Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme that currently resides at The Artsy Reader Girl and features bloggers sharing lists on various book topics. The official topic for this week’s Top Ten Tuesday was Books Too Good to Review Properly, which is actually a pretty interesting topic. However, I honestly couldn’t think of enough good examples to write a full list about so instead I decided to do something a little different and talk about a literary tie-in franchise I am really getting into, Warhammer 40,000 fiction.
Over the last year or so, I have really reinvigorated my childhood love for the Warhammer franchise, an awesome and elaborate universe that revolves around its iconic tabletop games. While I have not gotten back into the modelling and gaming that I used to have a lot of fun with, I have started diving back into the associated novels and audiobooks set in the universe. The Warhammer games have an incredibly impressive and complex background universe, containing an elaborate history, outrageous characters, morally grey factions, and some dark and gothic settings. For years, this has proven to be an exceedingly rich ground for various forms of fiction, and there now a massive catalogue of Warhammer associated novels, with many new ones introduced each year. I have had a lot of fun recently getting into several of the more interesting novels, including the 2022 releases Steel Tread and The Twice-Dead King: Reign, all of which have proven to be excellent and intense novels. However, despite my best efforts there are still a ton of other awesome sounding series and novels out there that I really want to get into. As such, I thought I would take the time to list out some of the Warhammer series/novels I most want to get into as a bit of an inspiration to guide me in my future explorations of this outstanding franchise.
To come up with this list I went through the impressive catalogue of Warhammer novels out there and tried to pick the unfamiliar entries that interested or appealed to me the most. I limited this list exclusively to the science-fiction based Warhammer 40,000 novels, mainly because I am not as interested in some of the latest Warhammer Fantasy book (I was a bigger fan of the universe pre-Age of Sigmar). Despite these limitations, I still ended up with a substantial list of awesome sounding books and series, all of which I feel have a ton of incredible potential. I managed to eventually cut it down to my favourite ten, with a generous honourable mentions section. I think this list ended up really representing those Warhammer 40,000 series/books I want to read the most, and I am very happy with how it turned out. So let us see what made the cut.
Kal Jerico Series by Gordon Rennie and Will McDermott
While I read the most recent Kal Jerico book, Sinner’s Bounty, last year (highly recommended), I haven’t had the opportunity to check out the original Kal Jerico trilogy (Blood Royal, Cardinal Crimson and Lasgun Wedding) which I know I will deeply enjoy.
Baneblade by Guy Haley
An awesome tank-based novel set inside the Imperial Guard’s most heavily armoured tank. I have had a great time with Warhammer 40,000 tank novels recently I would be really excited to check this book at out some point, as well as its sequel Shadowsword.
Double Eagle by Dan Abnett
One of the things I love about the Warhammer 40,000 universe is the sheer range of cool military stories out there. An interesting sounding example of this is Double Eagle by Dan Abnett, one of the best Warhammer authors out there. Double Eagle spins off from Abnett’s Gaunt’s Ghosts series (check out my review for the first book in this series, First and Only), and follows a group of elite fighter pilots as they try to save a world from Chaos invasion.
Flesh and Steel by Guy Haley
An awesome standalone murder mystery novel set in one of the universe’s biggest cities. I love the idea of a pure murder mystery novel, rather than something focused on war, intrigue and survival, and just for something a little different I think I will make an effort to read Flesh and Steel this year.
Eisenhorn Series by Dan Abnett
The first entry on this list is a highly regarded series made up of some incredible Warhammer novels, the Eisenhorn series by Dan Abnett. Following the titular Inquisitor Eisenhorn as he attempts to stop the spread of Chaos by any means necessary, this series depicts the character’s slow fall from grace, as his methods become more radical. This series sound intense, and I love the idea of a morally good character whose crusade consumes him and makes him what he hates. I have heard a lot of praise about the Eisenhorn novels, and it is one that I am going to make a huge effort to read soon. I also plan to read the spin-off Ravenor and Bequin series, which continue some of the Eisenhorn storylines in interesting ways
Ciaphas Cain Series by Sandy Mitchell
Out of all the Warhammer series out there, the one that sounds the most entertaining to me are the fantastic Ciaphas Cain books by Sandy Mitchell. This series revolves around Commissar Ciaphas Cain, a pragmatic, cowardly survivor who is the complete opposite of the traditionally hard-laced and fanatical Imperial Commissars. Told from the perspective of Cain, an apparently unreliable narrator, these books detail his many unintentional adventures which result from his unsuccessful attempts to avoid combat. This series is supposed to be extremely hilarious, and I cannot wait to see a somewhat lighter adventure in this typically dark universe.
Ultramarines Series by Graham McNeill
Th next entry on this list is the Ultramarines series by acclaimed author Graham McNeill, which follows members of the iconic Space Marines chapter, the Ultramarines. I have heard that the books are very good, as they follow a unique protagonist, Captain Uriel Ventris, whose originality make him a pariah amongst his own chapter, who doggedly follow the set tactics of their founder. This series contains some extremely awesome sounding books with interesting plots, and I think I will like contrasting these adventure novels with some of the other Warhammer books I am reading.
Last Chancers Series by Gav Thorpe
I have been meaning to read the next entry on this list for a while as it sounds extremely cool. The Last Chancers books follow condemned members of an Imperial Guard Penal Legion who are undertake suicide missions to earn reprieves from their harsh sentences. Essentially the Warhammer 40,000 version of The Dirty Dozen or Suicide Squad, this series takes is convict characters to some dark places and bloody battles. I love the idea of this awesome sounding series and I know I will have an outstanding time reading them.
Dark Imperium Series by Guy Haley
One of the more intriguing recent series that I had to feature on this list was the Dark Imperium books by Guy Haley. The Dark Imperium series follow the recently resurrected Roboute Guilliman, Primarch of the Ultramarines, as he attempts to save the Imperium from the rampaging forces of Chaos. However, to succeed he must first clash with his demonic, traitor brother Mortarion, in a brutal conflict known as the Plague War. I love the sound of this incredible series, especially as it has some of the first conflicts between Primarch’s in this period of Warhammer 40,000 lore. Apparently very awesome, I look forward to seeing the full deranged action of this series.
Cadia Series by Justin D. Hill
In my opinion, some of the best Warhammer 40,000 novels don’t follow genetically enhanced gods or murderous alien creatures, they instead focus on the simple human soldiers thrust into the middle of the wars beyond their comprehension. While I am currently reading one of these series with the Gaunt’s Ghosts books, another series that caught my eye are the Cadia books by Justin D. Hill. This series follows a Cadian regiment, made up of dedicated soldiers whose ancestors have served as a bulwark against the forces of Chaos for millennia. However, these books have a twist to them as they show the Cadians at their lowest point. The first book, Cadia Stands, follows various soldiers during the final battle for Cadia in the 13th Black Crusade, which eventually sees the planet destroyed and the forces of Chaos reign victorious. The other books, Cadian Honour and Traitor Rock, follow the remnants of this regiment in the aftermath of the defeat and examine the shame and despair they feel for losing their world. I love the idea of the complex stories attached to these dispirited troops and I will have to try and read this series soon.
The Space Wolf Series by William King
Another awesome series that really caught my eye were the classic Space Wolf novels by William King. While I best know King for his Gotrek and Felix Warhammer Fantasy series (including Trollslayer, Skavenslayer, Daemonslayer, Dragonslayer and Beastslayer), the author has also spent time in the Warhammer 40,000 universe, exploring the awesome Space Wolves chapter. Essentially a group of Viking inspired Space Marines with werewolf issues, the Space Wolves are a lot of fun and I can’t wait to learn more about them and their epic adventures in this great sounding series.
The Horus Heresy by various
The next entry on this list is a big one with the massive Horus Heresy series, which is essentially a combined magnum opus of all Warhammer 40,000 authors. Featuring input from the best authors of this genre, The Horus Heresy series tells the powerful and massive story about the infamous historical betrayal known as the Horus Heresy, where half the Primarchs and their Space Marines fell to the corruption of Chaos and launched a brutal civil war the split the Imperium of Man in two. Made up of more than 50 separate books, this ambitious series details the origins of the Primarchs, the reasons behind their betrayal, and the subsequent brutal war that followed. Epic in scope and featuring some compelling and emotional stories, this long-running series has a lot of fans, and I will love to try and read the entire thing if I can find the time.
Dawn of Fire Series by various
Another modern series that has also caught my attention is the intriguing Dawn of Fire series by several key Warhammer 40,000 authors. This series will focus on the Indomitus Crusade, a massive crusade to retake Imperial space lost to the forces of Chaos. Currently made up of Avenging Son by Guy Haley, The Gate of Bones by Andy Clark and The Wolftime by Gav Thorpe, this series sounds like a captivating and gritty war series, and I look forward to learning more about the most recent major battle in Warhammer 40,000 history.
Blood Angels Series by James Swallow
The final series I want to highlight on this list are the intriguing Blood Angels books by James Swallow. Like the Ultramarines and Space Wolves series above, the Blood Angels books focus on members of a specific Space Marine chapter, the Blood Angels. I have a lot of love for this iconic group of Space Marines as the Blood Angels are a particularly troubled Chapter, due to their rage and blood related curse. While there are some other great Blood Angels books out there, the one that has most caught my eye are the novels by James Swallow that follows a group of Blood Angels caught amid a deadly and insidious conspiracy. A fantastic and deeply intense sounding series, I cannot wait to see the full details of these books soon.
Well, that is the end of this list. As you can see, there are some very cool and impressive sounding Warhammer 40,000 series/novels out there that I am very interested in reading. I am pretty happy with how the list turned out, although they are a little Imperial Guard/Space Marines focused. Still, all of the above books sound incredibly epic and I really hope I get the chance to read them at some point in the future. I might try to dive into a couple of these books at some point this year, although I wouldn’t mind finishing off the Gaunt’s Ghosts books first. In the meantime, let me know which of the above series interests you the most and if you have any suggestions for great Warhammer 40,000 novels to check out, let me know in the comments below.