In the grim darkness of the far future, there is only war.
And it is glorious. Games Workshop, the England based super nerd company, has been producing miniature battle games for 40 years- their best known being the Warhammer series, consisting of a one fantasy genre title, commonly called Warhammer Fantasy (or simply Warhammer); and a sci-fi title, Warhammer 40,000 (or 40K.) While both have spawned many games and books and millions of dollars of merchandise, it is Warhammer 40K that has exploded off of the miniature battle-gaming scene and into our imaginations. For in the grim darkness of the far future, there is only war. And it is, indeed, glorious. As a major lore, book, and sci-fi nerd, the story of Warhammer 40K has gripped me in ways I did not even realize was possible (and this doesn’t even cover the artistic side of miniature painting.) Above all other things, I love sharing my geeky passions with others. So begins our journey into the world of Warhammer 40K and, as always, we have to start at the beginning- with the great Heresy that nearly destroyed the Imperium of Man.
Warhammer 40K. Set 40,000 years in Earth’s future, the galaxy is dominated by Man and collected into a single, stagnant Empire. We are ruled by a single being known as The God-Emperor of Mankind, who sits trapped on the mighty Golden Throne, a victim of his own technology. We are fighting a war on all sides- foul Xenos breeds seek to uproot us from our planetary strongholds. Corruption runs rampant through the higher echelons of humanity, and a far, far more sinister evil lurks just behind our closed eyes, just beyond the reach of our nightmares- the Warp, home to daemons galore and ruled by the Four Gods of Chaos- Khorne, God of Rage; Nurgle, God of Disease; Tzeentch, God of Change; and Slaanesh, God/dess of Excess- who seek to tempt and torture us into their eternal servitude. Our only lines of defense against these horrors are threefold. The first is the Departmento Munitorium, the military branch of Imperial society, who fight wars of attrition with millions of Imperial Guardsmen’s lives. The second is the Holy Inquisition, a shadowy society of men and women who fight both the internal and external corruption of human society. The last are the Adeptus Astartes, the Angels of Death, the Emperor’s own Space Marines, genetically engineered super soldiers organized into Chapters (one thousand Marines strong) and spread so thin that they travel from war-zone to war-zone without reprieve.
It was not always thus. 10,000 years ago, the Emperor walked amongst his children. The Long Night had passed, and humanity was breaking out of the Segmentum Solar once again to reclaim our lost cousins stranded on far flung worlds. Mankind was a creature of manifest destiny, and we were bound and determined to dominate the galaxy. At the forefront of this reconquest were the Primarchs. Eighteen of them there were, each a near perfect being of massive proportions, generals to lead legions of Space Marines in glorious conquest. The Emperor’s Sons. The spearhead of these eighteen demigods was Horus Lupercal, Warmaster. Horus was charged by his father to finish conquering the galaxy in his name.
And that was when everything started going wrong.
The next seven years would be filled with the strife that can only be associated with civil war as Horus and eight of his brothers turned from the Emperor and sought to make themselves the rulers of Man, guided and corrupted by the insidious Lords of Chaos. Brother slaughtered brother as man turned against itself and nearly destroyed everything we had built.
Here is the root. Here is the beginning of the story of Warhammer 40K and here is where we will start- with the tumultuous time known as the Horus Heresy. So come with me, as we delve deep within the Black Library for the story that begins the story. Next time, we’re going to be taking a look at Horus Rising, book one of the Horus Heresy series, by Dan Abnett. So stick around, all ye loyalists and heretics- for in the grim darkness of the far future, there is only war.