Warhammer 40k book cover.
(Black Library)

The 10 Best ‘Warhammer 40K’ Books, Ranked

I grow weary of romance novels. Petty squabbles between sniveling lovers. Spice? Smut? HERESY is what it is. The only love worthy enough is love for the God Emperor of Mankind and the Legions who serve him. These 10 Warhammer 40k books are an example of orthodoxy.

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10. Yarrick: The Omnibus

Sebastian Yarrick with chainsword raised on the cover of "Yarrick: The Omnibus"
(Black Library)

What is a commissar’s duty, you ask? Heretical question. You should know already. A commissar is responsible for maintaining the morale of the troops of the Astra Militarun in their glorious battle against the Ruinous Powers of Chaos. Who was Sebastian Yarrick? The greatest commissar of all. Beneath the black banners of vengeance, even when all hope was lost, Commissar Yarrick led his forces to victory time and time again. These texts will tell you how. Unsurprisingly, it was through example. And a liberal use of the chainsword.

9. Saints and Martyrs

An angelic woman floats heavenward on the cover for "Saints and Martyrs"
(Black Library)

Among the holy ranks of the Adepta Sororitas, The Imperium of Man has been blessed with true saints. These are the stories of the Sisters of Battle, the all-female military wing of the Adeptus Ministorum. Witness The Triumph of Saint Katherine and the mighty deeds of Celestine: The Living Saint in the pages of this weighty tome. Enemies of the Emperor tremble before its sacred might. They are indeed the Emperor’s angels, paragons of goodness, warriors of grace.

8. Lords of Blood: Blood Angels Omnibus 

A blood angel warrior wields an axe on the cover of "Lords oF Blood- Blood Angels Omnibus"
(Black Library)

The Blood Angels! One of the most fearsome Legions of the Adeptus Astartes! Children of the Brightest One! The Primach Sanguinius! This tome tells the tale of the gene seed the Great Angel, and their valiant battle against the Tyranid Hive Fleets! But will the Blood Angels be victorious? Will they fall in battle to the xenos scourge? Or will the be destroyed from within by The Flaw. The Black Rage. The Red Thirst. The mind numbing desire inside each Blood Angel to consume the blood of enemies. To destroy monsters, perhaps one must become a monster oneself?

7. Word Bearers: The Omnibus

A fearsome Space Marine holds a chainsword in "Word Bearers"
(Black Library)

This heretical omnibus contains three novels, Dark Apostle, Dark Creed and Dark Disciple, along with two revolting short stories about *spits* Chaos Space Marines. Filth. Heretics! Traitors to the Emperor! Undeserving of his mercy! Word Bearers recounts the battles that Loyalist Space Marines have fought against the Traitor Legions. It may be read, but only as a cautionary tale: never betray the Emperor, no matter how charismatic one may look adorned in the armor of Chaos. Only Ruin awaits those who stand against the Imperium.

6. Saviour of the Imperium: Ciaphas Cain

A soldier raises a chainsword high in "Saviour of the Imperium"
(Black Library)

HERERSY! THE IMPERIUM OF MAN HAS ONLY ONE SAVIOR. AND THAT IS THE GOD-EMPEROR. But for a hero like Ciaphas Cain, I shall forgive this blasphemy. Once. Like Sebastian Yarrick, Ciaphas Cain is a legendary commissar never fails to lead the Valhallan 597th to glorious victory. Accompanied by his foul smelling assistant Jurgen, Caiphas is a stalwart defender of Mankind. Action, violence and moments of comic levity make this novel worthy of Imperial libraries.

5. Lelith Hesperax: Queen of Knives

Lelith Hesperax wields a dagger on cover art for "Queen of Knives"
(Black Library)

XENOS HERETIC! MAY SHE BE DESTROYED. And yet, Lelith Hesperax is a great warrior, deserving of respect. She was born in the darkness of Commorragh, city of the Dark Elves. A place of godlessness. Lawlessness. Misery. And yet it was this dark city that forged her in its crucible, and made her the greatest gladiators in the city’s arenas. But what’s this? She has abandoned the fighting pits to join a death cult? How interesting. Heretical. But interesting.

4. Night Lords: The Omnibus

Night Lords omnibus book cover.
(Games Workshop)

The Night Lords. Vilest of heretics. One of the original nine Traitor Legions that aided Horus in his Heresy against the God Emperor of Mankind. These foul warriors stalk the edges of the Galaxy, hoping that Chaos will restore them to the height of their former Glory. Only the love of the Emperor could do so, and he has no more love to give them. Night Lords: The Omnibus tells the tale of these renegades who, guided by a false prophet, attempt stand against the Imperium once more.

3. Eisenhorn: The Omnibus

An Imperial Inquisitor holds a staff on the cover of "Eisenhorn: The Omnibus"
(Black Library)

Inquisitor Gregor Eisenhorn believes that the means justify the ends, no matter how heretical those means may be. Whether it be investigating murders or standing against the forces of demonkind itself, Eisenhorn is willing to dabble with dark powers in order to spread the Emperor’s light. Eisenhorn: The Omnibus, is a collection of the stories of Eisenhorn and his battles with friend, foe, and his archnemesis the demon Cherubael. But will he succeed in his battle against Chaos, or finally succumb to it?

2. The Lost: A Gaunt’s Ghosts Omnibus

Two soldiers aim weapons on the cover of "The Lost- A Gaunt's Ghosts Omnibus"
(Black Library)

The Lost recounts the deeds of the Tanith First-and-Only (also known as “Guant’s Ghosts”), the Astra Militarum regiment from the forested Frontier World of Tanith. They are among the most celebrated members of the Imperial Guard, and leading them is none other than commissar Ibram Gaunt, for whom “Gaunt’s Ghosts” get their name. While many a Warhammer 40,000 story focuses on superhuman heroes, The Lost shows how any soldier in the Imperium can serve their Emperor with glorious deeds. Though millions of Imperial Guardsmen give their lives in service of the Emperor every day, none shall be forgotten.

1. Horus Rising 

Horus Rising book cover.
(Games Workshop)

Horus Rising tells the tale of the greatest heresy the Imperium has ever known: The Horus Heresy. Cursed Horus, once favored son of The God Emperor of Mankind, betrayed his own father on a selfish quest for power. Nothing in the history of the Imperium has had a greater effect on Mankind, and nothing ever will. Horus Rising is the first of the novels that recount The Horus Heresy, and while the series itself is the greatest work of Warhammer 40,000 fiction, the first of the series is the most unforgettable read. If only the Warmaster had not been corrupted by the darkness. But alas, wishful thinking gets one nothing in this Galaxy.

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Jack Doyle
Jack Doyle (they/them) is actually nine choirs of biblically accurate angels crammed into one pair of $10 overalls. They have been writing articles for nerds on the internet for less than a year now. They really like anime. Like... REALLY like it. Like you know those annoying little kids that will only eat hotdogs and chicken fingers? They're like that... but with anime. It's starting to get sad.