Where to start reading ‘Warhammer 40,000’ books

Image via Games Workshop

As any fan knows all too well, the Warhammer 40,000 franchise is a vast one. What started in 1987 as a miniature wargame quickly developed into something bigger, with eight new editions of the game being produced since then, as well as multiple spin-offs. Currently, Warhammer 40,000 has expanded to video games, book series, board games, a movie, an animated series, and an upcoming live-action TV series, which Amazon is leading the race to adapt with Calvin Harris as the star.

The Warhammer novels in particular are known to cause quite a stir among fans of the franchise, especially those interested in the fantasy world’s lore. At the same time, it is very daunting to pick up the books, considering there are currently several hundred of them. Even the most avid reader will struggle to get through so many novels and short stories, but first things first — where does one even start? As any veteran Warhammer enthusiast will tell you, there is not one right, definitive choice on where to start your reading. There are, however, book series better fit for beginners than others, that can give you a better understanding of the lore behind the Warhammer universe.

The Horus Heresy book series is often pointed out as the best option to start since it delves into the franchise’s defining lore. This collection of 54 books takes place in the year 30,000 and lays the foundation for everything else that happens in-universe. Some beginners might find the series intimidating due to the sheer amount of books, but rest assured, not every single one is a must. The first three books, Horus Rising, False Gods, and Galaxy in Flames, however, are definitely necessary to get a grasp on the franchise’s foundation.

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Gaunt’s Ghosts is another highly recommended starting series, mostly due to its quality. The novels in this series are written by Dan Abnett, and there are currently 19 books out. Gaunt’s Ghosts mainly follows Ibram Gaunt and his regiment, as they face off against the forces of Chaos while in the Sabbat Worlds Crusade. This war series is by far the most loved in the franchise, and a good place to start if you want to be immediately hooked. It’s also smaller and thus, less of a commitment than Horus Heresy, which is always a plus.

Last but not least, the Eisenhorn series is also another typical choice for beginners. Many consider it a great introduction to the universe, as it does a wonderful job of fleshing it out. This series is full of political intrigue, and it competes with Gaunt’s Ghosts for the title of most beloved in the franchise. Additionally, it has the advantage of having significantly fewer books than the previous two series.

Now there are no more excuses not to dive deeper into the Warhammer 40,000 universe. Time-consuming as it may be, it’s surely worth it.