Warhammer40K is one of my favorite SciFi universes to get lost in. I could spend ages reading book after book in this series only to pick up yet another book in the series and then another again. I’m not saying it’s addictive, I’m saying it is that damn good. I’m often asked where to start, where best to dive into the WH40K universe, or what exactly is this universe?
WH40K is a time in the distant future in which all is war. There is no bright hope. There is no peace. It is a soul crushing time of despair and devastation. Sound depressing? Well for the average person alive during this time I quite imagine it is! Humanity spread to the stars and formed the greatest empire in the history of mankind! The empire is protected by our military, and our military is aided by genetically enhanced superhumans known as Space Marines. Space Marines are the genetic offspring of the Emperor’s chosen and created sons, the long missing Primarchs. These Space Marines are the heroes of the Imperium and are larger than life characters who live only to battle humanities enemies. They are aided by the Imperial Navy and regular army troopers known as the Imperial Guard.
Fifteen Hours is one of my personal favorite WH40K stories as it highlights the plight and dangers of a new Imperial Gaurdsman. Now with such protectors as these why is humanity in such danger? Why is there no hope for the future? Why is this Imperium not a brighter place? Well once upon a time it was! Ten thousand years prior the Emperor himself walked amongst the people with his chosen and created sons The Primarchs from whom the Space Marines are descended from. Humanity was at its strongest and brightest point. There was no limit to what we might have accomplished. But alas, a darkness fell upon us all. The Horus Heresy.
The Horus Heresy was the death of hope for humanity for in it the favored son of the Emperor, the Primarchs Horus, rose up and split the galaxy in two with his civil war. The Horus Heresy has long been a time of myth in the 40K universe but now those myths are coming to life in the 40+ book series being written.
So what should you read? Where should you start? Well if you want a deep rabbit hole to jump down into I recommend picking up Horus Rising and encountering the Imperium as it should have been and witnessing the tragedy of the fall. If you’re wanting to get your feet wet first then picking up Let The Galaxy Burn would be a great start as it gives you multiple WH40K short stories to choose from. If you want to commit but don’t want a 40 book saga and want to see humans to connect to rather than superhumans then Gaunt’s Ghosts is for you! If you’re more of a mystery sort of person then consider Eisenhorn.
Really most any book series you encounter in the WH40K universe will draw you in and be an excellent starting place. They’ve made their universe easily accessible. However please do remember that in the grim future there is only war. Take that to heart and be careful to not grow too attached to your favorite characters. War is hell, but the Emperor protects.