So you are interested in Age of Sigmar and now you want to read some of the fantastic stories set in this world, or listen to some of the renowned audio dramas, but you have no idea where to start or what to look for.
This guide will help you to navigate in the world of Age of Sigmar books and audios and to find your way towards the content most relevant to you in terms of black library Age of Sigmar books.
Black Library and the various formats of books
Black Library is the publishing division of Game Workshop, specialised in novels and audiobooks set in the different words for which GW is proprietor. The biggest collection of which is represented by Warhammer 40,000 universe and its numerous spin-offs, following the sci-fi genre, or setting.
Age of Sigmar is a more fantasy setting, that shares some communalities with the World-That-Was or Old World, the scene for Warhammer Fantasy Battles game and its many novels. Age of Sigmar stories are as recent as the game, first released in 2015.
Fans of the previous setting may recognise some of the names of the more recent books, as some protagonists indeed have their origins in the Old World. A classic example is Gotrek, the basically immortal dwarf slayer that survived even the end of the world and reappeared, a bit disoriented, in the Mortal Realms.
Black Library books are available in both digital and paper format. Many books are first released in hardback and then, on average one year later, in a cheaper paperback version. Once the paperback version is released, the hardback version is removed from the market. Paper format is not available for ever, there is usually a limited printed availability, finished which, the only available format remains the digital one.
However, often the most successful stories are reprinted, either individually or through anthologies or omnibus, huge collections of stories, novels and novellas. The difference between novel and novella is the size of the story, where novellas are shorter than novels but longer than short stories. How many words a novel should contain to not be defined a novella is a contentious argument but in general Black Library sells novels as stand-alone books and novellas in collections.
The Mortal Realms are vast and full of different factions and settings. To choose which one to start with is indeed a titanic task. You may have your favourite army and want to learn more about them, however consider that most plots follow the “good guys” beating the “bad guys”, where the bad guys are usually any who are not the mainstream Order factions.
Stormcast Eternals and humans coming from Azyr, the realm of Heavens, are the most usual heroes of those stories, but in a grim universe like the Mortal Realms, there’s always a thin line between morally good and “doing the best they can in that situation”. Do not be surprised to find Stormcast exterminating innocent people because they are infected by Chaos forces or plot twists involving other races helping humans for their own interests.
Finally, another source of good stories is GW’s own magazine, White Dwarf. Periodically some of the most acclaimed Black Library authors will write a short story, in particular as part of a campaign of greater events like the Malign Sorcery one that introduced the second edition of the main game of Age of Sigmar.
Warhammer Fantasy versus Age of Sigmar books
When searching for fantasy books published by Black Library you may encounter those branded as “stories from the Old World”. They refer to adventures written during the period where Warhammer Fantasy (WHF) was the main fantasy setting and Age of Sigmar did not exist yet.
Currently no new stories have been published for WHF and all those that you can find on their store are republished books or collections branded Warhammer Chronicles. All recent books are set in the Mortal Realms, at least until ForgeWorld, a subsidiary of Games Workshop, will release a mysterious new game called Old World of which we don’t have any date or really very much info on yet.
The main difference in the setting is that WHF has a well-established map layout and history, within which is difficult to write any event that would not contrast or alter the real events. It is like writing a book dedicated to Roman life, while there is a minimum of freedom in the story, real events and the reader’s knowledge of the same age, will dictate to which extent the story can evolve.
While on one side this means that the environment, the distribution of the races, the history is all familiar and easy to connect with, it limits creativity and artistic expression.
On the other side the Mortal Realms are a constant evolving and mutating environment, except few places and few events, nothing much else is known about them. New races, fantastic animals, or imaginary cities, can raise and fall as quickly as the pen of the author can write without interfering at all with the setting.
The downside of this is that any story not set in the most well-known places will not feel familiar, every book can describe new things never seen in the miniature game allowing your imagination (and the author’s) to run rampant.
In the end it’s a matter of preference if you favour well known and established lore (more than 20 years) or greater artistic freedom.
Where to find the books/audios for Age of Sigmar?
The main website for Warhammer stories used to be the Black Library. Currently over there you can only find ebook or mp3 formats, few books seem to be available physically.
Your next official store for physical copies is Games Workshop website itself. Here you’ll find only the most recent or still available books and CDs, so the stock is more limited than Black Library. If you don’t mind eReaders the former would be the best option.
If you really love the feeling of paper pages, then there are also few third-party retailers that have some stock of recent or unsold books at a discounted price.
Amazon also provides different books in paperback or audible format, often even on pre-order months before their official release. Hardback books however are rarer on Amazon, so some books may not be available until the paperback version is released, months after.
If you lost a book that you are really interested into and don’t want the digital format, then your next option is the second-hand market with eBay being the biggest store for that but you can find really good deals also in your local apps. Attention that some out of production books can become rare and explode in price. Unless you are a collector, we recommend to buy digital and wait for a reprint.
There are also quite a number audio books on audible (you can get a free audibook via the free trail).
Lore based stories
If you are interested in the lore of Age of Sigmar, the battletomes that accompany each army are usually a good source of information. If you want to read the stories behind those however, there are few books that follow the genesis of the Age of Sigmar and the more recent events.
If you want more details about the lore and setting without reading a full novella you can check out our summary. Also 2+Tough on YouTube has great videos dedicated to the lore extracted from the various sources.
The coming of the Age of Sigmar is described in The Realmgate Wars series. The two books, volume 1 and 2 (now only ebooks) are more a collection of stories describing the first stormhosts involved in the retaking of the Mortal Realms from the forces of Chaos. They where earlier released in multiple small books.
These are the stories of Vandus Hammerhand and his Hammers of Sigmar, Lord-Celestant Gardus and his Hallowed Knights and many other heroes fighting across Aqshy, the realm of Fire, Ghyran, the realm of Nature, Chamon, the realm of Metal or Ghur, the realm of Beasts.
This series is a great introduction to the setting but really outdated and the many authors intertwining to describe a continuous story have all different styles. If you want to explore all details of what happened it could be a good read, otherwise we recommend listening to 2+Tough YouTube series dedicated to the Realmgate Wars.
A great read introducing the current lore and the dramatic events causing the Necroquake, is Soul Wars from Josh Reynolds detailing the complex relationship between Sigmar and Nagash through the eyes of two of their champions.
Before an important release, like a new spin-off game or a new army, Games Workshop usually also releases a book dedicated to that event or faction. They don’t necessarily expand on the existing timeline but provide more context on that game and setting.
Of those an honourable mention deserves those detailing the setting around Warhammer Underworlds, the competitive deck-building miniature game from GW.
The first book dedicated to the series was Shadespire: the Mirrored City, from Josh Reynolds. This was soon joined by multiple other books and audiobooks like Shadespire: the Darkness in the Glass.
The series left Shyish, the realm of Death, and continued in Ghur, following the events of the main game, in Beastgrave from C L Werner and Direchasm, a collection of short stories from many authors.
Warcry: the Anthology is another collection of short stories set in the Eightpoints introducing the main warbands from the core set of the skirmish game and Warcry Catacombs: Blood of the Everchosen from Richard Strachan moving the setting to the narrow passages of the underbelly of the Eightpoints.
Many short stories set in Age of Sigmar world are first published as eBooks, either as part of a release, as part of an event like Christmas or Summer or individually. Many of these eventually end up in an Anthology, a collection of those stories.
For easiness of explaining, we will divide them roughly in three categories, note that this is just an arbitrary division and there is no such difference in Games Workshop webstores.
Mixed anthologies contain stories across all different game settings published by Games Workshop. This includes Warhammer 40K universe and the Mortal Realms, but sometimes also Necromunda (skirmish game set in the same worlds as 40K) and other settings.
These books are almost always paperback representing an incredible saving as they are jam-packed with good stories. If you are interested only in Age of Sigmar stories you can skip the one that do not interest you. Note that they are not marked as such but usually you can understand it from the first pages, the plot description sometime mentioned in the description of the book in the webstore, or the title.
Inferno! was originally a published magazine containing stories, comics and artwork from the different Games Workshop settings. Now it has been relaunched as a collection of stories from veteran and new authors, published normally quarterly. Volume 5 was the last printed as of April 2021.
Age of Sigmar anthologies
There are also anthologies entirely dedicated to Age of Sigmar. They are usually advertised as “Start Here” as they would contain stories involving different races and characters, providing you with a good idea of the Mortal Realms setting.
If you want quick reads those contain excellent material. Unfortunately, often short stories can be reprinted in different anthologies so be careful to check the content summary and see if that anthology is worth for you or contains already many stories already read.
Sometimes anthologies contain stories dedicated to a single theme: it could be a character or a race. They can be written by the same author or by multiple authors. These are good if you are interested in a specific theme but still want a quick read.
An example of these would be Covens of Blood, containing three novellas centred around the Daughters of Khaine.
Sometimes these collections are reprints called Omnibus and generally involve also novels, like the massive collection of Gotrek & Felix adventures (from the Old World).
Some novellas are clearly marked as such and published in yearly series. They would normally belong to different settings, but they are usually well marked. You can decide if to collect the entire series or only the one from your favourite universes.
Once a new series is published the previous one is usually out of production and replaced with an anthology in paperback (Trials of the Mortal Realms contains the three stories from Series 2).
If instead of quick reads you are interested in delving deep into the Mortal Realms stories, there are plenty of lengthy novels that will satiate your appetite.
Some of the most loved characters also appear in short stories but usually have at least one full book dedicated to them.
Good examples of interesting characters are:
- Hamilcar Bear-Eater, the main novel published so far being Hamilcar Champion of the Gods. Hamilcar is a Stormcast Eternals of the Astral Templar stormhost with a strong personality. David Guymer is the author.
- Neave Blacktalon, one of the few protagonists of the Black Library books to have a model represented in game. Blacktalon: First Mark from Andy Clark follows her background story, from her origin as mortal, her training and reforging in Sigmar’s armies.
- Neferata, the cunning vampire whose history dates back since Warhammer Fantasy, is also the protagonist of many stories in the Mortal Realms from David Annandale. Neferata: Dominion of Bones follows her struggle to maintain control against her scheming opponents.
- Hallowed Knights, a stormhost of the Stormcast Eternals led by Gardus, due a model some time in 2021. They have been present in many stories, but the leading branch is written by Josh Reynolds and includes books like Plague Garden and Black Pyramid. Josh is also author of the Eight Lamentations series following the whereabouts of 8 dangerous weapons described in books, short stories and audiobooks. Unfortunately he has since left Black Library so those stories may be continued by other authors or left as they are.
- Gotrek. We could not list a series of characters without mentioning the most favourite dwarven slayer of all times. Back from his permanence in the Realm of Chaos at the end of the Old World, he is now in a new setting at the same time familiar and unknown. Many authors write about Gotrek Gurnisson, a tribute in the novels section goes to Ghoulslayer from Darius Hinks, as is the upcoming Gitslayer book.
The list could go on and on, but I’m sure you will find what interests you more, be the recent novels dedicated to the Lumineth Realm-lords, or exploring the darkest corners of the Mortal Realms with stories dedicated to the Chaos Champions or the machinations of Nagash and friends.
Audiobooks are available both in MP3 format and as CDs (for a limited time).
Sometimes they are audio dramas specifically written for the audio format, sometimes they are narrated stories of an existing written book. Audio dramas have a lot more sound effects going on. I like them, but you need to pay close attention when listening, as there is a lot going on at same time.
Audio dramas in Age of Sigmar are not that common, but there are few that are worth your time, including the Realmslayer series, written by David Guymer and narrated by Brian Blessed, a renowned actor, following once again Gotrek Gurnisson adventures in the Mortal Realms. They are just super good.
As for the paper format, audio dramas may also contain short stories as for example the collection of Shadespire stories published in Shadespire: The Darkness in the Glass. Shadespire is a cursed city where people are trapped forever in an unending cycle of rebirth with no death or escape. This was the setting of the first two seasons of the card game Warhammer Underworlds.
I have found the easiest way to get the audibooks is via Audible. I have at times gotten them directly from Black Library, but they got no app you can listen through.
Some other noticeable mentions available only in audio format:
- Sons of Behemat from Graeme Lyon
- The Heirs of Grimnir from David Guymer
- The Palace of Memories and Other Stories (various authors)
- The Imprecations of Demons from Nick Kyme
- Eight Lamentations: War Claw from Josh Reynolds
Warhammer Horror and Warhammer Adventures
We want to conclude our summary of Black Library published works with two new line of books dedicated to different audiences.
Warhammer Horror is a new line about the most horrific stories set in the Warhammer universe. The focus is not on the narrative itself but on the darkness and terror that engulfs the protagonists of this series.
This line spans across different formats and settings but it has a big presence also in the Mortal Realms. Here is a non-exhaustive list of Warhammer Horror books with stories related to Age of Sigmar:
- Maledictions, Invocations and Anathemas are anthologies also containing Age of Sigmar stories
- Castle of Blood from C L Werner
- Dark Harvest from Josh Reynolds
- Darkly Dreaming, audio drama from Josh Reynolds
Warhammer Adventures is the opposite: it’s a line dedicated to the younger readers to introduce them to the Games Workshop worlds. There are two different series, one dedicated to Warhammer 40K and one set in the M
Finally, Warhammer Crime is the latest line of books introduced by Black Library but is entirely set in Warhammer 40K universe.
Recommendations from the editorial team (what Black Library Age of Sigmar books we think are the best)
As the last section we want to provide you with some suggestions of our favourite stories in the Mortal Realms, hoping that this would inspire you in your own journey of discovery of the magic adventures of your best-loved heroes and villains.
My recommendation for a beginner would definitely be Soul Wars from John Reynolds. The novel not only is well-written and captures the antithesis between Nagash and Sigmar’s points of views, but is also the perfect place to start to check the current narrative of Age of Sigmar.
The book describes the story of a lost champion of Sigmar that did not stand anymore the pain of reforging, only to be rebuilt by Nagash for his own dark purposes. Intertwined there are many other protagonists’ stories all merging in a compelling narrative.
As a short story I would instead suggest The Red Hours from Evan Dickens. The story belonged to the first series of Novellas but can now be found in the collection Champions of the Mortal Realms. It depicts the story of a disgraced captain put in charge of a forsaken outpost when something mysteriously happens.
Last honorable mention has to go to Blacktalon: First Mark from Andy Clark, that describes the origin of Neave Blacktalon and her extraordinary story as one Sigmar’s best assassins.
I have to admit I haven’t read a lot of Black Library fiction. I’ve read very few of their novels, and the only that really caught my interest was Spear of Shadows by Josh Reynolds. I think he handles the Age of Sigmar setting very well!
What I would recommend to anyone, beginners and veterans alike, is to read Black Library’s short story anthologies. I’ve bought a couple of the Inferno! collections, and I’ve been impressed with what I found there. Those books contain a mix of 40k and AOS stories as well, so they can give you a good idea of what you might be interested in reading more of.
Volume 1 contains Evan Dicken’s The Path to Glory, which is one of my favorite pieces of AOS worldbuilding. It takes place at the end of the Age of Myth/the beginning of the Age of Chaos, so in AOS’ distant past, and does a great job of bringing some depth to the question of why anyone would join the forces of Chaos. That story can be purchased separately as an e-book as well. Volume 2 contains Nate Crowley’s Empra (also available as a separate e-book), which shows the 40k universe from a very unexpected point of view. Crowley is a very talented writer (and if you’re into video games, you might know his writing from rockpapershotgun.com).
This is slightly weird for me. Being part of AoS from day 1 I read every book and battletome that came out. It all showed so much potential, but I was constantly waiting for things to get good. So I have read the whole Realmgate War series and on a whole I found it quite boring. Bright spots here and there but overall meh.
I think the AoS books hit their stride with City of Secrets, Soul Wars and the Realmslayer books (especially the audio dramas). But for some reason when the AoS books finally became good, I stopped reading them! It might have been because I started reading The First Law trilogy and have been reading everything Joe Abercrombie since then (it is just that good).
But reading about all of the wonderful books above, I have decided to return and read some of the cool looking books mentioned above.