New to 40k

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#1 Posted by FaTD (54 posts) -

Well, I'm pretty much new to the whole 40k thing (I always knew Warhammer "classic" and 40k existed, but never really had anything to do with it, besides very tangentially playing the demos of some of the accompanying games).

But some of the things I learned from the recent Spacemarine Quick Look, seem interesting (Spacemarines getting hundreds of years old, etc.)

So, my question is what _books_ would you recommend for someone who is new, mainly interested in stories about the spacemarines and their lifes and the dogmas of the order they're serving and less in the actual boardgame and stuff?

Thanks in advance,

FaTD

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#2 Posted by Bucketdeth (8252 posts) -

I was wondering the same thing, so hopefully someone can help us out.

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#3 Posted by Matthew (2151 posts) -

Ummmmmmmmm . . . . . don't really know that one....

In my research to create a couple of the Warhammer 40K pages here, I've continually seen the Horus Heresy mentioned. It's how the Emperor came to be as we know him now, and is just as pivotal as The Battle for Yavin when it comes to the starwars universe.

I do know a couple of these guys know a thing or two about the Warhammer 40K universe though, you might want to hit them up -

http://www.giantbomb.com/profile/el_jonson/

http://www.giantbomb.com/profile/shota00/

http://www.giantbomb.com/profile/seedofpower/

http://www.giantbomb.com/profile/flaime/

http://www.giantbomb.com/profile/blood_for_the_blood_god/

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#4 Edited by Mnemoidian (1016 posts) -

The first thing you need to realize if you want to learn more about Warhammer 40,000 is that it's a SETTING. What that means is that while there's a large overarching storyline, that one moves at a glacial pace, and takes place in such an enormous place (our galaxy) - for the sole purpose of giving room to fans (and authors) to make up their own stories.

Anyway, as for how to get into the lore, I'd say you've got 3 options, you can:

1) Visit a Wiki (such as Lexicanum: ( http://wh40k.lexicanum.com/wiki/Main_Page )), but I feel that has a lot of drawbacks. It's a great method for absorbing a lot of information quickly - but it can be daunting and you are missing out on a lot of narrative and/or art.

But if you decide to go for this option, I'd suggest you pick a subject and start reading from that, using the normal wiki-method of just clicking on every unfamiliar term :P

Some suggestions to get started:

http://wh40k.lexicanum.com/wiki/Emperor_of_Mankind

http://wh40k.lexicanum.com/wiki/Imperium

http://wh40k.lexicanum.com/wiki/Chaos

http://wh40k.lexicanum.com/wiki/Eldar

http://wh40k.lexicanum.com/wiki/Tyranid

http://wh40k.lexicanum.com/wiki/Ork

http://wh40k.lexicanum.com/wiki/Tau

2) Books.

The books have their pros and cons. There are some great stories here, some would be great even if you took away the "Warhammer 40,000" branding. There's a downside though, some of the books are less loyal to the source material and may leave you confused - my rule of thumb for these situations is just to accept these anomalies and move on.

All Warhammer 40k books come out of the Black Library label. http://www.blacklibrary.com/ - I believe most of their books are now available digitally as well, if you prefer that route.

Do some research before you pick up a book to make sure that it's not one in the middle of a series - as there are a few of those. You can probably still figure it out, but you'll be better off starting from the beginning.

Most books are focused on the Imperium, specifically Space Marines, Imperial Guard and Inquistors. Chaos also get their share of books, but the alien races (Orks, Eldar, Tau, Tyranid) don't get a lot of literature... and when they do, they tend to be the antagonists.

If you want to pick up a book, my suggestion would be to look at one of Dan Abnett's series - each book are strong on their own (you don't feel like you have to read every book to get a payoff) - and have some interesting storytelling. The "Gaunt's Ghost" is a great series about an Imperial Guard regiment and their Commanding Officer, while the "Eisenhorn" and "Ravenor" series are linked, being about the Inquisitor Eisenhorn and his apprentice (and later Inquisitor on his own) Ravenor. Great series.

A series you might run into while looking at Black Library books is Horus Heresy. It's a great series, giving a lot of setup for why the galaxy is in such a shitty state - but it's set in the 31st Millenia, and, I feel, relies on quite a lof of recognition from the reader, to get the most out of them. I'm sure they are great books anyway, but I'd probably not suggest they be your first taste of the Setting. (then again, could be the best introduction?).

3) Pick up a Codex for your favorite faction.

Arguably, the only Canon lore is in these books, and they will override what the writers write about occasionally. Most of the books contain fairly detailed information on the armies, how their society works (to a degree...) and various things to get you in the right frame of mind for that army. Heroes have profiles, etc.

There's also a lot of great photos of beautifully painted miniatures in these books.

Danger here being, of course... that you may end up picking up some miniatures and start painting eventually - or even wanting to play the tabletop game :)

Hope that helps!

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#5 Edited by ArtelinaRose (1995 posts) -

@Matthew said:

Ummmmmmmmm . . . . . don't really know that one....

In my research to create a couple of the Warhammer 40K pages here, I've continually seen the Horus Heresy mentioned. It's how the Emperor came to be as we know him now, and is just as pivotal as The Battle for Yavin when it comes to the starwars universe.

It's much more than that, I would say. The Horus Heresy more or less made the Warhammer 40k universe the way it is.

The problem with 40k as a setting is it's very difficult to find a starting point. Stick to those Lexicanum links above and you should be safe for now.

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#6 Posted by FaTD (54 posts) -

@Mnemoidian: Thank you! I think I'll go the codex/wiki route first and then books and maybe I will venture into a local fantasy/sci-fi store (man, those miniatures are interesting :D ).

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#7 Posted by Afroman269 (7440 posts) -
@Artemesia

@Matthew said:

Ummmmmmmmm . . . . . don't really know that one....

In my research to create a couple of the Warhammer 40K pages here, I've continually seen the Horus Heresy mentioned. It's how the Emperor came to be as we know him now, and is just as pivotal as The Battle for Yavin when it comes to the starwars universe.

It's much more than that, I would say. The Horus Heresy more or less made the Warhammer 40k universe the way it is.

The problem with 40k as a setting is it's very difficult to find a starting point. Stick to those Lexicanum links above and you should be safe for now.

I'm looking into getting into the books by starting with the Horus Heresy but which of the books do I start with? There seems to be multiple Horus Heresy books.
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#8 Posted by GunslingerPanda (5164 posts) -

I've read a few of the books and they are dreadful. Even worse than some of the Star Wars stuff.

What is it you're looking to get into, anyway? The videogame, the tabletop game, or you just wanna to find out more about the setting for no reason?

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#9 Posted by Herocide (448 posts) -
This guy made a good, thorough primer for the 40k series. I recommend heeding his words.
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#10 Posted by Mnemoidian (1016 posts) -

@Afroman269: Horus Rising is the first book in the Horus Heresy series.

http://www.blacklibrary.com/Horus-Heresy/horus-rising-anniversary-edition.html

(Anniversary Edition is, of course, optional).

From memory, the Novelization list on Wikipedia is correct: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horus_Heresy#Novelization

@GunslingerPanda: Did you try any of Dan Abnett's books? I find those significantly better than any of the other authors.

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#11 Posted by Nocall (386 posts) -

The best way to learn about the "universe" is through the multiple wikis (posted above). Before diving head on into novels about 40k, though, I recommend picking up the latest Space Marines Codex from your LGS and reading through the material there. Not only does it give you a number of short stories to help flesh out the feel of the space marines (the key characters in 40k) but it also goes fairly indepth into just what a space marine and the imperium itself actually is and how they both function.

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#12 Posted by alternate (2819 posts) -
 check out this thread  http://www.giantbomb.com/warhammer-40000-kill-team/61-35503/quicklook-make-anyone-else-kinda-wanna-read-the-books/35-506873/
 
@FaTD
said:

Well, I'm pretty much new to the whole 40k thing (I always knew Warhammer "classic" and 40k existed, but never really had anything to do with it, besides very tangentially playing the demos of some of the accompanying games).

But some of the things I learned from the recent Spacemarine Quick Look, seem interesting (Spacemarines getting hundreds of years old, etc.)


  
Actually Space Marines are more or less immortal in terms of aging and technically they would live for ever if they did not regularly die in battle.  The Primarchs (original chapter heads) are thousands of years old.  The games tend to oversell how tough they are - the fiction equates it to about 1 marine = 100 regular troops.  They will still die taking a heavy bolter round to the head though.

@GunslingerPanda said:

I've read a few of the books and they are dreadful. Even worse than some of the Star Wars stuff.


A little harsh.  With any publisher that puts out a lot of licensed fiction you just have to choose your authors.  Dan Abnett and  Graham McNeil are both competent authors for example.  Generally I try to read some short story fiction by an author I have not heard of before purchase, just to see if they can actually write worth a damn.
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#13 Posted by Mnemoidian (1016 posts) -

@alternate said:

The Primarchs (original chapter heads) are thousands of years old. The games tend to oversell how tough they are - the fiction equates it to about 1 marine = 100 regular troops. They will still die taking a heavy bolter round to the head though.

Well, to be fair, the loyalist Primarch's are either dead or missing, and the ones who turned to chaos are a) living in the warp, b) warped by chaos - so hard to say how old they are, considering how time is non-linear there.

Also, I agree - Space Marine toughness/badassery varies greatly from source to source. Graham McNeill tends to really go OTT on Space Marine "power levels" in his books, from what I remember of the last book of his I read.

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#14 Edited by dulmonkey (79 posts) -

The horus heresy series is fan service heavy and only really feels like it pays off if you know about the state of things later. Most of the books contain a lot of winks, nods and general fore shadowing that only is clear to fans of the universe. As someone who was not totally versed in the chaos hero units, i found the foreshadowing odd until I looked up the state of some of the characters in the 40k era.

Dan Abnett's 'Brothers of the Snake' is a good starting place, after you have the basics down. I agree that the codices (also the main rule book) are probably the best place to start.

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#15 Posted by alternate (2819 posts) -
@Mnemoidian said:

@alternate said:

The Primarchs (original chapter heads) are thousands of years old. The games tend to oversell how tough they are - the fiction equates it to about 1 marine = 100 regular troops. They will still die taking a heavy bolter round to the head though.

Well, to be fair, the loyalist Primarch's are either dead or missing, and the ones who turned to chaos are a) living in the warp, b) warped by chaos - so hard to say how old they are, considering how time is non-linear there.

Also, I agree - Space Marine toughness/badassery varies greatly from source to source. Graham McNeill tends to really go OTT on Space Marine "power levels" in his books, from what I remember of the last book of his I read.

I bow to your greater lore knowledge.  I was thinking more of the current chapter heads rather than the emperor's clones - I guess Primarch was the wrong term. 
 
I remember when a friend of mine was in to the table game years ago - playing with one of the early rule sets, I think before even Imperial Guard had their own codex - and SMs were tiny figures, like half and inch high with a whole squad per miniature - and they were total cannon fodder.  Ever since GW adopted Ultra-smurfs as their marketing standard bearer they seem to inflate in stature and abilities year on year.
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#16 Posted by alternate (2819 posts) -
@Mnemoidian said:

The first thing you need to realize if you want to learn more about Warhammer 40,000 is that it's a SETTING. What that means is that while there's a large overarching storyline, that one moves at a glacial pace, and takes place in such an enormous place (our galaxy) - for the sole purpose of giving room to fans (and authors) to make up their own stories.


 
I agree with the setting thing.  It is a bit like modern D&D.  Each new rule set gives a framework and the history of a few major characters and factions and then ppl are licensed to generate fiction within that universe. 
 
With 40k there wasn't really a large lore canon until about 10-15 years ago.  I remember when they first licensed a few novels when I was a kid - too young to be reading this stuff really - and authors were just making up back story as they went along.  With a few exceptions they were all pretty dire, as were the sales, and I think they went back to the drawing board before making sure everything is pretty much on message with their new Black Library publishing imprint.
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#17 Posted by Seedofpower (4059 posts) -

@FaTD: Out of my 24 novels that I currently own I would recommend, Horus Rising or Eisenhorn omnibus. Some other some series that are fun to read but those to are the most kind to the newbies and are entertaining.

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#18 Posted by El_Jonson (12 posts) -

I can understand the difficulty of diving into such a deep universe, I was gradually introduced to the lore by playing the tabletop game. But, I do have a few suggestions for you:
 
-The Horus Heresy novels. These are among my favourite of the Black Library 40k novels, mainly because it gave me a much better insight into how the Space Marines and the many chapters worked. The first couple of novels mainly detail the events leading up to and including Istvaan, and the split between the loyalist and traitorous marines. Not only that but there are plenty of moments describing how the marines live outside of battle, how they interact with each other and of course how they fight. The novels then start to become more chapter specific later on, focussing on how the chapters work and behave differently and in some cases (like the Dark Angels book, can't remember the name) give you the history on how the chapter was formed.
 
-Other Black Library novels are good too. If there are any chapters that you are specifically wanting to know more about there is probably a novel, or a series of novels, following characters that are part of that chapter. If you are specifically wanting to read about the Ultramarines, there are a series of novels that follow them.
 
-The Space Marine codex from Games Workshop, BUT only if you have an interest in being involved with the tabletop side of the game, those books are expensive if you are only after lore. It gives you decent chunk of history and information on the Space Marines, and some background descriptions of each of the units. It also contains some cool stuff like a map of space, detailing you where major strongholds are and where engagements have happened/are happening, and some background of some famous characters within the different chapters of the Space Marines.
 
Since you asked for books I won't suggest any wiki-type sites, but they are handy for checking facts and give more detailed information on anything that piques your interest.
 
Hope some of this helps.

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#19 Posted by AdH0c (136 posts) -

My personal suggestion would be to go for the short stories rather than the "Horus Heresy".  I think if I was new to the universe I would struggle to get into them. At least with the short stories you and dip in and out of the different aspects of the universe. 
I would go for Let the Galaxy Burn (if you can get it) , then you can go Space Marine or Imperial Guard
Personally I prefer the Imperial Guard and you can get some really cheap collections.

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#20 Posted by Mnemoidian (1016 posts) -

@alternate: Sorry, I hope I didn't come across too strongly there :)

I believe the term you are looking for is "Chapter Master", though - though, to my knowledge, out of the Chapter Masters, Commander Dante (of the Blood Angels) is considered the oldest (of the current "core universe") Chapter Matsters, at 1,100 years as the chapter master, with Logan Grimnar (of the Space Wolves) in a second place at ... 700? 800? years.

And yeah, that's exactly what I meant with the setting-comment, the "world" has primarily been created to serve as backdrop for the Table Top game - a world that players can carve a corner of their own out of, if they chose to do so. Can be fun :)

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#21 Posted by ArcLyte (924 posts) -

Read the Horus Heresy.

Begin with this book:

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