Tomes of the Librarius: The Primarchs – Sanguinius Part Three

Hello again 40k fans! Chris Morgan, Chief Librarian of the Forge the Narrative Podcast, is here again with the next weekly segment of Tomes of the Librarius. Also, check the Tactics Corner for more great articles!

Just as a reminder, in this series we will explore facets of the history and legends of the Grimdark. This is meant to be an easy summary and introduction geared towards new players or people unfamiliar with the setting, but should still be an interesting read or fun refresher for those already familiar. There’s so much detail in this lore that a bare summary seems so inadequate, but for new people this should be the right portion to get a feel for the history of the universe we enjoy our games in. The last article talked about the betrayal at Signus, and the founding of Imperium Secundus. Today, we are going into the events that led to Sanguinius’ death, a tragedy among tragedies in the Horus Heresy.

The Ruinstorm

The wars in Imperium Secundus continued, with forces from the Word Bearers, Death Guard, World Eaters, and Night Lords harrying the infant empire from all sides. Ironically, it is the unwitting help of Konrad Curze that lets the Triumverate of Sanguinius, Guilliman, and Lion El’Johnson know that the Emperor lives. They abandon their pocket empire and set out for Terra through the madness of the Ruinstorm, a giant warp storm summoned to cut off these three legions from the wars on Terra’s side. It is on this journey through more demon-infested planets and warp-wrought nightmares that Sanguinius is tested yet again. By now, his visions of his death at the hands of Horus are being weaponized by the demons of the warp in an effort to tempt him to falling to the powers of chaos. Their nightmare journey leads them to Davin, where Sanguinius stood where Horus stood, and was tempted how Horus was tempted. He was given the choice to sacrifice himself for the Emperor and doom his son’s to the nascent horror of the Black Rage, or he could gain the power to defeat Horus and live as a servant to the dark gods. His choice – death for the greater good or glory for himself – was a window through which he saw how Horus fell. In the end, he made the choice to sacrifice himself for his father’s dream. One can only wonder how things might have been different if Horus had valued the dream of humanity more than he valued himself…

Davin was destroyed, and the Ruinstorm’s power was broken with it. With the storm conquered, Sanguinius and his brothers went their separate ways. Sanguinius and the Blood Angels made straight for Terra. The Lion began a scorched-earth campaign against the homeworlds and lifelines of the traitor legions, cutting them off from reinforcements and resupply. Guilliman took up the rear, and crashed his legion against the screen of Iron Warriors left to defend the rear of the traitor forces.


After reuniting with Dorn, the Khan, Russ, and the other loyalist forces, Sanguinius led a sortie against the traitors embattled in the Beta Garmon system. Uniting the armies and legios of titans, the Blood Angels assaulted the traitor-held capital world, while the White Scars struck at their own targets. The battle was immense, seeing the deaths of hundreds of god-machines. Sanguinius himself was responsible for the death of a traitor Imperator-class titan, slaughtering the crew and decapitating the machine. Though they knew it was only a delaying action, it ended more quickly than they desired. Horus dropped a fortress on the capital as soon as it was taken, and sacrificed an astropathic choir to reignite some of the madness of the now-defeated Ruinstorm. Horus’ path to Terra was now open.

The Siege of Terra

The seemingly-numberless hosts of the Warmaster arrayed themselves by the walls of the continent-fortress that is the Imperial Palace. Angron, at the head of throng, called up to the walls for the Imperium’s surrender. Sanguinius stood on the walls, and stared down at the daemon-primarch in defiance. Their eyes locked, the armies waited until Angron looked away, saying that there would be no surrender. The order to attack was given. Legions of space marines, god-engines, demons, and hordes of human thralls threw themselves against Dorn’s prepared defenses. Cataclysmic war ensued, and devastation was wrought on both sides. As the walls surrounding the Eternity Gate began to crumble, Sanguinius stood alone at the gate while his forces withdrew to the next layer of defense. Alone, he held off the entire army arrayed before him for days until a champion came forward to challenge him again. Kha’Bandha, the Bloodthirter who was defeated by Sanguinius at Signus, came forward to take his vengeance against the Angel. Their battle was titanic across the earth and sky, each wounding each other gravely. Things seemed to be going badly for the tired and wounded Angel, until in a last surge of strength he broke the greater daemon’s back over his knee. With his great foe defeated, Sanguinius withdrew to rejoin the forces who had successfully pulled back thanks to his holding action.

The siege raged on. With Guilliman’s legion coming up the rear, Horus made a gamble. Lowering the shield on the Vengeful Spirit, he left himself open to attack from the Emperor. Seeing the opportunity to end Horus’ treachery, the Emperor, his Custodes, Sanguinius, and Dorn teleported aboard the ship to face Horus. They were all separated from each other in transit, and it was Sanguinius who faced the traitor first. In a moment that has become a fulcrum of 40k lore, the chaos-empowered Warmaster killed his brother, but not before Sanguinius created a vulnerability in Horus defense. Down below, the psychic backlash of Sanguinius’ pained death sent his sons into a frenzy, where they charged off of the walls and ravaged the traitors in a mad fury, nearly breaking the siege. Moments after his death, Sanguinius’ last action would spell the doom of Horus as the Emperor exploited it to his downfall. When the dust settled, Horus – body and soul – was dead, the Emperor wounded, and Sanguinius’ sons would be forever cursed with the memory of his death. His blood was gathered by the apothecaries of the legion to preserve future generations, and his body was put in stasis to be entombed underneath the Fortress Monastery of Baal.

Its Okay to Cry

Well, that’s the end of that story. Excuse me while I go and grieve my fictional future father… or not! I have my Sanguinius built and ready to play in some games of Horus Heresy, and I intend to change the course of history! Well, that might be a stretch, but I am glad to finally get to play a game with my primarch at last!


Captain Morgan

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About Chris Morgan

40K philosopher, LVO Judge, Chief Librarian of Forge the Narrative, Blood Angel enthusiast extraordinaire, and slayer of traitors, xenos, and heretics; I'd rather be playing 30k right now or neck-deep in a good book. Follow me on my FB page - Captain Morgan's Librarius

3 Responses to “Tomes of the Librarius: The Primarchs – Sanguinius Part Three”

  1. Reecius
    Reecius February 26, 2019 10:32 am #

    Great job on your Sanguinius, buddy!

  2. Avatar
    WestRider February 26, 2019 10:28 pm #

    It’s not quite fair to compare Horus’s and Sanguinius’s Temptations like that, because they weren’t offered the same thing. Erebus showed Horus visions of the Imperium as it would become as a result of the Heresy, but told Horus that turning to Chaos was the only way to stop that from happening. Also, I haven’t read the later book, but Horus was dying at the time of the offer, and fighting off the effects of the Athame for as long as he had probably had a draining effect on his willpower and judgement.

    I say this not so much in defense of Horus, as to remind people that Erebus was the true originator of the Heresy. And also an absolutely colossal dick.

    • Chris Morgan
      Chris Morgan February 27, 2019 10:50 am #

      On a surface level, it can be seen that way. There are more similarities than differences.

      Don’t forget, that Sanguinius was also shown visions of a future where he saved the Imperium and was crowned Emperor – a title that the Warmaster himself saw as his inheritance after his victory over the Emperor. That is essentially the same promise, yes? Life and mastery of mankind’s future.

      Additionally, Sanguinius was also tormented with visions of his sons’ suffering over the millennia as the result of his death. To someone who cares more for others than for himself, that is a pretty brutal concept to come to peace with. So far as what was offered – life and rule of the Imperium as slaves to darkness – it is practically the same. Sanguinius was forced to watch himself and feel himself die an almost infinite number of times in an effort to break down his will. Horus may have suffered under the athame’s effects, but never experienced the moment of his death. If the effects of the athame weakened Horus’ will, it just goes to further illustrate his own inherent weakness.

      When Horus made his choice, he made the choice for himself. It wasn’t to save humanity or the Imperium, it was because of how he valued himself over any other thing. In the moment standing there with Magnus and Erebus, he wasn’t interested in anything other than what he himself wanted – his life. That he was deceived into making this choice by seeing the future of the Imperium his treachery would create is one of the great tragic ironies in all the fiction of this universe, and shouldn’t be understated.

      And yes, Erebus did mastermind this whole affair, and we can agree that he was the most colossal, flaccid dick in the grimdark.

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