These stories will transport you to the heart-breaking internecine conflict known as the Horus Heresy. Each one of these audio dramas is a stirring tale of a long, vicious war that rages on into the 41st Millennium. Some of Black Library's best-known names have crafted thrilling, revealing and sometimes surprising audio dramas that shed more light on the galaxy spanning conflicts of the Horus Heresy.
Anthologies Tales of Heresy, edited by Nick Kyme and Lindsey Priestley
Age of Darkness, edited by Christian Dunn
The Primarchs, a collection of four novellas, edited by Christian Dunn
Shadows of Treachery, edited by Christian Dunn and Nick Kyme
Mark of Calth, edited by Laurie Goulding
The Imperial Truth, a 2013 events' exclusive, edited by Laurie Goulding
Sedition's Gate, a 2014 events' exclusive
Legacies of Betrayal
Death and Defiance, , a 2014 events' exclusive, edited by Laurie Goulding
Blades of the Traitor, a 2015 events' exclusive
Meduson, an exclusive available only at Black Library's quarters
War Without End (comprising The Imperial Truth, Sedition's Gate, Death and Defiance and Blades of the Traitor)
Eye of Terra
The Silent War
Corax by Gav Thorpe
Garro by James Swallow
Tallarn by John French
The Burden of Loyalty
Born of Flame by Nick Kyme
Heralds of the Siege
S-Z Salt the Earth: This is a specialty of the Dark Angels and the Death Guard. The Dark Angels have the Dreadwing, their "dirty tricks department"; the Marines assigned to the Dreadwing are equipped with sinister and forbidden armaments, such as rad missiles and grenades, phosphex flamethrowers and assault cannons, vortex weapons, and Exterminatus-class munitions. They are unleashed whenever an enemy is to be totally annihilated, and the aftereffects of their weapons all but ensure that no one can live where they have fought for a long time. The Death Guard, meanwhile, specialize in chemical and biological warfare, and use weapons that even the Dreadwing won't touch, such as bio-phage bombs, cullgene gas, and chem-flamers. They are specifically noted to have left a lot of dead worlds behind them.
Sanity Slippage Song: Fulgrim's Legion has one, capping off their descent into madness, by attending one in the form of the "opera" Maraviglia, which was literally designed from the ground up to cause sensory overload in the most painful manner possible. It causes the audience, comprised of most of the Legion and many of their human attendants and already deep in Slaanesh's pocket, to go into an orgy of violence and sex. It ends when the event inadvertently summons daemons who join in. The Emperor's Children pick up the instruments invented just for the piece from the stage, unmodified, and use them as destructive weapons.
Saved by Canon: Named Chaos Space Marines characters appear in this series, so it's a foregone conclusion that they'll survive past the ending. Lucius gets killed at the climax of Angel Exterminatus, then wakes up in Fabius's Apothecarion, both of them confused as to how; the death and resurrection don't line up with the specifics of the body-snatching immortality power that Lucius later possesses. Zigzagged with a few villains. Julius Kaesoron dies, but appears in Wrath of Iron having been resurrected as a daemon prince.
Sealed Evil in a Can: In Mechanicum, the Void Dragon, one of the most powerful of the C'tan, is buried deep within Mars. Yes, the entire planet is its can. If it ever wakes up...
In Fallen Angels, the Ouroboros is buried underneath the surface of Caliban.
Savage Wolves: The Space Wolves Legion is (in)famous for its savagery on the battlefield, to the extent that even other Legions consider them The Dreaded.
Scenery Gorn: Most of the authors revel in describing the horrible messes that are left behind whenever the Legions fight or whenever Chaos gets involved. Fear to Tread, in particular, goes into great detail on how horrible things went in the Signus Cluster when the eyes of the Dark Gods were turned on it.
Scry vs. Scry: How the fight between Curze and Sanguinius pans out; with both being able to see the future, they both know that ultimately, their duel is futile, as neither is fated to die there and then.
Secret War: The War in the Webway. After Magnus destroyed the Webway gate beneath the Imperial Palace, an army of daemons tries to invade the Imperial Palace through the Webway and the Emperor has to fight them off with the Legio Custodes and other forces spirited away from the frontline. It is arguably an even more important war than what is happening with the Primarchs, as the Ruinous Powers have a direct access to the heart of the Imperium. The War in the Webway is kept secret from all for several reasons, chiefly because no one wants Terra's populace to freak out if they're told the Palace itself is beset by daemons.
Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: Horus rebels because he has a vision wherein the Emperor becomes a God-Emperor and he and his brothers are forgotten, and wants to prevent such a thing. His actions lead to the Emperor being enshrined upon the Golden Throne as an object of worship.
Serial Escalation: It's Warhammer 40,000, which has been using this for decades, so it's only natural it starts happening. Specifically, this is the pre-Heresy hat of the World Eaters Legion: to be willing to go one step further than the enemy will.
Serrated Blade of Pain: The signature weapon of the Blood Angels' Fifth Company are serrated combat knives used for flaying. They end up being the first Space Marines of the Flesh Tearers chapter.
"Shaggy Dog" Story: In The Damnation of Pythos, elements of the Shattered Legions are trapped on the world of Pythos as a daemon is being summoned into the material plane. Despite their best efforts, they fail to stop the daemon and commit their last strength to warn Terra about the daemonic threat in the Pandorax system. However, the message is too incoherent and isn't taken seriously by the secular astropaths of Terra, making the protagonists' efforts moot.
The novella Cybernetica features Dravian Klayde, an aspirant Techmarine of the Raven Guard who becomes one of Malcador's Knights Errant. To retake Mars, Klayde formulates a plan that will enable him to purge Mars of the traitors without destroying the facilities. However, his plan fails miserably at the last step and Mars remains occupied by the Dark Mechanicum. Dorn, Fabricator General Kane and Malcador themselves recognize that the whole operation amounted to nothing, but that it was worth a try.
Shoot the Dog: About five get shot in the last quarter or so of False Gods, to show Horus Jumping Off the Slippery Slope.
Shoot the Shaggy Dog: The Damnation of Pythos ends with all the viewpoint characters dead and none of their actions having an effect on the rest of the ongoing story.
Shoot Your Mate: If they're possessed by a daemon, there are few other choices.
Sibling Rivalry: Present among the Primarchs. When Horus was appointed Warmaster, he believed that only Sanguinius, Rogal Dorn, Fulgrim, Mortarion, and Lorgar genuinely supported the decision, with the others doing so reluctantly. Petronella Vivar is shocked when Horus tells her this, but he responds that they may be family, but they're still siblings, and all siblings try to outdo the other to impress their parents.
The Lion and the Wolf have a particularly violent spat over engagement procedure. Dorn and Perturabo have a... disagreement about the defensibility of the Imperial Palace (oh irony). Roboute Guilliman, Paragon of the Standard Procedure, outright denounced Alpharius, Master of Unorthodox Tactics and Decentralised Leadership.
The Siege: The Horus Heresy ultimately culminates in the Siege of Terra, the most epic battle of the galaxy. No less than 3 Astartes legions and their Primarchs, the Imperial Army, Legio Custodes, Sisters of Silence and 3 Titan Legions defend Terra, cradle of humanity and currently most fortified place in the galaxy against the might of Horus, 7 Astartes legions and their Primarchs, their own armies, the Dark Mechanicum and a host of Chaos daemons. The loyalists find themselves outnumbered and prepare to defend every inch of their planet while unbeknownst to them, the Ultramarines, Dark Angels and the Vlka Fenryka will be coming to the rescue. For his part, Horus aims to break the defences before the reinforcements can come.
Sinister Minister: In the backstory, Cardinal Tang, who is Hitler in the distant past/far future of the 29th Millennium. Any given Chaos cultist might also qualify.
Also pretty much the hat of the entire Word Bearers Legion, all being crazy religious zealots. Within their own ranks, Erebus (and all other Chaplains) carry this rank, Kor Phaeron serves as the military commander, and Lorgar supersedes both, being the supreme military and spiritual leader, though he delegates and otherwise serves as (from a certain perspective) an enlightened and benevolent Sorcerous Overlord who is nontheless usually busy with his own research and projects.
Smug Super: The Night Lords Legion with regards to their human "allies". In flashback to the Great Crusade in Vulkan Lives, after pacifying a planet with the Salamanders Legion where Konrad Curze went behind Vulkan's back and wiped out the population of the the planet's capital, the Night Lords take time to intimidate the Imperial Army officers and the Administratum adepts. Half of the Salamanders' Pyre Guards want to drag the Night Lords into the practice cages and see how they would do on even ground. The other half of the Pyre Guard just wants to turn their flamers on the Night Lords.
Spaceship Slingshot Stunt: The crew of the starship Eisenstein pull one of these using a nearby moon to break away from Horus' fleet, jump to warp, and Bring News Back of the Warmaster's treachery. The only ship able to pursue, the battleship Terminus Est, is unable to match the carefully-plotted manoeuvre, and must break off before becoming trapped in the moon's gravity well.
Stealth Hi/Bye: Malcador does that to Garro when the latter goes AWOL to do some investigating, and going by the Space Marine's thoughts, this isn't the first time. Garro's theory on this is that Malcador never actually leaves the Palace, but contacts people telepahically and manifests an image of himself for the purpose of a talk.
The Stoic: Rogal Dorn is an unflappable and impassive personality, taking most of what happens with grim resolve. This being said, when his stoicism cracks, he goes off with the power of a nuclear bomb.
Storming the Castle: Ironically happening during the Siege of Terra. In Warhawk, Jaghatai Khan has had enough of fighting on the defensive and mobilizes the White Scars as well as a hundred tank regiments to storm the Lion's Gate spaceport to retake it from the Death Guard. By retaking the space port, Jaghatai Khan hopes to turn its turrets against the Chaos fleet and also offer the incoming reinforcements a fast way to deploy into the Palace. However, the space port proves extremely difficult to assault because the Death Guards have dug in and corrupted the place, making it fatal to even breathe the unfiltered air inside, hence the need for fully sealed tanks.
A Storm Is Coming: Before the occurrences of Isstvan III's destruction, the warp is turbulent and heralds a great turbulence in reality.
Story Arc: The first books focus on the gradual corruption of Horus Lupercal and his personal fall to Chaos, as well as that of his legion. At the same time, the books are about Garviel Loken becoming independant from his corrupt legion and trying to save the few human friends he has in his fleet.
The Dark Angels, and more precisely the librarian Zahariel, get a story arc which exposes how the Calibanite Dark Angels that have been exiled on their homeworld fall to Chaos.
Another story arc presents the Imperium Secundus, a backup plan that Guilliman enacts to preserve at least some of the Imperium until he can determine Terra's status. It narrates how Guilliman and then Lion el'Jonson and Sanguinius try to cooperate to manage this new Imperium while Curze and the Night Lords attack.
The White Scars get their own story arc as Jaghatai Khan, who was isolated from the war, learns what has happened and tries to make the best decisions possible in an impossible situation.
Several loyalist Space Marines go on to become Knights Errant, agents of Malcador the Sigillite who perform specific tasks in the shadows, from assassination attempts to recruiting other legionaries who will become the Grey Knights.
After the Drop Site Massacre, the Shattered Legions also have minor story arcs about coming to terms with their losses and working to enact vengeance on the traitors.
The Strategist: Besides the Primarchs being peerless generals, this is part of the hat of the Ultramarines Legion: go into every battle with a theoretical (a sound understanding or reasonable extrapolation of the situation) and a practical (a solid plan of attack).
Stuff Blowing Up: All over the place - this is Warhammer 40,000 after all - but special mention goes to Know No Fear. The initial phase of the Battle of Calth has Dan Abnett channeling Michael Bay, with a commandeered ship utterly destroying Calth's space dock, a twelve-kilometer grand cruiser crashing into a city and demolishing it, and the destruction of a low-orbit depot causing a group of Ultramarines to experience a rain of main battle tanks. It's all described in loving detail, and it is awesome.
Super Soldier: Considering that this is the age of the Space Marine Legions, this is emphasized a lot. However, the Primarchs exceed all expectations and then some. Even more scary are the Thunder Warriors, the predecessors to the Space Marines. Not a lot is known about them, but the two that survived up to the Horus Heresy are considered badass even by Space Marine standards. Whilst the Space Marines were created with the idea of being an elite fighting brotherhood united in arms for the good of mankind, the Thunder Warriors were brutal, borderline psychopaths with loyalty solely to the Emperor, but not his ideals. Fortunately, they had a limited lifespan (left ambiguous as to whether this was intentional) and were repaid with a bloody post-victory pogrom after the conquest of Terra.
Swiss-Army Superpower: John Grammaticus is, among other things, a high-functioning logokine, which is apparently a psyker whose powers have an emphasis on spoken language. While he has shown several of the standard psychic powers such as sensing psychic phenomena and a mild telepathic ability, he can tell when someone's lying, tell precisely where someone is from based on their accent, understand languages he's never heard before or use his voice to trick people into something they aren't seeing.
Switching P.O.V.: All the novels rotate between point of views of the different characters. Usually, the story will follow the point of view of a Space Marine and that of an ordinary human saddled with the Legions (remembrancers, other soldiers and the like) and more rarely the story is told from the views of the Primarchs themselves. It allows the depiction of all the aspects of war, from epic battles between Space Marines, their support staff, and civilian refugees having to flee said epic battles. This allows for some dark irony too. For instance, in The Lost and Damned a battle is shown from the point of view of a conscript, where he and his company fight tooth and nail to repel a horde of mutants and almost dies in the process. Then, the point of view switches to Captain Raldoron of the Blood Angels, who sees this battle as a minor breach.
Talking to the Dead: Garro in The Flight of the Eisenstein.
Curze often chats with corpses he keeps in his room.
Talk to the Fist: Loken, Combat Pragmatist. Sadly, this Only Works Once...
Tear Off Your Face: In "Fear to Tread", Horus does not take Erebus jerking him around kindly, and so slices off Erebus's face and keeps it as a trophy. Sadly, Erebus seems to have regrown it in the last ten thousand years.
Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Sometimes, it seems like the only thing keeping the Traitor Legions together is their Primarchs, and the only thing keeping the Traitor Primarchs together is Horus. Corax forms part of his strategy around it, believing that if the Raven Guard attacks behind the traitors' lines and slows their advance, they can delay the inevitable attack on Terra, causing cracks to form between the Traitor Legions and make them turn on each other. It happens, just after the Siege of Terra. By The Solar War, it is clear that Horus is the only thing holding the traitor primarchs together, and even his unnatural charisma isn't quite doing the trick anymore. Lorgar, Curze, and Alpharius are out of the picture for one reason or another, Magnus is doing his own thing, and whenever the other traitor primarchs convene for strategy meetings, Angron, Fulgrim, and Perturabo spend as much time insulting each other as they do discussing the Siege.
Tele-Frag: Happens to several Ultramarines when a fifty-Marine kill team boards an orbital platform to kill Kor Phaeron and restore Calth's orbital grid. One is left a puddle of sludge. Two are fused into the wall and are killed instantly. One is fused to the floor, and it's shown to be so painful that a normally stoic Space Marine starts shrieking in pain; Guilliman has no option except the Emperor's peace. As just four were lost, the teleport is considered a success.
These Are Things Man Was Not Meant to Know: The Emperor has a huge case of this regarding what is really lurking inside the Warp. It ends up backfiring spectacularly.
Took a Level in Cynic: The story as a whole shows how the Imperium went from championing enlightenment and being relatively egalitarian into the theocratic empire that worships the Emperor as a god in the main 40000 timeline. It's best highlighted by the story of Euphrati Keeler, the founder of the Imperial Faith: at the beginning of the series, she turns to worshipping the Emperor after encountering an actual daemon, shattering her world view that gods and daemons do not exist. Her conversion leaves her with some odd mannerisms, but she's mostly a friendly person who provides support to several characters when they really need it. By the time the Siege of Terra rolls around, Euphrati has started whipping up refugees into mobs that are suicidally charging toward the Chaos forces because there aren't enough resources for everyone in the refugee camps. Tellingly, this is the point where the Imperium's association with skulls really takes off, as several refugees take skulls with them as they March to their doom.
The Star Scream: As of The Primarchs, Omegon is plotting behind Alpharius's back.
In Slaves to Darkness, Lorgar tries to take command of the traitor forces from Horus on Ullanor, having realized that Horus's refusal to submit fully to the Chaos Gods will cost them victory. Horus kicks the crap out of him and orders him to make tracks.
Thicker Than Water: Horus and Sanguinius spend quite some time trying to convince each other to switch sides. Additionally, when the former finds out that Erebus trie