With the end of 7th edition and the beginning of 8th edition, the story timeline of Warhammer 40,000 jumped forward. The final narrative expansion for 7th edition, The Gathering Storm, saw the siege and destruction of Cadia, the birth of Ynnead, and the return of the Primarch Roboute Guilliman. Then with 8th edition’s release, the timeline moved forward to after Roboute Guilliman’s Indomitus Crusade had brought some stability back to the reeling Imperium and spread the new primaris space marines throughout the galaxy. Then the Psychic Awakening books that were the last releases for 8th edition and the new 9th edition books confusingly returned the timeline to during the Indomitus Crusade.
The Timeline as Written
The Gathering Storm
Abaddon’s 13th Black Crusade focuses its might on the planet of Cadia. Under the command of Lord Castellan Creed, the Cadians and their allies hold out against the Black Legion’s attacks while reinforcements arrive. Abaddon brings a Blackstone Fortress into the fight, but the Phalanx manages to disable it with the help of the Legion of the Damned. Then in a final strike, Abaddon has the damaged Blackstone Fortress hurled into Cadia to destroy the planet. Belisarius Cawl, Saint Celestine, and Inquisitor Katerina Greyfax lead a ragtag group of survivors off the planet and they are rescued by Aeldari followers of the newly reborn god Ynnead. The Ynnari escort the survivors through the webway and eventually to Ultramar. Macragge is under attack by the Black Legion, but Belisarius Cawl and Yvraine manage to bring Roboute Guilliman out of statis and restore his vitality with a combination of Cawl’s ingenuity and Ynnead’s power over death. The primarch is able to command Macragge’s defenses and repel the attacks. Then the group leaves Ultramar in order to reach Holy Terra. While on their way, forces of Tzeentch led by Magnus the Red attempt to stop them resulting in a battle as they emerge from a long hidden webway portal on Luna. The defenders of Holy Terra, including the Adeptus Custodes, join the battle and push back the forces of Chaos. Then Guilliman journeys to the Imperial Palace, enters the throne room, and becomes Lord Commander of the Imperium.
The Indomitus Crusade
The destruction of Cadia unleashed warp storms across the galaxy and the Cicatrix Maledictum cut half of the Imperium off from the light of the Astronomicon. In order to stabilize the realm, Roboute Guilliman launched a massive crusade known as the Indomitus Crusade. He has Cawl unleash primaris space marines (a project Cawl started millenia before at Guilliman’s request). Some primaris are sent to bolster particular chapters throughout the Imperium with Adeptus Custodes escorts to ensure that their chapters accept them into their ranks and trust the news of the reborn primarch. The others fight in the Indomitus Crusade in legion-sized formations as greyshields. As the crusade progresses, these greyshields are both left with existing chapters to bolster them and used to found entirely new chapters as needed. The Indomitus Crusade ended at the Battle of Raukos. There Guilliman had a vast victory celebration and disbands the greyshields by giving the remaining members their chapter assignments.
The Plague Wars
After the Battle of Raukos marks the end of the Indomitus Crusade, Guilliman returned to Ultramar. The realm of the Ultramarines had been under attack by the Death Guard under the command of Mortarian. The daemon primarch attempts to kill his brother Guilliman, but is instead forced to retreat from Ultramar. During these battles, Marneus Calgar, Chapter Master of the Ultramarines, felt he was becoming obsolete. The new primaris space marines weresuperior to him and his fellow firstborn, and with the primarch returned, his authority over Ultramar had been diminished.
After the Plague Wars, Marneus Calgar was sent to the critical Vigilus system. Vigilus sat at one of only two stable routes across the Cicatrix Maledictum, so it was critical to allowing the Imperium to maintain contact with the far half of the galaxy. The world was initially under attack by orks and genestealer cultists, and then the Black Legion joined the fray. Marneus Calgar was badly wounded during the battle, and he was saved by being the first marine to cross the Rubicon Primaris and be reborn as a primaris space marine. Abaddon was forced to retreat from Vigilus, but the world had been greatly damaged by the war.
The Psychic Awakening books told various stories from across the galaxy. The Ynnari continued their struggle for surviral with both Drukhari and Slaaneshi daemons hunting them. The Black Templars defended a world from Heretic Astartes. Mephiston crossed the Rubicon Primaris as the Blood Angels continued their battles against Hive Fleet Leviathan. The Grey Knights and Dark Angels worked to stop the Thousand Sons from completing a powerful ritual. The T’au Empire faced off against the Astra Militarum and Genestealer Cults. Ragnar Blackmane battled Ghazghkull Thraka and crossed the Rubicon Primaris. The Adeptus Mechanicus laid siege to a daemon world. Fabius Bile stole an artefact from the Death Guard and then pitted Typhus against the Adeptus Custodes in order to escape. The Indomitus Crusade encountered a region of space known as the Pariah Nexus where necrons had managed to cut the galaxy off from the warp.
The Psychic Awakening books are also where the 8th edition timeline started to have issues. Some of the books take place during the Indomitus Crusade but after Marneus Calgar’s rebirth as a primaris marine. This seemed to cause a weird time loop where the events of the Plague Wars and Vigilus needed to happen before the end of the Indomitus Crusade even though they were clearly written as happening after the end of the crusade.
Indomitus, the 9th edition launch box, continued one of the Psychic Awakening stories. Ultramarines in the Indomitus Crusade were fighting against necrons in the Pariah Nexus. The Silent King had returned to the galaxy making the necrons more dangerous than ever and bringing his Szarekhan Dynasty into the fray. Indomitus and the 9th edition Core Book did not really address the timeline oddity that the game’s narrative had seemingly moved both forwards and backwards over the course of 8th edition.
The Timeline Fix
During the Black Library Warhammer Preview this weekend, Games Workshop finally acknowledged the timeline issue and announced their fix for it. During the interview with Guy Haley, he announced Godblight, the third book in the Dark Imperium series that has covered the Plague Wars, and said that the first two books of the series, Dark Imperium and Plague War, would have updated versions to retcon the timeline. Now the Plague Wars would happen during the Indomitus Crusade. Rather than the beginning of the book being the end of the Indomitus Crusade, it will now be the ending of the first phase of the Indomitus Crusade. The end of the first phase will still coincide with the disbanding of the remaining greyshields. This also means that Vigilus and Psychic Awakening all occur during the Indomitus Crusade.
I think this is the most sensible fix for the timeline and it makes the future of the overall Indomitus Crusade stories wide open now where before the outcome was known. What do you think about the timeline revision?