The Beginner’s Guide To Warhammer 40k Books: Where To Start And What To Read

Welcome, fellow explorers of the Warhammer 40k universe! Today, we embark on a thrilling journey through the vast expanse of Warhammer 40k books. Whether you’re a seasoned veteran or a fresh-faced newbie, this beginner’s guide is here to help you navigate the sprawling library of literature that accompanies this epic tabletop game. So, grab your power sword and join me as we delve into the realms of the Imperium, the Chaos, and everything in between.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. Where do I even begin? Fear not, for I shall be your guide through this labyrinth of Warhammer 40k lore. In this article, we will uncover the essential books that will ignite your passion for the grim darkness of the 41st millennium. From the seminal classics to the latest releases, we’ll explore the must-reads that will transport you to a war-torn galaxy teeming with heroes, villains, and unimaginable horrors. So, whether you’re seeking thrilling space battles, intricate political intrigue, or the tragic tales of fallen heroes, this guide will equip you with the knowledge to choose your next literary conquest. Let’s dive in and discover the wonders that await within the pages of Warhammer 40k books.

The Beginner's Guide to Warhammer 40k Books: Where to Start and What to Read

The Beginner’s Guide to Warhammer 40k Books: Where to Start and What to Read

If you’re new to the world of Warhammer 40k, it can be overwhelming to know where to start with the books. With so many options available, it’s important to find the right entry point that aligns with your interests and provides an engaging introduction to the expansive universe. This guide will help you navigate the vast library of Warhammer 40k books, offering recommendations on where to begin and what to read.

1. Understanding the Warhammer 40k Universe

Before diving into the books, it’s essential to have a basic understanding of the Warhammer 40k universe. Warhammer 40k is a tabletop wargame set in a dystopian future where various factions battle for control of the galaxy. The universe is rich in lore, with intricate stories and characters that have captivated fans for decades. Familiarize yourself with the core concepts, factions, and key events to enhance your reading experience.

One way to gain a comprehensive understanding of the Warhammer 40k universe is through the rulebooks and codexes. These resources provide in-depth information about the factions, their history, and the overall narrative. They serve as excellent companions to the novels and can help you fully immerse yourself in the lore.

2. The Horus Heresy Series

A popular starting point for many newcomers is the Horus Heresy series. Set thousands of years before the main events of Warhammer 40k, this series explores the pivotal events that shaped the universe. It delves into the origins of the Imperium of Man, the rise of Chaos, and the betrayal of the Primarchs.

Begin with the first book in the series, “Horus Rising” by Dan Abnett. This novel introduces the Primarchs, the Emperor, and the initial stages of the Heresy. As you progress through the series, you’ll witness the tragic fall of Horus and the ensuing galactic civil war. The Horus Heresy series provides a solid foundation for understanding the universe and sets the stage for future stories.

2.1 Benefits of Reading the Horus Heresy Series

By starting with the Horus Heresy series, you’ll gain valuable insights into the origins of the Warhammer 40k universe. This series offers a comprehensive exploration of the major factions and their motivations. Additionally, it provides a compelling narrative that combines elements of political intrigue, epic battles, and tragic character arcs.

Furthermore, reading the Horus Heresy series allows you to witness pivotal moments in the universe’s history and understand how they shaped the current state of affairs. It offers a deeper appreciation for the events and characters you’ll encounter in other Warhammer 40k books.

2.2 Where to Begin within the Horus Heresy Series

While “Horus Rising” is the recommended starting point, you may also choose to begin with other books that align with your interests. Some readers prefer to explore the stories of specific Primarchs or factions, diving into their respective arcs within the larger narrative. A few notable entry points within the Horus Heresy series include “The First Heretic” by Aaron Dembski-Bowden and “Legion” by Dan Abnett.

Consulting reading guides or seeking recommendations from fellow Warhammer 40k enthusiasts can help you determine the best starting point based on your preferences. Remember, the Horus Heresy series is extensive, with over 50 books and numerous short stories, so take your time and enjoy the journey.

3. Standalone Novels and Anthologies

Once you have a solid grasp of the universe through the Horus Heresy series, you can explore standalone novels and anthologies set in the Warhammer 40k universe. These books offer a diverse range of stories, focusing on different factions, characters, and events. They allow you to delve deeper into specific aspects of the universe and discover new narratives.

Consider exploring novels that feature your favorite factions or characters. For example, if you’re intrigued by the enigmatic Eldar, “Path of the Eldar” by Gav Thorpe provides a captivating exploration of their society and struggles. If the Adeptus Mechanicus piques your interest, “Priests of Mars” by Graham McNeill delves into the mysteries and technological wonders of these machine-worshipping priests.

3.1 Benefits of Exploring Standalone Novels and Anthologies

Reading standalone novels and anthologies allows you to explore specific factions, characters, and events in greater detail. These books provide a deeper understanding of the nuances and complexities within the Warhammer 40k universe. They offer unique perspectives and shed light on lesser-known aspects of the lore.

Furthermore, standalone novels and anthologies often feature self-contained stories, making them more accessible for newcomers. You can pick and choose which books align with your interests and dive into captivating narratives without the commitment of a lengthy series.

3.2 Recommended Standalone Novels and Anthologies

Here are a few recommended standalone novels and anthologies to consider:

  • “Gaunt’s Ghosts” series by Dan Abnett – Follow the heroic Imperial Guard regiment, the Tanith First and Only, as they battle against the forces of Chaos.
  • “Ravenor” series by Dan Abnett – Join Inquisitor Gideon Ravenor and his team as they investigate heresy and corruption in the Imperium.
  • “Eisenhorn” series by Dan Abnett – Follow the journey of Inquisitor Gregor Eisenhorn as he combats threats to the Imperium.
  • “Ciaphas Cain” series by Sandy Mitchell – Experience the humorous and action-packed adventures of Commissar Ciaphas Cain.
  • “Tales of Heresy” anthology – Explore a collection of short stories that expand on various aspects of the Horus Heresy.

These recommendations are just a starting point, and there are countless other novels and anthologies to discover. Consult reading guides and fellow enthusiasts for personalized suggestions based on your interests.

Expanding Your Warhammer 40k Library

Once you’ve delved into the recommended books and explored the standalone novels and anthologies, you can continue expanding your Warhammer 40k library. There are numerous series, trilogies, and ongoing storylines that offer further depth and exploration of the universe.

Consider exploring series such as the “Space Marine Conquests” series, which delves into the legendary Space Marines and their campaigns. The “Black Legion” series by Aaron Dembski-Bowden follows the Chaos Space Marines, providing insight into their motivations and struggles. The “Beast Arises” series by various authors focuses on the Orks and their relentless assault on the Imperium.

Additionally, keep an eye out for new releases and upcoming novels within the Warhammer 40k universe. The lore is constantly expanding, with new stories and characters being added regularly. Stay connected with the Warhammer community, follow official announcements, and engage in discussions to stay up to date with the latest releases.


The world of Warhammer 40k books offers a vast and immersive experience for both new and seasoned fans. By starting with the Horus Heresy series, exploring standalone novels and anthologies, and continuing to expand your library, you’ll embark on an exciting journey through the grim and dark future of the 41st millennium. So grab your bolter, don your power armor, and prepare to lose yourself in the captivating stories of Warhammer 40k.

Key Takeaways: The Beginner’s Guide to Warhammer 40k Books

  • 1. Warhammer 40k is a popular science fiction tabletop game with a rich lore and expansive universe.
  • 2. To start exploring the Warhammer 40k books, a good entry point is the “Horus Heresy” series, which delves into the origins of the game’s universe.
  • 3. Another great starting point is the “Gaunt’s Ghosts” series, which follows the adventures of a regiment of soldiers in the grim future of Warhammer 40k.
  • 4. For those interested in the Space Marines, the “Ultramarines” series provides exciting stories centered around these iconic warriors.
  • 5. Don’t forget to check out standalone novels like “Eisenhorn” and “Ravenor” for thrilling detective stories set in the Warhammer 40k universe.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Warhammer 40k?

Warhammer 40k is a tabletop wargame set in a dystopian future where various factions battle for supremacy in a universe filled with war, chaos, and advanced technology. It is a game that combines strategy, storytelling, and miniature models to create an immersive gaming experience.

The game is set in the 41st millennium and draws inspiration from various sources, including science fiction, fantasy, and military history. It has a rich lore and extensive universe that is explored through various books, novels, and other media.

Where should beginners start with Warhammer 40k books?

For beginners looking to dive into the world of Warhammer 40k books, a great starting point is the “Warhammer 40,000: Dark Imperium” box set. This set includes a rulebook, miniatures, and a novel that serves as an introduction to the game and its lore.

Additionally, the “Warhammer 40,000: Conquest” magazine series is a fantastic resource for newcomers. It provides a step-by-step guide to the game, including rules, painting tutorials, and short stories that expand on the universe.

What are some recommended Warhammer 40k books for beginners?

There are several Warhammer 40k books that are highly recommended for beginners. One such book is “Gaunt’s Ghosts: First and Only” by Dan Abnett. It follows the exploits of the Imperial Guard regiment known as Gaunt’s Ghosts and provides a great entry point into the grim darkness of the 41st millennium.

Another recommended book is “Horus Rising” by Dan Abnett, which is the first novel in the Horus Heresy series. It delves into the origins of the Warhammer 40k universe and sets the stage for the epic conflict that shapes its future.

Are there any Warhammer 40k books specifically for painting and modeling?

Yes, there are Warhammer 40k books specifically dedicated to painting and modeling. One popular choice is “How to Paint Citadel Miniatures” by Games Workshop. This book provides detailed step-by-step instructions on how to paint and customize your Warhammer 40k miniatures.

Another recommended book is “Warhammer 40,000: Kill Team Core Manual” which focuses on the assembly and painting of Kill Teams, small squads of miniatures used in skirmish-style games within the Warhammer 40k universe.

Are there any Warhammer 40k books that explore specific factions or characters?

Absolutely! There are numerous Warhammer 40k books that delve into specific factions and characters. For example, “Eisenhorn” by Dan Abnett follows the adventures of Inquisitor Gregor Eisenhorn as he battles against the forces of chaos.

Another popular series is “The Horus Heresy” which explores the events leading up to the galactic civil war and features various Primarchs and their legions. Each book in the series focuses on a different faction or character, providing a deep dive into their motivations and struggles.


Final Thoughts

So, there you have it, the beginner’s guide to Warhammer 40k books. Whether you’re a die-hard fan or just starting to explore this vast universe, this guide has provided you with valuable information on where to start and what to read. From the iconic “Horus Heresy” series to the thrilling “Gaunt’s Ghosts” novels, there is something for everyone in the Warhammer 40k book collection.

Remember, the key to diving into this expansive universe is to choose a starting point that aligns with your interests. Whether you’re drawn to the epic battles, the intricate lore, or the complex characters, there are books that cater to every aspect of Warhammer 40k. And as you delve deeper into the series, you’ll uncover a rich tapestry of stories that will keep you captivated for years to come.

As you embark on your Warhammer 40k reading journey, don’t forget to immerse yourself in the unique and immersive experience that these books offer. Let your imagination run wild as you envision the grim darkness of the far future, where only war reigns supreme. So grab a book, buckle up, and get ready to be transported to a universe unlike any other. The adventure awaits!

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