Welcome to Warhammer 40k - Lexicanum! Log in and join the community.

Book of Five Spheres

From Warhammer 40k - Lexicanum
Jump to: navigation, search

The Book of Five Spheres is a tome written by Rhetoricus of the Imperial Fists that details the Chapter's art of war, martial practices, warrior culture, and philosophy.[3] After the Codex Astartes, the Book is one of the most influential treatises on the Imperial Fists' philosophy of combat.


While relatively little is known about Rhetoricus and the Book of the Five Spheres, it is known that the work constituted his magnum opus and was composed near the end of his life, "some long centuries before" the 41st millennium. Among the Chapter, Rhetoricus is considered second only to Rogal Dorn in knowledge of war, making the tome among the most authoritative texts of the Imperial Fists.[1a]

The work deals with a wide array of content and includes subjects ranging from meditation to a comprehensive appraisal of the strengths and limitations of all the weapons in an arsenal of the Adeptus Astartes. Concerning the latter, Rhetoricus considered the sword the most perfect close-combat weapon devised by man, without which an Imperial Fist rarely steps onto the field of battle.[1a][3]

In introducing the canonical work to aspirants, Captain Taelos says that "in the estimation of most within the Chapter, it was not until Rhetoricus codified the Rites of Battle that the accumulated wisdom of our noble traditions was finally distilled into one text. In the sacred pages of The Book of Five Spheres did Rhetoricus record all that he knew of weapons and war.”[1a]

Quotes and Specific Teachings

  • "The soul of the Imperial Fist can be found in his sword."[1a][3]
  • "When the odds are innumerable against you, and there is little hope of victory, still a holy warrior with a sword in his hand can prevail, if his intent is righteous and pure."[1a][3]
  • "Pain is the wine of communion with heroes."[1b][3]
    • This statement is also included within the "Liturgy of Pain," recited while Neophytes are lowered into the Pain Glove aboard the Phalanx:
"Pain is a lesson that the universe teaches us.
Pain is the preserver from injury.
Pain perpetuates our lives.

Pain is the healing, purifying scalpel of our souls.
Pain is the wine of communion with heroes.
Pain is the alembic which transmutes mere mortal into immortal."[1c]
  • "The craftsman, in his work, must comprehend measurements and design, and have a mastery of each of the tools at his disposal. In the same way, the warrior must comprehend tactics and strategy, and master each of the weapons in his arsenal."[1d]
  • "The wise warrior plans out his actions meticulously."[1e]
  • "When fighting another human, you must become your opponent. Put yourself in your opponent’s place, and think from his point of view."[1f]
  • "The Emperor commands us. Dorn guides us. Honour shields us. Fear our Name, for it is vengeance."[2]
  • "Do we bemoan such losses? No! We are the Fists! We do not need to hibernate or spit venom. We crush our enemies!"[Needs Citation]
  • "The sword is at its most advantageous in confined spaces, or in the melee, or in close quarters - any situation in which you can close with an opponent."[3]
  • "When facing defeat or deadlock, seize the advantage by ascertaining the opponent's state and changing you approach."[3]

Other Teachings

  • Rhetoricus teaches to adopt an aggressive attitude with one's body while maintaining a passive attitude with the blade, in order to draw one's opponent into making the first move.[1g]
  • Rhetoricus teaches to always look into the eyes of the opponent when dueling, rather than at their blade or body; the eyes will betray everything one needs to know about the opponent's movements.[1h]
  • Rhetoricus teaches that one should always be aware of the advantages and shortcomings of each weapon in one's arsenal. More specifically, he teaches that each weapon has situations for which its use is optimal.[3]


The Book of Five Spheres appears to have been inspired by the Book of Five Rings, authored by Miyamoto Musashi, regarded as one of the most influential treatises on samurai swordsmanship.

See also