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False Gods (Novel)

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False Gods
False Gods.jpg
Author Graham McNeill
Performer Toby Longworth[1]
Publisher Black Library
Series Horus Heresy Series
Preceded by Horus Rising
Followed by Galaxy in Flames
Released June 2006
Pages 416
Length 11 hours 20 minutes[1]
Editions 2006 softcover:
ISBN 9781844163700

2010 ebook:
ISBN 9780857870223

2011 abridged audiobook:
ISBN 9781849700573,
ISBN 9780857871145

2012 hardcover:
ISBN 9781849703833

2014 unabridged audiobook:
ISBN 9781782514596

False Gods is a novel by Graham McNeill and the second book in the Horus Heresy series. A direct continuation of the plot of Horus Rising, False Gods details Horus's fall to Chaos.

The novel was first published in June 2006, and has been reprinted three times. Each print run is distinguished by a different colour for the titles: the first edition was gold, the second in silver and the third in bronze. It was later included in "The Novels: Volume 1" e-book collection, and it was included as part of the Crusade's End omnibus, released in paperback on March 8, 2016.

Cover Description[1]

The Great Crusade that has taken humanity into the stars continues. The Emperor of mankind has handed the reins of command to his favoured son, the Warmaster Horus. Yet all is not well in the armies of the Imperium. Horus is still battling against the jealousy and resentment of his brother primarchs and, when he is injured in combat on the planet Davin, he must also battle his inner daemons. With all the temptations that Chaos has to offer, can the weakened Horus resist?

Plot Summary

Part One: The Betrayer

The 63rd Expeditionary Fleet under the command of Warmaster Horus Lupercal rendezvous with elements of the Word Bearers Legion under First Chaplain Erebus on the planet Davin, which their Legions jointly brought into compliance six decades ago. They are joined by Petronella Vivar, scion of a Terran noble house who becomes Horus's documentarist. A War Council is convened on Davin's surface where Erebus reveals his reason for summoning the Warmaster to the planet: its planetary governor, Eugen Temba, has turned against the Imperium and betrayed Horus after taking his forces to the planet's moon to put down a rebellion by the Davinite tribes there. Enraged, Horus orders an immediate attack on the moon. Remembrancer Ignace Karkasy reports back on the meeting to his sponsor, Captain Garviel Loken, revealing that Erebus manipulated Horus into becoming enraged at Temba and must have an ulterior motive for wanting Horus to go to the moon. First Captain Ezekyle Abaddon interrupts the pair, angrily rebuking Karkasy for impugning Erebus's reputation and scorning Loken for keeping company with remembrancers. When Karkasy questions Abaddon about a silver coin he handed to Erebus at the start of the meeting Abaddon tries to kill him, but Loken holds him off long enough for Karkasy to escape. Later, Loken finds Karkasy and swears him to silence.[2a]

The Sons of Horus 1st, 2nd, 5th, 10th, 13th and 19th companies form the 'speartip' that will land on Davin's moon accompanied by the Byzant Janizars, three Titans of the Legio Mortis and Erebus's Word Bearers. During the approach they are unable to detect any of Temba's ships but pick up a ship's broadcast extoling the power of Nurgh-leth, reminding Loken uncomfortably of the Whisperheads incident. Upon landing the speartip step out into a stinking, rotted swamp where a dry forest should be, and Loken declares to Tarik Torgaddon that something is very wrong.[2b]

Part Two: Plague Moon

Advancing through the swamp, the Sons of Horus find the corpses of Temba's men which suddenly animate and attack them. The Legio Mortis Titan Dies Irae is blinded by the thick fog and, sensing an incoming aerial object, shoots it out of the sky. The object, Petronella Vivar's skiff that she took to the surface against Horus's orders, crashes in the swamp. Vivar's bodyguard Maggard holds off attacking plague zombies as long as he can but the pair are only saved when the skiff's burning wreckage acts as a beacon for the Sons of Horus, who marshal around it and slaughter the undead. Moving forward they discover the wreck of Eugan Temba's crashed flagship the Glory of Terra, suffering from extreme rot and apparently the source of the unnerving broadcast. Despite Loken's objections Horus decides to enter with 1st, 5th, 13th and 19th companies, leaving Loken and Torgaddon's companies to defend the entrance. Once inside, the Sons of Horus are scattered by a shift in the ship's position and Horus is separated from his men. Advancing alone, he encounters a horde of plague zombies whilst a simultaneous attack begins outside the ship. Fighting his way to bridge Horus finds the bloated monstrosity that was once Eugan Temba armed with the anathame and sitting over the corpse of Verulam Moy. Engaging Temba in a fight, Horus is wounded in the shoulder before mortally wounding the traitor governor who repents as he dies, confessing that he gave in to the promises of Chaos. Horus destroys the machinery powering the broadcast, causing the army of plague zombies to revert to inert corpses just in time to save Loken and Torgaddon's companies from being overrun. The Sons of Horus find Horus on the bridge, mourning the loss of Temba and bleeding freely from his shoulder wound. They carry him outside, where he suddenly collapses to the ground.[2c]

Grief-stricken and terrified that their commander might die, the Mournival rush the primarch back to the fleet where the news has reached the civilian population, who crowd the hangar bay to express their fear and distress. Impeded by the crowds, the desperate Mournival lash out and kill or badly injure the civilians in their path. Ignace Karkasy and Mersadie Oliton look on in horror from an observation bay, seeing Euphrati Keeler and a group of others hand out Lectitio Divinitatus pamphlets to the wounded in the wake of the Astartes. Horus is handed over the the Legion Apothecaries who are able to keep him alive but cannot fight the toxins preventing his blood from clotting. Dying, Horus gives Petronella Vivar his valediction, admitting many secrets about the primarch brotherhood. Desperate for something constructive to do Loken and Torgaddon return to the Glory of Terra to search the bridge for the weapon that wounded Horus, and they are joined by Tybalt Marr who wishes to see where Captain Moy died. In their absence the Sons of Horus' warrior-lodge convene, and Erebus convinces them to entrust Horus to the temple of the Serpent Lodge on Davin, where he says the lodge's occult magic may be able to heal him.[2d]

Back on Davin's moon Loken and Torgaddon discover the anathame, which Loken recognises as the weapon stolen from the Hall of Devices on Xenobia, leading him to conclude that Erebus was behind Horus's wounding. They return to the fleet but find all its landing ships headed for Davin, where they arrive at the Temple of the Serpent Lodge to find that the warrior-lodge has interred Horus inside behind doors that only open from within. The Mournival splits down the middle as Loken and Torgaddon fall out with Abaddon and Aximand over this course of action, and Loken darkly predicts that they will all come to regret it.[2e]

Part Three: In the House of False Gods

Inside the Temple of the Serpent Lodge Erebus observes the ritual that will send his mind into the spirit world to converse with Horus. In order to complete the ritual Lodge Priestess Akshub treacherously slits Erebus's throat. Awakening in a verdant meadow, Horus accepts his own death and goes exploring, but is disturbed by glimpses of a hellish industrial wasteland beneath the surface of the landscape. He finds Erebus disguised as Hastur Sejanus floating face-down in a stream and 'Sejanus' encourages him to flee a pack of wolves with the Imperial Aquila on their fur. Sejanus tells Horus that he has come as an emissary from great powers within the Warp whom he describes as benign and with no interest in the material universe but under attack by the Emperor who desires their power for himself. He shows Horus a shrine-world from the Imperium in the 40th millennium where the Emperor and the nine primarchs who will remain loyal in the war to come are worshipped as gods but Horus is not, deceiving him with the lie that the Emperor abandoned the Great Crusade in order to obtain godhood and will leave his sons behind upon his apotheosis. He then takes Horus to the secret laboratories beneath Terra where the Emperor housed the primarch project, revealing that he used knowledge taken from the Warp gods to create Horus and his brothers and has orchestrated a vast lie in propagating his secular creed. The moment of the primarchs' scattering occurs and Horus's apparition is attacked by Custodian Guards, but he kills most of them before allowing himself to be sucked into the raging Chaos vortex.

As days pass in the material universe nearly the entire 63rd Expedition camps outside the Temple of the Serpent Lodge. Loken visits Kyril Sindermann, who has hidden himself away in the Vengeful Spirit's archives, and is horrified to learn of the connection between serpent cults and Chaos. Ignace Karkasy, inspired by the Astartes' brutality on the embarkation deck, writes damning poetry about it and begins distributing it throughout the ship. Euphrati Keeler is attacked on Davin by a group of soldiers angry at her commitment to the Lectitio Divinitatus, but is rescued by Torgaddon who brings her to see Sindermann, who now doubts the secular creed and wants to know about the Emperor as a god. They begin translating text from the Book of Lorgar and accidentally summon a daemon. Chief astropath Ing Mae Sing comes to their aid, but they are only saved when, in a miracle, Euphrati channels the Emperor's power and banishes the daemon before collapsing into a coma.

In the Warp, Horus is met by his brother Magnus, the leader of the wolf pack, who strips Erebus of his glamour and warns Horus that he is being manipulated into turning on his father and the Imperium. Aware that the visions he has seen are meaningless without context but mistrustful of Magnus who is obviously flouting the Edict of Nikaea, Horus asserts his own will and, full of pride, betrayal and lust for power, decides he will rebel against the Emperor. Healed of his wound, he emerges from the Temple of the Serpent Lodge to thunderous cheers.[2f]

Part Four: Crusade's End

As the 63rd Expedition moves on Horus and the lodge begin working towards their new goals. The expedition encounters the Auretian Technocracy, an advanced human civilisation with many similarities to the Imperium, but Horus slaughters their ambassadorial party on the pretext of an assassination attempt and declares war on their society in order to seize their highly valuable STCs, which he promises to Adept Regulus in exchange for the Mechanicum's support. The lodge summon Torgaddon to a meeting and lay out a plan to hand over Loken for execution to appease Hektor Varvarus, who has been lobbying for justice for the victims of the embarkation deck incident, which will also allow them to silence Ignace Karkasy and his poems. Torgaddon refuses to go along and quits the lodge, declaring his opposition to them.[2g]

The Sons of Horus are joined by Angron and the World Eaters for the war on the Auretian Technocracy, which drags on for a brutal and violent nine months. A delegation from the Emperor's Children pays the expedition a brief visit during which Fabius Bile appropriates the anathame and hands it over to Fulgrim. 2nd and 10th companies follow the World Eaters through the breach for the final assault on the Auretian fortress but an explosive trap is detonated that buries Angron beneath tonnes of rubble. Loken and Torgaddon charge into the courtyard, barely holding back from a slaughter, and the last of the Auretian defenders muster to surrender to Hektor Varvarus. At that moment Angron bursts from beneath the rubble and attacks, forcing the Sons of Horus to massacre the last of the Auretians, and Varvarus is killed in the firefight.[2h]

After speaking at Varvarus's funeral, Horus enacts the first of many betrayals by 'cleaning house'. Maggard, in awe of Horus and inducted into the lodge, murders Ignace Karkasy in his room. His death is passed off as a suicide, further distressing Kyril Sindermann and Mersadie Oliton who hold vigil at Euphrati Keeler's bedside. Horus murders Petronella Vivar himself because he told her too much on his deathbed. Loken and Torgaddon decide together that they will fight the spreading evil in their Legion until the end. Convening his various supporters in a secret meeting, Horus declares his intention to overthrow the Emperor and begins planning an operation in the Isstvan system.[2i]

Dramatis Personae


Sons of Horus

Word Bearers

World Eaters

Collegia Titanica

The Davinites

Imperial Personae

Non-Astartes Imperials

See also


  • 1: Black Library (last accessed 28th July 2022)
  • 2: False Gods (Novel)
    • 2a: Chapters 1-4
    • 2b: Chapter 5
    • 2c: Chapters 6-8
    • 2d: Chapters 9-11
    • 2e: Chapter 11
    • 2f: Chapters 13-17
    • 2g: Chapter 18
    • 2h: Chapters 19-20
    • 2i: Chapter 21

Horus Heresy Series
Novels I Horus RisingII False GodsIII Galaxy in FlamesIV The Flight of the EisensteinV FulgrimVI Descent of AngelsVII LegionVIII Battle for the AbyssIX MechanicumX Tales of HeresyXI Fallen AngelsXII A Thousand SonsXIII NemesisXIV The First HereticXV Prospero BurnsXVI Age of DarknessXVII The Outcast DeadXVIII Deliverance LostXIX Know No FearXX The PrimarchsXXI Fear to TreadXXII Shadows of TreacheryXXIII Angel ExterminatusXXIV BetrayerXXV Mark of CalthXXVI Vulkan LivesXXVII The Unremembered EmpireXXVIII ScarsXXIX Vengeful SpiritXXX The Damnation of PythosXXXI Legacies of BetrayalXXXII DeathfireXXXIII War Without EndXXXIV PharosXXXV Eye of TerraXXXVI The Path of HeavenXXXVII The Silent WarXXXVIII Angels of CalibanXXXIX Praetorian of DornXL CoraxXLI The Master of MankindXLII GarroXLIII Shattered LegionsXLIV The Crimson KingXLV TallarnXLVI RuinstormXLVII Old EarthXLVIII The Burden of LoyaltyXLIX WolfsbaneL Born of FlameLI Slaves to DarknessLII Heralds of the SiegeLIII TitandeathLIV The Buried Dagger
Siege of Terra I The Solar WarII The Lost and the DamnedIII The First WallSons of the SelenarIV SaturnineFury of MagnusV MortisVI WarhawkVII Echoes of EternityGarro: Knight of GreyVIII The End and the Death (Volume IVolume IIVolume III)
The Primarchs Roboute Guilliman: Lord of UltramarLeman Russ: The Great WolfMagnus the Red: Master of ProsperoPerturabo: The Hammer of OlympiaLorgar: Bearer of the WordFulgrim: The Palatine PhoenixFerrus Manus: Gorgon of MedusaGrandfather's GiftPerturabo: Stone and IronMalcador: First Lord of the ImperiumKonrad Curze: A Lesson in DarknessJaghatai Khan: Warhawk of ChogorisVulkan: Lord of DrakesSons of the EmperorCorax: Lord of ShadowsAngron: Slave of NuceriaScions of the Emperor Konrad Curze: The Night HaunterGhost of NuceriaThe Passing of AngelsThe Abyssal EdgeMercy of the DragonLion El'Jonson: Lord of the FirstIllyriumThe Revelation of the WordMorningstarWill of the LegionEmbers of ExtinctionAlpharius: Head of the HydraBlood of the EmperorLoyal SonsMortarion: The Pale KingRogal Dorn: The Emperor's CrusaderSanguinius: The Great AngelHeirs of The Emperor
Horus Heresy Characters Valdor: Birth of the ImperiumLuther: First of the FallenSigismund: The Eternal CrusaderEidolon: The Auric Hammer
Novellas Promethean SunAurelianBrotherhood of the StormThe Reflection Crack'dFeat of IronThe LionThe Serpent BeneathCorax: SoulforgeScorched EarthTallarn: ExecutionerPrince of CrowsThe Crimson FistThe PurgeRavenlordThe Seventh SerpentTallarn: IroncladCyberneticaWolf KingThe HonouredThe UnburdenedGarro: Vow of FaithSons of the ForgeDreadwingSpear of Ultramar
Collections AngronThe Imperial TruthSedition's GateEchoes of RuinDeath and DefianceBlades of the TraitorMedusonBetrayal at CalthEchoes of the ImperiumVirtues of the Sons/Sins of the FatherEchoes of RevelationLupercal's WarCthonia's Reckoning
Short Stories The Lightning TowerThe Dark KingArmy of OneKryptosDistant Echoes of Old NightLost SonsDeath of a SilversmithThe Divine WordThe Kaban ProjectThe Gates of TerraLord of the Red SandsSerpentLuna MendaxRivenBjorn: Lone WolfThe Wolf of Ash and FireHeart of the ConquerorChild of NightThe ShadowmastersThe Devine AdoratriceDaemonologySins of the FatherThe Final Compliance of Sixty-Three FourteenVoraxThe Value of FearBrotherhood of the MoonVirtues of the SonsImperfectHowl of the HearthworldA Safe and Shadowed PlaceGunsightBlack OculusWolf MotherTwistedChirurgeonTallarn: WitnessIronfireHands of the EmperorBy the Lion's CommandAll That RemainsThe PhoenicianArtefactsGhosts Speak NotPatienceInheritorTallarn: SirenBlackshieldMyriadInto ExileThe Grey RavenThe Painted CountExocytosisThe Last Son of ProsperoOrdo SinisterThe Ember WolvesRestorerThe Laurel of DefianceImmortal DutyDuty WaitsMagisteriumNow Peals MidnightDreams of UnityThe Board is SetThe Atonement of FireA Lesson in IronMassacreTwo Metaphysical BladesPrologue to NikaeaOld Wounds, New ScarsAbyssalThe Last CouncilA Rose Watered with BloodBringer of SorrowLantern's LightThe Serpent's DanceThe Lightning HallEater of DreamsBloodhowlAmor FatiThe Fields of AbundanceThe Shel'tain AffairPrimacyThe NineVisageThe Last Loyalist
Audio Dramas Raven's FlightGarro: Oath of MomentGarro: Legion of OneButcher's NailsGrey AngelBurden of DutyGarro: Sword of TruthWarmasterStrike and FadeVeritas FerrumThe SigilliteHonour to the DeadWolf HuntCensureThief of RevelationsKhârn: The Eightfold PathLucius: The Eternal BlademasterCypher: Guardian of OrderHunter's MoonWolf's ClawTemplarGarro: Shield of LiesMaster of the FirstThe Long NightStratagemHerald of SanguiniusThe WatcherThe Eagle's TalonIron CorpsesGarro: Ashes of FealtyRaptorGrey TalonRed-MarkedThe EitherThe Heart of the PharosThe Thirteenth WolfChildren of SicarusPerpetualThe Soul, SeveredValeriusThe Binary SuccessionDark ComplianceBlackshields: The False WarBlackshields: The Red FiefHubris of MonarchiaNightfaneBlackshields: The Broken Chain
Artbooks Visions of Heresy (2013)Visions of Heresy (2018)Art of the Horus Heresy
Script Books Horus Heresy: The Scripts: Volume IHorus Heresy: The Scripts: Volume II
Graphic Novels Macragge's Honour