Douglas Adams used to add the word “hyper” to things to make them seem more sci-fi. The authors of the best Warhammer 40,000 books do the same, only the prefix they choose is “massive.” Orks Pilot Mega Bommers and Mega Gargants. The agricultural worlds of Imperium are surrounded by colossal harvesters, and their industrial worlds are backed by mega-indicators. Spider-like aliens? They are cheerfully called “megarachnids.”
It’s the perfect word for 40K, a science fiction setting based on taking everything away, and then pushing it further. Not content with extrapolating the future to a reasonable distance, he envisions 38 or 39,000 years (individual books jumping around the timeline) into a galaxy full of sinister empires who are all at war with each other and often themselves.
It’s so extra when it comes to blood and slicing too, the writers compete to find new ways to describe violence. Some books are clever and curvy, but they always find room to paint something with arterial spray, or a tip that stands out like a certain overripe fruit or vegetable. In one of the phrases that will stay with me until I die, someone’s gut fumbling like gray snakes. Don’t get that anywhere else.
The other thing that pushes 40,000 books beyond the mind is their quantity. There are so many things that it is difficult for new readers to find a way to enter, and it is easy for ordinary readers to miss books that they might enjoy in this huge world. Here are the top 40 thousand books.
The 40,000 best books for beginners
If you want to dip your toe into the dark future, Deathwing They are short story anthologies that give a strong overview of the scale of the place. Devil’s Marauders by Bill King is about a company of Imperial Guards racing to escape their bombardment across a planet where trees are so large and their branches form highways. Charles Strauss writes about a judge and assassin sent to bring the entire world back under imperial control, while Storm Constantine writes about falling in love while traveling their ship in a realistic horror show alternative to Warp. Heck, there are even two stories about the Space Marines.
For a stand-alone narration, read on Lord of the Night. It’s about a Marine traitor who searches through a beehive city for remains, which he does by terrorizing its inhabitants from the shadows while he talks like hero Frank Miller. As he kills his way through city and lower-class gangs, a trained detective tries to convince their superiors that he’s out there, and that they really should care about an evil Batman out there ripping up citizens who can be discarded.
Best 40K Series
The Eisenhorn Books turn 40,000 into hard-boiled fiction, with Detective Eisenhorn as Detective Raymond Chandler narrating first-hand. His investigations of chaos often lead to a conflict with the Imperium mechanism he’s supposed to protect, which plays well with the cynical type view of power. Eisenhorn wrote Dan Abnett, one of the 40,000 best writers, but has a weakness – endings that feel rushed. The third book in the Eisenhorn trilogy suffers from this, but the wait on the other side is a complementary trilogy called Ravenor. Ravenor jumps into genre and hero, tracking down a detective working with a team of badass specialists. Suddenly it’s more like X-Men than Big Sleep, a change that energizes the series and makes it worth continuing.
For classic military SF, Gaunt Ghosts Is the string you want. Commissioner Colonel Abram Gaunt is an extraordinarily merciful officer, dedicated to keeping a regiment alive and they are the only survivors of a dead world. Unfortunately for them, Imperium’s war engine is full of hounds and miscreants who happily throw thousands of lives to move a trench half a mile forward. While the ghost-facing enemies are terrible, Gaunt fights equally against his orders.
Siaphas Cain Another series about an unusual commissioner, just what makes Cain different is that he’s a liar and a scammer. Cain plots out of responsibilities and danger, and ends up taking credit for each victory, accompanied by a dirty friend named Ferric who plays Baldric in BlackAdder. Ciaphas Cain’s books are more comedic than most 40,000 stories – if the Ghosts Gaunt quotes Bernard Cornwell’s Sharpe stories and transports them from Waterloo to Warhammer, then Ciaphas Cain’s books are the George MacDonald Fraser Flashman Papers turned into the 41st millennium.
Then there’s Dark Coil, which isn’t an official series, but the name of Peter Fehervari’s 40,000 stories related to an esoteric tangle of recurring characters, places, and themes. Start b Caste fire, Which follows an Imperial Guard regiment called Arkan Confederates who set out straight from West and have names like “Kletus Modine”. They join an endless war against the Tao on a planet covered in a fungal forest and a maze of rivers called the Dolorosa Profile. It’s the story of “War is Hell”, the apocalypse now if it’s about cowboy versus aliens in anime costumes. short story forefront It’s the epilogue, and from there anything named Peter Fehervari leads to more of the file.
Best single novel 40 thousand
For an inhuman perspective, try Infinite and Divine. It’s about museums, the pseudo-Egyptian internet men who have been tricked out of their souls into the bodies of an immortal machine, and have been crazy about it for thousands of years. Trazyn the Infinite is so obsessed with the past that it fills a museum with stagnant warriors like life-size collections of Warhammer miniatures, while rival Orikan the Divine can see and even change the future, which he uses for trivial reasons like jury – absurd. One of the funniest 40,000 books, he devises the idea of non-perishable beings as a basis for imagining a whole genre that fills infinity with a single pointless ingenuity – plus plays that take decades to perform and that no one enjoys.
Honour It is another book about the Commissioner, but where Gaunt and Cain are unfamiliar, the first thing Severina Raine does on Honorbound is to execute one of her soldiers for cowardice. And that’s exactly what the commissioners are supposed to do. However, Rin sympathizes with the soldiers who serve under her command – even though the person is addicted to doing some terrible things and the others are so superstitious that they shun the psyche associated with their team and call it a “witch.” Written in the present tense, Honorbound constantly stops to delve into the thoughts of its crew, overwhelming battles and evoking excitement with psychological insight that makes it as a personal study as it is a war story.
The best Horus heresy books
The Horus Heresy Line jumps back 10,000 years to a formative point in the history of the place. Like most pre-shows, they have a better experience after stories set before, full of predictions that pay off if you know what’s coming. The first three are basic: Horus heightAnd the False gods, And the Galaxy in flame. In these, perspective is split between supernatural space marines and ordinary recollections – artists, photographers, poets, and journalists brought in to record their Great Crusade for posterity, and who instead witness its fall into corruption and betrayal. It is a look at imperialism before it was dominated by religious dogma, imperfect but far from “the cruelest order imaginable”.
Unfortunately, the Horus Heresy books were a victim of their success, selling well enough that the initially modest plans were expanded to a line of more than 50 books, filled with padding and stories that bounce back in the timeline to fill in gaps that no one cares about. A rare exception is it corps, And it is a spy novel that uses other wars of 40 thousand useless as a background. Other than that, the best way to approach books of later fad is to choose books that focus on factions or characters you actually care about and skip the rest.
Top 40 Thousand Cartoons
When Marvel Comics received a 40K license, the result was a powerful introduction to preparing comic readers, and an enjoyable explosion of old mega-violence. Marnius Calgar It is a five-issue series on how the chief of Ultramarines became the first to become a Marine in space, and it is narrated in a flashback as a technical expert tries to discuss the finer points of the ammunition budget with him. This is constantly interrupted by battles with armies full of heretics and pages of corpses and blood. Which is great.
The other 40K comedies worth reading tend to be more difficult comedies. Dave Squadron It revolves around ork fighter pilots in junker jets with three speeds: stop, fast, and “Waaagh!” They act like The Dam Busters on a raid, if you replace tactics with pure brutality and the belief that the parachutes are for cowards. Violent fights are superficial swirls of ink as engine parts and limbs fly through the air like scraps of paper at a wedding. Deff Skwadron is one of the oldest and can be difficult to find in prints, but it’s well worth it.
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