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Magnus the Red

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.[1][3]


Early Life

Magnus, as an infant, was dropped onto the remote colony world of Prospero. Magnus was unique among his brothers as he was entirely aware of his own birth and development, and remembers his infancy completely. He also regularly communed with the Emperor via telepathy before their official reunion.[6] Magnus was incredibly fortunate to land on Prospero, as anywhere else his psychic nature 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].

Mentored by the fame psyker-scholar Amon, he became a ward of the scholars and quickly gained their powers, surpassing them in many ways. Magnus soon even eclipsed Amon in power.[6] 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 channeling Warp energy from the Warp to the Materium universe, he looked into the Warp, going from the student to absolute master instantly.[1] Magnus became the hero of Prospero when he led a campaign to purge the Psychneuein from Prospero, who for centuries had wreaked havoc on the planets population.[6] With the threat removed, Magnus rebuilt many of Prospero's cities, most notably Tizca, which became renowned for its beauty and splendor. The chief scholars of Prospero that survived the war with the Psycheuein became the founders of the Cults of the Thousand Sons.[6]

Magnus the Red

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]. According to Magnus, his discovery by the Emperor was in 840.M30, though this is an apparently canon conflict (See Below).[18]

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 and the Emperor formed a seemingly close bond, reaching into the Warp together. However despite the warnings of his Father to beware the horrors of the Empyrean, Magnus lost his right eye in a failed bargain with (what he would later discover to be) Tzeentch to save his legions sons from mutation. The bargain cost Magnus his eye, but for a time the mutations did go into remission.[6]

Magnus fought bravely and successfully during the Great Crusade and became close to Horus, Lorgar, and Jaghatai Khan[9], 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.[3]

Magnus in combat with Space Wolves[Needs Citation]

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. Such was the distrust that Magnus and Russ almost came to blows on Ark Reach Secundus over the fate of the planets Great Library, and heavy bloodshed was only prevented by the intervention of Lorgar.[6] 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 pleased with the outcome. Nonetheless he remained true to the Imperium, and tried to dissuade his friend and brother Lorgar from attempting to discover the secrets of the Warp for fear that it may corrupt him.[10]

The Horus Heresy

Magnus the Red, Daemon Prince of Tzeentch[Needs Citation]

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.[2] 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 Grand Work. Enraged, the Emperor did not listen to Magnus' warning and banished him from his presence.[12a] The breach inside the Webway went on to become known as Magnus' Folly.[13]

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 the now-corrupted Horus who changed the order to read that 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.[6] 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.[7] However, in truth he had been shattered into many shards which acted independently of the other.[16d]

One of these shards of Magnus later appeared as an ethereal projection on the ruins of Prospero to Jaghatai Khan and told his brother it was time to finally choose a side in the conflict.[9] A shard of Magnus again appeared on board the Salamanders Battle Barge Charybdis, this time as a mental projection. There, Magnus conversed with Captain Artellus Numeon, asking him what he would sacrifice to see Vulkan restored and seemingly helping the ship through the Ruinstorm. Magnus' words to Numeon eventually were the catalyst for the Salamanders Captain to sacrifice himself to resurrect Vulkan.[11]

The main form of Magnus resided on the Planet of Sorcerers, but he was deteriorating. Ahriman left to track down the shards that he could find, being given a vague location of 5 shards after Amon temporarily transformed into the primarch on the ruins of Prospero. Eventually, Ahriman was able to recover 4, which allowed Magnus to restore much of his lost power and prevent his deterioration into nothingness. The fifth was located on Terra, and he notified his legionaries that they would join Horus in order to free it and restore himself to his original form.[16d]

The next time Magnus was seen in physical form, 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.[1]


Magnus in the 41st Millennium

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.[1]

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.[5] In the many years since the Heresy, Magnus has become increasingly aloof and detached from his legion and the happenings of the Materium. He spends much of his time in the Warp, waging the Great Game of the Dark Gods.[8]

War Zone Fenris

Magnus would make his return to the Materium in the closing years of the 41st Millennium upon the snows of Fenris, homeworld of his greatest enemy the Space Wolves. Magnus had been preparing for the invasion for many centuries: seeding the corruption of the Wulfen across the Chapter, tainting the Wolves' gene-seed in the Battle of the Fang, and using the Changeling to manipulate an Imperial attack on the world. Magnus' invasion was ultimately bested by an Imperial coalition and he was banished back to the Warp by Logan Grimnar wielding the Axe of Morkai. This in turn however was irrelevant as he had succeeded in his ultimate goal: Using the sacrifice of Midgardia to transport the Planet of the Sorcerers over Prospero and creating a gigantic Warp Rift.[12]

Rise of the Primarch

During the Terran Crusade Magnus again reemerged, this time at the head of a Thousand Sons fleet in a massive craft resembling the Great Pyramid of Tizca. Magnus orchestrated a ritual that saw the expedition of the reborn Primarch Roboute Guilliman trapped in the Maelstrom. However in truth Magnus had already foreseen their escape from this trap, and again appeared to meet Guilliman's forces inside the Webway. Magnus' plan was to trick Guilliman's Harlequin allies into opening up a portal to Terra, allowing his own forces to spill through. However Guilliman saw through the scheme and instead arrived at Luna.[15]

During the subsequent Battle on Luna, Magnus and Guilliman battled one another. Magnus had the upper hand until Sisters of Silence arrived from Terra, weakening Magnus' powers enough for Guilliman to stab him through the chest. Magnus was forced back through the Webway Portal and his Thousand Sons across Luna vanished with him.[15]

Dark Imperium

Magnus later appeared at the head of a great Tzeentchian host in the Invasion of the Stygius Sector

Abilities and Wargear

Shards of Magnus re-combining

Magnus was above all else a supremely powerful Psyker matched in the Imperium only by Malcador and surpassed only by the Emperor. Magnus was capable of changing his size and form at will, dispatching scores of enemies simultaneously with psychic assaults, and single-handily battling Titans. His psychic foresight allowed him to predict and foresee most events. Magnus' power was such that it was speculated that the Emperor intended to use him to power the Golden Throne, a task that quickly killed even Malcador.[6] Magnus' own appearance is a byproduct of his psychic power, with Lorgar stating that nobody has ever seen his true form.[7]

Magnus usually relied on his immense psychic power for battle, but was equipped with regular weaponry. He was typically seen wielding a massive Khopesh known as the Blade of Ahn-Nunurta and an energy weapon dubbed the Psyfire Serpenta. He wore an ornate suit of Power Armour with many engravings and wardings known as the Horned Raiment.[6] By the 41st Millennium, the Daemon Primarch Magnus was equipped with the Blade of Magnus and Crown of the Crimson King.

Shards of Magnus

Following his near death at the hands of Leman Russ on Prospero, at least a part of Magnus was scattered into several "shards". These psychic phantoms have their own personality and ideals. They seemingly act independent of each other and what is recognized as the "primary" Magnus on the Planet of the Sorcerers. Known shards include:

  • The shard of Prospero, destroyed by Jaghatai Khan. This shard urged the Khan to choose a side in the war and seemed neutral to both Horus and the Emperor.[9]
  • The shard of Kallista Eris, found in the urn of Kallista Eris' ashes carried by Lemuel Gaumon while imprisoned in Kamiti Sona.[16a][16d]
  • The shard of Aghoru, representing Magnus's warrior aspects, found on Aghoru[16b]
  • The shard of Kadmus, representing Magnus's quest for lost knowledge, found on Terra deep within Mount Cithaeron in the past[16c]. This shard came to the aid of Salamanders First Captain Artellus Numeon aboard the Fire Ark and guided the vessel, which was carrying the remains of Vulkan, through the Ruinstorm and to Nocturne.[11]
  • The shard of Nikaea, representing Magnus's feelings of betrayal, found on Nikaea[16d]
  • The shard of Terra, representing Magnus's noble virtues, was kept by Malcador the Sigillite on Terra, and the reformed Magnus declared that they would aid Horus's assault on Terra to recover it.[16d] Meanwhile this shard stalked the Imperial Dungeon and was eventually sealed into the body of Revuel Arvida by Malcador. The ritual did not go as planned and a new being emerged, neither Arvida or Magnus, known as Ianius.[14]
  • The shard of the Athenaeum of Kallimakus, representing manipulation, secrets, and change, which attached itself to the Athenaeum to plant the seed of a second Rubric in Ahriman's mind.[17]
  • The shard of Ahriman, which unbeknown to its host lived inside his mind palace.[17]

Additional Material

Cannon Conflict

Though in Magnus the Red: Master of Prospero Magnus puts his date of discovery by the Emperor at 840.M30, this is contradictory to another account. A Thousand Sons describes the Thousand Sons as having their Primarch for less than half of the duration of the Great Crusade by the two-hundred year point.


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.[3] 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]

Lorgar remarks that the truth of Magnus' eye and indeed his physical appearance is kept deliberately skewed, though Magnus himself states that his favorite version is where he lost his eye to gain ultimate knowledge.[7]


  • 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[4]
Magnus miniature (7th Edition)
Magnus miniature (Heresy-era)

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See Also