Prophesy indicates darkness and light will demand two champions, the Black Sun and the Bright Star. Every generation can point to a fantasy book or series that defines their teenage years. Currently, that would likely be Harry Potter; for those now edging towards or into their 40s it would be Dragonlance. Read our review of The Dragonlance Chronicles. For a full list of Dragonlance novels, visit Wikipedia. If you do, do not, or if you have any further recommendations then please let us know by leaving a comment below.
Thank you, we hope you enjoyed reading our list. These authors are all amazing, and their books well written and cherished by many; they deserve recognition. What about the Witcher books? Hi Emma. Good luck finding your next read! So many recommendations! Where to start?? Maybe I should resign myself to reread them forever. Anyone got any tips or advice, help lines for how to replace dear old Fitz?
That is hands down my favorite series. But where is Tamora Pierce? She has many books written for 2 universes and is still adding to it with the Numair Chronicles. Of course her Lioness series was great but it was when I read the Immortals series that I was hooked! You have some excellent selections listed.
But seriously, these should have been the first four on your list. Just a joy to read. Brilliant comments Squiggler, completely agree with everything you said. I just finished my second tour of the 10 book series and it was twice as good the second time around. Reading through this list brought back some great memories and sparked some new ideas as inspiration for my reading list — many thanks for that. PS: you might want to add the Rain Wild Chronicles to your Elderlings list for the sake of any tenacious new devotees adding these titles to their reading list as a chronology.
I believe you skipped straight from Tawny Man to Fitz and the Fool. Cheers though for the rest of the included series. Love it. This books are amazing. I recommend everyone to read them. I was able to read some of them last week. I have added your website in my toolbar so i can return with just one click when i feel the need to read your great posts. I really loved your list. I appreciate the comments and have added a couple of series from the recommendations.
The books listed in the comments have nicely rounded out your list. I like this ideas for reading. They bring fantasy and reality together in way that is compelling. At least I thought so. Great feedback. I do love Jack Forsithe. It is fantasy, but well blended with today. Has all the important elements, love, lust, karma, and offbeat humour. I enjoyed the sword of truth series until I read Faith of the Fallen.
It tried to paint charity, compassion and mercy as evil. Not Goodkind by nature! Your disappointment is misplaced as I would assume are the examples of other missing series you could easily have included. But to be fair, there are others missing I could easily include. I thought they were real page turners. Are they considered too light — or are they young adult? Just a thought. Needs to be on the list! This is clearly stated as a list of favourites that includes more than three books.
The Lord of the Rings you will find, hopefully to your pleasure at number one on the trilogy top list. Have you taken Joe Abercrombie off this list?? I can understand including authors because there is a lot of people enjoying their books. Very entertaining! Great authors all of them but wrong criteria for this list.
Thank you so much for this list. I get tired of falling in love with a world or character only to have the adventure end all too abruptly for me. I will have tour start looking at some of these. I might add that the Belgariad is a wonderful series by David Eddings and his wife. Easy reading but very enjoyable. Wheres Terry Brooks ermagerd! Where is The Lord of the Rings? Any real fantasy-lover should read LOTR. I agree with the mckillop recommendation. As an older teenager this series fired my now 45 year old love for fantasy fiction that and Tolkien.
It is a great tale of self discovery. Quit trolling. Goodkind is definitely in the top five of all time. This is something that needs to be rectified so you should see reviews appear over the coming weeks and then hopefully we can add the Dragonlance series to this page. Thanks for your comment. Sword of Truth does have its fans although it is not for everyone. But it has I believe given thousands of readers a lot of enjoyment, and that is why it is listed on this page.
Sword of Truth has got to go. Predictable and truly not in league with the other series noted here. These are recommendations after-all, and here is mine, Whispers by Aram Keledjian. My new favorite of the year by faaaaaaar. No Dragonlance? This is criminal. A quarter of those series are nothing more than Dragonlance knock offs anyway.
Goodkind is the worst author ever. The fact that this series is on your best list makes me question your judgement about all the other books on this list. Thanks for the list. I am going to check out Duncton Wood. The series that got me into fantasy writing to begin with was Brian Jacques Redwall series. Granted they did get a little repetitive and predictable, but the first 5 books were great.
I feel like Michael Moorcock should be on this list somewhere. Elric of Melnibone series is one of my all-time favorites. Yes dragon spindle is pretty good for a self published book I recon it will be picked up by a publisher soon then probably get ruined by big business! I absolutely loved that list… Quick question though: Should the novels by Anne Rice not be included as well? I liked a new book and fantasy series which is Dragon Spindle book 1 in the Ningazia Balance series.
Definatly worth a look if you like fast paced dragon fantasy with dragons, elfs , orcs and loads of magic. The first book is indeed awesome, but after that, the entire thing goes down the drain. Zero innovation, bullshit character development He might has well had an alien parasite take over Leesha , inconsistent pacing…. Dresden files up but got to say Codex Alera has me coming back for more.
Mazan Book of the Fallen is so epic, intelligent and unpredictable, near all other fantasy seems childlike in comparison. Good call for having it in the list. Thanks Matt. I actually have the Rangers Apprentice books on my to-be-read pile and — following your recommendation — will move them up the list and read them soon. A book series that I highly recommend is Rangers Apprentice. It is not your average fantasy novel, it takes place in a world much like middle age England and does not include magic surprisingly. You follow the adventures of Will Treaty becoming a Ranger, a legendary warrior using the tools of stealth and archery to guard the crown.
This list cannot be considered complete without the Chronicles of Pern! I would also mention The Saga of Recluce by L. Modesitt Jr as being worthy of inclusion, certainly well above the risible Sword of Truth series. The Dredsen Files is the best fantasy book written by the best author — Jim Bucher. You would definitely agree that The Dredsen Files is the Best Fantasy Series around I have read each book 3 times over just to fully understand the characters and the plot of the series.
Hi Lynette, great recommendations! Some we have yet to read and review on the site but I have added them to our to-read list and hope to remedy that very soon. I think Inheritance Cycle should be on the list. It is an awesome read and its characters are very deep too. Glen Cook wrote an earlier book that has been one of my favorites since my teenage years. The Dragon Never Sleeps. I had to re-purchase the Duncton Chronicles about 5 years ago due to my originals being lost somewhere in the midst of time. But I treasure them as much as any other books, they have character and history.
The first Duncton book is a real gem, a worthy companion to Watership Down. Interesting what you say about inconsistencies in the Hyddenworld series. I have to admit a few elements of the story did not piece together perfectly, especially the legend of the Peace Weaver and Beormund, but I am very, very forgiving of the authors I hold dearest! Thanks for the nice answer Lee! I found it quite enjoyable — few fresh ideas there! Only thing that bugged me was that there was rather a lot of inconsistencies throughout.
Guess the author must be even more forgetful than I am! Now, The Name of the Wind and Mr. Read it when it first came out. By the second book it gets a whole lot better though, in my opinion. I want to see Gregor the Overlander on this list. Thanks Milotius, this is exactly the type of comment that provides real value. We have reviewed Lukyanenko, Pehov and Sapkowski on the site, but not enough of a series to get them onto this page.
I think the advancement in the standard of translation will open up these books to a wider audience. I have read several translated books recently and they have lost nothing in the translation. Now this might be a new series to add. So far, wonderful story, wonderfully told. Great list! There are some amazing books out there once you start exploring! Svetlana Martynchik. Kind of an urban fantasy, modern day, Russian version of Narnia if you will.
But with so much dark humour, strangeness and sometimes creepiness it should definitely not be recommended for kids. Yet again an urban fantasy and I suppose hope well known. Yet again for its mix of lightheartedness and angst! My only negative note on this list: Wheels of Time… Why, oh why are people so in to it? Could not stomach more after book 6. He seems to have had only two categories for females — evil or annoying or possibly both.
If not, do it now! Thank you. Mistborn is on our recommended fantasy trilogies pages. I know it is 4 books now but it just seemed a better fit on there. I understand having Tolkien on the list but I have never been able to read his books. They just bore me and seem to spend too much energy in building the world and races that it is nearly a biography of a fantasy world and less a good fantasy story. Though I would have to say that without LoTR fantasy would still be decades behind where it is now.
Really, not a single Brandon Sanderson, I just wanna see one of them although I think they all deserve a spot , Mistborn was an amazing series. I am listening to The Dragonbone Chair at this very moment — I first read it decades ago and hope to enjoy it every bit as much second time around! The Dwarves 2. The War of the Dwarves 3. The Revenge of the Dwarves 4. The Fate of the Dwarves 5. The Dragonbone Chair 2. Stone of Farewell 3. Otherland: 1. City of Golden Shadow 2. River of Blue Fire 3.
Mountain of Black Glass 4. Shadowmarch 2. Shadowplay 3. Shadowrise 4. The Kingkiller Chronicles by Patrick Rothfuss!! It is simply amazing. An unbelievable achievement. Self published at first, and has become a best-seller on word of mouth alone. I think that most people who like these other series would enjoy these. The WOT situation: The first three books were fantastic, interesting world, characters with room to grow and a story to tell.
Somewhere though it got off track. It seemed to require story lines that were way to separate and did not seem to come together much. Great series but after starting out to be the best ever, it never quite lived up to that. Well told. Interesting story and characters. Interesting form of magic. My ESL teacher recommended it to me when I was in high school and I have been in love with it ever since.
‘The Raven Boys,’ by Maggie Stiefvater
A good call for Mists of Avalon Luiz and I have been delighted to add it. I should just note that Diana L. Paxson co-wrote and independently wrote the later novels. One author completely missing from this list and the comments is Peter V Brett — His Demon Cycle series it is now over 3 books so can be included is a fantastic new take on the fantasy genre. Some wonderful characters in a gripping story line. Four have been published and I can hardly wait for the fifth and concluding novel. Otherwise, all the comments and remarks are very acurate, and although I am a fan of Terry Goodkind, some of the books did stink… Wheel of Time is epic!
Great books! He loves reading. In fact, he just finished reading the first novel by Jim West called Libellus de Numeros The Book of Math that makes math and science relevant and fun in a story of magic and danger. The story is about Alex, a young precocious girl, who mysteriously gets transported to a strange world where Latin and Math combine in formulas and equations with magical effects.
With a cruel council leading the only safe city of its kind in this world, she will have to prove her worth to stay as well as help this city as it is the target for two evil wizards who seek to destroy the city and its ruling council.
To help the city and also get back home, she will need the help of the greatest mathematician of all time, Archimedes. In a world where math is magic, Alex wishes she paid more attention in math class. Search for the book on Goodreads for reviews. Nice list, glad NOT to see junk like Twilight on it. Hey LuvD, the trilogy list which is a work in progress can be found here : Happy reading! Is it out as yet?
If so, can you post a link? This thread has been opened since Great choices presented. Gonna finally give WoT a try way too many of you have suggested it. Was probably looking for something new to try out and voila. The story managed to completely draw me in after a couple of chapters. Hi all! That is one great list of beloved series you got there, so I felt compelled to express a concern and immediately suggest an entry. I am not Polish myself so I had to wait for translation but his work is truely masterful and entertaining, for lack of a better word. The subtle references to classic pieces are simply genius while the series follows its own engaging story.
Believe me, I would never look at Cinderella or the Beauty and the Beast the same way as I did before! Definitely a recommended read! Thanks for that David, it made me smile, a lot. Very close to my own personal opinions on many points. Would love to know what you think about Wheel of Time though — if you could reply with an answer that would be great.
Good call on Saga of the Recluce — we have very positive reviews for it already on the site, so added to this list it shall be! Those are great. After Days of Air and Darkness, it sinks to somewhere between pretty good and so-so. Twilight stinks too. Salvatore is so-so. No I take it back. The Belgariad is okay. The Malloreon is so-so. The Elenium is blah. The Tamuli is just plain bad.
I really wish that Guy Gavriel Kay would write a series with each book being as good as Tigana was. Farseer by Robin Hobb is great. You have to like a book authored by a liberal where the hero is a guy who murders people for a living. Way to go, Margaret. Do it again!
Mistborn was great-minus, with flashes of great here and there. The Saga of Recluce is another great-minus series, with some of the books being marginally great and others being just pretty good.
The repetitive use of the boy-from-the-sticks-grows-up-and-does-well theme holds it down half a notch. The real atrocity is that neither Mistborn nor the Stormlight Archives are listed. Hi James, great books but a trilogy. But if enough people think they should be on the list I would be happy to add them. Thanks for the good list. I agreed with most of the picks and got ideas for future reads from the rest.
I do feel the need to award kudos not only for the Gemmell nods but specifically for the Rigante series. Rarely does a list acknowledge Gemmel and this is the first one to do that and go farther. The Drenai series may be simplistic but the tale of the Rigante is a whole different level of story telling in my opinion, and well worthy of mention. Wheel of Time series has to be in 2nd place after the story of the Middle Earth by J. I have read many of the authors in the list and are all great in different ways.
One of my favourites however is Robin Hobb, I would urge anyone whose is looking for a great read to consider these. I think when you look at all from a distance, J. Tolkien is the author of all these books and they are all set in the same world. So I now think they should be included. Hi Unojoe, thank you for your comment.
The Kingkiller Chronicles is — as you say — fantastic. But at the moment the criteria for inclusion on this page is a series consisting of at least 4 books. Great comments. Good call. Thank you for the original list. I used to read lots of fantasy but what with my career and children etc have only recently got back into it. Erikson next. Just finished WoT after a 7 year break- agree it lost its way in the middle at times and I despaired of it ever finishing; great finale though, a really good fight!
I probably ought to re-read them now! I know he writes more stand alone novels, but would like to recommend Guy Gavriel Kay. Interesting comments Batto and Lawler, I tend to agree. Cheers everyone, have a good Christmas! I read fantasy fiction to escape and I enjoy it for that purpose, but I have to admit that very little of it is high-quality literature, and I find that the longer series are little more than endless plot, with little substance. Good literature makes you reflect on and better understand something, whether it be history, current events, human nature, love, friendship, pyschology, politics, etc.
- Malazan Book of the Fallen by Steven Erikson.
- Raven's Mark.
- Publication Order of Bleeding Land Books.
- Tricking My Twin Sisters Boyfriend 2.
- A Song of Ice and Fire by George RR Martin.
Fantasy fiction is often heavy on interpersonal relationships and emotions like love and courage, but it often has a very simplistic understanding of society in general. Maybe that is why we read it. What I enjoy about fiction fiction as a genre is its world building.
I delight in the way the authors construct language, culture, history and myth. Hi Kenneth, great shout on the Green Rider series — deserves to be added and it is reviewed very favourably on the site. I will add it now. Unfortunately we have no Piers Anthony reviews at all at this moment in time so it will be difficult to add the Xanth series but I will look at getting it reviewed as soon as possible — and then hopefully adding to this list. Sadly she is a very slow writer! I will add Keys to the Kingdom to this list within the next 2 weeks.
Although it is considered youth fiction the Keys to The Kingdom series by Garth Nix is definitely worth the read. Thank you sor your recommendation. David, thanks for backing up many of the selections, it is appreciated. And the Barclay Raven series definitely deserves to be on this list, being more than 3 books and very favourably reviewed on the site. I will add it at the next available opportunity.
I must admit I have read through many of the above series and while I will always fondly remember the Gemmell series as one of my favourite if a little basic I would also recommend the James Barclay Raven series books for all out action fantasy as well. But my all time favourite series is the Malazan series by Steven Erikson.
While not for the fainthearted as it can be hard work and at times grim I have never read a series with such scope and imagination. For all the people who are wondering where The Wheel of Time is on the list… The Eye of the World is listed and the first book in the series. The Wheel of Time series is on the list.
I think you have to re-do this list…. Hi Tob, for the purposes of this list I decided to include only series of 4 and more books. So no trilogies. My thoughts on the trilogy is that the first two books are excellent but book three left me very disappointed. Book 3 was rather preachy and confusing from what I remember. Still my best fantasy read yet.
I would say Eddings Sparhawk character is one of the best heroes. Eddings also sprinkles his work with something a lot of fantasy writers struggle to do well… humour. David Gemmell is quite easily the best heroic fantasy writer. His characters are easily likeable and identifiable and his stories are action packed and to the point. Jon Shannow trilogy is one of the best characters ever written! If you are after a quick enjoyable read between or to break up a larger series then Gemmell is the man for the job.
Also I can never understand the criticism of Terry Goodkind. So what if people think his writing is simplistic. I found his books engrossing and very hard to put down. As much as I hate to admit it, the David Eddings books have not aged very well. We should definitely acknowledge the importance of his books in making the fantasy genre what it is today — Pawn of Prophecy was one of the first fantasy books I ever read and was a gateway novel to fantasy for many of my friends — but the problem with writing one of the first popular fantasy series to come after Tolkien is that his books will always be talked about in comparison to Tolkien, while everything that came after his books will talk about they learnt from his mistakes.
A Top 10 of Important Authors would be a very interesting one. I would almost definitely include Eddings in that list, but probably as a conglomerate addition with Raymond E. Martin for finally bringing fantasy into the mainstream, H. Lovecraft for creating a mythology that continues to haunt us you would almost lump him together with guys like Robert E. Corax was quick to impose the style of war he had perfected on Lycaeus over that which had come to define the XIX th Legion, melding stealth and guile with vigilance and swiftness.
It was during these early years that much of the native demeanour of the old XIX th Legion, particularly the more cold-blooded ways of the Xeric tribes, was purged. The Legion had so often served in oppression, repression and occupation forces that Corax saw in some of the Terrans of his XIX th Legion something akin to the slavers of Lycaeus. Several of the Legion's highest-ranking officers were displaced or reassigned to non-command roles, including Lord Arkhas Fal, who had commanded the XIX th Legion as its Master for three decades before the coming of the Raven Lord.
Under the Primarch's guidance, distilled into a series of battle-mantras, the Raven Guard developed their skills to preternatural levels. Corax is even known to have bested Roboute Guilliman in his brother-Primarch's notoriously testing strategio-simulcra, making use of several unconventional troop types his brother-Primarch had never before faced, including the forerunners of the Moritat. Corax only bested his brother three times in this manner, and once the master of the Ultramarines heeded the lesson and adjusted his tactics, the Raven Lord would never beat him again.
During its restructuring, the XIX th Legion commissioned several innovations from the forges of Mars , all of them cunningly wrought to further its mastery in the arts of stealth and speed. In addition, the Legion gained access to the Whispercutter , an open airframe flyer constructed about a gravitic impellor and capable of dropping ten Legionaries into a war zone in utter silence and with practically no chance of detection. Such technology was created not by the Martian Mechanicum nor any of the Forge Worlds , but by those master artificers of Kiavahr who formerly served the tech guilds.
Utilising strands of machine canon unknown to the mainstream of the Mechanicum, the Kiavahran guild artificers created all manner of systems at the behest of the Raven Guard and in time the Legion's Techmarines were inducted into these mysteries, although it has been speculated that the Kiavahrans might have been declared outcast by the jealous lords of Mars , were it not for the patronage of so august a body as the Legiones Astartes and the Primarch Corax.
As the Great Crusade ground ever onwards, Kiavahr assumed its position in the Emperor's Imperium of worlds. While its output was not equal to that of a fully-fledged Forge World of the Mechanicum, with the aid of the Tech-Priests of Mars, its forges and manufactories produced and exported vast quantities of materiel as well as a number of the more specialised machines and weapons required by the Raven Guard Legion. The guild artificers attempted to retain their closest secrets from the Mechanicum with some small measure of success, and clung on to their independence from Mars.
Having remained self-sufficient throughout the lonely dark ages, Kiavahr remained unwilling to cede its secrets to outsiders, the only authority it recognised being that of the Raven Guard. Of all of the Mechanicum's subsidiary domains, Kiavahr maintained relations with only one -- Gryphonne IV. The terms of this relationship remain unclear, but because the Legio Gryphonicus fought alongside the Raven Guard throughout several of its larger scale campaigns, it can be assumed that some manner of reciprocal pact was, and perhaps still remains, in place.
One of the more notable campaigns carried out by Corax and his Raven Guard Legion during the Great Crusade was the Imperial Compliance of the Istvaan System, located in the northern reaches of the Ultima Segmentum , far beyond the established heartlands of the Imperium. Though cut off, scout vessels ranging ahead of Corax's 27 th Expeditionary Fleet had found evidence that human life on Istvaan III had managed to maintain a largely cohesive industrialised society that had endured the millennia intact, making it a high priority for contact and absorption into the Imperium.
A long-standing autochthonic culture was prevalent on Istvaan III, which included endemic local mysticism and religious practice. This, coupled with a history of independence, meant that once contacted by the forerunners of the Great Crusade, the Istvaanians had first demurred and then denied Compliance with the Imperial Truth.
Given the strategic importance of gaining the life-sustaining and industrialised star system with its large human population for the Imperium, a priority was given to achieving the Compliance of the Istvaan System. The War Council had one caveat when issuing this order that precluded the use of overwhelming force in order to avoid excessive collateral damage that would spoil this valuable prize. The task of bringing the Istvaan System into Imperial Compliance fell to Corax and his Raven Guard Legion as the warriors of the XIX th Legion had a reputation for the use of surgical strikes and precision in such matters.
The black-hulled Strike Cruisers and gunships of the Raven Guard attacked without warning, systematically destroying Istvaan III's military infrastructure and taking charge of its seats of governance. The military forces of the indigenous Istvaanians were professional soldiers who did not break easily, even when confronted with the might of Space Marines. The Istvaanians kneeled before the sable-armoured conquerors as a defeated foe but were welcomed into the fold as men of the Imperium.
Though they had waged war against one another, the Imperial Truth had prevailed and the Istvaanians had sworn to accept its teachings. By proving themselves men of wisdom and civilisation, they were deemed fitting partners for the many other worlds of the nascent Imperium. The Remembrancer Order had not yet been foisted upon the Space Marine Legions by the Council of Terra at this time, but a substantial civilian contingent was left behind to begin the integration of the Istvaanian population with the Imperial Truth. Vardus Praal was left behind as the world's Imperial Planetary Governor to command Istvaan III in the name of the Imperium, to ensure continued Compliance and manage the dismantling of the traditional religious structures that defined the planet's autochthonous society.
The established capital located at the sprawling proto-hive of Khry Vanak -- Istvaan III's political and cultural capital "Choral City" in translation -- was chosen as the site of Imperial power. Unbeknownst to Corax and his Raven Guard, they would return fifteen standard years later to the Istvaan System, to the world of Istvaan V , to bring the rebel Horus to account. It was the need to conduct war in a more conventional manner that led to one of the greatest setbacks in the XIX th Legion's history, and one that would foreshadow the terrible events at Istvaan V only a few years later.
Soon after Horus was declared the Imperial Warmaster, the Raven Guard were recalled from operations along the coreward edge of the Ghoul Stars and ordered to take their place in the line alongside several other Legions under the Warmaster's direct command. The Aukum-Sothos Cluster had been brought to Imperial Compliance by the Luna Wolves in the opening years of the Great Crusade, but its people had fallen to a form of mass-psychosis and violently rejected unity with Terra.
This unheralded secession was later determined to have been caused by xenos parasites which matured within the eye sockets of their hosts, in this case the unfortunate population of the cluster. As they matured, the parasites gained rudimentary control over their hosts and formed what amounted to a wholly alien, gestalt consciousness focused on a cabal of primary hosts dubbed the "Unsighted Kings".
The newly ascended Warmaster Horus refused to see the cluster of worlds he himself had brought to Compliance slip from the Imperium's grip and so he vowed an Oath of Moment to reclaim its worlds no matter the cost. Horus had formulated a plan to cast down the Unsighted Kings in a lightning war that would purge the afflicted population while retaining the cluster's highly developed infrastructure for future re-population. Furthermore, a rapid victory would demonstrate to Horus' brother-Primarchs that the Emperor had been correct to elevate him so high a rank.
The Warmaster's plan called for the bulk of four Legions -- the Luna Wolves , Space Wolves , Iron Warriors and Raven Guard -- to converge on the heavily fortified lair of the Unsighted Kings before a final, overwhelming assault was launched. Having brought the outer worlds of the cluster to heel in a matter of solar weeks, the Warmaster called a council of his brother-Primarchs, one part of his plan calling for the Raven Guard to make a frontal assault directly into the guns of the defenders of Gate Forty-Two. Corax argued against what he denounced as a waste of resources and a needless squandering of his warriors' lives, countering with a strategy of his own.
The Raven Lord proposed that his Legion should draw off the enemy forces in a series of feints, allowing the three other Legions to overwhelm what defenders remained at the walls with comparative ease. In answer, Perturabo accused Corax of seeking to avoid battle, a crime verging on dereliction for a Primarch of the Legiones Astartes. The two very nearly came to blows, with only the intervention of Leman Russ staying bloodshed.
The Wolf King counselled Corax to heed the words of the Primarch who the Emperor had set above his brothers. Russ urged Corax to smother his bitterness, but not to extinguish it, and allow that guttering flame to kindle the fire necessary to carry the battle through. Knowing their particular demeanour would carry them forward, Corax assigned many of his Terran-dominated companies to the vanguard, in particular those whose captains appeared the most willing to play their part in the Warmaster's plan. The assault that followed was hailed as the Legion's darkest hour, a grim honour that, tragically, would be displaced just a few years later at Istvaan V.
At the height of the battle, the assault companies decimated and the attack faltering in the face of overwhelming fire, Corax himself led the forlorn hope, his battle cry firing the XIX th Legion to such efforts that the breach was carried and Gate Forty-Two taken. The honour of slaying the Unsighted Kings was claimed by Horus as Warmaster and at the moment of their execution, the xenos' hold over the population was dispelled.
The Akum-Sothos Cluster was delivered and the Warmaster's prize was reclaimed. The cost was terrible however, for not only had countless millions of hosts been crippled in mind and body, but thousands of Raven Guard, the bulk of them Terran-born, had given their lives before the shattered walls. Though the Battle of Gate Forty-Two was counted a victory by and indeed for Horus, its effects were far-reaching.
The XIX th Legion was sorely depleted, leaving only 80, Legionaries under the Primarch's command and making it the smallest of the Legiones Astartes. Corax removed himself and his Legion from his brother's command, swearing bitterly never to serve alongside Horus again. One last consequence of the Battle of Gate Forty-Two lingers still. In its aftermath, those line officers who, before the coming of the Primarch, had served for so long under Horus' command were gone, and so the Warmaster was able to exert little in the way of influence over the Raven Lord's Legion. Many of these Terrans had been inducted into the Warrior Lodges , and with their deaths these unseen bodies all but vanished from the Raven Guard.
It has been claimed by his detractors that in assigning the Terran-born Legionaries to the assault wave that would suffer the greatest losses, Corax did his Legion a service, consolidating his power and paving the way for a future more in line with his own vision. As a result, the Legion was largely spared the wave of insurrection that was transmitted through so many of the Legions by the hidden auspices of the lodges.
A two year engagement through a sector of space claimed by the remnants of the broken Eldar race, the Scalland Campaign was to serve as the original field test for the first thousand sets of prototype Power Armour that would later come to be designated as Mark VI; though at the time it bore the provisional designation Mark V. Small numbers of the Mark V armour had already been submitted to the Iron Warriors and Salamanders Legions , and both had expressed reservations about the lack of heavy plating when compared to earlier marks, pushing for the Mark V to be revised for a heavy assault role.
It was deemed that a mass combat trial was required to determine the effectiveness of the original design before potentially abandoning it. Internal politics within the various Legion commands saw this honour bestowed upon the Raven Guard, depleted in number after the bloody fighting in the Aukum-Sothos Cluster.
Speculation at the time suggest that a faction amongst the Primarchs and Legion commanders, led by Perturabo , intended this assignment to an under-strength Legion to be the death-knell of the Mark VI armour, leading to its replacement by a sturdier design. If this was so then the plan was to backfire spectacularly, for the Raven Guard performed admirably in the verdant Eldar seed worlds of the Scalland Sector, utilising the advanced auto-senses and agility of the new armour to hound the Eldar in a series of strike-and-fade attacks that decimated their already battered military forces.
Such was the success of the fighting in the sector, which eventually saw the expulsion of the Eldar and the Imperium claim its rich worlds, that not only was the Mark VI armour approved for final deployment, but the majority of the improvements suggested by the Raven Guard were adopted. The new armour, later dubbed "Corvus" Pattern Power Armour in honour of the Raven Guard, was placed into full scale production only a few solar months before the outbreak of Horus' rebellion against the Emperor, re-designated as Mark VI from Mark V by the Mechanicum to account for the inclusion of the many stop-gap field modifications and repairs into the Legiones Astartes order of battle.
The Raven Guard fought ferociously alongside their fellow Loyalists of the Salamanders and the Iron Hands Space Marines against the Traitor Marines of Chaos, but suffered such heavy losses that they were effectively crippled and unable to play any further constructive role in the defence of Terra from Horus' assault during the Heresy. Taking stock of their dire situation, the Primarchs Corax and Vulkan differed over how to salvage what they could from the situation. The Salamanders' Primarch suggested that the Loyalists attempt to make a tactical withdrawal to their respective drop ships and dig in to resist any further attacks.
Corax advocated instead that the Loyalists should do whatever they could to make good their escape from the slaughter as the battle was lost. Neither Primarch could agree with the other, and so Corax turned from Vulkan and ordered his Legion to retreat. A short while later, a direct artillery strike hit the Primarchs' position.
By the grace of the Emperor, Corax somehow managed to survive, but as to the fate of his brother Vulkan, nothing was known. In the meantime, the second wave of Traitor Legions turned upon their former allies and began to slaughter them in earnest. The Iron Hands were apparently slaughtered to a man. In the midst of this brutal carnage two Primarchs from the opposing sides confronted one another in a final showdown.
Fulgrim of the Emperor's Children and Ferrus Manus , once as close as true brothers could be, fought a bitterly contested, titanic struggle. In the course of the heated duel Ferrus Manus lost and was beheaded by his former brother. The two Legions fought one another in bitter combat. In the midst of this battle, the Word Bearers unleashed the elite unit known as the Gal Vorbak -- Astartes who had allowed themselves to be possessed by daemons.
They attacked the Raven Guard's Primarch en masse , but despite the advantage of their numbers, Corax's formidable abilities as a consummate warrior proved to be more than a match for the possessed Astartes, and he slew them with impunity. Seeing the slaughter of his most favoured sons, Lorgar intervened and prevented the death of the remaining Gal Vorbak Astartes.
The two opposing Primarchs then duelled one another in close combat, and the Raven Guard's Primarch quickly gained the upper hand over his outmatched brother. Lorgar had always been more of a scholar than a warrior and Corax prepared to execute him for his betrayal of the Emperor. Lorgar was spared from execution by the intervention of the Night Lords' Primarch, Konrad Curze , at the last moment.
The Night Haunter and the Raven fought a brutal melee. Curze quickly gained the upper hand over his battle-weary brother and prepared to slay him, but Corax managed to escape death by taking to the sky with his master-crafted Jump Pack. The outnumbered Loyalists were then surrounded and brutally butchered. Refusing to surrender, the remaining Raven Guard and Salamanders Astartes stubbornly defended themselves, trying to hold off the inevitable slaughter for as long as possible.
Though they suffered an atrocious number of casualties, the Loyalists managed to hold their own, until the Primarchs Mortarion of the Death Guard and Angron of the World Eaters joined the fray. Bolstered by the support of the infamous Imperator -class Titan Dies Irae , the Traitors killed tens of thousands of Loyalist Astartes. At the height of the massacre the Warmaster Horus entered the fray, at the head of the elite Sons of Horus Terminators known as the Justaerin , slaughtering the Loyalists in wrathful anger. Any hope of escape for the Loyalists was quickly crushed when the traitorous Iron Warriors destroyed the first wave's drop ships.
The Loyalist starships still orbiting the embattled planet were also largely annihilated by the vastly superior numbers of the Traitor's fleet. Despite the odds arrayed against them, some of the Loyalists on the ground managed to survive -- they miraculously escaped through the tightening cordon of Traitors that surrounded their position. The Raven Guard fared better than the Salamanders in escaping the brutal massacre. But the Salamanders managed to assist a few surviving Astartes from the decimated Iron Hands Legion to also escape the slaughter.
Imperial history does not record the fate of these surviving Salamanders or their missing Primarch Vulkan. The Raven Guard's Primarch just barely managed to board a fleeing Thunderhawk gunship to make good his escape, but was thwarted in the attempt when it was shot down almost immediately by the gunfire of the Traitors. The badly damaged ship crashed on the outskirts of the Urgall Plateau. Primarch Corax leads his surviving sons to safety during the Raven's Flight. Corax had survived the crash and quickly ordered the remaining warriors of his Legion to regroup.
He learned to his shock that a large percentage of his Legion had been utterly annihilated during the ensuing slaughter. They took to the highlands of the surrounding hills and to the shadows, hiding from their relentless pursuers. During their flight, their position was nearly discovered by a roving armour column of traitorous Iron Warriors, but they were destroyed in a Raven Guard ambush and wiped out before they could report what they had learned.
Thirty days after the initial planetary assault, the future looked grim for the fleeing Raven Guard survivors. They had received no word from either the surviving Iron Hands or Salamanders Legions. Corax ordered his warriors to dig in and hold position at Lurgan Ridge while he undertook a lone reconnaissance of their original drop site to determine their options. Utilising his innate psi-abilities to escape detection, Corax successfully conducted a reconnaissance of the Traitor Legions' positions around the heavily fortified drop site. Though the Primarch informed his men that his mission was to reconnoiter the drop site, his primary objective was to scour the Urgall Plateau for the bodies of his fallen sons, but he failed to find them.
After 98 days of relentless pursuit, the Raven Guard survivors were finally backed into a literal corner. Caught upon a windswept mountainside, Corax's Legion remained resolute. Behind the peak stretched the great salt plains that had forced them into this last, defiant stand. Ahead of them massed the might of the World Eaters, the rage-driven Astartes Legion of Angron , who strode at their head roaring for the blood of his brother.
A sea of white and blue World Eaters Astartes spattered with the red of gore swept up from the valley intent on the destruction of the Raven Guard.
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Maddened by their neural implants and driven into a battle-frenzy by inhuman cocktails of stimulants, the berserk warriors of the World Eaters pounded up the sloping mountainside while their tanks and guns provided covering fire; every warrior bellowed his eagerness to fulfill the blood oaths he had sworn to his Primarch. But before they could utterly eradicate the surviving Raven Guard Astartes, the World Eaters were attacked from an unexpected quarter. Broad-winged aircraft plunged down from the scattering of clouds, missile pods rippling with fire. A swathe of detonations cut through the ranks of the World Eaters, ripping through their advance companies.
Incendiary bombs blossomed in the heart of the approaching army, scattering white-hot Promethium over the steep slopes. Corax looked on with incredulity as blistering pulses of plasma descended from orbit, cutting great gouges into Angron's Legion. The roar of jets became deafening as drop ships descended on pillars of fire: black drop ships emblazoned with the badge of the Raven Guard.
The Legionaries scattered to give the landing craft space to make planetfall. As soon as their thick hydraulic legs touched the ground, their ramps whined down and boarding gateways opened. The Raven Guard met their rescuers in stunned disbelief. These drop ships were part of a desperate rescue mission that had been devised by Commander Branne, a Raven Guard Captain who had been left in charge of the Legion's homeworld of Deliverance.
Without further delay the Raven Guard survivors quickly prepared for embarkation and escaped aboard the drop ships, breaking for orbit and leaving behind the frothing berserkers of the World Eaters, their angry Primarch futilely baying for blood. Meanwhile, the Alpha Legion had secretly infiltrated the Raven Guard during the Drop Site Massacre, surgically altering their own operatives to resemble dead Raven Guard Astartes and then inserting them into Corax's Legion during the chaos of the chase on Istvaan V.
Alpharius Omegon had been told by the secret alien organisation known as the Cabal that the XIX th Legion was going to receive an extremely valuable, top-secret asset that would be of great use to the cause of Horus. Impersonating Horus, the Alpha Legion Primarchs ordered a pursuing World Eaters fleet to stop all action against Branne's ships, so that the Raven Guard would survive the slaughter on Istvaan V and come into possession of the asset, which the Alpha Legion's infiltrators could then steal.
Corax never knew how Branne had managed to make his way to Istvaan V, but he was grateful for the rescue. Branne himself was reluctant to reveal what lead him to Istvaan V, and considered the topic sensitive since he had only acted after repeated, inexplicable prophetic "dreams" seen by Marcus Valerius, Praefector of the Therion Cohort, the Imperial Army regiment which was part of the Raven Guard's Expeditionary Fleet.
Deadly absolution at the hands of Angron would have been a righteous end for the XIX th Legion, but with all things considered, Corax was glad that he would survive to fight in the Emperor's name again. Following his and his Astartes' dramatic rescue from Istvaan V, Corax took the time to review the organisation of the remnants of his Legion. Including the companies of Commander Branne who had been left behind to command the garrison of Deliverance and had ultimately been responsible for rescuing Corax the Legion's survivors from the disaster at Istvaan V, he had fewer than 4' Astartes of varying ranks and specialisations remaining.
The majority of these Astartes he formed into the "Talons" -- tactical companies under Captain Agapito's command. The survivors of the various assault platoons, along with several Dreadnought -interred Veterans, were formed into the "Falcons", led by Aloni Tev. Lastly, the handful of Raven Guard Bike Squads , Land Speeders and aircraft crews still remaining were combined under the command of Captain Solaro An, and were given the designation "Hawks".
It appeared that the Traitors had specifically targeted them from the outset of the battle. Only seven managed to survive, and even with only fifteen years in the Apothecarion, Apothecary Vincente Sixx was appointed as the Legion's new Chief Apothecary by the Primarch himself. Consumed by the loss of over 75, of his Legion's Astartes, and obsessed with thoughts of revenge against Horus, Corax ordered his survivors to return to Terra, where he intended to ask the Emperor for help in rebuilding the Legion.
Following a number of delays and setbacks, and despite the disagreement and displeasure of Rogal Dorn and Malcador the Sigillite , Corax psychically communed with the Emperor, who was devoting all his time battling Chaos within the Warp and what remained of the secret Imperial extension into the Webway in the aftermath of Magnus the Red 's catastrophic psychic intrusion into the Imperial Palace.
The Emperor revealed certain truths to Corax: the existence of the Imperial project to control portions of the Webway, the nature of Chaos , and the truth behind the outbreak of the so-called Heresy -- which in reality was an all-out campaign by the Chaos Gods to defeat the Emperor and enslave Mankind , using Horus and the Traitor Legions as their pawns. The Emperor decided to help Corax, and had another, astonishing revelation to make: the Primarch Project's genetic assets had not been destroyed, as everybody thought, but still existed and were dormant -- including living samples of the original gene-stock the Emperor had used to create the 20 Primarchs.
The Emperor, who offered no explanation as to why such facilities and the gene-stock still existed, demanded only one thing: this genetic material could never be allowed to fall into the wrong hands. Accompanied by several Raven Guard squads, a contingent of Adeptus Mechanicus specialists, and a number of Custodians to serve as the Emperor's "overseers", Corax managed to locate and enter the Emperor's well-protected gene-laboratories deep beneath the Imperial Palace in the Himalazian Mountains, after his strife force suffered a number of casualties.
The Primarch gene-stock and related technical information was secured, and Corax and his Raven Guard warriors returned to Deliverance to begin remaking the Legion. The gene-seed was more pure than "normal" Raven Guard gene stock as it came from undiluted Primarch DNA before it was broken down to the 20 different recombinant strands that gave birth to the Primarchs. It was implanted using an extremely accelerated development schedule within Aspirants, with excellent results.
The resulting Astartes, though lacking combat experience, were even more capable than typical Raven Guard Space Marines. They were assigned the name "Raptors", and placed under overall command of Captain Branne, who served as the Legion's Master of Recruits. The Alpha Legion had other plans.
Patiently waiting until the Raven Guard had achieved the genetic breakthrough, they were fomenting rebellion among the old tech-guilds of Kiavahr, the Forge World that the moon of Deliverance circled, while assembling an Alpha Legion force nearby, and simultaneously misleading both their nominal allies among the other Traitor Legions and their supposed allies in the Cabal about their true purpose. With the help of Adepts from the Dark Mechanicus the Alpha Legion operatives within the Raven Guard contaminated the pure Primarch gene-stock held by the Raven Guard with a virus that was tainted with daemonic essence.
The nature of the virus was unknown to the Alpha Legionaries until after the gene-stock had been contaminated, as their Dark Mechanicus allies had insisted the virus could be easily extracted once the Primarch gene-stock came into their possession. The next cadre of 2' Raven Guard Astartes was predictably a disaster. All manifested hideous Warp-related mutations after they were implanted with their gene-seed organs, and many had to be kept imprisoned.
Corax announced that mutation or not, he considered them as much a part of the Raven Guard as the rest of his Astartes, and vowed to find a way to reverse the mutations. At the same time, the Alpha Legion's plans were reaching their climax. The Kiavahr rebellion was well under way, supported by the newly arrived Alpha Legion force, who were camouflaged as Raven Guard, bearing the XIX th Legion's badges, insignia, and armour.
These tactics were only diversions intended to allow the Alpha Legion operatives already within the XIX th Legion to steal the Primarch gene-stock and to completely destroy the original Raven Guard gene-seed, crippling the Loyalist Legion. The first objective was successful: the Primarch DNA and all information about it was secured by Omegon, who had been secretly on Kiavahr all this time, manipulating events as needed.
Corax subsequently allowed the Mutants who could fight to join the Legion's Raptor Squads. They participated with the rest of the Raven Guard, a small force of Imperial Fists , and the reconstituted Therion Cohort in the first counterattack against the Traitors, and the Raven Guard's successful campaign against the garrison of an Emperor's Children -held planet near the Kiavahr System. Unfortunately the attempt to rebuild the XIX th Legion's strength was now in ruins.
With a heavy heart, Corax decided that his attempt to use a shortcut to refill his Legion's ranks had been a mistake. He determined that the XIX th Legion would rebuild its ranks in the traditional way, slowly and painstakingly transforming human Aspirants into Space Marines over many years of genetic alteration and training. But the price would be that the Raven Guard would not be able to participate in a meaningful way in defending the Imperium against the Traitor Legions.
This did not mean, however, that the Raven Guard would renounce taking part in the fight against Horus. Lacking the manpower to confront the Traitors in open battle, what remained of the Raven Guard would stalk the enemy's supply lines -- those worlds away from the front lines that were yet of strategic importance to the enemy. Over the following years the Raven Guard would attack convoys, sabotage weapons deliveries, decimate planetary occupation forces, destroy shipping yards, liberate worker camps and generally be a thorn in Horus' side. Every ship destroyed was one ship less to ferry troops to the inevitable Siege of Terra.
Every weapons shipment destroyed was one shot less fired at the defenders of the Imperial Palace. Every planet liberated reduced the Traitors' manufacturing capabilities. This became the Ravens Guard's new mode of thinking -- if you could not strike at the enemy directly, hit them where it hurt. Following the later reorganisation of the Space Marine Legions into the Second Founding Chapters after the end of the Horus Heresy, the Raven Guard was left largely inoperable as a combat unit and was forced to spend decades recruiting new members and rebuilding itself.
Finding itself woefully undermanned and under-equipped following the massacre on Istvaan V, the Raven Guard honed and perfected the use of covert small-unit, guerrilla tactics that utilised little fire support, armoured support or other heavy equipment that the Chapter and its Successors lacked. Even today, the Raven Guard's lack of Predators , Land Raiders , and the latest patterns of Power Armour reflect these conditions of the Chapter's past. A Raven Guard Assault Marine. With his Chapter depleted following the Istvaan V Massacre and the Imperium teetering on the brink of destruction, it is rumoured that Primarch Corax ordered his Chapter's Apothecaries to use forbidden zygote acceleration and cloning processes to more rapidly replenish the Chapter's numbers.
The methods used to accomplish this are lost to history, but the process allowed the creation of new Raven Guard Space Marines at the cost of the genetic purity of the Chapter's gene-seed. The process of implantation of the genetically modified Space Marine organs in new recruits suffered extremely high failure rates as a result of these genetic modifications, causing many Raven Guard recruits to become hulking, aberrant monsters who had to be destroyed.
The results of this accelerated recruitment program were not always successful. Ninety percent of the recruits who underwent the accelerated treatments were unable to hold a standard Space Marine Bolter , let alone fire it. Of recruits, perhaps one would have a genome stable enough to become a true Space Marine. Despite the inefficiency of this method, the Raven Guard was eventually able to add several hundred recruits and become combat-worthy enough to aid the other Space Marines in their continuing battle against the Chaos Marines both before and following the defeat of Horus at the Siege of Terra, despite fielding a much smaller force.
After the Heresy, Corax personally gave the Emperor's Peace to every surviving mutant that had resulted from their accelerated program of Space Marine development, an act that led him to lock himself in his personal chambers in the Ravenspire on Deliverance and beg the recently-ascended Emperor for forgiveness. Unable to alleviate his guilt, the Primarch left the Ravenspire exactly a year after he first went into seclusion in a transport that was headed for the Eye of Terror. Corax's fate remains unknown to this day. His last recorded words as he departed Deliverance were, "Nevermore.
The XIX th Legion was founded according to the Emperor's far-reaching vision for the armies of humanity laid out in the structure of the Officio Militaris. The Legion was divided into Chapters, Chapters into battalions, battalions into companies and companies into squads.
Most Legionaries considered themselves members of a given company rather than a Chapter, the company being the preferred level for most independent operations. From the earliest formation, the Legion's officers devolved command responsibility towards the lower echelons, allowing sub-commanders to take the initiative and make tactical decisions according to immediate needs without interference from higher up the chain of command.
This mindset was a direct result of the practices of the Xeric tribes, who conducted their wars against far more numerous foes and were therefore well-practiced in a wide spectrum of unconventional tactics. Individual units tended towards the smaller end of the scales and passed down by the architects of the Emperor's armies, but each was a tightly-knit band of warriors trained and equipped to operate on their own for extended periods. They were well able to live off of the land, taking what few resources they needed from their environment or when opportunity or necessity dictated, from defeated enemies.
When the Legion expanded, its ranks were filled with the full panoply of war machines created for the Legiones Astartes. While its sub units remained relatively compact, the XIX th Legion integrated numerous smaller formations into its structure, allowing them to take its place in the hosts of the Great Crusade and to confront the countless enemies of Mankind that would deny the Emperor's manifest destiny to rule the stars. While retaining its expertise in stealth and infiltration, the XIX th Legion integrated formations of battle tanks, super-heavy war machines, artillery, assault vehicles and assets, mastering each with the skill engineered into them by the genius of the Emperor.
Nonetheless, the XIX th Legion's favoured method of war focused on rapid strike, flanking, mobility and, where possible and desirable, stealth. Maintaining many specialised units, there were certain formations the XIX th Legion favoured over others. The Legion is noted in historical accounts as fielding more Legion Reconnaissance Squads than any others, every Legionary being cross-trained to fulfill his assigned role, as well as that of the reconnaissance units.
Indeed, the line between Legion Tactical Squad and reconnaissance squad seems to have become blurred, the two often operating using similar tactics and even specialised equipment. From the earliest days, the Legion employed more Moritat than did many others. The individuals assigned to this duty were often those considered extreme in their methods even by the cold-blooded Xeric and they were often used -- willingly -- to undertake missions from which they were not expected to return.
It is likely that the Raven Guard engaged in far more assassination and sabotage operations than is widely known to the Order of Remembrancers. Invariably, the increasing numbers of Remembrancers accompanying the Expeditionary Fleets were only allowed to bear witness to the Legion's victories after they had been won, the imagists, historians and poets were denied the opportunity to record the Raven Guard as they waged war on the Imperium's foes.
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In the aftermath of the Council of Nikaea , which history does not record Corax attending, the Raven Guard obeyed the command to cease the employment of Psykers and disband its Librarius. Many of the Legion's Librarians were reassigned to the line companies to serve in communication roles, although some may have served in the Legion Seeker Squads or as Vigilancers or Moritats. Whether or not these individuals obeyed the Decree of Nikaea where operating independently on missions not committed to any archive must remain unknown and it is likely that most were slain upon the bloody battleground of the Urgall Depression during the Drop Site Massacre on Istvaan V.
Upon assuming command of his Legion, Corvus Corax took it upon himself to expand the methods of warfare he had employed against the slave-lords of Lycaeus with a series of tactical and strategic initiatives by which the Raven Guard would operate. In this regard, these doctrines meshed well with those the XIX th Legion had already been operating under throughout the Great Crusade, casting that particular aspect of the Primarch's assumption of command.
It is remarkable that as soon as he was able, Corax assured that many of his senior commanders were drawn from Deliverance. Indeed, several of the Primarch's elevated advisors had served alongside him as resisting freedom fighters during the Lycaeus Uprising, having later undergone the implantation and conditioning process to turn them into warriors of the Legiones Astartes. After the costly Battle of Gate Forty-Two, the members of the Legion who were born of Deliverance increased still further, with only a handful of Terrans still serving in positions of high command.
The Primarch maintained a comparatively loose chain of command, and was known to value candid and honest counsel from his officers. His bearing made it clear he did not expect to be treated in the manner many of his brother-Primarchs demanded as their birthright. When he was their leader during the slave uprisings on Lycaeus, Corax' peers insisted he be watched over by a bodyguard lest the overlords or some other rogue element attempt to assassinate him.
While he resented this, Corax allowed it, as much for his followers' peace of mind as for his own safety. Having joined his Legion, the bodyguard followed, being formed into an Honour Guard known informally as the Shadow Wardens. It was said that they were ever present, though often unseen when their Primarch went to war, and that none could avoid their gaze. Indeed, only one individual was ever able to do so, and that was Corax himself, giving credence to the stories that Corax was able to slip his own shadow should he choose to do so.
Perhaps more than any other Primarch, the Raven Lord frequently operated alone, or otherwise led very small bands of handpicked warriors who possessed gene-granted skills comparable to his own -- the Mor Deythan or Shadowmasters. This predilection might at least in part derive from his time as a freedom fighter, where circumstances dictated that small cells of rebels were often more effective than larger numbers. It was not unusual for Corax himself to conduct extensive reconnaissance prior to a battle, while most Primarchs would leave such tasks to their warriors.
Corax is also known to have led small forces on deep infiltration far behind enemy lines, striking directly at the heart of an enemy force, leaving his line officers to conduct the overall operation. Frequently, the actions of the main force were in fact a ploy to draw the enemy's attentions away from the Primarch's own mission, allowing him to strike the final blow and win the battle. Though best known for the skills of its warriors in rapid assaults, reconnaissance and infiltration protocols, the Raven Guard Legion possessed and utilised the full range of engines of war produced for the Legiones Astartes by the genius of the Mechanicum.
The Raven Guard maintained entire battalions of heavy armour of all types, the Legionary Armoury and Fleet Reserve held hundreds more, and individual companies were assigned individual war engines as and when required. The Raven Guard deployed every heavy armour formation it could muster to Istvaan V, committing the majority to a wide flanking manoeuvre launched along the base of the Lergahn Ridge against the Sons of Horus units guarding the extreme left flank of the Traitors' lines.
Entire wings of Javelin Attack Speeders and Skyhunter Jetbike squads roamed ahead of the slower-moving tank companies, isolating enemy positions and harrying them mercilessly until the heavier units arrived to grind them into dust. When the Night Lords , Iron Warriors , Alpha Legion and Word Bearers revealed their treachery upon the Urgall Depression, most of these formations were cut off from the bulk of the XIX th Legion and ambushed by the Night Lords' units as they attempted to fight their way back to their Primarch's side.
Very few of the Raven Guard's heavier armoured formations were able to withdraw from the Drop Site Massacre, although those that did played a pivotal role in holding back the foe's pursuit in its immediate aftermath. Later on, all but the lightest formations were disbanded and their crews re-assigned to fight on as infantry, the survival of every last Legionary deemed of far more importance to the future of the Legion than maintaining its vehicles.
Long after the Istvaan V Drop Site Massacre, it would be discovered that the Traitors recovered a large number of the vehicles left upon the black sands of the Urgall Depression and turned them against their erstwhile masters. Many also appear to have been crippled by Mechanicum war machines using ultra-high yield neutron weaponry so that, while the crews were slain by radiation deadly even to a superhuman Space Marine, the war engines themselves remained intact.
Were it needed, this provided further evidence of the dark genius and far-reaching stratagems of Horus. Raven Guard Legion Thunderhawk gunship, Umbra Secundus , deployed to Istvaan V , assigned to transport three Veteran Legion Tactical squads of the 3 rd Company and later commandeered by Master of Descent Alvarex Maun and used to extract the Primarch himself before succumbing to massive damage from Traitor ground fire. The Raven Guard Legion made extensive use of a wide range of atmospheric, orbital and void-capable craft, from the heavily armed Fire Raptor gunship to the mighty Stormbird dropship.
Many were equipped with unique stealth systems produced by the guilds of Kiavahr, allowing them to penetrate deep into enemy-controlled territory in order to deploy Raven Guard strike forces and to provide fire support once their passengers were on the ground. The bulk of the Legion's orbital strike craft were committed to the assault against the Warmaster Horus' rebels at Istvaan V, many making repeated runs from ground to orbit as they ferried thousands of Legionaries to the surface. It is testament to the thoroughness of the Warmaster's treachery that when the second wave of the Loyalist retribution force turned upon the Raven Guard, Salamanders and Iron Hands of the first wave, the majority of the Legion's Thunderhawks and Stormbirds were on the ground in the process of disembarking warriors and thus at their most vulnerable.
When the Iron Warriors opened fire on the landing zones with their super-heavy artillery, the devastation was total -- barely a handful of Thunderhawks and Storm Eagles , and not a single Stormbird, escaped the all-encompassing conflagration. It was thanks to the skill and courage of the crews of Commander Branne Nev's rescue force that the Primarch and the last few thousand of his sons lived to fight on against the treachery of Horus and the fallen Legiones Astartes. When at last prevailing conditions in the Warp made it possible for Lord Rogal Dorn on Terra to contact his brother-Primarch by way of astro-telepathy and inform him of the dire situation unfolding in the Istvaan System, Corax commanded his fleet to make for the nearest Warp jump point.
Now that all of his Legion had departed for the Istvaan System, however, the Primarch decreed that a portion of his Legion remain behind to garrison Deliverance in order to guard it from any counterattack. None of the senior commanders wished to be absent when the Traitors were brought to justice, and so lots were drawn to decide who would return. A small detachment comprised of around 1, Legionaries, commanded by Commander Branne Nev , alongside their Imperial Army allies of the Therion Cohort, departed to Deliverance.
As with much of the XIX th Legion, there were other elements detached to serve elsewhere. One of these fleets was in fact commanded by the Legion's former commanding officer -- Shade Lord Arkhas Fal -- on the direct order of the Primarch when Corax took over the Raven Guard. What became of the Shade Lord, his fleet and the other elements may never be known, and the fact that Corax appears to have made no effort to recall them suggests they were considered a body apart from the bulk of the Legion.
When the Raven Guard committed to the Istvaan V drop, they did so in numbers approaching their full strength, with all assets, both surface and spaceborne, in attendance. The events of the Battle of Gate Forty-Two had left the Raven Guard as the smallest of the Space Marine Legions, but they would be operating alongside some of their brother-Legions, or so they had every reason to believe. The truth, as described in numerous historical accounts, was otherwise. The Raven Guard were to lose nearly 75, Legionaries during the betrayal known as the Drop Site Massacre, and by the end of the ninety-eight solar days that followed, could muster but a fraction of their former strength.
Leaving aside these unknown numbers operating alone in the outer darkness, the Raven Guard barely numbered around 4, Astartes, including those despatched to garrison Deliverance. For the first time in their glorious history, the Raven Guard were truly laid low. What the future would hold for the shattered XIX th Legion would be determined through a time of trial and misfortune. In the aftermath of the Drop Site Massacre, the number of Raven Guard Legionaries under the direct command of Corax numbered no more than 4, These grim survivors were mostly those raised into the ranks of the Legiones Astartes from the warriors of Deliverance, those who had fought through the hell of Istvaan V and those who had come to rescue them.
In addition, there were distant Great Crusade fleets and varous small garrison units scattered throughout the Imperium, mainly composed of Terran warriors of the old XIX th Legion who would take months to return to bolster the Legion. As the Raven Lord had no intention of retiring from the fight against the arch-Traitor, he reorganised the tattered remnants of his Legion in an attempt to keep them combat capable at a strategic level.
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