The Lore of Caliban

The new Horus Heresy campaign book, Crusade, is just around the corner. As it focuses on the Dark Angels, we thought this would be an excellent time to take a look at Caliban, their mysterious home world. Join us as we venture back into the mists of time.

 Before the Coming of the Lion

Caliban was a beautiful but blighted planet – a death world. Its lush, verdant forests were filled with all manner of terrifying beasts that had been warped by unnatural powers. So ferocious were these creatures that day-to-day survival was a constant struggle for the human inhabitants of the planet. For their protection, they built brooding stone fortresses in huge clearings hacked from the deadly forests, and it was from these castles that the warrior elite of Caliban ruled.

Cut off from Terra due to the warp storms prevalent in the Age of Strife, Caliban existed for centuries in a techno-feudal state. Raised from childhood to live and die by the sword, the nobility were bluff and pugnacious. Their finest warriors used an early form of power armour, but they still rode warhorses into battle. These knights protected the human settlements and declared quests against the largest of the forest beasts. Slaying such a quest-creature brought high honour – however, more often than not, a quest brought only a horrific death delivered by the teeth and talons of some hell-spawned abomination.

The Arrival of Lion El’Jonson

Such was the planet where the young Primarch’s capsule crash-landed after it was spirited away from Terra. Any normal child would have died within minutes, but this was no normal child. The Primarch not only survived in the forest but became wild and deadly.

In time, a group of Knights known only as the Order discovered the Primarch. Famous for their code of honour and fearless skill in battle, the Order was unique amongst the knights of Caliban, for their members were selected on merit rather than by inheritance. Anyone could join, and contingents of these selfless knights travelled the planet giving aid to those in need. It was they who would provide the Primarch with his name, Lion El’Jonson, which meant The Lion, the Son of the Forest.*

 Jonson formed a close bond with another of the knights, Luther, and they quickly rose through the ranks of the Order together. Their exploits became the stuff of legend across Caliban and the number of young warriors seeking to join the Order grew to the point that new fortress monasteries were constructed. At this time, Luther and Jonson suggested a crusade to purge the planet of the vile beasts once and for all.

Luther’s powerful oratory convinced the Grand Masters of the fortress monasteries and the other nobles of the planet to join the campaign. Thanks to Jonson’s strategic skill, they wiped out the beasts of the forest within a decade. In recognition of his triumph against the monsters, Lion El’Jonson was proclaimed the new Supreme Master** of the Order and the entire planet of Caliban.

The Imperium Comes to Caliban

Not long after Jonson came to power, the Emperor arrived at Caliban with technological marvels and Space Marines from the I Legion. The Emperor gave command of these Space Marines to Lion El’Jonson, and they were named the Dark Angels after an old Calibanite legend. Caliban became their new home world, and the warriors of the Order clamoured to join the Dark Angels. Those who were young enough were made into Space Marines, while those deemed too old instead underwent surgery to turn them into some of the finest warriors in the Imperium. Luther was the first to undergo such a procedure, and he was named second in command of the Legion by Jonson. 

They took their monster hunter crusades to the stars and fought across the galaxy to liberate system after system in the name of the Emperor. Following a battle on the planet Sarosh, Luther and a number of both Terran- and Caliban-born veterans were sent back to Caliban – leaving the Great Crusade to serve as garrison and overseers of the Lion’s sanctuary. Many of these warriors had fought in the forests of Caliban with Jonson or even alongside the Emperor himself, but they were to sit out the rest of the crusade, hearing only fragmented news of Jonson’s glorious victories rather than taking part in them.

As the Horus Heresy broke out, Jonson declared his allegiance to his father and raced to Terra, only to find that he had missed the final battle. When he returned home to Caliban, he discovered that a great jealousy had corrupted the heart of Luther, and the Dark Angels were split in their loyalties. The battle that ensued was ferocious, and Caliban itself was torn apart by the sustained bombardments and powerful empyric forces… but the story of the Rock and the Fallen is one for another time.***

To learn more about Caliban, the Order and Lion El’Jonson’s youth, make sure that you check out the Black Library novels, Descent of Angels, Fallen Angels and Angels of Caliban. Make sure that you also don’t miss the forthcoming Luther novel by Gav Thorpe and The Horus Heresy Book Nine – Crusade, which features a whole wealth of previously unrevealed Dark Angels lore.


* Calibanite Lions were the most dangerous creature on the planet. That just shows how deadly the Primarch appeared to the Order.
** An honorific still used in the Dark Angels today.
**** If the Inner Circle will allow us to tell it, that is.

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