Aaron Dembski-Bowden

Don't worry. None of this blood is mine.

Let’s Talk About Abaddon

In recent months, as The Talon of Horus rolls ever onward, I’ve spilled a wealth of words on Ezekyle Abaddon and the Black Legion over emails and hastily-chucked notes to various other authors and IP-tastic souls in the dark conclave of Those Who Contribute to 40K.

This is a difficult book, not only because of the wealth of lore (much of which subtly shifts from edition to edition, meaning you need to choose what to focus on and run with that), but also because of the 40K comedy memes that do the rounds, just like in any fandom. Abaddon, however, gets hit hardest by a barrage of misunderstandings, and lore that remained fairly vague in the past. I hope you’ll forgive me for focusing on the positive and the reality behind the curtain, but I already spend long enough worrying about, and discussing, the negative perceptions. I can’t bring myself to commit several hours hashing them all up again here and now. Besides, they’re already out there. What I can offer today is something a little fresher. From the source, so to speak.

Over the course of all these exchanges with various people (who thankfully took the time to lay out a bajillion words and share their insights with me), a lot of the back and forth discussions revolved around just what it means to be Warmaster of Chaos. Everyone mostly said the same thing in different words, which matched my plans down the line, and that was a pleasant slice of reassurance, let me tell you. I’m sitting on tens of thousands of words from various people about Abaddon, the Eye of Terror, and Chaos Marines in general, as well as practically every word printed about the Black Legion since Rick Priestley and co. first said “Hang on a minute, I’ve got an idea…”

In short, this project has been an absolute dream to research. The more people you talk to, the more perspective and insight you get, and this has been freaking killer. I’ve learned a lot about stuff I already thought I had a brilliant angle on. I’ve had some of my best lore discussions over all of this madness. The really bizarre thing is that all these discussions have made Heresy meetings look like the easiest and smoothest thing in the world. No, really. I can’t overstate the number of times I’ve almost called Dan, Gav or Graham in shrieking tears, demanding they fly over and hold me in their arms until the scary times go away.

Okay, maybe not. But there’s an image for you, nevertheless. The reality is that I wanted to call Alan Merrett – GW’s IP overlord – but he’s really scary and would never hug me.

As an interesting extract, here’s something from one of the longer back-and-forth barrages, which managed to stand out as so painfully inspiring that I had to go make a cup of tea and sit down in the garden to recover, like the weakling Englishman I am.

Note:- Of course, because it’s Ireland, it was raining, so I came back inside almost immediately. Me – and my cup of tea – calmed down in the living room while Shakes watched Jake and the Neverland Pirates, but let’s just move on and stop slaying my quintessentially English reaction.

So, here. These aren’t my words – they’re from The Archive to End All Archives. The crowning jewel of said archive, as it happens. It aligns with the general consensus on Abaddon, but how it was phrased just resonated with me like nothing else quite had before.

Hope you find it as intriguing and inspiring as I do.

“Horus was weak. Horus was a fool.” 

It sums up Abaddon. Horus allowed himself to be used by Chaos – Horus is the Chaos Powers’ dupe to get back at the Emperor. Abaddon will never let this happen. He will never allow himself to be a Pawn of Chaos. Simply surviving without choosing one as a patron is a massive achievement. Never succumbing to the temptation of becoming a daemon prince is a second. Seriously, Abaddon is so driven he’d rather battle and scrape and bite and claw his way up to achieve his goals on his own terms than achieve immortality and virtually limitless power, because the alternative is to open the slightest chink in his independence that the Chaos Gods will exploit. 

If Horus was the vessel that all of the Gods poured their power into (right up until they abandoned him at the end), then Abbadon has become the vessel that the gods want to have for themselves but haven’t been able to claim. They’ve all offered him a chance to be their regent, to rule in their name, and he has turned them all down, playing them off each other. He is the New Emperor in a way that Horus never was or would have been. Abaddon has, through sheer force of will and dominance, made himself more than a pawn, he has made himself kingmaker. If he were to choose one god to serve, if he dedicated the Black Legion to a single power in his name, that God would crush his rivals almost to the point of victory.


Because Chaos can never win against itself, of course, and Abaddon has seen the truth of this. He knows that Chaos is a process, a state, not a goal, and the moment anyone surrenders to the journey and forgets the destination is the moment their worldly ambitions are forgotten and their spirit becomes simply a part of the Chaos Powers. Abaddon is utterly relentless in his pursuit of what he wants – whatever that may actually be. Revenge on the Emperor? Too petty. Vengeance for Horus? Too sentimental. Power? Yes. What kind of power? Mortal power. He could have all the immortal power he can handle if he but asks for it, but that is not what drives him. He sees the Primarchs disappear, fade, die or simply not care anymore and he understands that only a man can really rule other men. Abaddon doesn’t want to destroy the Imperium, he wants to succeed where Horus failed. He wants to be Emperor and have Mankind bow beneath his rule.

His rule, not the rule of the Chaos gods.

Abaddon has not failed because he is wilful or incompetent. He has mustered the greatest armies since the Heresy and unleashed them upon the material universe. He has amassed power and influence within the Eye of Terror greater than any primarch. He has done this through feat of arms and personality, but the one thing he can never truly do, because it is anathema to Chaos, is truly unite the ruinous powers. They can only come together in dominance, not subservience. Whenever Abaddon has been on the brink of victory his backers break ranks, seeking to gain some last-minute short-term advantage.

Ultimately, a win for Abaddon is a loss for Chaos. If he becomes Emperor he has everything he desires and they can hold nothing over him. And so they continue to dangle the carrot, continue to be his patrons, giving him daemonic power and servants, ordering their mortal representatives to debase themselves and serve his will, all in the hope of snatching the final victory of Abaddon for themselves.

It is the Office Politics of Hell. Literally… One of the beliefs surrounding Satan in many Christian theologies is that his defiance of God was his refusal to bow to Man when they were created. In refusing to submit to the rule of mortals, Abaddon carries this analogy perfectly – the Legiones Astartes were created by a god and were never meant to be corralled and curtailed by purely mortal ambitions. As Angels they have a higher purpose – and once had a higher regard in the eyes of their creator, who shunned them.

Quite how much of this Abaddon realises when Horus fails and how much he learns over the next ten thousand years (or three days, depending on warp time) is narratively elastic…

Bearing in mind the warp/ real interface, being the bearer of the Mark of Chaos Ascendant is not just having a shiny star of Chaos imprinted in one’s forehead. It is, when the Chaos gods are bestowing their blessing/ energy, to be the centre of a blazing star, to be surrounded by a coil of ever-replenshing Chaos energy, heralded by choirs of daemons of all powers, suffused with the essence of the four great Chaos Gods. To each worshipper and follower he appears different (much like the Emperor…). He is a schemer, a warrior, a self-centred iconoclast and a survivor. 

But there are the times, after the effort, the glory, of being the conduit of so much power, when he teeters on the precipice of doubt, madness and physical corruption. He stands between mortals and immortals, his ambitions far beyond the understanding of the first, yet incomprehensibly alien to the second; constantly he is failed by the inherent weaknesses of both. 

His enemies circle, material and immaterial, sensing potential weakness. His allies start to disappear. For a while the Chaos Powers are disinterested, choosing to split, becoming self-serving once more, raising up their champions, sometimes alone, sometimes together, hoping that these mortals will rival Abaddon. Yet they never do.

And he wonders if it is vanity. He wonders if he is deserving. He wonders if what he wants is possible.

And then the Powers come back, trying once more to win him to their cause, taunting, threatening, cajoling and coercing Abaddon to become theirs and theirs alone. And he listens, and he wonders. And always, from somewhere deep in his soul, from the darkest yet strongest place in his mind, the answer comes back, hesitant but growing louder with every beat of his twin hearts. 


Yes, one day it will all be yours. 

And he starts the struggle again. The Long War continues. 

August 22, 2013 - Posted by | Uncategorized


  1. Reblogged this on Ramblings from The Trenches and commented:
    Awesome background, I think I finally understand Abaddon. That said, there’s still no way my Chaos Marines would ever want to ally with his mob, but that’s their loss.

    Comment by John | August 22, 2013 | Reply

  2. That is a one cool post.

    For some reason I always thought that “Horus was weak, Horus was fool” part appears when Abaddon had to raise demoralized Sons of Horus to the war again, and he didn’t believed it himself, but had to convince everyone else. Hard to imagine that Abaddon would think of Horus as weak and fool, but that was the only thing to make Sons of Horus change colours and rename themselves.

    BTW, what do you think about new Black Legion supplement? Have you taken any background information in it seriously or just pretended it was never released?

    Comment by Helbrass | August 22, 2013 | Reply

    • I had a lot of feedback for the Black Legion codex, which was mostly just in terms of “scale it much larger” and to request wording changes where it conflicted either with the novel series, or was too passive and made Abaddon out to sound like he repeatedly suffered defeats in things he was supposed to win. There’ll be conflicts between it and the novel series, but a lot of it comes down to intention and the fact that by the time my series reaches those events (if the series even lasts), the codex will be several years old, possibly replaced in a new edition, or… the Dark Gods only know what.

      Comment by Aaron Dembski-Bowden | August 22, 2013 | Reply

      • Eh? I thought you wrote that thing. I haven’t bought or read it myself but I distinctly remember it mentioning Khayon and Telemachon in the BL blog post.

        Comment by Vijay | August 22, 2013 | Reply

      • Vijay, that was the Index Astartes: Death Company article. I wrote that one.

        Comment by Aaron Dembski-Bowden | August 22, 2013 | Reply

      • Ah. Silly me.

        Comment by Vijay | August 23, 2013 | Reply

  3. I cannot wait to read this book man! You are the King of BL man. Nobody else comes close. Thanks for all the great reads ADB. I love the idea of Abaddon having only weakness being basicslly the treachery and nature of Chais itself. That he has fought becoming immortal and all-powerful as a demon prince pretty much sums up his sheer badassery!! Who denies that ultimate reward but Abaddon? That’s supposed to be the point of serving these horrible powers. Only a will of iron could have refused. Anyway, I can’t wait to read your book man. Here’s to ya.

    Comment by bigkingcurd | August 22, 2013 | Reply

  4. Still a better love story than Twilight.

    Comment by Dougal Cochrane | August 22, 2013 | Reply

    • Amen to that.

      Comment by Vijay | August 30, 2013 | Reply

  5. As an aside, I don’t suppose a progress report on ToH is out of order? As in your current wordcount, and how long do you think it’ll take to finish (I’m hoping not too long) 😉

    Comment by Vijay | August 22, 2013 | Reply

  6. Damn. That description of Abaddon is just badass, immensely. This series HAS to be long-running, a trilogy is good but this description of Abaddon demands and deserves that his series be the new Gaunt’s Ghosts. Whomever wrote that archive piece really had something, shame that it’s taken this long for that Abaddon to be recognized. After reading this I am looking forward to the Talon of Horus like never before. 😀

    Comment by Lord of the Night | August 22, 2013 | Reply

  7. All right, you’ve successfully convinced me Abaddon is a badass. Now I’m glad I bought him at Gencon.

    Comment by Peter Hairston | August 22, 2013 | Reply

  8. Awesome 🙂
    Where’s that Tale of 5 Heretics update though?

    Comment by Ead | August 22, 2013 | Reply

  9. So it he officially “Ezykyle” or “Ezekyle”?

    Comment by Khestra the Unbeheld | August 22, 2013 | Reply

    • Ezekyle. Yeah, I just typo’d a name I’d written over 8,000 times in the last 5 months. Go me, I got skills.

      Comment by Aaron Dembski-Bowden | August 22, 2013 | Reply

      • It’s all good, I’m betting even Hemingway had to have a spell-checker.

        Comment by Khestra the Unbeheld | August 22, 2013 | Reply

  10. a shard of sanity in the heart of chaos?!?! brutal!

    Comment by edofthefist | August 22, 2013 | Reply

  11. Great article. Recently I am writing a background for my army of Chaos, The Chosen of Horus, in which Abaddon faces along with some of the heroes villains, the emergence of these.
    The Chosen of Horus are kind of Chaos band formed by an old friend of Abaddon, Aximan (please do not kill him in the novels, is a character that you can benefit substantially), who face the four Gods trading Chaos a fifth (might be called the God of Chaos Undivided), based on Malal, which uses avatars to manifest.
    That if Abaddon is a difficult character to write about it. You can do it too crazy, a murderer, or you can stay short. I’ve written a couple of things from him and it has been difficult, very difficult to do. There is no middle ground.
    I said I love the article.

    Comment by Juan Manuel Vallejo | August 22, 2013 | Reply

  12. Funny how the established weird things about Abaddon(him as Warmaster not being physically or psychically altered after all that time in the Warp, unlike Horus, and him “failling” all the time in his Black Crusades, along with the fact the no other did usurp his power after all that attempts) turns in the end to be the focal point of the current development of his character and story through ADB’s novel(s). The strength and goals of Abaddon proving not to be same as plans of Eternal Powers is really what I hopped that the Abaddon was all about. To see the Warmaster of Chaos use the Chaos instead of acting like its pawn is the true irony and also the true point that goes back to the begginings of Horus Heresy, of everlasting themes of trying to simply use Chaos, to gain mastery over it instead of just surrendering yourself to it. That is why Horus was a fool, and this is a excellent point. Abaddon stayed true to the ideals of Heresy, and that was not bowing to anyone, not the Emperor, not to his Administratum or High Lords, but also not to the Ruionus Powers on the other side. They were always supposed to be the means, not the goals, that is the driving force behing Ezekyle Abaddon. And I think this story has the potential to do him justice, finally. All in all, it should provide very nice cover for all those previous Codex and fluff stories concerning him and his endeavours. And the conflict of the Chaos itself at the center of it expressed through the changing support for Abaddon hoping that this time they will sway him completely instead of just empowering and courting him. This concept has a great potential to it, great depth of themes and I am looking forward to it progressing along this road.

    Comment by Denis Latark | August 22, 2013 | Reply

  13. How can he preserve his sanity when he’s in the middle of it all?
    How can he still have followers if all his crusades failed?
    If he fails as a tactician, how can anyone (mortal or immortal) still see in him a worthy piece (kingmaker or not) in the game?
    Terra will never bow to his will. Chaos will never unite fully under his name. I say that’s pretty much Game Over for old Ezekyle.
    The ‘power’ motivation thing sort of falls short when you realize that at the end of each crusade, he sees his allies bickering, dispersed and his enemies still there, still strong.
    What makes him carry on, despite all odds? He truly is in hell.

    Comment by the_flying_dutchman | August 22, 2013 | Reply

    • Saying that all the his crusades are failures isn’t a very fair view of Abaddon, many times there are strategic goals that have been achieved along the way that set the stage for later battles which are most definitely wins for chaos and Abaddon himself. Also, he walks into every one of these situations knowing that the betrayal and backstabbing will happen. If anything this speaks to his success as a tactician and his ability to fight vs the unknown and roll with the chaotic nature of his kin.

      Comment by edofthefist | August 22, 2013 | Reply

    • I think you miss the point that all of his crusades have not failed?

      Comment by Steve | August 23, 2013 | Reply

      • Look at it from a realistic point of view. Most succeeded, some were less than surplus to requirements and a couple did burn out.

        The Thirteenth actually SUCCEEDED in doing what it set out to do, i.e. break the forces around the Eye of Terror so Chaos forces can go into and out of it *relatively* freely and go wild (hence all the ‘two minutes to midnight’ stuff). The Twelfth gave Abaddon two fecking Blackstone Fortresses and was so destructive to the Imperium they called it ‘the Gothic War.’ The First went so well that Abaddon managed to pick up the most badass daemon sword of them all as a reward and made all his lurrvely pacts with the Gods, all because the Imperium hadn’t caught onto the idea of fortifying the Cadian Gate yet. The Ninth had all that lovely mumbo jumbo at Antecanis which meant he could canoodle round that sector of space at will because so many Imperials died they couldn’t man any ships to stop him.

        On the other end of the spectrum, the Second Crusade is probably the only one I feel that was a catastrophic failure – the Imperium had learnt from last time that they had to fortify the Eye like they’d never fortified anything before, and the Legions, unprepared for such defences, were sent packing in almost no time at all. So maybe THAT one was a failure.

        And then we have some middling ones – like the Seventh, when Abs didn’t actually really do what he set out to do but did manage to slaughter the (almost) entirety of the Blood Angels Chapter, which I suppose does make up for it a little bit. And the Fourth, when he was laying siege to that Kromarch dude and despite having almost all of his warband slaughtered he managed to break into the palace and let a horde of daemons EAT EVERYONE INSIDE.

        It’s war, people. It’s realistic. No, I don’t think Abaddon screwed up 12 times and is about to do so a thirteenth time. But no, I don’t really subscribe to the theory that the previous twelve were all ‘supply runs’ before the motherfucking 13th (although truth be told the 13th was the biggest one yet by a long way). Like Abaddon says to Talos in SH, and like what Aaron’s been trying to tell us for ages – we’re not in Abaddon’s circle of leaders. We can’t judge whether his goals have been met or not (or even know what the hell they truly ARE, as this article points out quite acutely). Each Crusade has had its own unique goals and results, and each one met them differently.

        Hope this helps!

        Comment by Vijay | August 24, 2013 | Reply

      • The Thirteenth is screwed. Quarren has command of the skies, and Abaddon has no reinforcements (AFAIK, this was the result of the campaign that was mounted years ago by GW). Unless he can pull off some serious magic shizzle (which might require him to finally fall over the brink of madness), he ain’t going to be winning this one.

        Comment by TheSGC | August 28, 2013 | Reply

      • To be honest I think the Thirteenth would probably be the war that kills everyone – EVERYONE – on either side. Like I said, all that ‘two minutes to midnight’ stuff…

        And in all fairness in terms of breaking the Gate the Legions have sort of succeeded in their mission… even if their first taste of realspace is almost definitely going to kill them all. You do have a point there.

        And let’s not forget that, thanks to Phil Kelly’s ONE good addition to C:CSM, that with the Crimson Path slowly growing the slaughter of many thousands of Chaos Marines probably isn’t going to be too much of a problem… if ya catch my drift 😉

        Comment by Vijay | August 30, 2013 | Reply

  14. As always, you seem to have found what makes the character of Abaddon tick, and how to make him a multi-dimensional character. I look forward to this!

    Comment by Napoleon | August 22, 2013 | Reply

  15. Which of the 3 models, theres 2 from forge world and the original GW do you think of when your writing Abaddon. Silly question but just trying to get in your head a bit. That said how does the description in Soul Hunter hold after fleshing out his character.

    Comment by keith | August 22, 2013 | Reply

  16. hmm Is this a real jewel Aaron?
    hmm Is this a real jewel Aaron?
    ok so lets get on with it. (Btw I don’t like Horus but I think that he deserves an advocate)
    At first we should remember about one thing: Horus was a primarch. I’ve read every book from Heresy series and in every one you can see that there is a great difference between marine and the primarch. In every aspect their level is unreachable for the marine. So how could anyone said that Abaddon could be superior to his father? Unless we will have such statement in a BL book it’s impossible.

    Assuming that Horus was just a Pawn of Chaos is just wrong. As we can read In „Fear to Tread” Horus was not a pawn. I don’t want to spoil this great book but there is a proof of this. Of course somebody could say that it also was a Tzeench’s plan but this kind of arguments leads us to nowhere. After this you can’t save Abaddon or anyone in WH40k universe.

    “If he were to choose one god to serve, if he dedicated the Black Legion to a single power in his name, that God would crush his rivals almost to the point of victory.”
    Really? Could 300k marines could destroy demonic legions in EoT? And 3 gods? Me think that this is just silly. Marines are the real power in real universe, not in the warp.

    “Abaddon has not failed because he is wilful or incompetent.”
    Of course. He is a great general of chaos forces but as far as Cabal was right, chaos cannot win in the war with empire. It will burn out and the gods will die. This universe is about conflict and war, on earth, as it is in hell.

    “Quite how much of this Abaddon realises when Horus fails and how much he learns over the next ten thousand years”
    Again, can marine be wiser then a primarch? Can he be a greater tactician then Horus? Can some marine be a better builder than Perdurabo? As far as we can read in books: NO!!!
    so Abaddon while he is a cool character, is not greater, better then his father. No matter how much sb loves him.
    That txt looks old, is it from time before Heresy book come out?

    Comment by Anim | August 22, 2013 | Reply

    • I’m sure you’re right, and every iota of research I’ve done; everyone I’ve spoken to at GW about this subject; and every slice of published lore so far is wrong. Or maybe there’s more to it than the fairly shallow reading you’re putting across.

      You are the reason I dreaded writing this series. Unwavering opinions like these. The interpretations that don’t realise they’re interpretations – that begin “You’re wrong…” and keep powering on with that belief, never looking back.

      Comment by Aaron Dembski-Bowden | August 22, 2013 | Reply

      • gan on yourself aaron you are the one laying down the groundwork here so you get to decide whats what , people like this is why i gave up on heresyonline i love 40k/HH and thought here is a group i can mix with instead what i find is a group of people who moan and whine about nearly every book written if it even slightly deviates from their own perceived ideas, anyhoo rant over ,i have complete faith you will give abaddon his due and believe this series of books should become the backbone of the 40k series whereas i really enjoy them 40k feels a bit random and without direction and i think this would help give it a focus point,and on a final note hope you have something special lined up for horus aximand i think he is a character with a surprise or two up his sleeve, keep up the good work .

        Comment by dickiesworkshop | August 22, 2013 | Reply

      • I always find it odd when people argue these interpretations when, as far as I know, most of what we “know” comes from codex or background books… which are basically propaganda for whatever their favored faction is. I do enjoy speculating and trying to connect the dots, but its important to understand that most of our sources are flawed accounts at best.

        The HH books have shown, often, that the primarchs are all very flawed. Physically badass, but very flawed. In the opening trilogy especially, Primarch and Astartes alike sought counsel of mortals. Physicality has nothing to do with insight or intellect, and being a genious does not make one wise. As far as being an unreachable level goes, for an average astartes I would agree. Abaddon is not average. He witnessed and took part in events that are beyond imagination, he saw demi-gods clash and die (and more importantly what led to it), he has an intimate knowledge of the warp based on experience, and he has 10,000 years of knowledge. I don’t think he could take Horus one on one; but be a better leader? Why the fuck not? He’s in the unique position of being able to learn from the mistakes of EVERY primarch as well as the big E (he outlives all of them, basically).

        At the time of “Know no Fear”, Horus does not appear to be a pawn. That is correct. That is also not the end of HH. There is still a ways to go I think. Fulgrim seemed fine when he got his new sword…

        *sigh* anyway, A D-B, I’m pretty stoked for this. So can you maybe… write faster?

        Comment by Suicide-Man | August 23, 2013 | Reply

    • ummm….malcador the sigillite? ur argument is invalid.

      Comment by edofthefist | August 22, 2013 | Reply

    • “can marine be wiser then a primarch?”
      Sure they can, are you suggesting that Angron was wiser than marines, by virtue of being a primarch?
      Are you suggesting that the Night Haunter was wiser than marines (and humans) by virtue of being a primarch?
      The list goes on and on. One of the interesting things for me about the heresy books, is adding depth to the primarchs. Suggesting that marines are human + 1 and primarchs human + 2 on all levels is silly. They might be stronger, tougher, more intelligent. But that’s not where wisdom comes from. Some of them might be wise, but I don’t think that’s because of their primarch nature. Horus is focused on ambition, the horus heresy books, and even the old fluff made that pretty abundantly clear. Horus was focused on horus, just read how quickly he reaches the point of deciding that marines and humans he should care about need to die. And it makes sense, in that context, that he’d reach for as much power as he could. His entire style, was to go for the shock and awe alpha strike on the enemy and decapitate them. Sure, he didn’t rush to the throne as soon as Istvaan V played out, he took his time, but he was corralling his forces, and setting up the play. But at the end of the day, it was all about maximising his forces and minimising his opponents. I can imagine he’d have been bargaining like crazy for chaotic power. I love the idea that the primarchs that still exist as daemon princes, are to use the culture parlance (love that reference, pity Mr Banks is no longer with us) “sublimed” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Sublimed) and no longer really creatures of mortal concern. They are likely to be embroiled in the power structures of the immaterium, and at best mercurially supportive of any mortal conflict.
      Wisdom comes from experience, and experience comes often from losing. So, perhaps the primarchs (by and large) were among the least wise beings in control of such forces. It’s one issue I’ve always had with Ender’s War as a work of fiction (issues with the author aside), is that you learn more from losing, than you do from winning. If the real world can teach us anything about those geniuses who are on top of the world before flaming out, it’s that being on top via intellect along and never losing is a recipe for critical failure at a later stage. Horus might have been the “brightest and best” of the primarchs, but like (i feel) Johnson, Dorn and Guilliman he could have learned a few things from Alpharius/Kurze/Russ. These three primarchs, I feel, would have been the least likely to “fall” to chaos on the basis of hubris/promises of power on the basis of cynicism alone. I feel like Sanguinius and Ferrus Mannus would resist chaos on the basis of “dumb” loyalty/guilt, rather than cynicism of the chaos gods willingness/ability to deliver.

      So yes, I think Horus was a fool, and I feel like it will be great to understand why.
      Why did the chaos gods back away from Horus at the last minute?

      Comment by coddswallop | August 23, 2013 | Reply

      • I suppose we’ll find out soon enough 😉

        Comment by Vijay | August 23, 2013 | Reply

    • Anim, please shut up and stop spoiling the enthusiasm with your pedantic waffling. Nobody appreciates it.

      Comment by Megapope | August 23, 2013 | Reply

    • Indeed a marine cannot surpass his father primarch but let’s not forget about the circumstances and the powers that the Gods of chaos may bestow upon him. Also a marine does not have to have better mind to finish what his father couldn’t, he just has to think differently or take on measures that his father didn’t. When two warriors face each other, the weaker one might beat the greater through cheating or getting help somehow.

      I’m not saying that Abaddon is better than Horus but maybe he’s got a better chance now that all the primarchs are dead and the imperium is definitely not like it was during the good old days when the emperor used to walk amongst his men.

      Comment by RoganDorn | August 25, 2013 | Reply

      • A marine can totally surpass his father Primarch. Look at Horus’s accomplishments. Now look at Abaddons. Now add that Abaddon is still alive. this = surrpassed 😀

        Comment by edofthefist | September 17, 2013 | Reply

    • Several of the points that you have made are either using flawed examples or logic that I fail to understand. For example if abaddon dedicated himself to one chaos god, that god would give him the power to destroy Abaddon’s rivals, which aren’t necessarily the other three gods. And the reference to the Cabal’s prophecy is actually the opposite, that if chaos was defeated at first, they would endure and continue to attack the decaying imperium until they finally won and chaos would rule everything. I think abaddon has a good chance of succeeding, because while he hasn’t succeeded in destroying the imperium, with every crusade they have fewer and fewer resources tonight back with. Chaos is eternal and patient, so eventually the imperium will become weak enough for them to destroy. It’s abaddons job to make that final goal easier in the long run, and keep the chaos legions from destroying each other completely until it happens.

      Comment by Liam Grove | October 3, 2013 | Reply

  17. Shivers. Down. My. Spine.

    At the same time I’m fascinated by the idea that the surviving Primarchs have faded or stopped caring. That’s a mind-blowing concept… that, say, Lorgar might just be… bored. I guess even immortality starts to feel the same after a while…

    Comment by bittermanandy | August 22, 2013 | Reply

    • not sure but i think the daemon primarchs are engaged in the great game , aaron will know for sure i think details like this still need to be fleshed out properly , it will be interesting times when we get to it.

      Comment by dickiesworkshop | August 22, 2013 | Reply

    • Yep, but that’s one of the least new.controversial aspects of this, I reckon. I mean, The Daemon Primarchs have (almost…) always been presented as ascended beyond caring about the material realm. They’re mostly lost in the Great Game, caring nothing for the Imperium at large.

      Comment by Aaron Dembski-Bowden | August 22, 2013 | Reply

      • Hmm, that actually sounds a bit…pathetic of them. “Once, you were full of life and passion. Now look at you, you apathetic tool of the Warp, AureliiAGH!” “splat”.

        Comment by Max | August 22, 2013 | Reply

      • The others? Maybe. But Lorgar? I find that hard to believe.
        Heck, I wouldn’t be surprised if Erebus and Kor Phaeron FECKING LOCKED HIM IN that massive temple just so they could have some fun with the Legion.

        Comment by Vijay | August 23, 2013 | Reply

      • Totally agreeing with Vijay there. I always found that setup with the Basilika very very suspicious.

        Comment by Liliedhe | August 23, 2013 | Reply

  18. So deep and thought provoking. Where does this leave the champions of the gods? Are they stuck playing the game? Does Kharn receive a text message on his skull phone saying to go to such and such and kill things? Im loving it so far.

    Comment by keith | August 22, 2013 | Reply

  19. Nice. It’s a cycle, but perhaps a (icky chaos evilness aside) a virtuous one, a tide that builds over time. Black Crusade, do damage, get limited goals, followers drift off, regather their strength, come back for next one, rinse and repeat getting a little further each time. The Long War indeed.

    I always thought that the reason Abaddon refused ascension to daemon prince is because it wasn’t enough. He wouldn’t accept superiors (now) in the mortal realm, why accept them in the warp? Eventually he could gather enough for a Slaanesh-level ascension, to take his place alongside or possibly above the other gods. But first of course he has to overcome/dominate the Imperium to set that up.

    Comment by sonsoftaurus | August 23, 2013 | Reply

  20. After ADB’s comment about Clancy Brown for an aubio book version. The Queen song from Highlander. I maybe see paralells between Abaddon and the Kurgan. Intersting idea. I dont know if I could get Mr. Crabs out of my head for an Audio book.

    Comment by keith | August 23, 2013 | Reply

  21. Just reading this post is such a privilege, thank you Aaron ❤

    Comment by Daniel | August 23, 2013 | Reply

  22. Reblogged this on The Shell Case and commented:
    So. Much. Awesome.

    Comment by Phil | August 23, 2013 | Reply

  23. See this is one of the things I love the most about Black Library. They are empowered by GW to take preexisting background and use that as the foundation for narratives that provide both expansion on the original idea and further clarity. These new versions of the same original material then become the new benchmark, the new party line as it were.

    Which is why it is always hilarious when you get the self-appointed ‘Protectors of the Fluff’ coming in one copper-plated stallions waving their cheap swords and crying “Nay! This contradiction shall not stand.” They can argue that the previous thinner version of events is sacred and cannot be altered, but their argument is always issues forth from a head already buried in the sand.

    I mean just as you during your research poured over every piece of source material you could find, so too will future writers of future Codex iterations use this book as their source material. You could be directly influencing how Chaos is written in a few years time. Its a fabulous circle of creation.

    How does that prospect make you feel?

    Comment by Alex Edwards | August 23, 2013 | Reply

  24. Aaron, I hope you’ll take what I’m about to post as a compliment rather than complaining, but… as awesome and interesting as that sounds (and it really does) I just can’t get past the fact that like approximately 95% of the Black Libraries output, that is still Yet More Space Marines.

    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with writing books about Space Marines you understand, but it’s just that there’s so much more to 40k and yet a quick browse through the Black Libraries “Coming Soon section” is reads like “Space Marines, Space Marines, Space Marines, Space Marines, Space Marines, Cain, Space Marines Space Marines, Space Marines, Gotrek & Felix, Space Marines, Space Marines…”.

    I was rereading recently the amazing things Dan Abnett achieved with Pariah and his Inquisition series generally, and it makes me slightly sad inside to know that with so much of your writing time taken up with the Horus Heresy series and now this open ended Abbadon thing I might never get to see you tackle something similar. Your work is quite a bit different from Dan’s so It’d be pretty cool to see what you came up with.

    TL:DR I just want you to know that if you wrote something about an inquisitor, or about power struggles in a really fucked up and corrupt Hive City, or a rouge trader or something I would read the ever living fuck out of it. Just sayin’.

    Comment by Tim Ward | August 24, 2013 | Reply

    • Theres not enough space marine stuff!
      They always have humans hanging about mucking things up. I dont like how some authors use the humans to as a sub plot to describe Astartas and carry along the plot. Dont get me wrong theres a place for menials but come on so many?

      Comment by keith | August 25, 2013 | Reply

      • I know it didn’t happen this way, but I’d love to imagine that Aaron read this comment and thought, “You reckon?” and that’s how we got SPEAR OF THE EMPEROR.

        Comment by Chris Adams | January 8, 2023 | Reply

  25. That’s a really good take on Abaddon. I’ve always thought of him as the chief cat herder for the mortal forces of chaos. It’s definitely the nature of chaos itself that always stops him in the end.

    The fact that he is consistently able to build an army capable of smashing through the most heavily guarded passage in the galaxy speaks volumes about his abilities as a leader.

    And as for his capacity to outstrip Horus. Abaddon has been fighting uphill wars for 10,000 years against a huge force that knows he is coming. And he’s been playing the deadliest political game with the chaos powers every moment of that time. Being defeated,and clawing back from that defeat every time.

    By comparison Horus played solder for 250 years throwing overwhelming force against mostly soft opponents. It wasn’t until the heresy that he had any serious battles to fight. Even then he had other primarchs working for him.

    Comment by Aurenian | August 25, 2013 | Reply

    • ‘chief cat herder’ is a lovely summation, kudos for that one.

      Comment by DamonD | August 28, 2013 | Reply

  26. Aaron. if you were to compare Abaddon to a famous tyrant or dictator in history or maybe to a character from a Shakespeare’s play, then who would it be? just like Horus to Macbeth. Thanks.

    Comment by RoganDorn | August 25, 2013 | Reply

    • Now is the winter of our discontent, make glorious summer by this Son of Horus…

      Comment by Nurglitch | August 28, 2013 | Reply

      • And all the clouds that lour’d upon our house
        In the deep bosom of the ocean buried.

        Comment by RoganDorn | September 7, 2013 | Reply

  27. Ohh man you are a bad ass … i wish you was the one writing the blood angels novels… but im glad you are doing this amazing research and analysis for abaddon .. black legion is my second army!!! Keep on the good work bro..it sounds amazing

    Comment by hernan motley rodriguez | August 26, 2013 | Reply

  28. The odd thing for me is how can a mortal (even an astartes) have the willpower to resist the Chaos Gods? Unless he does actually submit a little bit to whoever shouts the loudest last, so he is in a constant motion between all Gods. Even the Emp couldn’t keep his projects free from daemonic attention – why can one of his projects be staunch all by themselves,

    Irrespective of whether or not this makes sense, there is always the out of a ‘holo-deck’ episode – it is all a Tzeentchian plot and Abaddon only thinks he thinks this way.

    Comment by Denzark | August 28, 2013 | Reply

  29. How about Master of Mankind?

    Comment by TheSGC | August 28, 2013 | Reply

  30. Reblogged this on SquigCast and commented:
    Excellent pseudo-psychology of Abaddon and the Black Legion that really made sense to me. ADB can be trusted with the Universe. If there is a word more powerful than trusted I would use that.


    Comment by natesatan | August 30, 2013 | Reply

  31. Awesome, it’s good to finally hear positive and interesting things about Abaddon !
    Though what I’m looking forward to the most, is to understand how he came from his near-worship of Horus to “Horus was weak. Horus was a fool.” …. (I like Space Marines who are fiercely loyal to their fathers, it makes me squee like the hopeless fangirl I am.)
    Anyway, I can’t wait to read this series, and I wish you good luck with your writing and research. I know it’ll be awesome, because you never disappoint ^_-

    Comment by Jade | September 2, 2013 | Reply

  32. Here comes a not so coherent rambling about Abaddon and the Black Legion:)

    I think Abaddon suffers from some fatal flaws, none of which are really his fault. More a fault of how he and the Black Legion have been portrayed. First off, for the longest of time, the bad guys (not that the Imperium can be considered good, but you get my point) was not allowed to win. I think the first book I actually read were chaos won, was Storm of Iron(don´t know if that was the first, but for me it was a first experience with chaos coming out on top), for which Graham has earned a place among my favorite authors.

    Abaddon, and by extension the Black legion never seemed all that dangerous, you know they would win the battles, but would ultimately lose the war, sure they might get a few new toys that they could use in the next crusade. But being the bad guys, you know, no matter the toys, they were just never allowed to get the big wins. This sort of took the scary out of them.

    Think it would have been really cool if they actually took Cadia that would have made them into something truly awesome.

    As for Abaddon, He is unfairly compared to the primarchs(This probably comes from the rumors that he is a clone of Horus). Sure he probably would get butchered and raped if he went up against a primarch one on one.

    But he is something else; he is the arch enemy of the mortal world. He is not a god like creature like the primarchs. He is a mortal, and that, I think is one of the coolest thing about him, even though he has fallen, even though he is a powerhouse of unimaginable proportions , he is still mortal.

    As for me the thing I love the most about Abaddon, is the Horus, Abaddon relationship. For me he still loves his dear old dad. But like many, he find it easier to blame and hate instead of feeling shame of failing his father. So he say things like “horus was a fool”, because its easier.

    I also think that it is unfair to compare them to each other, Horus is the loyal son who turned against his father, his war was atleast to me more personal, Horus against the father that betrayed him. Abaddon for me is more of an anti christ, he has devoted himself to chaos, not because of something personal, but because he want power to rule, or to destroy, don´t think he himself know what he would do if he actually won the long war.

    Well, this is the end of a not so coherent ramble, from a person who sucks at English:)

    Comment by Sleepy | September 2, 2013 | Reply

    • Then in that respects he’s akin to Malekith from fantasy battle. Happy to damn the world to perdition while having eyes only for the Phoenix Crown.

      Comment by tBL.hates.Eldar | February 25, 2014 | Reply

  33. Here’s my take: Abaddon is the sneakiest git in the galaxy this side of the Laughing God. He is, not coincidentally, its greatest juggler (even with that lightning claw).

    Why? Abaddon knows he’s got to keep Chaos happy but also knows it can’t be trusted – likewise with the other traitor legions. Abaddon, despite being a total monster, is also a rational actor. He doesn’t want to be a Daemon Prince because that would deny him victory in the physical universe. He wants and needs to win as a man (albeit a genetically modified one), because that is the (quasi-)sane and human thing to do. Because, irony upon ironies, Abaddon values his own humanity and humanity as a whole. He just wants to dominate and enslave it at the same time.

    So here is where the cunning comes in. Abaddon knows that Chaos ebbs and flows and that he can’t rely on it. On the other hand, he also knows that the Imperium is a physical thing and physical things break – eventually. So all he has to do is keep having Black Crusades, riding in and out on the tide and slowly, relentlessly, chipping away at the Imperium each and every time. Remember, in the Eye of Terror, time flows differently, so Abaddon can be patient. Whereas, for the Imperium, each Black Crusade deals it a blow that it may or may not be able to recover from.

    Also, Abaddon isn’t out to destroy the Imperium, per se, so much as the Emperor. One needs an empire to rule, after all, and without the Emperor, there will still be an Imperium that needs a new ruler. True, he will have to slaughter billions upon billions of its manpower to do this, but there are billions more potential slaves. Omelettes, broken eggs – you get the point.

    Right now, the 13th Black Crusade seems to be going well. But Abaddon knows it will run out of momentum eventually. The Imperium will be weaker at the end of it, however, and that’s the real aim. One day, Abaddon will be able to take the gate and the palace. Then he will begin his rule – and everyone, Chaos included, will have much to fear.

    There is, of course, one problem. We are in the time of ending, and Abaddon isn’t the only one who’s slowly killing the Imperium. The Orks, the Necrons, the Tyranids. the Tau and Tzeentch-Only-Knows-What-Else are also assailing the Imperium and slowly killing it. This means the Long Game strategy is under threat; Abaddon may either end up with no humans at all to rule, or with such a riven and sundered excuse for an Imperium that he won’t be able to save it, let alone be its master.

    But Abaddon is, as said, a sneaky git. He knows all the other threats are helping his strategy along – he just has to make sure they don’t destroy the Imperium before he can take it over. So he sends out a raid here, and a mass invasion there, slowing down or eliminating any Waargh or Hive Fleet that’s getting a bit too successful for its own good. He just needs to be patient and to keep juggling – and in time, the son will exceed the father.

    Comment by Truculent Sheep (@TruculentSheep) | September 4, 2013 | Reply

  34. I like the idea of him rejecting Chaos as anything but a tool, but – if Abaddon’s purely focused on replacing the Emperor, why rely on Chaos in the first place instead of trying to recreate the Dark Age of Technology at some point beyond the Astronomicon? A rebuilt Legion with archeotech weapons would be scarier than repeated frontal assaults against the Cadian Gate.
    Obviously you’ve got to work with the existing constraints of lore, but one of the main idiot balls in 40K is the attitude to technology among people who don’t need to maintain the strictures of the AdMech – do the books cover why he’s dipping into the office politics of hell instead of just going down the route of the Logicians from Dark Heresy?

    Comment by rubbishatusernames | September 4, 2013 | Reply

    • I suppose that Abba doesn’t really need DAoT devices to trash the Imperium – he’s got access to more than enough Chaos artefacts and reality bending powers, so hyper-technology itself is pretty redundant.

      Comment by Truculent Sheep (@TruculentSheep) | September 5, 2013 | Reply

    • Presumably becuase he’s not foolish enough to restart something that has already failed. The Dark Age of Technology ended in the Long Night after all.

      Comment by Emil Söderman | October 28, 2013 | Reply

  35. Who or What exactly do I have to do to get access to this Archive to end all Archives?

    Comment by sycopat | September 5, 2013 | Reply

  36. Nice ideas.

    As mentioned, I always felt that Abbadon was simply patient. Each crusade breaks, but each crusade weaknes the Imperium. It is a temporal creation, but Abbadon is not (well, not in the Eye of Terror anyways)

    Comment by Emil Söderman | October 28, 2013 | Reply

  37. I love the idea of apathetic primarch’s reminds me of Douglas Adams “The long dark teatime of the soul”

    Comment by Dragons Claw | October 30, 2013 | Reply

  38. That’s the one thing that always bugged me about abaddon. He always gets “defeated” but he is still the prime chaos leader (aside from the gods). It makes a lot more sense that the only thing holding him back is chaos. Kind of like a guy building a house only for his contractors to knock it down at the end so he keeps working for them.
    One thing I want see is what the primarchs think of abaddon. I know he meets a few of them and ends up cutting deals with them (image of gangster looking primarchs smoking cigars wearing jewellery and flashy suits meeting don abaddon in some chaos casino back room suddenly comes to mind)

    Also are you going to kill off iskandor at the end like in the night lords trilogy, the first heretic, and betrayer?? Or will he get a “just as planned” escape

    Comment by Harry who likes strawberry milk | February 19, 2015 | Reply

    • Interesting point, Harry. Though as regards Khayon, he’ll live past a trilogy, as it’s looking to be a long-running series rather than just three books.

      Comment by Aaron Dembski-Bowden | February 19, 2015 | Reply

  39. Was writing about this article on the 30k Heresy boards….

    I really like this explaination. I do however think that any article on him does need to address the comedy-Abaddon that came out guns blazing with that armless Abaddon thread on /TG all those years ago. The problem to me has always been that very few BL or other GW people ever really admit that the old fluff for the Black Crusades was badly thought out in the long run. It was so sparsely written and then placed beside story after story after story of Imperial/Astartes victories that people couldn’t help but see Abaddon and his black crusades as hopeless failures, because nothing was really written about them going well and succeeding in any real detail. Even Battlefleet Gothic’s fluff, which I think is one of the best things written in 40k as a whole, has Chaos ‘losing but being some sort of wibbly wobbly future threat, wooooooo’. This repeats again and again and is only now really being addressed, and even today the stories of Chaos’ successes are few and far between compared to the Imperium kicking bottom left, right and centre.

    Deepest apologies, but I really hate it when you or any other BL author/editor, such as Laurie Goulding on TFE (sorry), mentions or goes on about something like ‘the archive to end all archives’, or ‘my chats with Rick Priestly/Alan Merrett/Other’ as a source. It’s not a source that the fans in general have access to, and it’s annoying when you bump into the ‘I know more, but I am not allowed to share it with you’ stuff. I sincerely doubt it’s your decision or intention to smack fans around the face with it, but it remains supremely irritating to me personally. On the other side, it is really good to see at least some of the behind the scenes stuff, so despite this I really do appreciate you and the few other authors/editors who do try to engage with community despite the overwhelming negativity you must receive sometimes, I simply wish to reserve the right to grumble about it occasionally.

    The other thing I dislike is the whole ‘Abaddon will never be a pawn of chaos’ thing, because since when has that been a choice anyone gets? I’ve never seen it explained in any detail why Abaddon is so special compared to anyone else in somehow being able to avoid being manipulated. Compare him to Ahriman*, who also desires not be a pawn of Tzeentch, but it always written as ultimately being manipulated by him.

    “Horus was the vessel that all of the Gods poured their power into (right up until they abandoned him at the end), then Abbadon has become the vessel that the gods want to have for themselves but haven’t been able to claim. They’ve all offered him a chance to be their regent, to rule in their name, and he has turned them all down, playing them off each other. He is the New Emperor in a way that Horus never was or would have been. Abaddon has, through sheer force of will and dominance, made himself more than a pawn, he has made himself kingmaker. If he were to choose one god to serve, if he dedicated the Black Legion to a single power in his name, that God would crush his rivals almost to the point of victory.”

    The problem with this sort of writing is that’s all the detail we get in background books and codexes, there’s no detail there about how and why Abaddon can do this, which leads to people dismissing it in favour of the plentiful, detailed novels/games/whathaveyou of various people handing Abaddon and his forces their collective butts on silver platters. Or just reposting that old /TG story about Creed vs Abaddon in some of giant unholy online echo chamber.

    Abaddon is undoubtedly a superior field commander and warrior, but what’s makes it so that he’s never a pawn of chaos and others like Ahriman are? I hope that your future Black Legion books give a better answer to this than we’ve gotten so far. I love the first one and it’s definitely your second best book (The First Heretcic still wins for me because it made Lorgar awesome), but you’re still dealing with a long legacy of GW refusing to engage well with it’s fans (which I’ve always thought is the main root of a lot of this sort of ‘HAHA Failbaddon’ stuff.)

    *I’ve also been following along with John French’s excellent Ahriman books, which does start to give answers to these sorts of questions, but I think it’s still hard for people to get over decades of laughing about how incongruous these characters short write ups appear next to numerous stories of their defeats. And some very funny people on the internet drawing silly pictures about them.

    Comment by Zeratil | May 27, 2015 | Reply

    • A lot of that rings true, but a lot of it is also stuff that no one in the company will mention because they either don’t see it as a problem faced by the majority of fans, or because – let’s be honest – frank and detailed explanations outside of presenting the lore in publications still rarely go down well; get endlessly argued with; attract more bile; and simply aren’t what, well, any company does with its license, really.

      Now don’t get me wrong here, as someone on both sides of the curtain I know your frustrations intimately – often to a much severer degree than a lot of fans, because I’m frequently the one facing the fact that everything I write, every day, may be “right” but is still fighting decades of memes and will never be taken seriously by some, or considered a retcon by others, and so on. This is something I’m as painfully aware of as anyone in 40K, I’m sure. But there’s a flip side to that: you mention how aggravating it is for you to hear tell of these archives and talks that aren’t open to the public – and that’s a perfectly valid angle to take. But the reverse side to that is that the novels we write literally are the manifestation of those conversations and archives; they are the truth you’re saying you can’t see – they just take a long time to write and you can’t put everything in the first one of a series. And on top of that, I don’t think you’ll find anyone else involved in 40K’s IP that spends as much time and effort online doing what they can to explain all of this stuff to the fans, with the intention of parting the curtain and helping out. I have thousands of posts on several 40K forums in the last 5 years, and have lore-heavy blog entries like this in the same vein.

      I get the aggravation, trust me. I get the lack of detail and nuance in the past. But I do what I can in and out of my published work, and it’s not a small amount.

      Comment by Aaron Dembski-Bowden | May 27, 2015 | Reply

      • Sorry if that came off a bit harsh!

        “A lot of that rings true, but a lot of it is also stuff that no one in the company will mention because they either don’t see it as a problem faced by the majority of fans, or because – let’s be honest – frank and detailed explanations outside of presenting the lore in publications still rarely go down well; get endlessly argued with; attract more bile; and simply aren’t what, well, any company does with its license, really.”

        They are probably right on both counts ultimately, but I live in hope that the teenagers I see in GW and occasionally play against will grow up to be as bitter and twisted as I am. Although given the moves towards more books, more Heresy and more stuff generally, maybe they won’t, and that would be a good day.

        “But the reverse side to that is that the novels we write literally are the manifestation of those conversations and archives; they are the truth you’re saying you can’t see – they just take a long time to write and you can’t put everything in the first one of a series. And on top of that, I don’t think you’ll find anyone else involved in 40K’s IP that spends as much time and effort online doing what they can to explain all of this stuff to the fans, with the intention of parting the curtain and helping out. I have thousands of posts on several 40K forums in the last 5 years, and have lore-heavy blog entries like this in the same vein.”

        Absolutely, I wish more authors took the time to interact in these ways. I can see why they choose not to though, there is as you say a lot of arguing and bile out there and people like yourself and Laurie are undoubtedly on the receiving end of more than your fair share because people think/hope/pray you will read the words that they have typed so desperately by hammering their faces into the keyboard at three in the morning (not excluding myself there). I dearly hope you continue to do so, I appreciate it, and I’m sure a lot of fans of the setting do as well…
        It may not come across much in the post, but I do appreciate that you take the time and effort in this area, it’s great to see you on B&C debating along with everyone else. It’s also great to see that more of these stories, particularly the ones from the point of view of Chaos, are getting told now. I’m not sooo keen on the pure volume of stuff BL seems to be producing these days (I’m not convinced by the model/tie-in writing approach), but the quality of the stuff I personally want to buy and read just keeps getting better and more varied. I’m really looking forward to the upcoming books (I keep checking Graham and John’s websites for news on Crimson King and Ahriman: Unchanged) and I am just naturally impatient, I mean, I can read the book in a few hours, surely you can write it in that time to? That’s how writing works isn’t it?

        Comment by Zeratil | May 29, 2015 | Reply

  40. Just wanted to say that I read Talon of Horus a few months ago and it’s one of the best BL pieces I’ve read. Is there an estimated date for the second book?

    Comment by Taff | December 27, 2015 | Reply

    • Hopefully towards the end of next year. I can’t guarantee it, though. And thank you so much, Taff! Always appreciate the feedback.

      Comment by Aaron Dembski-Bowden | December 27, 2015 | Reply

  41. “Horus was weak. Horus was a fool.”

    So sayeth Abaddon, right before failing to conquer a quarter of what Horus did in ten thousand years of striving. 😛

    Comment by Rogue 9 | December 20, 2016 | Reply

    • It’s sort of horrifying that anyone could think that, knowing the lore. Or even after reading all this.

      Comment by Aaron Dembski-Bowden | December 20, 2016 | Reply

  42. […] of Horus by Dembinsky-Bowden I actually wanted to have a decent Abaddon figure. The book does a really, really good job describing him as an interesting, three dimensional, complex character you can actually relate to, so obviously I […]

    Pingback by Grim Skull Miniatures – Master Of Crusade (Abaddon) | The Butterfingered Modelbuilder's Adventures | April 8, 2019 | Reply

  43. I first wanted to say, I love your work. The Black Legion series is easily in my Top 3 Warhammer stories, I love your take on Abaddon and his followers, the way they try to define themselves against Chaos even as they’re awash in its power, and become its face to the Galaxy.

    There’s one thing in this particular post that’s been confusing me, though.

    “If he becomes Emperor, he has everything he desires, and they can hold nothing over him.”
    I don’t quite get this?

    Even if he’s technically still the owner of his soul, it seems to me like politically, he’s firmly in the clutches of the Gods, no? Let me run down how this thing look to me.

    Abaddon is a leader of the forces of Chaos, and if not in heart, then in public statement conquers in Its name. Yes, the Ezekarion are personally loyal to him and his dream of the Long War, of conquest, vindicta, and Space Marine Supremacy.

    But isn’t Abaddon’s rule, his legitimacy as the Warmaster of Chaos, dependent upon the approval of the gods? Even if many of the Black Legion are personally loyal to him, the massive swarms of mortal cultists that make up his average followers, and the associated warbands, follow him not as the Warmaster of the Black Legion, not even as the Warmaster of the Traitor Legions, but as the Warmaster of Chaos.

    So, what happens when Abaddon sits in the Imperial Palace? He’s ravaged the Imperium, unleashing warpstorms across the galaxy. The areas under “his” control are ruled by Chaos Worshippers, and the rank and file of his armies, and the average people, are also Chaos worshippers. He’s just finished bashing in the heads of most of the people who are most firmly anti-Chaos, who consider him almost synonymous with the Gods. He might be the Master of Mankind, but by the will of the gods. How can he turn upon the Chaos Gods from there? Abaddon’s had enough of a hard time attempting to unify the forces of Chaos with the approval of the Gods. If he publicly turned on them, would not his Empire instantly rip itself apart, as every pious Chaos worshipper and every ambitious follower of Chaos starts getting visions that Abaddon’s a double heretic and that the throne’s open for the taking? And I don’t see a gradual path from “Empire of Chaos” to “Secular Empire of Mankind wisely ruled over by Space Marines.”

    It seems to me as if, as hard as he protests, ultimately he’s just as caught in the clutches of the Gods as Ahriman and Fabius, if not more so.

    Is there something wrong with my understanding of Abaddon? If so, what am I misunderstanding?

    Comment by Nonevah ed | June 12, 2019 | Reply

  44. This might sound rude, but I think you’re not being very objective in your works. You tend to fanboy way too much over certain characters while simultaneously undermining those you dislike. Furthermore, you also like to buff characters because “reasons”, apparently Abaddon is the new emperor, he even seems to be even getting his powers. Even though the emperor was supposed to be a wholly unique being equal to the 4 Chaos Gods. But let’s ignore that part. You set things in stone when the greatest thing about 40k is the limitless field of personal interpretation.

    Long story short, Abaddon is rightfully viewed as a failure due to not enough lore presenting him as a credible threat, blaming that on the memes or the community is immature. The new lore on Abaddon is equally as unimpressive. Horus was the real deal he actually did something. Abaddon can bearly beat Calgar, before needing to run away.

    Comment by TheHardTruthToSwallow | May 10, 2020 | Reply

    • The fact that you believe even a single sentence of those weird assumptions about my motivations shows your agenda, not mine. In terms of “buffing” Abaddon, you do realise none of this essay is mine, right? That it’s made up of a collection of notes from various 40K creators and IP devs? That it’s not my “opinion”?

      It even says it in the essay: “So, here. These aren’t my words – they’re from The Archive to End All Archives. The crowning jewel of said archive, as it happens. It aligns with the general consensus on Abaddon, but how it was phrased just resonated with me like nothing else quite had before.”

      However, if you think novels like The Master of Mankind, The Talon of Horus, or Black Legion set anything in stone instead of being brazen, blatant invocations of various unreliable narrators, then… you’ve dangerously and completely missed the point of them. Literally nothing in those first-person books is objective (it couldn’t be lampshaded any harder without going into awkward parody), and something like TMoM goes to great pains to show every character is viewing the very same events through wildly different lenses.

      And for the record, literally the entire point of all this stuff is that I agree with his previous lore presentations being shaky in a lot of respects, which is why several of the GW brass and 40K’s original creators said “Okay, this is the real deal with Abaddon, make sure the novels go along with this angle and along with the very old lore, not X or Y or Z.” That’s the whole point of this essay, and other essays like it behind the scenes. It isn’t my opinion. My opinion is irrelevant and, frankly, has nothing to do with any of this. Which is why you don’t know it. Hardly any one does. If I wrote exclusively about stuff I “fanboy’d” over, you’d see me writing endless eldar, tyranid, and dwarf novels.

      You’re mistaking what I think and like (irrelevant), with what I’m in a lucky enough position to know explicitly from behind the scenes (relevant). And because my published stuff on Abaddon is still currently unsupported by wider Design Studio context, it looks like an outlier rather than a wider tonal shift. Sadly, that’s IP work for you – it often happens glacially. The Siege of Terra already has started to recontextualise Abaddon, but even outside that: Do you think I’ve not been in meetings *with* the Design Studio about this stuff? That I’m off on some weird solo crusade to “buff” a character I like no more or less than a million others?

      Where do you think I got a lot of it from? It’s *from* the Design Studio. It’s *from* 40K’s creators.

      It says so in the essay.

      Comment by Aaron Dembski-Bowden | May 10, 2020 | Reply

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