits just to survive. Because his next death could be his last.