WARNING: Unmarked spoilers ahead!
Novels, novellas and short story collections
Book 1: Horus Rising
- The opening book, Dan Abnett's Horus Rising has Garviel Loken rush in and avenge his senior commander Sejanus. After killing tons of invisible baddies, he meets the "false Emperor" who proclaims that the Imperium is wrong in its doings. But Loken rebuts his argument perfectly by pointing out that the Imperium had before tried opening diplomatic channels with the planet instead, and the "Emperor" had responded by murdering their ambassadors.
Possessed Jubal: Samus is here!Loken: [stabs him] Samus is done.
- Loken himself is just full of awesome. One memorable moment: After one of his Astartes Xavyer Jubal is possessed by a daemon and kills another Space Marine (which is a cardinal sin, by the way), what can Loken do? He can't shoot Jubal, as that would be breaking the laws of the Imperium and the bonds between the Astartes. So he does the next best thing: he wrestles the gun out of Jubal's hands and nearly gets thrown off a cliff. Right after he gets up, Jubal draws his knife. And thus it breaks into a knife fight. Even after beating Jubal, Loken tries to keep him alive until he is finally forced to kill him.
- Whilst in a sparring match with a Lucius (the best swordsman of the Emperor's Children). Loken beats him by grabbing his sword hand and punching him to the floor.
- Which is not to say that Lucius doesn't have his moments. Lucius challenges Loken to a rematch in the next book, and wins. Also, during heavy combat with the Megarachnids, Lucius picks up a limb of one of the fallen, and uses it as a weapon.
- Iacton Qruze (yes he was treated like a doddering old fool of a Space Marine) was actually a lot smarter than he looked and on his own managed to break the back of a megarachnid attack wave.
- Saul Tarvitz (who eventually befriends Loken) survives an attack by bladed-spiders and vicious birds.
- A particularly interesting moment. Tarvitz accidentally destroys the source of the transmission jammer when he uses explosives on trees because he didn't like the way the bodies of soldiers were hanging on them.
- Nero Vipus slices off his arm after it was injured saying that he "threw it away"
- Hell, the opening of Horus Rising is one. The description of the Luna Wolves attack (a front of charging Astartes three kilometers wide) just lets you know how epic the series's battles are going to be.
- Horus proving that he actually is a likable guy by telling Abaddon to shut up, and that he will negotiate with the Interex, because while the Emperor may have said "kill all aliens," that was said when humanity was still weak and now humanity can afford to be flexible.
Book 2: False Gods
- The Battle of Davin. Space Marines fighting a Zombie Apocalypse. What's not to like!?
- When Lodge members try to recruit Torgaddon into a conspiracy against Loken, having the support of Horus on their side, he considers this for about half a second. He then tells the other captains to screw themselves, going so far as to throw away his lodge medal in disgust, appalled at the very thought of betraying his friend and brother.
- Angron clawing his way out of the debris caused by an enemy boobytrap that set off a rock slide that buried hundreds of his World Eaters, soaked in blood, covered in injuries and all but stripped of his armour, but still raring to fight. (This sort of doubles as Nightmare Fuel given that Angron's first act upon getting out of the rubble is to trigger the Sons of Horus around him to massacre with glee the surrendering Technocracy forces they were fighting...)
- Euphrati Keeler seems nothing more than a painter with unnatural faith in the Emperor. But when Iterator Sindermann accidentally summons a daemon by reading from the wrong book, she banishes it with the power of her faith, and is the likely the first person in canon to the speak words that every Warhammer 40K fan should know.Keeler: The Emperor protects!
Book 3: Galaxy in Flames
- So, how many characters do you know who have set a whole planet on fire? Because I only know of one: Horus motherfucking Lupercal.
- Other than Exterminatus being a fairly common thing to do in the 40k 'verse... this is possibly the most detail that that act has been described in.
- The last stand of the loyalist World Eaters on Isstvan III. After learning that they've been betrayed by their own Primarch, said Primarch, Angron, comes down to finish the job face to face. Angron and hundreds of Traitor World Eaters are charging straight for the Loyalist World Eaters, who are facing certain death, so what do the loyalists do? They counter-charge their own Primarch!
- The speech Loken gives to the loyalist members of the XVI Legion when Horus's treachery is revealed, culminating with Loken declaring that the loyalists are no longer the Sons of Horus, but the Luna Wolves.
- The entire battle of Isstvan III is one huge Dying Moment of Awesome for Saul Tarvitz. Managing to discover the traitors' plan and reach the world's surface with help from other loyalists, he turns what should have been a simple annihilation of the loyal elements into a full scale battle. Even after being betrayed by Lucius and having an Imperator-class titan deployed at their position, he manages to lead them into a final battle which massacres over a third of the traitor legion's numbers.
- During Qruze's fight with Maggard in the embarkation decks, Non-Action Guy remembrancer Kyril Sindermann grabs Maggard's pistol, walks up to Maggard, and shoots him right where Qruze had stabbed him, giving Qruze the opportunity to finish Maggard off and avenging Karkasy's murder.
Book 4: The Flight of the Eisenstein
- The last words of Huron-Fal, the Death Guard dreadnought in Flight of the Eisenstein. He's been betrayed by his Primarch and his Legion, the city he's in is being hit with a virus so potent that it liquifies those it infects, and he's been infected along with his friend Ullis Temeter, so what does he do? What any good Space Marine would do, of course! Overload his reactor, saying "This death... this death is ours. We choose it. We deny you your victory".
Nathaniel Garro: (To Rogal Dorn) Are you blind? [...] I asked if you were blind, lord, because I fear you must be. Only one struck by such a terrible ailment could be as you are. Yours is the blindness that only a brother might have: that of a keen judgement clouded by admiration and respect, clouded by your love for your kinsman, the Warmaster.
- Can't forget Nathaniel Garro if you mention this book. While his one-on-one fight against a Great Unclean One near the end is awesome on its own, what turns the tide of the Heresy is to, after being thought as a heretic who defames Horus, and knowing that he could be killed for it, pull a What the Hell, Hero? on Rogal Dorn, who almost kills him after being questioned. And he does so anyway, because he knows he is right.
Nathaniel Garro: We cannot stay here, watching the stars and waiting for the day that Horns comes seeking battle. I request...No, I demand that we be given a purpose! I am an Astartes, but now I am a brother without a Legion. Alone, I stand unbroken amid all the oaths that lie shattered around me. I am the Emperor's will, but I am nothing if He will not task me!
- His defiant words to Malcador the Sigillite is equally awesome, demanding the Sigillite to give them a role to fight against Horus. The speech pretty much explains his character.
- Malcador the Sigillite revealing that he's recruiting Garro and his fellow warriors for the precursor organisation that will eventually become the Inquisition.
Book 5: Fulgrim
- The Conquest of Laeran. The Emperor's Children accomplish in a month what Imperial strategists predicted would take years. Granted it resulted in a massive bodycount, but it's still an awesome feat.
- Something of a Tear Jerker as well, but the final duel between Fulgrim and Ferrus Manus is this. For the first time two Primarchs meet in battle and the result is as epic as you'd think, two demi-gods clashing each with a different style. Where Manus is enduring and strong, Fulgrim is agile and clever. Even when Fulgrim wins, it's only because the daemon in the Laeran Blade gave him the power to do it, otherwise the fight could have gone either way.
- While it's also a moment of EXTREME Squick, due to the fact that Kaesoron pretty much had an orgasm while being impaled by Santar's chainblade, Julius Kaesoron vs Gabriel Santar is another epic duel in the final battle.
Book 7: Legion
- In Legion a soldier named Dinas Chayne, head of a special bodyguard squad, manages to STAB "Alpharius" (Captain Sheed Ranko) with an unpowered sabre, through his power armour, drawing blood. Of course, Alpharius simply cuts him in half lengthwise after that, complete with a pithy one-liner: "That's all you get."
- Can we just clear this up: a Badass Normal fences a post-human demigod to a standstill, but then gets his sword stuck in his opponent's Nigh-Invulnerable power armour whilst injuring him - an opponent who can shrug off blows that would liquify Chayne. Fucking badass. Unfortunately, futile.
- The sheer Magnificent Bastardry of Alpharius's meeting with the Cabal. First, he receives the undying loyalty of Grammaticus's best friend and his lover. Next, he equips them both with teleporter beacons so that, when Grammaticus "escapes" to warn the Cabal of their military incursion, he leads the Primarch and his best troops straight to them.
- Three words: "For the Emperor."
- At the climactic space battle, the entire 670th Expeditionary Fleet is desperately fighting a single Alpha Legion battle barge. After losing dozens of vessels to this single threat, the commanders try to escape. Cue another Alpha Legion ship.
- "Thats another barge," said Van Aunger in a low voice. "Thats another fugging battle-barge!"
Book 8: Battle for the Abyss
- Battle for the Abyss pits fifty loyalist Space Marines aboard a small fleet of ships versus the most powerful Mechanicus-created warship ever devised, containing alpha level psykers and tens of thousands of Word Bearers. You better believe that some serious Awesome Moments happen.
Book 9: Mechanicum
- In Graham McNeill's Mechanicum, the Emperor himself gets one, although it's told second hand. In the 11th century, the Emperor manages to defeat and BIND the Void Dragon. It ought to be mentioned that the Void Dragon is the most powerful of the C'Tan star gods (just to put it in perspective, a weaker C'Tan, the Nightbringer, was capable of defeating the collective Eldar race and their actual Gods in combat). All the more reason why the Emperor is a walking Moment of Awesome.
- It gets better. While the Emperor's paranoia and arrogance hand him the Idiot Ball on various occasions afterwards, here he's in perfect Magnificent Bastard form. He knows, by prescience, that many technically-oriented people will come to Mars in the millennia to come. So he binds the Void Dragon there, in a place few will go, just constricted enough that its technology-focused influence will inspire great works of engineering and seed the idea of a Machine-God without enough contact to make the resulting Machine Cult actually loyal to the Void Dragon.
- Another thing to remember is that fans will try to take away some of the awesome of the victory by pointing out that the Emperor, beloved by all, only defeated a shard of the Void Dragon after it had been hit with several shots from a few Blackstone Fortresses, and that the only way to normally do this is to throw so much firepower at the C'Tan that its necrodermis shell breaks apart, causing a massive explosion that kills whoever destroys the C'Tan. (Except those fans are wrong, even after the C'tan shard retcon. The Void Dragon was forced into hibernation BEFORE his brethren got sharded. St. George, aka the Emperor, did indeed battle the Star God at the height of its power!) Those are retcons which came after the book was written. As far as Warhammer 40,000 canon was concerned, when Mechanicum was written, the Emperor of Mankind fully defeated a C'Tan star god by himself without destroying half the planet.
- "Tempestus goes to war."
- Two words, beautifully understated: "Engine kill."
- To provide some context: This is said after Princeps Cavalerio literally curb stomps a Warhound Titan, using the First God Machine of the Legio Tempestus.
- Koriel Zeth gets one when she reveals the purpose of the Akashic Reader: To tap into the Warp, and retrieve the sum of all knowledge across human history - both from the past, and the future.
- Raf Maven and Stator Cronus take on The Kaban Machine, which curbstomped Maven at the start of the book. And they win, despite it heavily outgunning them and ity managing to counter their tactics.
Book 10: Tales of Heresy (Anthology Series)
- Amon, a Custodes performing the Blood Games, gets within striking distance of the Emperor. He is stopped, of course, and captured, but the fact that he got that close is an impressive feat, one that earns him a new title. Later on, Amon asks Constantin if the Emperor was offended that he raised his hand against him. Constantin tells him no, the Emperor would have stopped him. Amon points out that the Emperor had his back turned and he was mid-charge when his blow was blocked. Constantin just says that the Emperor not only knew Amon was there for quite some time, but was in no danger whatsoever, he was just waiting to see if the Custodes would stop him first.
- After De'shea is in its entirety a Moment of Awesome for Khârn. And it's not his martial prowess he earns it with, but his brain. After Angron, freshly brought to his flagship from a Last Stand that killed all of his old comrades, in the grip of guilt and rage, has killed the first seven Captains of the War Hounds, Khârn (the 8th Captain) manages to get through to him and convince him to accept the War Hounds as his legion and to reverse his opinion of the Emperor. While being flung around like a ragdoll and being beaten within an inch of his life and never fighting back. All the more impressive because while they talk the same language, Angron grew up on a primitive world as a gladiator slave - and as such doesn't understand most of the concepts Khârn takes for granted. And Khârn manages to bridge the cultural difference and translate. While every bone in his body is being shattered.
- The Christian priest in The Last Church seeing through the Emperor's speech and revealing him for what he is. He understands the Emperor better in a space of an hour than others do in years.
- Though a subtle moment, it really cannot be overstated how awesome this moment was. This is an old, ordinary man pointing out the Emperor's hypocrisy and hubris to his face, and with perfect foresight explaining why his dream of a united and antitheist intergalactic human empire will inevitably fail, as people would always demand something to believe in and would find and create faiths if deprived of them. And then he turns about and calmly walks into the burning ruins of his church, preferring fiery death to wanting anything to do with the Emperor's vision for humanity.
- Two details that make this event even better: First, it is strongly implied that being scathed by the old priest actually humbled the Big-E a bit even many years after the meeting, as he always took heed of the words of Malcador the Sigillite even though he was only a human. Second, if you like the largely Fanon theory that the God-Emperor was many historical figures subtly guiding the progress of mankind including Jesus, then this old priest, quite unknowingly, told off the very same deity he has dedicated his entire life to. Hearing "The difference is I KNOW I am right" from the most humble and benevolent figure in human history would be a hell of a Broken Pedestal moment.
Book 12: A Thousand Sons
- Both times Magnus fights Titans. The first is a short flashback, when, after a huge Ork Gargant cripples a Warlord Titan, Magnus vaporizes the Gargant with a single hurricane of psyflame. Then, he fights two towering Eldar Titans, each of which is stated to dwarf a Warlord Titan, with the assistance of his Legion. With a gesture, he telekinetically crushes to nothing one of their arms, weathers their assaults with a kine shield, and then blasts right through the core of one, destroying it. Phosis T'kar then gets an incredible moment of awesome, when, during a brief moment of weariness after destroying the first Titan, he comes to his Primarch's aid, and shields him from a shot that devastated half the mountain they fought on.
- The Titan Canis Vertex is a walking Moment of Awesome by sheer dint of being a Warlord Titan covered in psychic fire.
- Ahriman gets a rather dark one while fighting Ohthere Wyrdmake. Ohthere has been hyped up throughout the entire book as a powerful Rune Priest. Ahriman astral projects himself to a charging Ohthere and forces him from his body, and they proceed with a psychic battle of wills within the Warp. In short order, Ahriman's essence grapples with Ohthere's, and forces him to perceive everything Ahriman knows, just to force the Rune Priest to know without a doubt that what the Space Wolves are doing is wrong, and that in aiding Horus they are aiding in the destruction of the Imperium. Ahriman proceeds to toss the broken Ohthere's soul to the daemons within the Warp, to be devoured unceremoniously. Ahriman had been, for most of the book, portrayed as a very affable and melancholy individual who could empathize even with the enemies he must destroy. This was the first truly dark and ruthless moment for him, foreshadowing the cold-hearted sorcerer that would inadvertently destroy his Legion and plague the Imperium for years to come.
Book 14: The First Heretic
- The First Heretic gives us our first view of Corax in combat. Beating down two dozen daemonically possessed Word Bearers, not to mention countless "normal" Word Bearers, he proceeds to almost kill Lorgar, all the while demanding he explain his treachery. He is only stopped by the intervention of the Night Haunter. And keep in mind that when all this happens, Corax was already exhausted after hours of fighting the traitors, while both Lorgar & Curze were fresh, and even then he was gutting Lorgar like a fish and had to retreat from Curze only because one of his claws had been broken by Lorgar & his jump pack was almost out of fuel.
- Plus, as Lorgar pointed out, Corax flew right into the midst of the Gal Vorbak in order to draw the full force of the traitors' fire towards himself, thus allowing his sons to escape.
- To complement that moment we have Lorgar ignoring the words of his tutors and rushing off to save his Possessed Space Marine sons from being slaughtered by Corax and unleashing his full psychic potential. Doubles as a Heartwarming Moment.
- Incarnadine's Big Damn Hero moment near the end. Sure, it failed. Sure, it was on the side of Chaos. But facing down four Custodes, giving them a fight for their lives, and killing one of them is one hell of a feat.
- "I always hated you, Xaphen"
- Let's give some context for this one. After all the other Custodes had been killed by the Possessed World Bearers, Sythran faces down the remaining six and, before accepting his inevitable demise, hurls his spear through Xaphen, who had been a Jerkass throughout the book. Then he takes off his helmet and breaks his vow of silence to deliver a Bond One-Liner before the others kill him, smiling all the while. AWESOME.
Book 15: Prospero Burns
- While in later novels, the Vlka Fenryka tend to suffer from the Worf Effect, in Prospero Burns, they get plenty of moments to shine.
- The first time we meet a Space Wolf is when 'Bear' comes in. He quite effortlessly dispatches a hundred ferocious Fenrisian hersir. That isn't the awesome. The awesome part is when he kills a gigantic sea-monster, a hrossvalur, like he's chopping wood.
- Later on, we are treated to an example of the Vlka Fenryka displaying their ability to simply not be noticed. They drop through girders and gangways of a small, metallic moon, to drop down onto the heads of essentially a bunch of super-cyborgs. Without making a sound. Fifty superhuman wolf-men moving against metal girders, flowing down like a liquid, and it is specifically mentioned that they are utterly silent.
- Of course, then we see why exactly, even on a strategic scale, the Wolves of Fenris are basically the most ruthless legion. Seeing the immense problems the Imperial Army is having taking the planet, the Jarl of Tra takes that same huge orbiting planetoid, about the size of a small moon, and smashes it into the enemy planet. He essentially caused a minor apocalypse simply because it was the most effective way of ending the conflict.
- Every Legion, however, has to have its grand finale. Prospero Burns gets the Burning of Prospero, and it highlights both the absolute tragedy of the effect, and the reality of how fucking awesome the Space Wolves AND the Thousand Sons are. The only reason they do not utterly wreck each other is because the Thousand Sons deliberately hold back on their orbital defences and magical capabilities, and so when the Space Wolves begin tearing apart the Thousand Sons, it is implied that they fight brilliantly and magnificently, as only Space Marines can, but simply aren't a match for the Wolves. After all, this is what they were made for.
- The end of Prospero Burns when The Chaos Demon reveals itself, cutting its way through the Space Wolves, only to be stopped by Bear. Bjorn is one of the greatest heroes of the Imperium for a reason.
Book 16: Age of Darkness
- Iron Within is a Moment of Awesome for Warsmith Dantioch.
- Let's mention how he and his 30 loyalist Marines, one Dreadnought, a platoon of Imperial Armymen and some gene-spliced miners managed to hold off the might of the Iron Warriors, multiple traitor Army forces, and at least one Legion of Titans ("The God-Machines") for over a year. This was achieved by building a base on a hostile planet... down a hole that could only be accessed by dropships for twenty minutes at a time, from a cavern BELOW the base, which could at will be FLOODED with burning promethium, constructing the base so that each segment was autonomous and could hold out indefinitely, then, when the enemy forces were at their most committed, detach the base from the ceiling of the cavern, plunging it into a burning lake of oil. Then escaping and stealing his enemy's flagship. Oh, did we mention he did this whilst artificially aged to the point where he should have been dead?
- Little Horus has a couple of serious moments:
- As the Sons of Horus hit some Imperial Army at melee range, Abnett gives the most comprehensive definition of "transhuman dread" on the market, leaving no room for doubt as to just how doomed the Emperor's mortal soldiers are.
- Then there's the fight between Little Horus and Bion Henricos. Two monstrously tough, immensely skilled warriors, going to town on one another.
- At the end of the Age of Darkness, Lion El'Jonson faces off against Konrad Curze, who explains that since the Lion led his legion on a crusade to hunt down the Night Lords, effectively sidelining themselves for most of the Heresy, that none shall know where his loyalties lie. The Lion's response is to calmly ask Konrad's forgiveness, for stabbing the Night Haunter when he was preoccupied and then [[ShutUpHannibal to declare that loyalty, even if it is doubted, is its own reward.]] Then followed up by the most badass line by a Space Marine: I left my blade in a Primarch's back.
Book 17: The Outcast Dead
- Ghota and Babu Dhakal (aka Arik Taranis, the Lightning Bearer and one of the very few Thunder Warriors still alive). Though both characters could be considered the secondary antagonists of the book, they still accomplish amazing feats. Like Ghota giving the Outcast Dead a run for their money or shrugging off a battle with a clearly daemonic entity and telling a psyker with complete confidence that she is no threat to him. Now Babu, on the other hand, is in a league of his own; Ghota fears him, everyone in the petitioner's city knows to keep their distance and even the Outcast Dead are in awe of him once they find out his true identity as the Lightning Bearer.
Book 18: Deliverance Lost
- The escape of the Raven Guard from the Isstvan system in Deliverance Lost. Spending hours dodging continual weapons fire from a small fleet of enemy ships, with nothing but their stealth systems to protect them, Corax decides that rather than just flee he is going to get some measure of revenge. He slowly positions his battle barge over the Word Bearers' flagship, then decloaks and jumps away. This drags the enemy ship unshielded into the warp, where its crew last just long enough to realise what has happened to them.
Book 19: Know No Fear
- Know No Fear, AKA "Dan Abnett's argument on why the Ultramarines are still Badasses", is absolutely crammed with this:
- Roboute Guilliman vs Kor Phaeron: While Kor Phaeron is waxing over how he will use his athame to corrupt the Primarch of the Ultramarines to the service of the Chaos Gods, an injured Guilliman says that Phaeron made the mistake of not killing him when he had the chance. Roboute Guilliman then plunges his Power Fist (which has lost power at this point) into Kor Phaeron's chest, then shows the Master of the Faith his own black heart. An impressive moment for someone who has been suffering the fandom's hatred for several years now.
- Let's give Kor Phaeron some credit here too. While Guilliman got the last laugh by being far more loyal than Kor Phaeron could have fathomed, there is no getting around the fact that Kor Phaeron didn't just fight, he beat up a Primarch, one of the demigod-like sons of the Emperor, and had him at his mercy. To date, he is the only mortal being (Aka not a Primarch, not ascended to Daemonic levels, or a Daemon itself - hell, not even a full Astartes) to achieve such an incredible feat.
- Guilliman elevates himself from The Scrappy by punching a Word Bearer's head off. On the hull of his flagship. In space. Without a helmet.
- The horrific but amazingly demonstrated effect of what an accelerated ship alone is capable of. The Campanile, taken over by daemonic forces and manipulated into Calth local space, is accelerated to its maximum with void-shields active. It manages to tear through several Ultramarine ships and the Calth orbital hub, decimating everything in the area as a prelude to the Word Bearer assault. Beautiful, breath-taking, terrible.
Secondly, the "mark" of Calth refers to the solar radiation burns suffered by many of the combatants, principally the human (specially non-transhuman) troops. The last of these veterans to die, many years later, still refuse graft repair and wear the mark proudly.
- Also, the entire suicide run is described over a whole chapter. Actual time it took to cause all that destruction? About ten seconds. And the first nine were the ship accelerating.
- Prior to all of the above, Abnett makes the anonymous narrator state a single line about the "Mark" of Calth - which refers to the solar radiation burns suffered by many of the loyalist soldiers who fought the battle. It will seem completely out of place given the terrible things that would unfold. But by the end of the novel, the reader will understand why the line was said. The reader will understand the simple, dignified truth of these words:
- Ventanus and Selaton's desperate escape from the Word Bearers and their cultist hordes and their defense of the Numinus Summer Palace is simply awesome, especially given that both of them are aware that they are fighting a futile battle, simply to spite and wound the Word Bearers. Just when their situation is at its most desperate, they are reinforced by an Ultramarines force with a full array of speeders, main battle tanks, and TWO Shadowswords. The resulting battle cripples an entire Word Bearer and cultist battalion, resulting in the main forces redirecting from their primary objectives, simply to crush this tiny point of resistance.
- Salvation never looked so splendid. Death never looked so noble.
- The last chapters of Know No Fear is one gigantic Heartwarming Moment for the Ultramarines, the Imperial Army, and the loyalist forces of the Mechanicum, culminating with this single line:This is a dynamic combat shift. This is the game changed. Hesst would approve. Guilliman would approve.
- To explain: a cobbled-together army of Ultramarines, skitarii, and Imperial Army soldiers have taken a data engine that can retake control of the Calth orbital defense grid. Unfortunately, they are being rapidly curbstomped by an entire warhost of Word Bearers. When Imperial forces, the scattered remnants of several Ultramarine companies, Imperial Army battalions and a Titan maniple begin returning the curb stomp in an unprecedentedly well coordinated assault that changes the estimated time of annihilation of the Ultramarines from three minutes, to well over an hour. And then the orbital weapons are returned to XIII Legion control.
- A special shout out goes to Ultramarine Sergeant Aeonid Thiel, who single-handedly organized every survivor he could find on Guilliman's flagship, armed them with relic weapons from the Primarch's personal archive,and counterattacks the invading daemons and Word Bearers with a level of tactical prowess normally only seen in veteran officers. It should also be mentioned he is awaiting censure and discipline for running simulations and writing treatises on how to fight other Astartes. Thiel's censure markings are then repurposed as the markings of sergeants and section leaders for easy identification.
- And how he also manages to defeat Sorot Tchure, a Word Bearer Captain, while fighting his two lieutenants at the same time. As Guilliman is showing Kor Phaeron his own black heart, Tchure, for a fractional second is distracted.Thiel sees his opening, his practical. It is infinitesimal, a tiny chink in the Word Bearers guard. It lasts a microsecond, and will not be repeated. He puts his sword through it. The longsword shears the right side of Tchure's helm away.
- And how he also manages to defeat Sorot Tchure, a Word Bearer Captain, while fighting his two lieutenants at the same time. As Guilliman is showing Kor Phaeron his own black heart, Tchure, for a fractional second is distracted.
- Roboute Guilliman vs Kor Phaeron: While Kor Phaeron is waxing over how he will use his athame to corrupt the Primarch of the Ultramarines to the service of the Chaos Gods, an injured Guilliman says that Phaeron made the mistake of not killing him when he had the chance. Roboute Guilliman then plunges his Power Fist (which has lost power at this point) into Kor Phaeron's chest, then shows the Master of the Faith his own black heart. An impressive moment for someone who has been suffering the fandom's hatred for several years now.
Book 20: The Primarchs
- In The Reflection Crack'd, Fulgrim gets quite a few moments of awesome for himself, not even counting besting a Greater Daemon of Slaanesh, a warp monster likely millennia old, in a battle of wills, and regaining control of his body. For starters, he one-shots a Titan by warping the flesh of its crew to swell so much it rip the machine apart from within. Then he shrugs off sound blasts that turn Terminators into little wet smears. Keep in mind that all this is before Fulgrim becomes a Daemon Prince.
- During The Lion short story in The Primarchs, Lion el'Jonson fights through dozens of daemons which have managed to gain a foothold in the Invincible Reason after a Night Lords vessel pursuing it detonated their warp drive, causing the ship to be trapped in a warp rift. He ends the daemonic incursion by fighting Kairos Fateweaver, and then defeats him by stabbing him in the heart, giving this incredibly Badass Boast:Lion el'Jonson: Did you see that coming?!
Book 21: Fear to Tread
- The Blood Angels finally get unleashed in Fear to Tread, and it was worth the wait:
Horus: I am.
- Sanguinius was one walking, talking Moment of Awesome in the whole book:
The axe-head rose for the killing blow [on Blood Angels Cpatain Raldoron], just as a shadow passed across the maimed suns in the sky outside. A shadow in grace and swiftness, moving with unstoppable purpose. The beast Ka'Bandha hesitated.Glassy matter and bone frames exploded into millions of fragments, the circular mandala-window destroyed by the force of the Angel's arrival. Sanguinius landed with a thunderous roar at his back, his wings rising in shimmering arches of white, his battle armour as dazzling as the light of daybreak. A pure force of will radiated from him, magnificent and unending. The Primarch was at that moment the very antithesis of the shroud of hate and horror that had taken root on Signus Prime; it was as if the universe itself had decided to express its disgust at these daemon-things through his martial fury. Sanguinius rose like a golden storm, vengeance incarnate, the righteous power of a brother betrayed and a father wronged crackling at his fingertips.
- The Great Angel fully proves his reputation as "Most Badass Primarch" is justified during the battle in the Cathedral of the Mark: He kills two Greater Daemons of Chaos; Ka'Bandha, a Bloodthirster of Khorne, by tearing off one of his wings and throwing him back into a Warp gate, telling him "Only angels may fly;" and Kyriss, a Keeper of Secrets of Slaanesh, by decapitating it while it's in the midst of a Villainous Breakdown. To emphasise this, Sanguinius is still recovering from both Ka'Bandha breaking his legs and the psychic backlash he felt from Ka'Bandha killing over five hundred Blood Angels with absurdly powerful sorcery. On the tabletop, you traditionally need something approaching the power of a Baneblade to kill a Greater Daemon. An injured Sanguinius is as powerful as two Baneblades.
- How he arrives at the final battle is pretty awesome: He flies through a window made of glass and bone, then, without even looking at it, throws his sword at Kyriss with such force it pins the daemon to the wall while Sanguinius deals with Ka'Bandha barehanded.
- Sanguinius's arrova; deserves quoting
Sanguinius: But it did not. Because as long as one single Blood Angel lives, he will be the master of his spirit. He will not let the abyss that lies in the hearts of us all take him into darkness. That is the truth you did not understand, the truth that Horus has forgotten. It is not the descent toward the shadow nor the rise toward the light that makes us superior. It is the endless struggle between the two that greatness of character lies. We are tested, and we do not break. We will never fall! Take that to my brother and tell him!
- He final Badass Boast to the Red Angel on when the Red Thirst should have taken him:
- Apothecary Meros: He sacrifices his life to take in the ragefire that is propelling the Blood Angels to madness, to ensure that Sanguinius will not, but not before cutting out his own progenoid glands so that his gene-seed will live on. It does so in Rafen, protagonist of author James Swallow's Blood Angels series.
- The Red Tear, the Blood Angels flagship, gets one: After Shipmistress Athena DuCade succumbs to madness and sets it on a collision course for Signus Prime and damages the controls, the Blood Angels are ready to abandon ship. Sanguinius, however, insists that the Red Tear, which has served the IX Legion since the first Expeditionary Fleets were launched, will survive. It's an extremely bumpy landing, and they almost die in the attempt, but the Red Tear manages to successfully crash land without exploding. When Sanguinius gives an order, no one defies him.
- The Battle of Signus Prime: the Blood Angels are put through the wringer, and have lost more in that battle than all of the Great Crusade. However, they won. Not simply surviving, the Blood Angels actually deny Chaos any sort of meaningful victory. Erebus later rants at Horus that the whole thing was a complete failure and his fault, as nothing of importance was salvaged for the Chaos Gods. For the first time in the entire Horus Heresy, the Imperium won, and Chaos lost.
- Horus, of all people, gains a Moment of Awesome during the epilogue: [After Erebus goes on a tirade that Horus screwed up the Signus Prime trap by trying to get Ka'Bandha to kill Sanguinius and earn the displeasure of the Chaos Gods, Horus reacts with considerable restraint for a Chaos-corrupted Primarch: the Warmaster calmly skins Erebus's face off, and tells the First Chaplain that the Chaos Gods are not the architects of the Horus Heresy:
- Sanguinius was one walking, talking Moment of Awesome in the whole book:
Book 22: Shadows of Treachery
- In Shadows of Treachery, the short story named Prince of Crows, we have [Jago Sevatarion, First Captain of the Night Lords and commander of the Atramentar, riding outside a Wraith-pattern starfighter IN SPACE where Night Lord and Dark Angel warships were exchanging fire in order to join his Primarch Konrad Curze on the Dark Angels' flagship, Invincible Reason. Keep in mind this feat is done while enemy ships are fighting each other in the void of space, and starfighters are effectively dogfighting each other.
- The Crimson Fist sees the Imperial Fists under Alexis Polux, severely reduced by Warp storms, unaware of what's happening elsewhere in the galaxy and hit by an Iron Warriors surprise attack, come close to killing Perturabo.
Book 23: Angel Exterminatus
- Nykona Sharrowkyn headshotting Fulgrim. A normal, if very skilled Space Marine, making an extreme distance shot, inside an impregnable Iron Warriors fortress, surrounded by the larger parts of the Iron Warriors and Emperor's Children legions, which he has managed to infiltrate. Made more impressive in that he uses a needle rifle; a fairly weak weapon to do so. And he escapes!
- "Brother Sharrowkyn, is there something wrong with the floor?" And the moment this sentence is spoken, the awesomeness began as Sharrowkyn drops out of the ceiling and plunges TWO BLACK SWORDS INTO FABIUS'S CHEST, and then killing another Noise Marine by throwing one of his black swords across the medical room into the Noise Marine's head.
- Though that's nothing compared to what Sharrowkyn later does. In the three-way battle between the Eldar, the Traitor Marines and the Imperial Marines, he battles Lucius, who is pretty much the greatest non-Primarch swordsman alive, and wins. But even more is that Lucius by this point has earned his ability to infect those who kill him and take over their bodies if they feel even an instant of emotion at his defeat. Sharrowkyn does not, as he says Lucius is nothing but a rabid dog that needs to be put down, and he walks away having beaten the greatest swordsman in the Legions and doesn't feel a thing.
- Marius Vairosean, now a Noise Marine, is blasted apart by Ignatius Numen...who, as a result of previous events, is completely deaf.
- Perturabo earns numerous crowning moments in Angel Exterminatus, but special mention must be made of him smashing Fulgrim's face in because he's sick of Fulgrim's BS. For people who think Fulgrim's become a Gary Stu, it's awesome seeing the Emperor's Children Primarch taken down a peg.
Book 24: Betrayer
- Betrayer has plenty of awesome moments in it, some that are crowning moments of awesome for the entire Heresy.
Lotara Sarrin: "No one runs from the Conqueror".
- The Legio Audax, the Ember Wolves, are a Titan Legio that have about 90 Warhounds, the scout titans and while still potent, the weakest kind. So that is why it is immensely badass when about 40 of them assault the Imperator Titan Corinthian, a Titan that can annihilate cities in one shot, and use their secret weapons, the Ursus Claws, to bring it down. Each one blasts its claws, which are basically harpoons, into the Corinthian and pin it down, then let the World Eaters on board to kill everyone inside it.
- When a Warhound of Legio Oberon tries to step on Lorgar, Angron catches its foot and holds the multi-hundred-ton war machine at bay with sheer muscle power.
- The Conqueror and its flag-captain Lotara Sarrin get plenty of awesome moments in the void battles.
"What would you know of struggle, Perfect Son? When have you fought against the mutilation of your mind? when have you had to do anything more than tally compliances and polish your armour?" [...] "The people of your world named you Great One. The people of mine called me Slave. Which one of us landed on a paradise of civilisation to be raised by a foster father, Roboute? Which one of us was given armies to lead after training in the halls of the Macraggian high-riders? Which one of us inherited a strong, cultured kingdom? And which one of us had to rise up against a kingdom with nothing but a horde of starving slaves? Which one of us was a child enslaved on a world of monsters, with his brain cut up by carving knives? Listen to your blue-clad wretches yelling of courage and honour, courage and honour, courage and honour. Do you even know the meaning of those words? Courage is fighting the kingdom which enslaves you, no matter that their armies outnumber yours by ten-thousand to one. You know nothing of courage. Honour is resisting a tyrant when all others suckle and grow fat on the hypocrisy he feeds them. You know nothing of honour."
- Which then proceeds to fire its Ursus Claws at two Ultramarines battle-barges, each one carrying thousands of Ultramarines on board, and then drag them back as they try to run, then tearing them both in half with its lance cannons.
- Roboute Guilliman's duel with Lorgar is epic, for both parties. Guilliman, despite fighting against a transhuman demigod empowered by the four gods of Chaos, manages to draw first blood and fights him to a standstill, although he ends up heavily wounded as a result.
- Guilliman is then able to repel Angron's attacks, despite being wounded and tired after the aforementioned fight that lasted several hours. And he loses only due to fatigue.
- Angron proceeds to deliver one of the best speeches of the series:
Youre still a slave, Angron. Enslaved by your past, blind to the future. Too hateful to learn. Too spiteful to prosper.
- Actually, I believe this is the Crowning Moment of Awesome for ADB. This only shows the depth of Angron, he was not the "Kill!Maim!Burn" character that many expected. He was strong, one of the mightiest and undoubtedly the greatest warrior of the primarchs, yet he was also weak. He kept blaming others for the unfairness and the wrongs that affected his life. The Butcher's Nails that was installed in his brain, for instance. Yet despite the Nails being responsible for so much of his suffering, he also implanted these in his sons in a complete act of hypocrisy. Not only that, but he seems to ignore how much the other primarchs struggled. Look at Sanguinius, born on a radioactive world with mutant cannibals. Mortarion grew up on a toxic world ruled by mutant psyker despots, Kurze grew up all alone in an urban nightmare hellhole, and Corax was literally raised in a prison. Hell, even Guilliman who was born "lucky" suffered his share of hardships, chief among these the loss of Konor, the father who raised him, yet Angron simply does not seem to acknowledge how much work was put into building the realm of Ultramar. As if no hardship, nothing of importance, was involved in building and maintaining such an achievement. The only thing the Red Angel ever did in his life? He blamed others:
Kharn: "Get. Up."
- Elaborating a bit on ABD's work: many Black Library books are about making the main faction (A Space Marine Chapter, Imperial Guard battalion, or Chaos warband) look cool while the opponents are just there to fold and make the home team look good. In Betrayer, all sides end up shining. Lorgar grows into a proper Magnificent Bastard whose plans encompass the universe and the future of mankind; Angron becomes more than a raging beast and comes across as a liberator denied, a Spartacus-figure ruined by murderous brain implants who admits that he would have rebelled -sooner- had his mind been whole. Guilliman shows some verve in pursuing his brothers against all odds and holding his own against them for hours.
- Aaron Dembski Bowden's description of just why people fear the Ultramarines - despite a massive advantage in men, numbers, and weaponry, and despite the story essentially being a narrative of defeat for the Ultramarines, Kharn and his cronies keep lamenting how they keep falling into Ultramarine traps and losing men for no gain. Even after Guilliman shows up, the Ultras are still outnumbered, and they manage to give much better than they get, despite ultimately losing. It's a meta-example as well - given how divided feelings about the Ultras are amongst the fandom, for ADB to write a story that shows them at their best, whilst dealing with one of their worst defeats, and all the while retaining the respect and adulation of much of the fandom, that takes some damn good writing.
- Even more so, ADB's blog clarified the casualties of the battle: the Ultramarines only lost a few hundred compared to the thousands the World Eaters lost; there is a reason why Horus wanted the Ultramarines taken out of the fight.
- It took Angron, the greatest warrior of the Primarchs, and Lorgar to crush Guilliman and make him retreat. Think about this: in the series we've seen primarchs die, Ferrus Manus being killed by Fulgrim for instance. Two primarchs engaged him (first Lorgar, crushing his head with the Illuminarium, while Guilliman power fisted his sternum. After that came Angron trampling the Ultramarines and jumping on Guilliman), and even so they couldn't kill Roboute. He didn't win, hell Lorgar thought that he would be lucky to even be able to walk again (though Angron looked little better), but like Guilliman said on Calth: they were not trying hard enough.
- Kharn delivering a very much deserved beatdown to Erebus, while using the fabled Gorechild, reforged for his hands. All in the name of brotherhood and vengeance for Argel Tal. And doing so while having a look of bored indulgence on his face.
- Immediately prior to the above, there's a single question asked to Kharn by Lorgar. It's a simple question, but when it's spoken, you know Erebus is about to get it.Lorgar:Would you like to know...who killed Argel Tal?
- Betrayer finally answers the age-old question of who would win in a fight: Angron or Leman Russ? And with the Night of the Wolf, where the Space Wolves and the World Eaters had it out over Angron's excesses and the Butcher's Nails, the answer is both would win in their own way. Angron proves that he is the stronger warrior, which is all that matters to him, but Leman Russ proved to be the better commander and tactician, getting Angron encircled by Russ's Wolfguard while the World Eaters' need for killing causes them to leave their Primarch to die. The only reason Russ let Angron live is in the hope that he would learn something from this, but Angron spends almost a century Dramatically Missing the Point before Lorgar, a man who despises being a general, explains it to him. Lorgar has nothing but praise for the tactics that Russ used, while simultaneously being exasperated at Angron's inability to see the point.
Book 26: Vulkan Lives
- In Vulkan Lives, the title character has a Moment of Awesome towards the end. When facing Konrad Curze in the Labyrinth, and seemingly denied the teleportation functions of his hammer, Dawnbreaker, he reminds Curze of one thing that he forgot about the weapon before proceeding to lay the smackdown on him:Vulkan: "It's also a hammer."
Book 27: The Unremembered Empire
- In "The Unremembered Empire" Curze singlehandedly infiltrates, butchers, slaughters, and generally causes wholesale destruction inside the Fortress of Hera on Macragge, one of the most secure areas in the most secure city on the most secure world in Ultramar, whilst it's occupied by the greater part of the Ultramarines and Dark Angels Legions, along with Astartes contingents from the other six loyalist legions. And he almost kills Guilliman and the Lion, and technically Vulkan (several times).
- Barthusa Narek, a Loyalist Word Bearer, gives abrutal "The Reason You Suck" Speech to the two Possessed Word Bearers who help him reach Macragge.Narek: I believe in the Word of our Primarch and I believe that Word makes us loyal to the Emperor. We are of the Word, and thus we are of the Emperor. It was ever thus. I despise the steps my Legion-kin have taken to embrace the Outer Dark. Too many steps, too far.Barbos Kha: What are you saying Narek?
- He then proceeds to blow Barbos Kha's head off with a series of bolt pistol shots and then kills Ulkas Tul with a sniper rifle at close range.
- Tarasha Euten from The Unremembered Empire. A frail old woman who makes a rousing speech that spurs loyalist elements from at least six different legions to follow her command, who all end up shouting "We march for Macragge!". When it's later revealed that she is actually Guilliman's surrogate mother, it becomes clear where much of the Primarch's badassery comes from.
It was odd to hear the cry uttered in a strong Chogorian accent, but in an instant the declaration was echoed with vigour by his fellow White Scars and then by every battle-brother in the hall. The war cry of Ultramar was coloured and invested by the accents of cold-hearted Medusa, of lofty Deliverance, of feral Fenris, of fire-forged Nocturne, of glacial Inwit, and distant, holy Terra.
- Some reviews have called it the "Anti-Horus Heresy" novel, as it highlights the unity and brotherhood of the loyalists, culminating in this scene:
- How badass is Tarasha Euten? She looked Konrad Curze in the eyes (something even Space Marines can't do) and told him to go to hell. And this is just after Curze has utterly dismantled a Space Wolves pack.
- Continuing a plot thread from Fear To Tread, a Space Wolves pack was dispatched to Macragge with the intention of watching Roboute Guilliman in case he were to betray the Emperor in the aftermath of the Burning of Prospero. Guilliman had this to say about it:Guilliman: Faffnr Bludbroder, do you really think that your pack can take me down?
Faffnr: Perhaps not. You are Jarl Guilliman and your prowess is the stuff of saga. But we have our duty, and we would try. If you were, say, without your bodyguard and cornered in a room with us—
Guilliman: My dear Faffnr, then you would be cornered in a room with me.
- Subverted in that the Space Wolves are shown to at least have a chance, swinging an axe at the Lion faster then Guilliman could follow, and compared to the dozens of dead Ultramarines and Dark Angels, most of the Space Wolf squad survives their fight against Konrad Curze.
- In something of a follow up to that, an Alpha Legion kill-team impersonating Aeonid Thiel and his squad try to assassinate Roboute Guilliman. Guilliman is able to kill every one of the Alpha Legionaries despite being unarmed and caught off guard. While that in itself proves that Guilliman's claim was no mere boast, the Alpha Legionaries nearly did the job, seriously injuring Guilliman in the process. The skill which the Alpha Legion pulled this off forces Guilliman to reassess his long-held disregard of Alpharius's methods.
Book 28: Scars
- During the space battle between the Alpha Legion and the White Scars, General Ilya Ravallion of the Departmento Munitorum, who has spent the time since the Ullanor Crusade trying to fix the V Legion's logistical issues, complains that the White Scars are throwing away their tactical position. Her escort Halji tells her to keep watching. Then Jaghatai Khan gives the command: as one, the entire White Scars Legion fleet shifts to combat speed (thanks to constant modifications to the engines which didn't get sanction from the Mechanicum) and begins racing toward a weak point in the Alpha Legion blockade. The acceleration is so fast that the artificial gravity on the V Legion flagship Stormsword needs a moment to compensate, sending Ilya flying into Halji, who explains that this is a standard tactic for the White Scars. The Alpha Legion is so blindsided by this (a genuine rarity for a Legion of Magnificent Bastards) that the White Scars break out of the blockade within minutes.
- Jaghtai Khan utterly dismantling Mortarion (figuratively and then literally) when the latter comes to persuade him to join Horus. He first figures out that Mortarion has come looking for him on his own initiative and not Horus's orders, then mocks Mortarion for the fact that his life's work (to corral and contain psykers) is in ruins; though Mortarion succeeded in getting the Librarius disbanded at Nikea, he now finds himself part of an army where sorcerers and witches have been given free reign to make use of their power, and the other Traitor Primarchs either condone and even encourage such practices (such as Magnus, Lorgar and Horus) or don't give enough of a damn about it (i.e., Angron and Curze) to help Mortarion with his personal vendetta. The Khan then concludes that Mortarion has only come looking for him because he's in over his head and is looking for a way to back out, which Jaghatai mocks because he knows that now, like the other Traitor Legions, the Death Guard have tasted of the power of Chaos, there is no going back. He finally concludes by mocking Mortarion's plans to become the Dragon Ascendant with Jaghatai at his side should Horus perish in the campaign to reach Terra, pointing out that neither of their legions was empire-builders, and thus Mortarion would be grossly unsuited to take Horus's place He then duels Mortarion at such blistering speeds that he's able to carve sheets of armour off a Primarch renowned for his physical resilience.Mortarion:Then you will not be persuaded. A shame. I invested much energy to save you, brother. I shall take no pleasure in your destruction.
Jaghatai:And there is the difference between you and me. By the time I make my kills, I'm always laughing.
- The sheer amount of freedom that Jaghatai allows his legion, especially in light of how authoritarian the Imperium is in the 31st Millennium and how downright dictatorial it is in the 41st. In any other legion, the warrior lodges are an insidious force that worms its way through the ranks until they corrupt even its primarch. In the White Scars, well...Jaghatai:I let them meet. I am not a tyrant.
- Ilya Ravallion, an old woman, running into the mess of a Marine-on-Marine fight and as a result, saving the Khan and arguably the Legion too.
Book 29: Vengeful Spirit
- The entire final two chapters of the book are a series of repeated Awesome Moments.
Loken: I already was. It was called the Great Crusade.
- Loken telling Horus that he has betrayed everything the Luna Wolves stood for. When asked by Horus to join him and "be a part of the greatest undertaking in humanity's history," Loken's response is:
- Iacton Qruze fighting a horde of Luperci, taking on four of them in a row, killing each one of them in a single strike and actually schooling them on why their attacks are sloppy. Best part of it: They are Possessed Marines. So Qruze took on four daemons, beat them and told them in exacting detail why they are crappy fighters.
- Bror Tyrfingr biting out Tormageddon's throat, and because just before he did it, the Daemon was scared.
- Loken killing Samus. Again. And a meta Funny Moment for Graham Mc Neill when Tormageddon points out that Samus dies a lot.
- One for the bad guys, House Devine's Traitor Knights killing the Imperator Titan Paragon of Terra by blowing up its plasma cannon and then firing all of their thermal lances into its reactor core. And all the time, they are hallucinating that they are actual knights on horseback fighting a dragon.
- Castor Alcade's heroic sacrifice against Horus when he charges him in battle to try and buy Alivia Sureka a few more moments. His blade snaps on Horus's chestplate and he gets crushed by the Warmaster's mace, and he didn't even flinch from attacking him. Even Sureka, a Perpetual, acknowledges it:"It was the best thing she had ever seen."
- A villainous example from the non-Astartes characters: Albard Devine, the rightful lord of the Knightly House Devine, having been usurped and slowly poisoned for years after his father's death by his half-siblings and their mother to the point he's a near-crippled, bed-ridden invalid, grabs his stepmother when she comes to his chambers to administer the latest round of poison and casually reveals that (through what's implied to be the influence of Slaanesh) all the years of her doping him with poison have left him immune to her toxins. Albard then slowly severs his stepmother's tendons to cripple her, then slits her wrists, gleefully watching her bleed to death for her years of abusing him. When his half-siblings, Raeven and Lyx come to his quarters for their usual practice of gloating over him, Albard has them knocked unconcious by the loyal inner circle of followers he's had hidden in secret; when the pair wake up chained to surgical tables, Albard, wearing a suit of Knight pilot armour to give him strength, reveals that he's killed their infant son and is going to spend the next few hours before leading House Devine's forces into battle torturing them in revenge for usurping him and the decades of abuse they inflicted on him. All the previous smugness the twin brother and sister exuded in their previous appearances evaporates in an instant and they're reduced to begging for their lives before Albard puts a bullet in his half-sister Lyx's head and then gets to work on his half brother Raeven. Best Served Cold at its finest.
- The loyalists get another when Grael Noctua and his Assault Marines take out an Imperial command base. Noctua finds one of the Imperial Commanders dying and tells her to "take her best shot." Which she does, with a volkite gun. (Which punches through his armour and takes out one of Noctua's hearts.)
- Grael Noctua vs Severian. The two battle it out in the final chapter and Noctua admits that he has always hated Severian:Noctua: I've always hated you Severian, even before ascension.Severian: I never cared about you enough to hate.
- And then Severian wins by flicking blood from his knife into Noctua's eyes and then, in that split second of distraction, stabbing Noctua in his second and last heart.
- A brief one during a duel in the final battle between Garviel Loken and Horus Aximand. Loken notes that Aximand has had his face surgically reattached (Aximand suffered the injury in a prior encounter with Hibou Khan of the White Scars) and demands to know who did it. When Aximand asks Loken why he wants to know, Garviel replies "So I can tell him I finished the job!
- Garviel Loken saying the following speech to Horus himself after the Warmaster kills Iacton Qruze;Garviel Loken: "I guarantee that before the sun sets on this war, even if you win, even if I die here, youll rue the day you ever turned your back on the Emperor. For every planet you take, the Imperium will exact a fearful tally of Cthonian blood. I guarantee that even if you conquer Terra the fruits of victory will taste like dust in your mouth. I guarantee that if you dont kill me today, youll meet me again. I will stand against you at every outpost, every wall and every gate. I will fight you with every sword at my command, with every bolter and every fist. I will fight you with bare hands. I will fight you with the very rocks of the world you seek to conquer. I will never give up until the Sons of Horus are dead and no more than a bad memory."
- Horus gets one just at the end, having won the Battle of Molech and been granted near-god like powers from the Chaos Gods, he is asked what he intends to do next. His answer is so simple and yet brilliant.Horus: I am coming for you, Father.
- During the assassination attempt on the Traitor Primarchs, Mortarion literally uses his scythe and an attached chain to catch a Fire Raptor in midair, then holds onto the ship in spite of being riddled with burning holes by it. Yeah.
Book 30: The Damnation of Pythos
- It's a comparatively small moment, and it ultimately leads up to everything going wrong, but the Veritas Ferrum ambushing a group of Emperor's Children ships, including one twice its size, and destroying them all, is pretty badass. The first, a light escort, goes down to precision-placed mines. The second, which is damaged by the mines but not destroyed by them, is simply shot apart. The battle-barge, which suffered only minor damage from the trap, is first hit with a giant chunk of ice travelling at high speed, then boarded, and after the vengeful Iron Hands demolish everything in their path, they lock the ship on a collision course with a nearby world, then smash the bridge up so it can't be redirected and withdraw, leaving it to a fiery and well-earned death.
- Sergeant Khi'dem of the Salamanders throws the daemon battle-line into chaos with one shot: he tags a giant saurian with a missile launcher while standing right next to the daemons' leader, leading to the saurian going on the rampage in that direction. It doesn't actually save them, but it was a good effort all the same.
- Atticus being in the middle of an explosion and shouting his derision at it.
Book 31: Legacies of Betrayal
- Butcher's Nails: Angron, Lorgar and their legions take some time out from the Shadow Crusade to massacre Dark Eldar.
- The duel between Lucius the Eternal and Sanakht, the greatest swordsman of the Thousand Sons. Sanakht is far superior, and even has fun trolling Lucius by giving him pointers on his technique. Lucius only gets the upper hand by flying into a petulant rage at being so humiliated, and even then, he is denied the killing blow by Ahzek Ahriman, who easily stops Lucius psychically because he needs Sanakht for his own plans.
Book 32: DeathfireThere's a reason why many consider this Nick Kyme's best book to date.
- The opening battle aboard a Word Bearers' vessel, a three-way brawl between Numeon, Thiel's Ultramarines and the ship's crew (albeit Numeon and Thiel don't know about each other). Thiel is just so blase about killing daemons he's doing it wholesale, and Numeon manages to battle his way to the bridge while on the edge of dying and without any weapons.
- Kaspar Hecht defending the entire fuelling station from Death Guard attacks, for days, on his own. Salamanders later note that every pilot of an approaching Death Guard dropship has been taken down by a perfect headshot through the armoured glass of their cockpits. Becomes understandable when we find out that Hecht is actually Barthusa Narek.
- Numeon surviving fire strong enough to kill a Space Marine a few times over, seemingly by sheer willpower.
- The sirens get a point for being Creepy Awesome. Imagine a bunch of Creepy Children overruning your ship, laughing and mocking, capable of killing an Astartes in full armour.
- Xathen versus the Preacher. The latter has Chaos powers and support of the sirens with him, Xathen is battle-worn and bloodied and the Word Bearer almost kills him. Just when it seems the Salamander is done for good...Xathen: I don't speak traitor. [headshots the Preacher]
- Magnus. The moment he shows up, he steals the scene completely and everyone pretty much forgets about the grand battle happenning just a few pages ago. The way he's acting in a larger-than-life way, Chewing the Scenery and giving a grandiose speech, is just a prelude to the bombshell that is his reveal that he's been supporting Salamanders from the sidelines ever since they left Macragge to help his brother out one last time. And when he's finished doing this, he banishes daemons, Death Guard and Word Bearers from Charybdis and drops the ship out of the Warp right on the edge of Sol system with a flick of his wrist.
- A smaller CMOA of a kind, but Numeon starts off as a broken man who is largely considered to be delusional and ends up winning and commanding the absolute loyalty of his Salamanders. It's a slow process, but by the time they reach Sol, they choose to follow him to what they are fairly sure is their doom despite being a step from safety.
- The Battle of Nocturne, in two ways:
- The Death Guard, not realizing that the planet is geologically unstable, land heavy weaponry on a very unstable region. Cue volcanic explosions, lava drowning the Astartes and packs of small-S salamanders - basically ye olde medieval dragons - coming out to attack them. It looks like Gaia's Vengeance coupled with oh-gods-no amounts of fire.
- The Salamanders facing the Death Guard. There's not one specific point of it, it's just how after being hounded by the traitors throughout the entire book, they deal with them pretty much effortlessly. Never attack a Salamander on his home turf, indeed.
- On a more meta-level, the artwork of the book is astounding. The cover is beautiful, and the in-book illustrations are more fluid and alive than they've been ever before.
- Vulkan lives. For real this time. The sound you're hearing is all the Salamanders fans finally getting their wish.
Novella: Wolf King
- A bit of meta-CMOA: the way Alaxxes Nebula is described is very suggestive and beautiful. Kudos to Chris Wraight for this.
- Bjorn taking over and commandeering an Alpha Legion vessel, then turning it and starting to fire at its erstwhile masters.
- The way Russ defuses tensions in his legion, reasserting his rule over them while not actually putting anyone down.
- The Dark Angels saving the day, swinging by with an entire orbital fort and crushing the Alphas within a few hours, just as the Wolves are sure they're about to make their Last Stand.
Book 33: War Without End
- In Imperfect, this little moment when lights come on and you realize that over the last few days, Fulgrim has fought and killed Ferrus dozens, if not hundreds of times.
- In Wolf Mother when [Severian takes on six Thallaxi and kills all of them, along with hundreds of Serpent Cultists. Also when Sureka takes the daemon into her body and allows Severian to kill her, cutting the daemon's connection to the real world and forcing it back into the Warp.
- The latter moment is made more awesome when Sureka thinks to herself that it isn't because she is a Perpetual that she has the strength to do that, it's because she is a mother. A mother protecting her child.
- In Allegiance, during the trial for the White Scars that acted against the Khan and for Horus, the White Scars that have sworn a blood oath all refuse to recant their oath, not because they still believe it was the right thing to do, but because if they cast aside an oath, especially one as important as a Chogorian blood oath, they are no better than Horus and his traitors. The Khan executes them, but it's clear he is proud of them and promises that when the battle for Terra comes, as he knows it will, he will wear their names into battle on his sword.
- In Virtue of the Sons Azkaellon duels Lucius in front of a crowd of Emperor's Children to first blood, he takes a page from Amit's book and tackles Lucius off the cliff they are fighting on and into the ocean. He takes a cut and technically loses, but the fact that all of his Legion present were roaring in laughter at Lucius's humiliation means the narcissistic jerk definitely didn't win.
- From the same story we finally see the two finest Berserkers in the Imperium, Kharn and Amit the Flesh Tearer throw down, and we see for the first time what happens when an Astartes driven by the rage of the Butcher's Nails goes up against an Astartes driven by the nascent Black Rage. its a very, very bloody draw.
- In By the Lion's Command Corswain wins a battle solely by relying on the inner goodness of humanity and its ability to recognize who is the bad guy. He spends the entire story talking to the leader of a neutral world, trying to convince him to use his orbital guns to drive off the Death Guard fleet that is coming to kill the Dark Angels, and just at the last moment his words win through and Typhus is sent scurrying away.
- The Harrowing finally shows the Alpha Legion in full on warfare, and they are every bit as terrifyingly confusing, efficient and versatile as everything thus far has painted them to be. The Mechanicum never stood a chance, not even for an instant. Really this entire story is one massive CMOA for the Alpha Legion and a huge middle finger to Guilliman who said that the Alpha Legion's methods were inefficient.
- The Laurel of Defiance sees Lucretius Corvo of the Ultramarines face off against possibly the very first Daemon-Titan in existence, Fellghast. How does he defeat it? By luring it into the city's central square, detonating charges under its foot as it takes a step so it falls over, and then having his men fire their heavy melta-cannons into its face until it literally dies screaming.
- In Twisted Maloghurst proves that crippled he might be, but he's still a badass. Tricked by the Davinites and about to be sacrificed to a daemon, he reveals a 15-man squad of Sons of Horus that he concealed with what is essentially an invisibility spell, binds the daemon with its true name, which the Davinites unwittingly gave him by stating it during the ritual, and lets his men annihilate the traitors. He then tops that by refusing the daemon's offer to heal him of his twisted state by saying that he knows deals with their kind never work out, telling the daemon he knows that a hundred and one years of torment await it for its failure. Then he blows its head off, lets one of his men flame it into ash, and vents the ash into space.
- Horus gets his own moment after that when he notes that he has those who commune with the Warp in their service make it clear to the Neverborn that any who deal with that particular daemon will earn the Warmaster's disfavour. Awesome, and utterly terrifying that Horus has that kind of clout with the daemons.
- In Howl of the Hearthworld the titular Space Wolf pack that argue with Leman Russ about going to Terra to watch over Dorn seem to be made of awesome. Their Jarl gets his own moment when he gives up command of his company to go with them, and says he doesn't care who his successor is because eventually he's going to come back and kick the guy's ass to get his company back.
Book 34: Pharos
- The Ultramarines, led by Alexis Polux, meeting the Night Lords in full on battle shows outright why the Ultramarines are superior as legionaries, the Imperial Fists as defensive experts, and the Night Lords are superior as killers. When the Night Lords charge the Ultramarine siege lines it results in 190 dead Night Lords and three wrecked Dreadnoughts, and 10 dead Ultramarines. Yet when the Night Lords start fighting dirty and using ambush tactics they start racking up a big bodycount of their own.
- One scene shows just how good at ambushes the Night Lords are when they hide inside an abandoned space station and let the Ultramarines come to them, when the former realize that the Night Lords could be anywhere; (in context, the Ultramarines could literally reach out and touch Skraivok, and they don't see him or any of the many Night Lords in the room until the traitors start hacking them down.)Sergeant Lethicus: They could be staring right at us.Gendor "The Painted Count" Skraivok': We are.[Cue Ultramarines dying, a lot.]
- One scene shows just how good at ambushes the Night Lords are when they hide inside an abandoned space station and let the Ultramarines come to them, when the former realize that the Night Lords could be anywhere; (in context, the Ultramarines could literally reach out and touch Skraivok, and they don't see him or any of the many Night Lords in the room until the traitors start hacking them down.)
- Sanguinius vs Konrad Curze shows what happens when two seers meet in battle. Each one can see the outcome of every single move they or their enemy make, and accompanying each of them is a vision of their grisly and varied deaths if they fail. Both fight so quickly that their moves can barely be tracked, the fight only ending when Curze gets bored and wants to go back to his conversation with Sanguinius rather than just fighting him.
- Sergeant Mericus Giraldus and his squad give whole new levels of meaning to Badass Normal. Their first moment of awesomeness comes when they rescue an Ultramarine from the Night Lords (repeat: Guardsmen saved a Space Marine's life) and kill two Night Lords, the first by tricking him into running into a krak grenade that blows his leg off and drops him into a river, and the second by Trooper Jondo putting a lasbolt through his helmet's lens, dropping the traitor in one shot.
- They continue to survive right up until the final battle and give their lives to buy Corvo and his Nova Company more time to save Dantioch and the Pharos. They ambush the Night Lords, (the only comparable feat that would be more impressive would be ambushing the freaking Raven Guard), and using their heavy bolters manage to kill 19 of them before they are captured and all given a Cruel and Unusual Death. A squad of nine Guardsmen actually killed just over twice their number in Chaos Space Marines. Even Kellendvar of the VIIIth is damned impressed by it.
- Barabas Dantioch gets his Crowning Moment of Awesome when he uses the Pharos to create a gate between Sotha and the Nightfall and sends all the Night Lords in the Pharos control station through it, shredding all but two of the Night Lords hurled through it into chunks of meat or melted husks of flesh and metal. The best part is that it wasn't his anger fuelling the Pharos, it was his desire to protect his friend Alexis Polux. Yep, a Space Marine used The Powerof Friendship to win the day and kill a hell of a lot of traitors. Doubles as a Heartwarming moment and a Tear Jerker, as it costs Dantioch his life.
- A villainous one occurs at the same time as Gendor Skraivok quickly notices that every Night Lord that hits the gate at an odd angle is leaving pieces of themselves behind as they go through. So what does he do? He runs straight at it and leaps through head-first. It pays off and he is the only Night Lord character on Sotha to survive the novel.
Book 36: The Path of Heaven
- One appears in the opening chapter: a transport of Traitor convoy ships carrying supplies to worlds conquered by the Emperor's Children notes a fleet emerging from the Warp near to their position. The captain in charge of the convoy is suspicious, because while they may have become degenerate monsters, the Emperor's Children are still sticklers for arriving on time. Them the newcomers transmit a message to them. The transmission is a three line Badass Boast: OATHBREAKERS. YOU HAVE BEEN JUDGED. WE ARE THE PUNISHMENT. Cue the White Scars fleet beginning their attack.
- The White Scar Stormseers and Revuel Arvida using their powers to hold back Eidolon and his Noise Marine bodyguards.
- Horus' meeting with Mortarion is all the sweeter for its brevity. The Warmaster appears in all his corrupted glory, and chews glorious scenery while ordering Mortarion to destroy the Scars.
- When the Emperor's Children board one of their ships that was recently raided by the White Scars left adrift in space, they enter the main bridge and find that the bodies of the crew have been piled up all around the chamber. The leader of the Traitors suspects something is wrong...at which point the White Scars hiding beneath the piles of bodies spring their ambush.
- The Kalium Gate is a magnificent setting, and the battle fought there is no less so.
- As noted with Betrayer, Black Library books are prone to the antagonists seeming to just lose to highlight the protagonists. Here, the Scars and Emperor's Children both dish out and take an impressive amount of pain. Both Legions' characters are shown in full, the Scars' blinding assaults and the Emperor's Children's old choreographed tactics melding with their new hedonism. The Scars' landing of a whole heap of armour, which straight away charges across the docking plates, is also spectacular.
- Then the two elites are unveiled: the Kakophoni for the Emperor's Children, ripping apart tanks with their sonic weapons, and the Scars' Stormseers blasting the Emperor's Children apart with their psyker abilities.
- A quiet one between Revuel Arvida and Jaghatai Khan. Arvida is wracked with pain from the flesh-change and reeling from his visions - among other things, a glimpse of the Imperium as it will be, right down to the Emperor's fate. Unsurprisingly, he lapses into total despair, saying things that might very well get a warrior killed. The Khagan's response? The closest thing you'll see to a comforting hug from a Primarch.
- Moreover, after this, Arvida sucks it up and carries on. Get this: he saw the same vision that helped turn Horus to Chaos, and he dealt with it.
- The Battle of Catullus is chock-full of these. Some of the best ones include:
Cario: You are as doomed as I am. But that, brother, that was well fought.
- The second and final duel between Shiban Khan and Prefector Cario of the Emperor's Children. Shiban, having seen Cario cut down his fellow legionary Jochi moments before, goes on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge, his fury compensating for the hindrance provided by his augmetics and hammering the Third Legion swordsman until Cario, who can feel himself losing his battle to stave off Slaaneshi corruption, drops his sword, acknowledges Shiban as a Worthy Opponent and requests a Mercy Kill so he can die as himself.
"The White Scars fought like the daemons themselves, shrugging off wounds that ought to have felled them, laughing with abandon as they surged up against the implacable Deathshroud...They were hopelessly overmatched, but their charge never faltered. The Deathshroud sliced them apart, their scythes throwing blood across the deck, but they refused to fall back".
- The crew of the Vth Legion warship Kaljian, about to be destroyed by the Third Legion's Suzerain, use their vessel's last power to fire boarding torpedoes at their attacker, abandoning their own ship to take the fight to their enemies on their own vessel.
- The redemption of Torghun Khan and the Sagyar Mazan. Yesugei's sacrifice has opened a path into the Webway for the White Scars to escape back to Terra, but with the Death Guard flagship Endurance closing in, Jaghatai knows his fleet will be slaughtered unless his flagship, Swordstorm stays behind as a rearguard. Knowing Mortarion will not destroy the Swordstorm because he wants to kill the Khan in person, Jaghatai and his staff transfer to the Lance of Heaven, while Torghun Khan and 132 of the returned exiles stay onboard to fight the Death Guard in the hopes of finding atonement for their sins by making a last stand to allow the rest of their legion to get away. Outnumbered, facing the Death Guard's best warriors and their Primarch, not one of them falls back; every one of the Sagyar Mazan dies laughing and spitting defiance at their enemies.
- The Webway passage is stunning. Finally, we have an inkling of what the Emperor's great works would have achieved for Mankind.
- Jaghatai's speech on the bridge as an army of Slaaneshi daemons force their way into realspace to try and stop the Scars escaping via the Webway. "Until the ends of time! We defy the dark!"
Jaghatai Khan: There is nowhere left to hide. We know you now. We shall hunt you in every plane of reality. We will cleanse the void, then we will cleanse the warp. So look on me now, yaksha, and know your slayer.
- The final battle between Jaghatai Khan and the Keeper of Secrets Manushya-Rakshasi, which is every bit as epicly awesome as Path of Heaven's cover art makes out; the Primarch and the Greater Daemon tear each other to bits until the Khan's sword shatters and the Slaaneshi Greater Daemon bats him aside. Before Manushya-Rakshasi can kill its true target, Revuel Arvida, the Khan gets back to his feet, throttles the daemon into submission, impales it through the chest with its own sword and then rips the daemon's heart out off its chest.
- A smaller one appears at the very end. Having survived traversing the Webway, what's left of the White Scars' fleet arrives near to Terra to be confronted by an Imperial fleet headed by the Space Wolves' flagship, Hrafnkel. Jaghatai teleports over to the Hranfkel, where he is greeted by a furious Leman Russ and dozens of Space Wolves, all with their bolters trained on him. Russ angrily bellows that many of his Legion died at Alaxxes when the White Scars left them to face the Alpha Legion alone because the Khanwanted to be sure of the facts about the Heresy. Russ also threatens that, given so many in the Imperial Court think the White Scars have turned traitor, he could easily kill Jaghatai to avenge his dead and no one would bat an eyelid. Jaghatai looks him in the eye without fear and tells Russ that he can kill him if it will make things better, but nothing, not even the Emperor will stop the Khan from bringing his Legion where they need to be, and that Russ would do better to save his anger for the Traitors following behind him. After a few moments, Russ bursts out laughing at the sheer absurdity of the situation.]]Leman Russ: Many in the Palace name you a traitor, Jaghatai. You know this? I could kill you here where you stand and few would mourn. That would be my blood-debt satisfied, and I could stand before the ghosts of the slain and tell them I avenged them.Jaghatai Khan: I bring no weapon, brother. Strike me if you wish, but know that I have come through the fires of Hell to bring my sons to Terra. No one, not you, not Horus, not even our Father will prevent me from bringing them where they are destined to be.Leman Russ: [bursts out laughing] You always were a pompous bastard. You come to my halls as a beggar and speak as if you own them. Who else would dare?
Book 38: Angels of Caliban
- The Dreadwing showing exactly why they are seldom called upon, because so few situations require their special brand of death and because so few enemies actually require the horror they can unleash. Phosphex gas grenades, incendiary bombs, even warp-based weaponry; no weapon is taboo to them and everything is acceptable in war. Chanting "We have come, we are death," over and over on the enemy's own vox-net as they march on the traitors, the Dreadwing were perhaps the most awesome of all the Dark Angels. Lorgar and Angron's dogs never stood a chance.
- Farith Redloss, the Dreadbringer, taking on a World Eaters Contemptor Dreadnought alone and killing it with just a Power Axe. Immediately after he takes on three Berzerkers, once again alone, and wins.
- The Dark Angels always being the masters of grav-vehicles, with their Horus Heresy armoury including freaking anti-grav Land-Raiders. Emperor only knows where they vanished to after the Heresy was done.
- Sanguinius just keeps showing exactly why Guilliman's faith in him as the Emperor of Imperium Secundus is justified; he just oozes the right to rule, yet he is fair and wise. The perfect balance between Guilliman's diplomacy and the Lion's violence, he keeps both brothers on the side of right and even while disagreeing and overruling them, neither actually get angry or even annoyed at him. One might even say that these scenes prove that the Emperor was wrong when he named Horus Warmaster and that Horus himself was right, it really should have been Sanguinius.
- Though it's more awesome unseen, when Zahariel and Asmodeus attempt to enter Astelan's mind, they are both violently and instantly rebuffed by a psychic might that nearly crushes them both just by its presence alone. When Zahariel questions Astelan about it, the First Master explains that it was a gift from the Emperor: he implanted a ward in all of the original Angels of Death that made them immune to psyker control and mind reading. Astelan reminisces a bit about those days and the few hints he drops paint the picture of a truly epic conflict, the days when only one Legion existed and the Emperor himself led them into battle against the horrors and madmen that lurked on Terra.
- Though it's a pretty horrific event and perhaps the moment when the Dark Angels cross the Moral Event Horizon, the Dreadwing assault on Alma Mons is quite a spectacle, and a moment of genius for the Lion who engineers an orbital bombardment without the actual orbital part and thus doesn't technically break his oath. Gunships turned into phosphex bombs, drop pods turned into torpedoes, and controlled chemical attacks utterly annihilate the Alma Mons and the Illyria Mountain people, leaving them uninhabitable for at least six hundred years if Farith Redloss' estimate was accurate.
- Guilliman being totally prepared to abandon Imperium Secundus as a bad idea and dissolve it totally if the Lion is allowed to go ahead with the aforementioned orbital bombardment. He will not allow his new Imperium to be saved on the massacred bodies of the Illyrian people. What makes it truly awesome, and heartwarming, is that the Illyrians were descended from barbaric tribes which for a long time warred with Guilliman and rejected his rule. And still, Guilliman puts everything on the line for the people who fought against him. Just because it's the right thing to do.
- Luther feasting the Dark Angels and his own Calibanite Angels, and giving a speech that actually manages to convert even more Dark Angels into becoming part of the Order over the Legion. Really words don't do the scene justice, Luther in this one scene shows why in some ways he is far more dangerous than the likes of Erebus, Typhon and even Konrad Curze; because he can make you believe him with words alone. Warriors who are Legion to the core are actually convinced by his rhetoric to side with Caliban over the Imperium, though some are not and have to be dealt with, it doesn't diminish the fact that Luther actually turned Space Marines away from the Imperium without the use of Chaos corruption or anything like that, just simple words and good questions. The fact that fully half of the Dark Angels became Fallen makes a lot more sense now.
- As the feast gets violent Zahariel takes the chance to hunt and kill Cypher, who takes three of Zahariel's master Librarians with him before he is bested and dies trying to warn Zahariel that what he has chosen to serve is not Caliban's soul but rather a being of Chaos. Shame Zahariel doesn't listen.
- The Lion vs Konrad Curze, Round Two, is every bit as epic as the readers hoped for. The Lion hunts Curze across the devastated Alma Mons, knowing that even a single misstep will give Curze an opportunity to kill him in one blow from hiding. When that blow comes the fight that follows is truly epic. Both Primarchs are masters of a different sort of violence; the Lion is a master swordsman and combatant while Curze is a supreme murderer and ambush predator, and the scene shows it well with the Lion coming out as the better fighter while Curze's dirty-fighting and hit and run tactics make him the better killer. When moving and in hiding Curze does more damage, but when he remains out in the open for long enough the Lion gains the upper hand. The duel is decided when the Lion brings in three Fire Raptors as backup, showing a practical side, and brings down Curze, but then does what nobody expected and actually refuses to kill the deranged Primarch, instead settling for breaking his back, legs and arms, then dragging him back to be tried for his crimes against Macragge.
- The trial of Konrad Curze is a brilliant chapter. Firstly the fact that it is even happening is due to Guilliman arguing that Curze is protected as a human being by the justice system of Macragge and is entitled to a trial and the right to speak, a nice middle finger to Curze's traditional idea of justice. Sanguinius presides as judge and even Curze shows a respect that he has never shown before, never actually interrupting Sanguinius or insulting him, saving that for Guilliman and the Lion. And then Curze does what the Word Bearers and World Eaters failed to do, what his own Legion failed to do, what the Alpha Legion failed to do; he destroys Imperium Secundus. And he doesn't do it with violence, he does it simply by talking, by revealing how the Lion brought him in, shattering the Triumvirate and getting the Lion and the Dark Angels banished from Ultramar.
- Guilliman's utter rage when the Lion's actions are revealed was a moment of awesome on its own. If Sanguinius had not intervened it seemed very possible that Guilliman and the Ultramarines would have killed the Lion then and there for the war crime he committed against their people. Though Guilliman settles for breaking the Lion Sword over his knee, he follows it up with an absolutely epic one-liner that leaves the Lion speechless at first and then only able to shout like a child as Guilliman walks away.Guilliman: Your sword for your oath. Such has become your honour, knight of Caliban.
- Guilliman's utter rage when the Lion's actions are revealed was a moment of awesome on its own. If Sanguinius had not intervened it seemed very possible that Guilliman and the Ultramarines would have killed the Lion then and there for the war crime he committed against their people. Though Guilliman settles for breaking the Lion Sword over his knee, he follows it up with an absolutely epic one-liner that leaves the Lion speechless at first and then only able to shout like a child as Guilliman walks away.
- Astelan sneaking onto the Spear of Truth, his old ship which was given to him by the Emperor and then taken from him by the Lion after he answered a call to arms by Horus, loyal at the time, after he had been sent to Caliban. He steals the ship from its current commander, in the process utterly derailing Luther's plan and being one of the factors that drives the feast into violence and gets many Dark Angels killed. And when Luther tells him that he is banished from the Order, Astelan talks his way back into being Luther's second in command in only a few paragraphs.
- The Lion risking death or worse by a violent instant teleportation via the Tuchulcha into Sanguinius's throne room, knowing that he may well be gunned down by Guilliman and the Ultramarines on sight, so that he can tell his brothers the truth he has realized through Curze's rhetoric and confessed prophecies. Terra has not fallen, and the Emperor lives!
Book 39: Praetorian of Dorn
- The Alpha Legion finally get to deploy fully in a novel and they do not disappoint. From small-scale squad operations in the heart of the Imperial Palace to a full-scale Harrowing against the orbital fortresses at Pluto and the stations beyond in the Sol System. Everything the Legion has is used, from human operatives to Headhunter kill-teams to the elite Lernaean Terminator cadres, and Alpharius takes the field for the very first time with the Pale Spear in hand. French wonderfully shows how deadly the XX Legion are when they go all out, and how their enemies scramble to react even when they are forewarned.
- Dorn calmly walking into the Terra Strategium, while everybody else is panicking and calling "Fire on the mountain", the code-phrase that will let the Sol System know Horus is here, and deducing in moments using just what he has heard from inside this room that this isn't Horus, but rather a different enemy, and that the real battle has yet to come. Moments before, the opening chaos of the diversion was so masterfully orchestrated that Archamus, a veteran Imperial Fist and captain of Rogal Dorn's own bodyguards, is convinced that the Sons of Horus, the Iron Warriors, and the Night Lords are already in the system. Rogal Dorn dispels that all with a few short words.
- The Fists give as good as they get though, particularly when Archamus and his squad fight Phocron and his Headhunter team, Archamus breaking Phocron in only two attacks.
- Dorn charging into the Hall of Primarchs and killing two Alpha Legionnaires in the instant it takes them to realize he is upon them, then taking out every member of the Headhunters present bar two with a single shot by listening to the minute sounds they make.
- The fact that the Alpha Legion's mission on Terra was simply to send a message to Dorn by blowing up the statues of all the Primarchs in the Palace except for Dorn and Alpharius, to show him who he was fighting. They did all that just to taunt Dorn.
- This later gets a subtle callback with another awesome moment: after finding the message, Rogal Dorn ordered that no one outside of the Huscarls were to know of the events of what happened in the Hall of Primarchs. Not the rest of the VII Legion, not the Council of Terra, not even the Adeptus Custodes. The implication was that only the Emperor would be allowed to know, and that was only if He asked about it. Despite those precautions, Malcador the Sigillite still learned about what happened. There's a reason the Emperor appointed him Imperial Regent in His absence: that old man knows everything that happens on Terra.
- Archamus and Kestros get a subtle one when they convince Andromeda-17 to join their team, even after she has refused, by making her wonder why they would be asking for her help, and that it must be unprecedented and massive if they need the help of a member of the Selenar gene cults.
- Alpharius, the real Alpharius, finally takes to the field and shows that he may be the Last Primarch, but he's still a Primarch and more than capable of feats like charging a fully armed Imperial Fists breacher squad armed with only a bolter and killing all five of them in only three seconds, or killing an entire Fists bridge crew before they even realize they are under attack. The Fists actually consider him such a great threat near the end that when Archamus and Kestros are preparing to board a ship they believe Alpharius is on, their plan is to identify him and then snap-teleport away before nuking the ship to hell, and if the teleport doesn't work, nuke the ship anyway.
- The fight that everybody wanted to see, Dorn vs Alpharius, and it is as epic as everybody hoped. Alpharius dances around Dorn with grace an Eldar would envy, even his very fighting style is as misdirecting and confusing as he is, while Dorn stoically endures and weathers the storm as his Legion is famous for. But Archamus' Heroic Sacrifice is what allows Dorn to turn aside Alpharius' deathblow and deal one himself by severing Alpharius's hands, impaling him with his own spear, and then driving his chainsword through the Hydra Lord's head. That's right: ROGAL DORN KILLED ALPHARIUS!!
- Really it's just awesome that French had the daring to kill a Primarch like that in a twist that nobody saw coming.
- Sergeant Kestros becoming a Huscarl and taking a new oath-name. We don't find out what it is, but does anyone have any doubts that it's Archamus?
Book 41: The Master of Mankind
- The War in the Webway is finally shown and it is as awesome as everyone hoped, [The Ten Thousand Custodes and the Sisters of Silence fighting alongside Titan Legions and the Cybernetica and Reductor Ordos of the Mechanicum in ancient dead Eldar cities against numberless hordes of Daemons from all of the Dark Gods, the book and war are both filled with awesome moments.
- As the city of Calastar falls to the Daemonic horde the Custodian Dynastes Squad fight for 257 hours straight without interruption before being saved at the last minute by Diocletion, Arkhan Land and Zephon who come in as Big Damn Heroes.
- The fact that The End of Empires considers the Sisters of Silence to be a threat so great it outright ignores the Custodians to go after them. It fears them, and it is quite possibly the most powerful Daemon in existence short of the Dark Gods themselves.
- Constantin Valdor makes a brief appearance absolutely slaughtering a combined assault from the World Eaters, Word Bearers and Sons of Horus with only Sister Jenetia Krole to back him up. His utter massacre of the legionaries is so one-sided that on seeing it Zephon actually wonders if the Custodes were designed with the intention of killing Space Marines.
- The Warlord Titan, Scion of Vigilant Light, coming to the rescue of its Reaver-class comrade Black Sky by going up against the Traitor Warhound Daughter of the Red Sun and the Traitor Warlord Lexarak. Scion is mortally wounded, nearly out of ammunition, and it's entire bridge-crew bar the Princeps is dead. It crushes Red Sun like a gnat and then claims one of the most epic Titan kills ever written, it literally tears out Lexarak's heart and crushes it, sending the traitorous machine into the endless depths of the Webway.
- The overall portrayal of the Daemon of the First Murder deserves a mention, especially once it runs riot during the battle.
- After The End of Empires possesses the Archimandrite and starts laying waste to the Sisters of Silence, Zephon the Blood Angel, who up until that point had been The Load and was only brought into the Webway to see if being exposed to Chaos would turn him traitor (like taking a canary into a mine), jump-packs onto the Daemon's arm and slashes it off, freeing the Custodian Dreadnought that was being held up one-handed in that arm, then takes off with an aerial grace "that a flighted creature would envy", leaving behind a bandolier of grenades that detonate a second later taking, off the Archimandrite's head. And then that is followed up by Baroness Jaya charging the Daemon in a Knight-Castigator armed with an ammo-less cannon and a broken power sword, and still putting the broken sword through the monster's heart!
- Better yet, Demski-Bowden actually paraphrases the old "drive me closer, I want to hit them with my sword" meme with this scene.
- But all of the above pales in comparison to the moment when the Emperor of Mankind finally takes to the field of battle, and the mere sight of Him makes The Legions of Hell lose their collective shit: mighty Daemons of Chaos run in horror and lesser warp-spawn die from simply being in the same battlefield as Him. The Daemonic horde even begins to turn on itself as some Daemons attempt to cannibalize their kin to gain enough power to survive what is about to happen. It doesn't help them. The Emperor draws his sword and with a single strike sets the Webway on fire, thousands of Daemons eradicated in an instant, multiple Greater Daemons attack only to be butchered like dogs. Only the End of Empires is capable of facing the Emperor, and even it loses. Say what you want about Aaron Dembski-Bowden's interpretation of Him as a person, but it left no doubt that Chaos isn't just afraid of the Emperor, it has good reason to fear Him.
- When the Emperor sets the Webway ablaze, it's shown that amidst the flames he summons a legion of dead Custodes and Space Marines to fight the Daemons, all wreathed in fire and with blackened armor. And at their head is "a giant among giants, its great hands bared and ready as it seared forwards at the crest of the tidal fire. The tenth son of a dying empire, so briefly reborn in his fathers immolating wrath." For the briefest of moments, Ferrus Manus gets to fight for his father from beyond the grave.
- Really one of the most awesome parts of this book is that no matter which side you support, Loyalist or Traitor, when you realize the full scope of the Emperor's dream, and witness it's death as the Emperor seals the Webway for the final time, you will mourn for it. It was so beautiful...
Book 46: Ruinstorm
- Sanguinius has a VERY dark yet utterly awesome moment in how he deals with Konrad Curze. First he brings him along to the surface of Davin, promising that they will find a way to change their destinies and prophesied deaths. Since Konrad has used his inevitable death at the hands of The Emperor's assassins as the ultimate justification for all his atrocities and acts of depravity, this idea UTTERLY terrifies him as it would mean all his evil acts were done for nothing. However Sanguinius once again reminds him that if he comes back with Sanguinius to Terra, the Emperor may well forgive him for all he has done, which Konrad actually starts to believe, causing him to feel hope for the first time in his life...which Sanguinius coldly and calmly rips away from him by reminding him that while the Emperor may forgive Curze, Sanguinius will never forgive him, and he will never allow Curze the chance to gain the Emperor's forgiveness. As he tells Curze this, he forces him into a Stasis Coffin set to be launched into the void, mentioning to Curze's absolute horror that while he will never escape his death at the hands of the Emperor's assassin, there was nothing in any prophesy of when he would die, meaning that he will be trapped fully conscious within his coffin for possibly thousands of years until his executioner finally comes, causing the Night Haunter to have a final panicked Oh, Crap! moment as the stasis field engulfs him. While Sanguinius may be the nicest, most humane, and most honorable Primarch in the Imperium, even he has his limits, and after everything Konrad did to his brothers, especially Vulkan, and every act of gleeful sadism and brutality he and his minions inflicted upon innocent civilians and noble astartes alike, seeing Sanguinius treat him with entirely deserved cruelty was thoroughly satisfying.
Book 49: Wolfsbane
- One for the villains: during the battle between the Space Wolves and the Sons of Horus aboard the Vengeful Spirit, Abaddon is confronted by Bror Tyrfinger and his squad, trying to disable the guns of the Vengeful Spirit. One of Tyrfinger's men tries to kill Abaddon with a headshot and Abaddon casually blocks the shot with the back of his hand. When Tyrfinger's squad ask Abaddon if he intends to kill them all singlehandedly, Abaddon promptly disabuses them of that notion, then tells his newly arrived squad of Juastaerin Terminators to gun the Wolves down.
- A moment for the very nature of Chaos; Lorgar, presenting himself as closest to the Gods and with the greatest understanding of the primordial, having led Legions astray and now believing himself as fit to lead with Horus slowly expiring thanks to Russ' wound, leads an insurrection that involves bringing Fulgrim under his control. His elaborate plotting is all for naught, however, as Horus is revived and dismisses the Urizen with a vicious battering, before dismissing him from the march on Terra. Even Chaos' most dedicated follower is still ultimately subject to its whims and utter mercilessness.
- Maloghurst. Just Maloghurst, who braves in-fighting among his brothers, the deceptions of the Word Bearers and boarding actions from the Blood Angels, ultimately sacrificing his own life to bring the slowly dying Horus back to his Legion.
- At the end of the book, the assembled traitor fleet waits for Horus to give the order we've all been waiting fifty-plus books for, signaling that the beginning of the end is near...
Book 54: The Buried Dagger
- For all the readers who had followed the many subplots of Malcador and his Knight-Errants throughout the series, the final reveal of the chosen eight (not nine because of Loken) Space Marines' identities and purpose to form a secret knightly order that will eventually become the daemon-hunting Grey Knights in modern 40K is a big one in and of itself. They even got a special meeting with The Emperor of Mankind himself!
The Horus Heresy: Siege of Terra
- In the midst of his battleship being boarded by the Sons of Horus, Sigismund ends up fighting Horus Aximand, easily besting Little Horus and cutting both of his hands off. Aximand only survives because Sigismund is teleported to another Imperial Fists vessel, his own ship on the verge of being overrun, before he can deliver the killing blow.
- Let's dig into this further. Aximand comes for Sigismund carefully, holding back while his elite Fifth Company attack Sigismund and his warriors. Sigismund carves through them, but he's taking blows, having bones broken as he goes. Aximand looks set to kill him when Rann and Boreas teleport aboard. Boreas takes on Sigismund and is mortally wounded, but Sigismund rallies and wrecks Little Horus despite his injuries.
- Abaddon gets his share of badass moments, both in flashback and the present-day narrative of the story.
- The first flashback shows him killing his father and spurning his chance at kingship, rather than turn on his oath-companions. Not to mention the whole gangs he wipes out during his exile when they try to hunt him down.
- Then there's the scene where his fleet plunges down to Luna in a perfectly orchestrated attack, right down to Abaddon's flagship ramming the famous Ring of Luna with such force that the structure fragments right across its circumference.
- Despite all of the odds facing them the Shattered Legions crew of the Sisypheum managed to infiltrate Luna and successfully escape with the Magna Mater, preventing it from falling into the hands of the traitors. At the end of the novella, it was revealed that the Magna Mater was known as Sangprimus Portum in modern day 40k which was used to create the Primaris Space Marines by Belisarius Cawl.
- Magnus the Red gets one when he shielded the Sisypheum with his flagship Photep from enemy torpedoes at the very last second.
- After spending months behind the Walls of the Imperial Palace, Jaghatai Khan pulls a Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right! by taking half the White Scars away to launch attacks on the Traitor forces, which have been rampaging across Terra for weeks. Sanguinius cannot confirm if Jaghatai Will live or die, but what he does confirm is that Jaghatai will save innocent lives with his actions, which is enough for the Khan.
- Sanguinius is inspired by this to not forget that the while they fighting to protect the Emperor, they are loyal to the Emperor for His dream for humanity. He then orders the Blood Angels and the Imperial Fists defending the Helios Gate to open the Gate and allow the human conscripts to retreat within the walls, and helps them out by slaughtering the Death Guard assaulting the Daylight Wall.
- Lucoryphus, the Chaos Raptor from Aaron Dembski-Bowden's Night Lords series, proves that his claim to being the first on the Walls of the Imperial Palace was not a lie.Lucoryphus: (translated from Nostraman) We are the first upon the walls!
- When the Night Lords make planetfall, Gendor Skraivok, who has declared himself Lord Commander of the Night Lords in the absence of Konrad Curze and Sevatar, and has shown himself to represent the worst of what the Night Lords can be, comes across Raldoron, who has been stated to be on the same level of killing prowess as Abaddon, Sigismund, and the aforementioned Sevatar, and decides to use his daemon blade to claim the First Captain's head. However, the daemon abandons Skraivok, and Raldoron quickly shows why he got his reputation, damaging Skraivok's suit and leaving him hanging on the wall's edge. Skraivok begs for mercy, and Raldoron sums up his plea with this:Raldoron: You are and always were an evil Legion. You took the Emperor's mission and twisted it. Selfish. Monstrous. Tormentors of the weak. If Horus had not turned, I would have gladly lead the hunt for your kind myself. I thank you from my heart that you came to my sword and saved my the trouble of looking.
Skraivok: Wait, I give you my surrender. You beat me. I am your prisoner!
Raldoron: There can be prisoners in this war. How much mercy have you shown to all those that you harmed? I have as much mercy for you as you do for them. Now get off my wall! (kicks him off the Daylight Wall)
- Sanguinius' first scene in the book. With the Spear of Telesto, he manages to singlehandedly destroy a Warlord Titan, then intimidate three Warhounds into retreating.
- Jaghatai Khan and the White Scars leading a massive jetbike charge into the ranks of heretics and Death Guards, decimating their ranks and still managing to retreat back to the lines of defense with relatively minor losses.
- Olly Piers, an ordinary conscript, becomes the future ideal of an Imperial Guardsman by representing the Badass Normal with unparalled Heroic Spirit. When under attack by a group of possessed, he's the only one who keeps his nerve and rallies the other guards around him to fight off the masses of heretics for a time, only to be saved by a Custodian. Later, while his position is overrun by a World Eater assault, he still manages to rally soldiers around an Imperial banner, then being saved again when Jenetia Krole kills a World Eater that charges them, which may or may not have kickstarted the myth of "Ollanius Pius defending the Emperor against Horus". Finally as the Eternity Wall Space Port is doomed and invaded by World Eaters and Daemons, Olly faces down Angron alone, and keeps fighting until the Daemon Primarch kills him.
- Dorn and the other loyalists show us why Terra held out so long, by planning a trap around a supposed flaw in the Saturnine Wall that they allow the Traitors to learn of. Abaddon, alongside Fulgrim and the entire Emperor's Children Legion, take the bait. Fulgrim (wearing his old form) faces Dorn atop the wall, taunting him about his inevitable defeat, only for Dorn to reveal that the flaw had already been repaired and the entire Traitor attack force had already been ambushed and killed, including the entire Sons of Horus contingent and over 20,000 Emperor's Children. He follows this up by carving into his brother so hard that even a Daemon Primarch of Slaanesh can't stand the pain any longer and quits the field.Rogal Dorn: You're holding a gate for no one. You're just an idiot standing on a wall.
- As part of Dorn's trap, Loken, Garro, and the other loyalists finally take their revenge on the Sons of Horus. How, you may ask? By annihilating three whole companies of the Traitor Legion, including the Justaerin and the entire Mournival. By the end of the battle Loken has claimed the head of Little Horus Aximand, Garro has cut down Falkus Kibre, and Loken has put down the possessed corpse calling itself Tormageddon. Even Abaddon, the Sole Survivor, has to be teleported out from certain death and is left bleeding and weeping, begging to be sent back to die.
- Abaddon also suffers a particularly satisfying Villainous Breakdown after several books of killing loyalists and getting away with it. During the ambush that see all the Justaerin killed, he keeps his nerve for a good three minutes, trying to figure out how to escape and still be a threat in the eventuality he gets out of the trap. However, as the situation grows desperate, Abaddon begins to break down, blaming everyone's failure but himself and then trying to salvage any bit of honor he can by claiming that he wanted to fight up close anyway. And then he's even denied an honorable death when he's teleported back and goes weeping, begging to be brought back to the fight.
- Horus Aximand's Villainous Breakdown is not as detailed as Abaddon's, but no less satisfying. By the time Loken confronts him, Aximand had lost his entire section of fifty marines, expended all his ammunition bypassing the Imperial Army troopers and legionaries searching for him, and is still trapped under the Saturnine District. When Aximand finally sees Loken, dressed in the livery of the Luna Wolves, Aximand goes into as close to a state of panic as a Space Marine can get. While dueling, Loken says he would have preferred the Warmaster or the First Captain. Aximand counters Loken has him, and Loken responds with "You were always the wrong Horus". This breaks what little control Aximand has left and charges Loken, who parries Aximand's sword with Tylos Rubio's force sword—which Loken manages to set alight—as Garviel Loken finally achieves the moment fans have waited for since Galaxy in Flames: drive his chainsword into the Traitor Legionary's chest, then finally decapitates Horus Aximand with Rubio's blade.
Audio-DramasThe Horus Heresy audio novels also deserve mention:
- In Garro: Oath of Moment, we have this scene: "I am Nathaniel Garro, and I am a Legion of one."
Tylos Rubio: No, NO! You would have me leave the side of my sworn battle-brothers in their darkest hour? I refuse!Nathaniel Garro: It is The Sigillite's command. His word is the Emperor's word.Tylos Rubio: ...The Sigillite's command be damned. You give me no recourse, Garro. And so, on my honour as a son of Macragge, I choose to defy it. Even if it means I will perish here, even if you colour me a rebel like Lorgar's turncoats, I defy it!Rubio and Nathaniel Garro, during the Battle of Calth
- Tylos Rubio, a Codicier of the Ultramarines Legion, essentially refuses to obey a direct order from Malcador the Sigilite, who is essentially the second most powerful person in the Imperium of Man after the Emperor.
- In Garro: Sword of Truth, we have Nathaniel Garro of the Death Guard Legion, now Malcador's agent for the precursor Inquisition, dueling a Custodian Guard of the Emperor in a sword fight.
- The climax of the same story is impressive too. Trying to escape the frigate Daggerline to warn the Imperium of its crew's loyalty to Horus, Garro, Rubio and Captain Macer Varren of the World Eaters are confronted by Hakim, a Captain of the White Scars who was trying to infiltrate Terra at Horus's behest, in a chamber where Hakim's men had murdered a large number of loyalist Emperor's Children Space Marines. Hakim orders his men to kill the trio, resulting in a Curb-Stomp Battle as the three hand the White Scars their heads-Varren and Garro in particular carving their way through the traitors. After losing most of his men (and his eye), Hakim decides to be pragmatic and orders his remaining troops to gun the three down...only for Rubio to reveal and activate a teleportation device he pulled from one of the murder victims around them, enabling the three to escape the traitors' grasp and get a warning out. The Oh, Crap! tone of Hakim's voice is clear to hear as he realises what's about to happen, helped along by the Climactic Music that starts as the heroes make their escape.Hakim: We will cut you down like the animals you are! (notices the activating teleport homer) No...NOOOO! Stop them! Open fire! (Cue Climactic Music)Narration: Khorarin's teleport homer went active in Rubio's grip with a flash; sheets of emerald fire enveloped the three warriors and in the blink of an eye, they were gone.
- In Grey Angel, The Reveal of Luther as the interrogator questioning one of Malcador's Chosen.
- In The Long Night, Sevatar of the Night Lords Legion is aided by a young Astropath girl named Altani, who senses his suffering due to rejecting his psyker gifts and genuinely wishes to help him, who speaks to him while he is a prisoner. For her truly remarkable act of kindness Altani is whipped for seven days and nights and paralyzed, and yet she still aids Sevatar by immobilizing the Dark Angels that are escorting him to a prisoner barge, and tells him to run while he can. And what does Sevatar, a self-confessed murderer, traitor, liar, thief, and psychopath, do? He goes to the Astropathic Choir, finds the overseer that whipped his new friend, and brutally, and slowly, garrotes the bastard with his own lash before surrendering to the Dark Angels and being restored to his cell. A golden opportunity for escape, and Sevatar relinquished it to avenge a little girl who was kind to him.