After more than 60 Books spread out over 18 years the Horus Heresy series is finally over, so please be kind to the Warhammer 40,000 tragics in your life

It's the end of The Horus Heresy and I feel fine.


For the foundational myth of the Warhammer 40,000 universe, the Horus Heresy had an extremely prosaic origin. The reason it exists, this massive fallen-paradise fairytale taking place 10,000 years in the setting's past, is that Games Workshop couldn't afford to put miniatures representing two different factions in a box back in 1988. Rewind to the '80s.

Adeptus Titanicus is Warhammer 40,000 with mechs, presumably developed in an attempt to come at BattleTech's crown. But a boxed set with 12 miniature Titans is expensive to produce, and to cut costs the two opposing forces of six giant robots have to be identical. A civil war is written into the setting's history to explain why the Imperium was fighting a mirror match against palette-swapped versions of its own mechs, and that civil war is called the Horus Heresy.

The Realm of Chaos supplements, the first published the same year as Adeptus Titanicus, detailed the Horus Heresy in broad strokes. A two-page short story accompanied by a black-and-white art piece by Adrian Smith from the second volume depicted the climactic duel between Horus and the Emperor, and other tellings followed in art books and magazine articles. But it was mostly broad-strokes stuff.

We didn't get more of the specifics until the 21st century. When the first novel in the series, Horus Rising by Dan Abnett, came out in 2006 it was an audaciously slow-and-steady, fine-grained look at events. Readers knew this was going to have to be a series on a bigger scal.