Magnus the Red (Also known as the Crimson King, the Sorcerer-King, Cyclopean Magnus or the Red Cyclops) is the Primarch of the Thousand Sons Chaos Space Marine legion. A giant in both physical and mental terms whilst a mortal inhabitant of the materium, Magnus long tried to understand and control the warp, becoming a sorcerer of formidable power. Magnus would eventually fall from favour with his father, the Emperor, and with the majority of his brother-primarchs due to his zealous advocacy and use of such power. Indeed it would prove to be his mortal undoing, as, forewarned of Horus' fall to Chaos, his attempt to use his own warp-touched abilities to alert the Emperor to the situation brought about his own damnation and servitude to the Chaos God Tzeentch. Magnus led his own troops to the banner of Horus and fought on his side during the Great Betrayal, surviving the events and being elevated to the position of Daemon Prince. He has spent the majority of the millennia since ensconced atop his tower upon the Planet of the Sorcerers, planning the destruction of the Imperium.[3a]
Magnus, as an infant, was dropped onto the remote colony world of Prospero. He was incredibly fortunate to land here, as anywhere else his cyclopean eye (see Notes) would have made him an outcast, shunned and hunted. Prospero was a world of outcast human psykers, making him nothing special in the eyes of the colonists. They had chosen Prospero for its remoteness from Terra. When Magnus fell from the skies, it was like a portentous comet. His pod landed in the central plaza of all the places on the planet[Needs Citation].
He became a ward of the scholars and quickly gained their powers, surpassing them in many ways. Magnus mastered every psychic training program and soon surpassed the greatest adepts of the commune. By that time he had so much control of his psychic powers, he was by far the greatest person on the planet. One day, Magnus performed something to change the world forever. Instead of channelling Warp energy from the Warp to the Materium universe, he looked into the Warp with his cyclopean eye, going from the student to absolute master instantly.
Discovery by The Emperor
With such a mind in the Warp, it was not long until the Emperor noticed him. When his fleet arrived and the Emperor stepped foot upon the planet, he and Magnus immediately embraced and conversed as if the two had known each other for years; as indeed they may have done, in the mind if not in the flesh[Needs Citation].
The Thousand Sons Magnus inherited were rife with psychic mutations, being based on Magnus's genes. He took them in as his own and began training them in the ways of the psyker. Individuals from within the Imperium who were fearful of these rampant mutations began to voice their opinions openly, but Magnus silenced them[Needs Citation].
Magnus fought bravely and successfully during the Great Crusade, but he was always a wild and impetuous commander. Due to his early brush with Chaos during his abduction, Magnus had an inherent affinity for the Warp and the secrets within its fabric. Throughout the Crusade he came into contact with long isolated cultures where psychics had been allowed to flourish. Although warned by the Emperor to shun such matters, Magnus began to gather arcane lore from across the galaxy. From this material he compiled the monumental tome of sorcery that would come to be called the Book of Magnus.[3a]
The further from Terra the crusade went, the more strange warp-influenced creatures they came across. This naturally made Magnus look bad, his control of the Warp being similar to these creatures. Leman Russ and Mortarion both distrusted Magnus due to his use of the Warp and because of his use of deceit where they would have used more straightforward physical strength[Needs Citation].
To solve this dispute, the Emperor called for a debate on the use of psychic powers. They gathered on Nikaea and the Emperor presided over the debate. The Emperor finally ruled that only astropaths and Navigators would be tolerated, the Librariums were to be disbanded, and that sorcery was to be banned. Magnus was not happy.
The Horus Heresy
Magnus returned to Prospero, intent on pursuing his sorcerous experiments in secrecy. He peered into the Warp, and saw a vision of Horus' revolt and roles all the legions would play, except his own. Entering the mind of his brother while it was under a Chaos ritual initiated by Erebus and Cultists on Davin, Magnus attempted to persuade his brother away from heresy and remain loyal to their father. However when that failed, Magnus decided to warn the Emperor via an astral projection spell rather than the much slower mode of astropathy. As his disembodied spirit blazed through the Warp, he came across a Webway corridor that led to Terra. Unbeknownst to him, this particular corridor was constructed by humans, a part of the Emperor's secret Webway project. Magnus tried in vain to breach the wall of the corridor, but then an anonymous voice from within the Warp offered Magnus the extra power he needed, and the overconfident Magnus accepted without question. Magnus tore a breach in the wall and followed the corridor to Terra, bursting through the portal beneath the Golden Throne. The breach allowed daemons to invade the Webway and ruin the Emperor's project. Magnus was so shaken and horrified by his blunder that he could not find the will to deliver his warning, and instead retreated back to his physical body on Prospero.
The Emperor dispatched Leman Russ and his Space Wolves to arrest Magnus and bring him to Terra. On the way to Prospero, Leman Russ received new orders from Horus: the Emperor had changed his mind and wished the Thousand Sons destroyed. In the ensuing Burning of Prospero, Magnus watched in horror as the great libraries and arcane archives he had worked so hard to create were burned to the ground. Engaging Leman Russ in combat, just as the Space Wolves Primarch was about to strike the final blow, Magnus and his forces disappeared into the Warp thanks to a ritual he had helped prepare with Ahriman.[6a] There, Magnus found what he had wanted: unrestricted psychic powers and an opportunity for vengeance. Eventually giving himself to the forces of Chaos, Magnus took all that he had from Prospero, from the Imperium, into the Warp forever. Magnus' physical form had been destroyed in battle against Russ, and now existed as a being of corporeal Warp energy in the Eye of Terror alongside his legion. The next time Magnus was seen, he had gained the status of Daemon Prince of Tzeentch. Magnus eventually joined forces with the Traitor Astartes led by Horus, taking part in the Siege of Terra as vengeance against the Emperor for betraying him.
After the Horus Heresy
After the failure of the Horus Heresy, the newly-formed commune joined together with Ahriman to find a way to stop the mutation caused by their allegiance to Tzeentch. They cast a mighty spell to counter the corruption. The Planet of Sorcerers, the new world of the Thousand Sons, was arcing with violent blue and yellow streaks of lightning. They would strike down every Marine until Magnus had to intervene. Their mutations had been halted, but at a terrible cost: their bodies turned to dust and their armour sealed tightly shut[Needs Citation].
Magnus summoned Ahriman and his council, and railed at them for what they had done. When Ahriman protested, Magnus fought and gained the upper hand. Ahriman, no match for his Primarch, was struck down. But just as Magnus raised his fist to kill him, Tzeentch itself spoke: "Magnus, you would destroy my pawns so readily?" then Magnus knew that his master had planned for all of this. So he spared Ahriman and banished him and his council on an eternal quest to understand Tzeentch. They still wander the galaxy, looking for relics of a former time of psychic prowess and control. It is said that Ahriman even attempted to access the Eldar webways, although this is unconfirmed[Needs Citation].
Despite knowing Tzeentch's plans had led to this fate, Magnus was beyond enraged to see that the Legion he had sacrificed so much for, his legion of scholars, had been reduced to automatons who could no longer even think. With his homeworld lost and his legion in ruin, Magnus ascended to the top of his tower and vowed, as Horus had, that he would see the galaxy burn.
Later, seeking revenge against the Space Wolves for the Burning of Prospero, Magnus would lead his Thousand Sons in an assault against the Space Wolves homeworld of Fenris in what became known as the Battle of the Fang.
Older material describes the pre-daemonic Magnus as actually akin to a mythological Cyclops - naturally possessed of only one eye, set in the middle of his forehead.[3a] Later visits to the character have established that he once possessed two normal eyes and lost the right one as part of his dealings with Tzeentch.[6n]
- Magnus giving up his eye in order to gain knowledge of the Warp is reminiscent of how Odin gave up one of his eyes in order to gain the Wisdom of the Ages.
Epic Scale Magnus miniature
|I - Lion El'Jonson · II - Unknown · III - Fulgrim · IV - Perturabo · V - Jaghatai Khan · VI - Leman Russ · VII - Rogal Dorn · VIII - Konrad Curze · IX - Sanguinius · X - Ferrus Manus · XI - Unknown · XII - Angron · XIII - Roboute Guilliman · XIV - Mortarion · XV - Magnus · XVI - Horus · XVII - Lorgar · XVIII - Vulkan · XIX - Corvus Corax · XX - Alpharius Omegon|
- 1: Index Astartes III - Masters of Forbidden Knowledge - The Thousand Sons
- 2: False Gods (Novel) by Graham McNeill Chapters 15-16
- 3: Realm of Chaos: The Lost and the Damned
- 3a: pp.267-8
- 4: White Dwarf 150
- 5: Battle of the Fang (Novel) by Chris Wraight
- 6: A Thousand Sons by Graham McNeill
- 7: Betrayer (Novel) chapter 1 pg. 16-20