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Your 10 Essential Reads

black library top 10 top ten

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#1
Roomsky

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I was considering starting a new generic top 10 thread, but I figured that was a little boring. 

 

So, if your Black Library collection was limited to 10 books, what would they be? That said, they can't be just any 10 books, no, there are limitations:

  • The story must take place in the Warhammer 40k (or Horus Heresy) Universe.
  • Each author is limited to a single book, no series and no multiples - 10 authors, 10 books.
  • The story must be a full and singular novel (~200 - whatever pages): no novellas, short stories, or omnibuses. 

There, I think that should make things sufficiently spicy. If you have the time or the want, write a bit about why you chose what you did.

 

This is a thread to share what you enjoy with your fellows, and to draw people's attention to some works they may not have otherwise considered. Please keep things positive and don't criticize other people's choices.


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#2
mc warhammer

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with those limitations (are the primarchs books novellas?):

 

[edited for breaking rules]

horus rising

first heretic

palatine phoenix

perturabo

space marine


Edited by mc warhammer, 27 April 2020 - 03:11 AM.

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It always amused me that the GW Mail Order ‘Trolls’ as we (starting with me) had always styled ourselves insisted as being rebranded ‘Space Marines’. Why anyone would want to be associated with semi-lobotomized, hypnotically indoctrinated slave-soldiers in thrall to an uncaring (and possibly non-existent) god I couldn’t imagine. - Rick Priestley

 2019

#3
Bestkeptsecret

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My top 5 [following the rules, as in a strictly 40k non Horus Heresy top 10 is not possible]

 

The Lords of Silence by Chris Wraight [MUST READ!! Best book about the Death Guard: lots of details and lore and not just bolter action. Characters are well fleshed out and the book is one with substance as far as lore goes compared to more action oriented novels]

 

Clonelord by Joshua Reynolds

 

Mark of Faith by Rachel Harrison [best book on the Adepta Sororitas, great plot: more focus on story, character development along with action]

 

Dark Imperium: Plague War by Guy Haley [second book on Guilliman vs Mortarion: better than the first book and has a fascinating build up and a nail-bitting action/story sequence with an exciting cliffhanger ]

 

Storm of Iron by Graham McNeill [ a must read for those interested in 40k Iron Warriors]

 

Those are my top 5 without the same author more than once. Another favorite of mine is: Devastation of Baal by Guy Haley [Tyranids vs Blood Angels].


Edited by Bestkeptsecret, 27 April 2020 - 02:38 AM.

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#4
Roomsky

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As for myself:

 

Chris Wraight – The Carrion Throne

A standout Inquisitor story as much for it's plot as its atmosphere.

 

Dan Abnett –Titanicus

All the humanity you'd expect from Gaunt's Ghosts in a stand-alone. All the madness of the Mechanicus in a titan.

 

ADB – The Talon of Horus

A thesis on the warp, and full of character.

 

Josh Reynolds – Fabius Bile: Clonelord

Understandable even without book one, and it explores several factions and characters you might not expect flawlessly.

 

Ian Watson – Space Marine

This book is insane and is everything I love about 40k.

 

David Guymer – The Eye of Medusa

This book is insane and is everything I love about 40k.

 

Peter Fehervari – Fire Caste

A great piece that sums up the futility of 40k warfare, as well as pulling you in with it's trippy presentation.

 

Simon Spurrier – Lord of the Night

The original and definitive traitor legion book, Spurrier's writing is great too

 

Matthew Farrer – Crossfire

The byzantine plotting I love mixed with a corner of the lore rarely explored

 

Rachel Harrison - Honourbound

Black Library's best stand-alone Guard novel

 

 

John French is in my top 5 authors but one of the reasons he's so good are how his series play out. He doesn't have a standalone I can really pick.

 

are the primarchs books novellas?

 

I'd say they count as novels, clarified in the OP. Also you've already broken the rules.

 

EDIT: Sorry for lack of clarity BestkeptsecretHorus Heresy is fine.


Edited by Roomsky, 27 April 2020 - 02:43 AM.

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#5
mc warhammer

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welp, wfh multi tasking is not my friend. answer edited


It always amused me that the GW Mail Order ‘Trolls’ as we (starting with me) had always styled ourselves insisted as being rebranded ‘Space Marines’. Why anyone would want to be associated with semi-lobotomized, hypnotically indoctrinated slave-soldiers in thrall to an uncaring (and possibly non-existent) god I couldn’t imagine. - Rick Priestley

 2019

#6
theSpirea

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This is going to be hard and based on the previous posts I'm glad I'm not the only struggling with this.
 
The list is in alphabetical order (by writers) as it's impossible to do otherwise.
 
  • Abnett, Dan - Horus Rising
  • Dembski-Bowden, Aaron - The Talon of Horus
  • Fehervari, Peter - Requiem Infernal
  • Reyonlds, Josh - Primogenitor
  • Wraight, Chris - The Carrion Throne
Now, there's only 5 books as I can't do 10 at the moment. My 40K/30K backlog is huge so I haven't read everything. There are books I enjoyed a lot but I wouldn't call them essential reads. There are authors I do like their work but it's either their short stories I love the most or lots of very good books but again, not essential. I do have to mention John French at least. Some of his short stories I can read over and over, and I consider his prose to be one of the best BL can offer. I just haven't read many of his full novels yet.

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#7
SchultzChaos

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I'll try my ten!

 

Dan Abnett - Necropolis

40k madness intermingled with Stalingrad, and when I finally understood the brilliance that is Abnett-verse. 

 

Aaron Dembski-Bowden - Blood Reaver

When one of the most one dimensional npc:s became the most tragic and pathos-filled characters in Black Library fiction. And Hound. 

 

Chris Wraight - Path to Heaven

Because it made the Heresy bigger and its characters formidable. Once again a one dimensional piece of trash became a force to be reckon with.

 

Josh Reynolds - Fabius Bile: Clonelord

Once again a book that suprised me and made for some fantastic scenes. Emperor's Children crying for their sins against humanity? Awesome.

 

Simon Spurrier - Lord of the Night

A book that muddles right and wrong and where characters' philosophies clashes with every confrontation!

 

Peter Fehervari - Fire Caste

The insane military doctrines of the Imperium meets despair and the realities of war.

 

John French - Ahriman: Sorcerer

Such lovely Tzeentchian fiction. So many twist and turns and the introduction of some very memorable characters!

 

Graham McNeill - A Thousand Sons 

The tragedy of Prospero in one mighty tome, and one of the most blood pumping battles in all of the Heresy.

 

 

 

I would have liked to put William King, Guy Haley and Gav Thorpe up there too, but no Fantasy books are welcomed... 


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#8
Marshal Rohr

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Helsreach
Horus Rising
Master of Mankind
Talon of Horus
Carrion Throne
Valdor
The Great Work
Eisenhorn: Xenos
Watchers of the Throne: The Emperor’s Legion
First and Only
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#9
cheywood

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ADB - The Emperor’s Gift. Hard time choosing between all of ADB’s works. I love Gift because of Hyperion’s voice and the little tie-in with Abnett’s work. One of my favorite little details in BL fiction. This could easily have a different answer if you asked me tomorrow though.

Guy Haley - Dante. I quite like most of Haley’s writing, but this one hit me emotionally more than I expected. Something about that scene at the end just got me. Dante’s weariness is quite compelling.

Chris Wraight - The Emperor’s Legion. I think this just barely beats Carrion Throne because of its exploration of Imperial politics and the sense of lost greatness and rediscovered purpose with which Wraight imbues the Custodes and Sisters.

Dan Abnett - Hereticus. just as hard as choosing a favorite with ABD. You could pick randomly between a number of his works and I’d accept the result.

Josh Reynolds - Kal Jerico: Sinner’s Bounty (is Necromunda allowed?). Read this recently and I loved it. Serves as a great introduction to Necromunda through the eyes of a (somewhat) lovable rogue and a bunch of other POV characters. Note: I haven’t read his Fabius books yet.

John French - Ahriman: Sorcerer. The whole Ahriman series is great but this felt the most vivid to me. The heavy helping of Inquisition didn’t hurt.

Peter Fehervari - Fire Caste. 40k Heart of Darkness with some of the most well thought out and unique world-building in the Canon.

Gav Thorpe - Armageddon Saint. Read this recently and was very impressed by its meditations on service to the Imperium and progression of Kage’s narrative. Surprised I liked it as much as I did.

Rachel Harrison - Honourbound. I saw Roomsky said it’s the best standalone Guard novel. I’d also call it among the best debut novels BL has published.

David Annandale - The House of Night and Chain. Even knowing Annandale’s love of horror over other genres I was impressed and surprised by how good this was, especially the beginning and the ending (middle was ever so slightly slow). Great mix of world building and psychological exploration, really shows just what Warhammer Horror can do.

Edited by cheywood, 27 April 2020 - 01:55 PM.

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#10
Bobss

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I like how this is formatted as 'top 10 essential reads,' because a 'top 10 best books' wouldn't get the noggin joggin half as much thumbsup.gif

 

Horus Rising (Dan Abnett) -

Spoiler

 

The Master of Mankind (Aaron Dembski-Bowden) -

Spoiler

 

The Path of Heaven (Chris Wraight) -

Spoiler

 

Clonelord (Josh Reynolds) -

Spoiler

 

Ahriman: Unchanged (John French) -

Spoiler

 

Dark Imperium (Guy Haley) -

Spoiler

 

Asurmen - Hand of Asuryan (Gav Thorpe) -

Spoiler

 

Fifteen Hours (Mitchel Scanlon) -

Spoiler

 

Legion of the Damned (Rob Sanders) -

Spoiler

 

The Killing Ground (Graham McNeill) -

Spoiler

 

I'm pretty gutted I can't include Primogenitor, The Carrion Throne, The Emperor's Legion, Helsreach, The First Heretic, The Emperor's Gift, Spear of the Emperor, Know No Fear or Praetorian of Dorn - but here we are!


Edited by Bobss, 27 April 2020 - 02:33 PM.

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#11
DukeLeto69

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Oh man this is hard (particularly no author repeats). In no order:

Dan Abnett - Pariah
Peter Fehervari - Requiem Infernal
Matthew Farrer - Blind
Chris Wraight - The Hollow Mountain
John French - Incarnation
ADB - The Talon of Horus
Gordon Rennie - Execution Hour
Nick Kyme - Sepulturum
Mike Brooks - Road to Redemption
Ian Watson - Inquisitor

But this list changes dramatically if you could include sane author and/or books in series.
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#12
JH79

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Roomsky trying to break the Matrix with those rules!! We all love a good challenge though so here goes...

 

Aaron Dembski-Bowden - Helsreach

A better Siege story than the first 3 SOT Novels put together. My favourate Last Stand moment in 40K!

 

Chris Wraight - Scars

How to make a Legion with little to no background exploration awesome, while also giving us a suprise visit from the Space Wolves & Death Guard!

 

C Z Dunn - Pandorax

A little bit silly in places, but my kind of fun from beginning to end.

 

Dan Abnett - Prospero Burns

Kasper Ansbach Hawser.

 

David Annandale - Damnation of Pythos

A great look at the Iron Hands post Istvaan and a taste of Warhammer Horror before Warhammer Horror was a thing.

 

Gav Thorpe - The Emperor Expects

So good it should have been an extended standalone novel separate to TBA.

 

Graham McNeill - Mechanicum

Machine, heal thyself. I would have preferred Mechanicum 2 as opposed to Titandeath.

 

Guy Haley - Dante

Initiate Training to really put hairs on your chest!

 

John French - Praetorian of Dorn

Just, so, damn, good!

 

Mitchel Scanlon - Descent of Angels

This is more of a nostalgia choice, great memories from reading this despite it's flaws.

 

-

 

That was way harder than I expected, thanks for the challenge Roomsky!!


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#13
aa.logan

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Just to check, where do anthologies like Eye of Terra (not that I’d choose that per se) fit under these criteria?

#14
Roomsky

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Just to check, where do anthologies like Eye of Terra (not that I’d choose that per se) fit under these criteria?

 

Anthologies are disallowed, as with omnibuses.

 

In case any are still curious, Necromunda is also fair game.


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#15
Tarvek Val

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(In no particular order)

 

Horus Rising - Dan Abnett

 

Soul Hunter - ADB

 

Shroud of Night - Andy Clark

 

Exile - John French

 

Path of the Archon - Andy Chambers

 

The Lords of Silence - Chris Wraight

 

Plague War - Guy Haley

 

Storm of Iron - Graham McNeil

 

Fall of Macharius - William King

 

Angels of Caliban - Gav Thorpe

 

To be honest, this list would be 90% ADB novels if not for the rule against more than one book per author... rolleyesclean.gif


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"Our holy hatred will make us free!" ~Nameless Dark Apostle

 

"Though my guards may sleep and ships may rest at anchor, our foes know full well that big guns never tire." ~Huron Blackheart

 

"You shall stand in midnight clad, your claws forever red with the lifeblood of my father's failed empire, warring through the centuries as the talons of a murdered god. Rise, my sons, and take your wrath across the stars, in my name. In my memory. Rise, my Night Lords." ~Konrad Curze, the Night Haunter

 

"So... How are you?" ~Cyrion, First Claw

 

 


#16
Phoebus

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I won’t pretend that I could have offered an entirely different list. I struggled to narrow down just one essential title for more than one author on this list.

 

The Carrion Throne, by Chris Wraight

Galaxy in Flames, by Ben Counter

Helsreach, by Aaron Dembski-Bowden

Lord of the Night, by Simon Spurrier

The Lords of Silence, by Hriscay Raightway

Only in Death, by Dan Abnett

Slaves to Darkness, by John French

Space Marine, by Ian Watson

Storm of Iron, by Graham McNeill

The Unforgiven, by Gav Thorpe


Edited by Phoebus, 27 April 2020 - 05:54 PM.

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#17
Enosh

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  • Carrion Throne
  • Dante
  • Fabius Bile  Primogenitor
  • Carcharodons: Red Tithe
  • Lord of the Night
  • Kingsblade
  • The Flight of the Eisenstein
  • Horus Rising
  • First Heretic
  • Angel Exterminatus

Some were hard to make a choice with under the 1 book per author rule, would have put for example Know No Fear or Watchers of the Throne on that list instead of some of the "weaker" books (edit: don't mean that they are bad, just not quite as good)


Edited by Enosh, 27 April 2020 - 06:10 PM.

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#18
Scribe

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Punitive to limit it to one book per author! :D

 

Betrayer - ADB

Wrath of Iron - Wraight

A Thousand Sons - McNeill

Path of the Incubus - Chambers

Atlas Infernal - Sanders

 

The Masters, Bidding - Farrer

The Last Remembrancer - French

 

Those 7 stand out to me as simply great examples of either the setting, or great fun stories regardless.

 

The Last Remembrancer especially is so underrated. The little blurb you get on sites like Lex, have nowhere near the weight of even a short story like this.


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#19
Phoebus

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Scribe,

 

I appreciate you throwing Atlas Infernal in your list. It was an oversight on my part to have omitted it, and I genuinely wish Rob Sanders was still writing for Black Library (or, at least, wrote for them more often).


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#20
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I dont read all the fiction BL puts out, and some of that I will correct once the world is reopened (I am intrigued by the Fabius series, and am going to pick up Fehervari's works) but people sleep on some of the stuff like Atlas Infernal and imo, the Path books Chambers wrote.


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#21
Tarvek Val

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people sleep on some of the stuff like Atlas Infernal and imo, the Path books Chambers wrote.

 

I couldn't agree with this more. Path of the Archon made my list — I haven't read that series in some time but I recall it to be a particularly interesting and "outside the BL norm" set of novels. The perspective given on the dark eldar was fascinating, and the books were a true pleasure to read.


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"Our holy hatred will make us free!" ~Nameless Dark Apostle

 

"Though my guards may sleep and ships may rest at anchor, our foes know full well that big guns never tire." ~Huron Blackheart

 

"You shall stand in midnight clad, your claws forever red with the lifeblood of my father's failed empire, warring through the centuries as the talons of a murdered god. Rise, my sons, and take your wrath across the stars, in my name. In my memory. Rise, my Night Lords." ~Konrad Curze, the Night Haunter

 

"So... How are you?" ~Cyrion, First Claw

 

 


#22
aa.logan

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Tough choices, made even tougher by the stringent criteria. I’ve tried my best not to skew too heavily to recent titles, but this exercise has confirmed, to me at least, that BL’s output is better than ever.

Chaos Child, Ian Watson

My first ever 40k book. When read in sequence with the rest of the trilogy it’s still pretty odd, but when read in isolation and one isn’t completely aware of the setting, it’s absolutely mind-blowing. Cemented my love for the setting, the fact that Imperial Fists are masochists, Inquisitors always end up going rogue and that digilasers are an essential use of a wargear slot being both dearly *and* cool. OT, but I bought most of the Dark Future books on the same day, they remain equally formative for me.

Eisenhorn Catches a Train, Dan Abnett

Can’t remember which part of the trilogy he does this in, but it’s my favourite of the three and I think I prefer this title anyway. Took Inquisitors and 40k away from the frontlines and made me consider what life in the Imperium might actually be like. The mundanity of many of Gregor’s problems in this book and the very real damage his presence does to the lives of those around him, as well as showing the man away from the rosette are what elevates this book from the rest of the series. For my Dan choice, I very nearly chose Saturnine instead though.

Lord of the Night, Simon Spurrier

This lets me choose a non-ADB Night Lords book for starters, but is totally worth it on it’s own merits. Despite reading this after the Talos trilogy and all of the Heresy to date (in either 2015 or 2016), this book still managed to feel fresh and surprise me with its take on traitor marines. We get gritty underhive too, which is always welcome.

Dark Apostle, Antony Reynolds

For bleak Chaos stories, I could also have gone for Storm of Iron or Siege of Castellax, but this one really has everything I want from Chaos Marines. Self-destructive politicking, insidious Chaos corruption and horrible architecture. Unlike the other two titles I mention, I’ve not recently reread this, so my memories could be overly nostalgic, but it edges ahead for my memories of the denouement.

A Thousand Sons, Graham McNeil

It seems that my favourite titles by my favourite authors aren’t their entries in the Heresy. Odd, that. The anthology restrictions hamstring me in the Heresy, I could easily pick Shattered Legions of Mark of Calth, and I’d also argue that Swallow’s Liar’s Due is as good as anything else in the series, short or not. Anyway, this has great early Crusade detail, non-Astartes plotlines, expansion of pivotal events in the form of the Council of Nickea and some dark Legion secrets- what more could one want from the Heresy?

Baneblade, Guy Hayley

I LIKE TANKS. THIS IS GOOD TANKS.

Talon of Horus, Aaron Dembski Bowden

This one still feels really special; from the very first page the reader feels like they’re receiving privileged information. It shows the forces in the Eye at their dysfunctional best and is full of so many incredible scenes. Even if (heaven forbid) it remains at just two books, the audacity of this series is to be admired, and as such has got to be considered essential.

Rites of Passage, Mike Brooks

I’ve banged on at great length why this personally is a significant book for me (TL;DR- yay! Gays in 40k!) elsewhere, but even if I judge it beyond that this is one of my favourite 40k books- again we’ve got scope beyond the battlefield, but we have a refreshingly different protagonist, lovely world building, a distinctive authorial voice and mundane hurdles to be overcome.

Valdor, Chris Wraight

To be honest, it could be any of his 40k books. But I like how political this one is, both with and without the capital P. Chris’ takes on Terra are always amazing, and he sets the tone for the pre-Crusade Imperium perfectly. So much of 40k is the nature of repeated failures and this book sows these seeds brilliantly.

Mark of Faith, Rachel Harrison

It’s really well written, has nice grown-up philosophical themes and good action scenes, but more than that has the most emotionally-affecting single line in all of BL’s back catalogue. Every time I think about it, I’m haunted.

The First Wall, Konrad Curze, Cadia Stands, Fire Caste, Primogenitor and For the Emperor are all unlucky not to have made the cut...

Edited by aa.logan, 27 April 2020 - 11:50 PM.

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#23
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Great lists everyone, and it's nice to see some interesting/unexpected picks from basically every post. I'm glad people are having fun with the premise.

 

I have to say I'm surprised Lord of the Night is getting the recognition I think it deserves. It never struck me as a novel that got an appropriate amount of popularity.

 

As others having been putting some runners-up, here are some of my own:

 

John French - Ahriman Sorcerer (Only didn't make the top 10 because I think it's greatest strengths come from being read in its series)

Anthony Reynolds - Khârn: Eater of Worlds

Mike Brooks - Rites of Passage

Justin D. Hill - Cadia Stands

Ian St. Martin - Lucius: The Faultless Blade

Robbie Macniven - Carcharodons: Outer Dark

Graham Mcneill - A Thousand Sons (breaking my self-imposed no-Heresy rule)


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#24
JH79

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Soooo then... having read everyone's lists and found a boat load of titles I've never heard of, well it's safe to say that my to investigate / read list just increased quite dramatically!!


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#25
Medjugorje

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Guy Haley - Dante (oh man - thats soooo good how Haley describes the Blood Angels)

 

A-D-B - Black Legion ( in both books, Abi at his finest , and the Black Templars are done so perfectly)

 

Graham-McNeill - Fulgrim (what should I say, this tragedy is so awesome to read)

 

Andy Chambers - Path of the incubus (the whole entire trio is so good written and                                 describes the DE perfectly but I enjoyed this book at most, the                                   chemie between the Incubus and the Harlekin was great

 

Steve Parker - Rynns world

 

Legion of the damned - Rob Sanders

 

Spoiler


Edited by Medjugorje, 28 April 2020 - 10:24 PM.

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