The book opens with a full exploration of the galaxy in which the wars of the Horus Heresy are fought – from its dark past to its shining peak – and the technologies, factions, armies, and ideals that came to dominate it.
- The Age of the Emperor: An overview of humanity's fall and the Imperium's rise. You’ll learn about the Age of Strife from which the Emperor arose, the Great Crusade he began to unite the galaxy under his banner, and some of the most important groups he founded or aligned himself with to support this epic undertaking.
- The Imperium of Mankind: A closer look at the structure of the Imperium at the advent of the Horus Heresy. You’ll learn about some of the most important events, people, and groups that dominated humanity's destiny. This section also explains the significance of the Warp, psykers, and the Imperial Truth – the strict, rationalist philosophy the Emperor imposed on his conquests.
- The Legiones Astartes: The Space Marines are far more than just an army. They’re genetically modified, equipped with the finest wargear, and psycho-indoctrinated in a rigorous and brutal process that creates ideal weapons of war. This massive, in-depth section explains just what goes into creating a Space Marine, illustrates the various types of weapons and power armour employed by the Legions, and provides a dedicated look at each of the 18 Space Marine Legions, including information on their distinctive history, tactics, organisation, and the mighty Primarchs that lead them – as well as a visual guide to their heraldry and colour schemes.
- Additional Factions: Despite being primarily a war between the Legiones Astartes, many other armies are involved in the Horus Heresy, including the Talons of the Emperor, the Solar Auxilia, and Mechanicum. This section explains the roles these groups played in the Imperium – and its downfall – including their histories, favoured tactics, and military structures.
- An Age of Darkness: At the dawn of the 31st Millennium, the Emperor's favoured son plunged the galaxy into darkness. This section delves into the opening acts of the Horus Heresy, setting the stage for the most devastating war in human history. It includes a summary of the brutal events of the Isstvan Drop Site Massacre, the advances made by the Traitor war machine, and the emergence of the cosmic Ruinstorm, from which daemonic entities spill into reality.
- Pivotal Events of the Horus Heresy: An in-depth timeline of major conflicts and engagements within the Horus Heresy itself, leading up to the final Siege of Terra. This section offers crucial insight into where the Legions are, who they're fighting, and what terrible grudges are being formed at various stages of the war.
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