The Scythes Essential Reading Guide

On my return to terra-firma and the Scythes, I have been playing catch up with all the Sothan activity that has sprung up of late in the last 18 months. For a hobbyist whom has played the Scythes of the Emperor Astartes for 20 years – it has been heedy times indeed.

In an effort to reflect my readings and provide a resource for all my Sothan brothers; below is a list of must read short stories by Richard Williams and L J Goulding, two men shaping our Chapter’s future by chapters among mentions in works by Dan Abnett and Guy Hayley. Personal notes and observations below, including colour panels where appropriate.

Black Library Reading List (In Order)
(Notes further below, after White Dwarf articles, on each work of fiction):

‘Unremembered Empire’ – Dan Abnett (Horus Heresy series novel; Sotha origins)
‘A Safe and Shadowed Place’
– Guy Hayley (Horus Heresy series novel; Sotha beacon causing a hidden Chaos fleet troubles)

The Heart of the Pharos - L J Goulding, Audio Drama
‘Pharos’ – Guy Hayley (Horus Heresy series novel; Sotha beacon is set upon by the Night Lords)
‘The Aegidan Oath’ – L J Goulding
The Shadow of the Beast’ – L J Goulding
‘The Blood of Sotha’, Renegades of the Dark Millenium -L J Goulding

– L J Goulding

‘Slaughter at Giants Coffin’ L J Goulding, the defining last stand of the Scythes on Miral.
Orphans of the Kraken – Richard Williams (Additional review here, and background here)
‘Reclamation’ – L J Goulding (One of print for limited run, still seeking a copy.)
‘Daedalus’ Audio Drama, Battle on Miral L J Goulding (Additional review here and here.)
‘Terminal Velocity’ L J Goulding, short fiction (Additional review here)
‘Last Watch’ Deathwatch Xeno Hunters - L J Goulding
Dark Millenium – Guy Haley

The Scythes, A Factual History- Produced and written by Andrew Taylor and Sebastian Stuart, 2009.
An effort to coordinate all Scythes fiction, which then became backdrop to Richard Wiliam’s ‘Orphans of the Kraken’

Extensive character and historical notes can be reviewed on the excellent resource at Lexicanum, Scythes of the Emperor.

The Books
(Spoilers ahead – Read only for background notes)

The Unremembered Empire
Robute Gulliman sets up a second Imperium, using a strange beacon discovered on Sotha to guide all allies to Ultramar.

Key things of note:
Excerpts and paraphrasing – From: Dan Abnett. “The Unremembered Empire.” Pg. 35, 36

Initially overlooked during the Great Expansion era of the Imperium, Sotha was finally colonised 127 years before the Horus Heresy.

Robute Guilliman, Primarch of the Ultramarines, led the expedition fleets of Ultramar to Sotha, which he had always considered a particular curiosity, the world was a particular curiosity: if there was one geo-type almost guaranteed to have been settled during the outward expansion of the Great Age of Technology, it was the rare and precious Terra-comparable planets. There was no evidence that any human presence had reached Sotha, not even a colony that had been established and then died out.

Considered a jewel of a world, one of the few Terra-comparable ecosystems discovered so far out in the galactic east. It possessed living oceans and densely forested, mountainous landmasses. There were lower-level animal-forms, avians and insects. Curiously, there were no higher forms, nor any obvious trace of attempted xenos visitation or colonisation.

Then the surveyors learned the truth about Mount Pharos, the tallest of all the peaks in the planet’s majestic mountain ranges. Plans for full colonisation were put on hold. A small agri-colony was approved instead, to be based on Sotha in support of a survey mission of archaeologists and xenoculturists assigned to Mount Pharos to study ancient quantum pulse engines which later revealed to be communication nodes and beacons which could illuminate other planets, such as the warp storm shrouded Utramar at this time, with possibility of more nodes to be found throughout the region of space.

Origins of the Scythes:
A dedicated company of Ultramarines, the 199th, was assigned to Sotha as permanent protection, and the world was given the classification ‘restricted’. The astartes took pride in their duty and later adopted a symbol upon their pauldron related to those they protected, the scythe wielding agriculturalists of Sotha, on the slopes of Pharos. (Page 37)

A ritual of clearing the area about the research site on Mt Pharos for over a century was the precept for the use of the Scythe symbol:

“This simple, rural tradition, dating back over a hundred years, had given rise to the protection company’s choice of icon.”(Page 42)

Cultural Notes:
Early sothans used psaltery instruments, a form of horizontal harp and violin cross-instrument.


A Safe and Shadowed Place
Renegade Marines return to their favourite hideaway in the Sothan system; discovering the power of the Beacon first hand.

Key things of note:
We see that the energy pulse, moving faster than light (but consisting of light) damages sensors, wipes servitors and causes humans much pain, the Renegade marines get headaches and even nose bleeds.

This short story of recovering scattered Night Lords, looks set to lead into an invasion story surrounding Sotha.

Heart of the Pharos
Young Oberdeii and Tebecai, Scouts of the Ultramarines 199th Company, descend into the depths beneath Mount Pharos in search of a dark truth… though it may haunt them for all time.

Roboute Guilliman, still Master of Ultramar, has convinced his brother that Terra has fallen and that the mysterious Mount Pharos on Sotha now holds the key to mankind’s future. But the Night Lords, those cruel and pitiless sons of Konrad Curze, have been watching from the shadows, and make ready to launch their long-planned attack on the Pharos itself.

Key things of note:

Local militia made of members of the League protected the surrounds of the Pharos. They fight alongside the Ultramarine Legion that is set as ward over the Pharos device.

Origins of the Scythes: WIP

The Crossed Scythes is a campaign badge for the 199th Ultramarine Legion to signify the repulsion of the Night Lords attack which ended in their destruction, but also the end of the Pharos beacon. This final energetic burst would be noted by the Tyranid hive fleets and eventually bring them down upon Sotha (Kraken).

Cultural Notes: TBA

The Aegidan Oath
Centuries after the Great Heresy, the Ultramarines return to Sotha to erase Roboute Guilliman’s greatest mistake, by dealing with the venerable Captain Oberdeii once and for all…

Key things of note:

Locals farm and live about the surrounds of the Pharos.

Origins of the Scythes: WIP

This uncovers the origins of the Sothan Chapter and the final task of Oberdeii, the sothan scout we have followed in many stories.

Cultural Notes: 

Sothans are quite independant and rather irreverant to authority, they respect it but are not enthralled by mere presence. Personally I suspect an element of laconic attitude, dry wit and sharp observation. This is not unlike the Spartans where this attitude was so name after (Laconis). Overall Sotha is largely a pastoral world with a rudimentary but skilled militia and local legends about Pharos and the war that was waged within, it has been kept this way on purpose not to draw attention to the Pharos then and even now.


Shadow of the Beast
We meet Fifth Company Captain Theodosius.

We are shown ‘The Salute of the Reaper’, Right fist over primary heart, then arm extended outward. The protective nature of Scythe Astartes to their honored Chapter serfs and Security. We also see how the Scythes learned how to fight the Tyranids the hard way, and the sheer scale of the invasion coming for Sotha; ensuring a grim toll indeed. Sotharan League planet Egottha mentioned.


Blood of Sotha:

The thoughts of Brother-Captain Vosok Dali, Lord Executioner of the Scythes, 8th Company; whilst an assassin lurks upon their escaping ship.

Aegida, a major Orbital above Sotha.
Mount Pharos (first introduced in Unremembered Empire) now holds training grounds for Sothan neophytes.
Landing Fields are at the capital of Odessa.
Two Handed Power Scythe is a Weapon of Office for Company Captains.
A Power Falx is in use by a Scythes Astartes.

Sothans are noted for a perceived arrogance toward Sotharan League off-worlders, neophytes recruited and intially trained at Tributary Outposts throughout the Sotharan League Worlds. This has strong tones of the Spartan attitude to conscripted warriors of the Greek States about them and even their own militia. Personally I wonder if LJ Goulding is gaining some inspiration from this history, given the strong Greek themes about the Scythes.

Named Worlds:
- Radnar
- Beremin (Bastion in the Icy Highlands)(Bronzed Power Axe a weapon of choice)
- Egottha (Scythes’ First Chapter Chaplain Segas is enshrined there)


Scythes of the Emperor Marines of the Second company fallback from an attempt to secure the fallen Hiveship, Heloth, on the Death World Miral.

Key things of note:
The Second Company, their banner pictured in Tyranid Attack imagery, uses a rider upon the horse, Conabos, before a checkered field. In Greek history Conabos (Tumult) was a horse of four that pulled Ares’ chariot in war. (Alongside Aithon, Phlogios and Phobos). Could this be a indication of Company banners using Greek Horse companions as Company motifs? (Edit: Confirmed as of Slaughter at Giant’s Coffin)

We also learn of power falx again, and the quickly initiated Scythes (An Apothecary appears to be but ten years out of the Scout (10th) Co.) In addition, reverence is given over to ‘The Horsemen of Sotha’, possible agricultural references and warriors of ancient Sotha, ala Pharos period.

Slaughter at Giant’s Coffin – L J Goulding
We witness the defining moment of the Scythes at Giant’s Coffin on Miral.

Key things of note:
We read Thorcyra has a slight glory glitch, often choosing fatalistic directions for the Scythes. When many say consolidate and fall back, he believes they can endure and set up on Miral, despite evidence to the contrary. Many marines are despondant and even some outright going feral. It is an interesting story exploring the limits of respresenting marines on the back foot. Personally I have mixed feeling about how far Astartes can be pushed into depression of mania due to heavy psychological and even biological conditioning.

There is a lot of information about how under strength (if it mattered) Sotha was due to several companies being away crushing a Genestealer cult uprising. Also there is much illusion to an sub plot involving Forgemaster Sebastion. This could be working toward the 40 veterans being sent to the Deathwatch event in trade for geneseed. I will post more on Slaughter at a later date.

Orphans of the Kraken – Richard Williams

The Scythes investigate a dying hiveship seeking any lost Astartes within. Read more here.


Reclamation is a short story by L.J. Goulding. It was published in Space Marines: Angels of Death (Anthology) in October, 2013.

We meet Bokari, a neophyte as he brings salavged armor to Forgemaster Sebastion, they discuss the finds amidst Sebastion’s workshop and even discard useless elements. Of note there are three operational Terminator suits and a fourth under construction after Bokari finds a torso and arm. It is an interesting piece showing the thoughts of the New Blood into the Chapter and a alternate view on recycling and throwing back what they find into the face of the Tyranid.


Last Watch
On the world of Phirus a lone Lictor lurks, aware it is being hunted..

A deep knowledge in Tyranid biology is shown. We meet Brother-Sergeant Marek Angeloi of the Deathwatch and an eagerness to return to the his Chapter to continue the fight waged upon the chittering hordes.

White Dwarf mentions:

Space Crusade & Advanced Space Crusade

Advanced Space Crusade preview.
The Scythes of the Emperor Sargeant colour scheme only. pg. 51 White Dwarf 131 November 1990.
The Scythes Scout Colours, Advanced Space Crusade.
pg.51 WD 132 December 1990.
The Scythes of the Emperor, noted in Andy Chamber’s Tyranid Army review (The first official list).
pg.47 White Dwarf 145. January 1992.
The Scythes of the Emperor, featured artwork Tyranid Attack. pg.18 White Dwarf 158, February 1993.
The Scythes of the Emperor feature art, Andy Chambers, Space Marine and Eldar Scouts article. pg14 White Dwarf 159. March 1993.
The Scythes of the Emperor fourth Vindicator, ‘Reaper’. Destroyed in defence of Miral prime against Hive Fleet Kraken.
Single Art Panel, Imperial Armour Vol. 2, Space Marines and Forces of the Inqusition pg. 74
Index Astartes: Purge the Alien. Scythes Sargeant Remas retells his tale to Chaplain Cassius. pg.54 White Dwarf 306 (UK), June, 2005.

Purge the Alien Notes: As the Ultramarines recovered from the devastating attack of Hivefleet Behemoth, Chaplain Cassius moved to create a specialised force of Tyranid Hunters amongst the Ultramarines. The contraversial force gained new impetus on the attack of Hivefleet Kraken, as a fresh influx of Deathwatch marines from the remaining Scythes, spread further combat techniques amongst other Chapters. The meeting of Sargeant Remus with Chaplain Cassius was instrumental on the Scythes association with the Ultramarines and creating a highly specialised Tyranid response force.

The Coming of the Great Devourer by Warwick Kinrade, Epic 40,000 Scenario. pg.82 White Dwarf 218 (UK), February 1998. (Click for Larger Image)

EDITOR’S NOTE: Incidentally, this is THE article that piqued my interest in the Scythes.

How to Paint Space Marines, pg. 88 listed under Codex Chapters
Codex: Tyranids (4th Edition), pg. 14
Codex: Space Marines (6th Edition)

: pg. 19
12b: pg. 33
Imperial Armour Volume Nine – The Badab War – Part One, pgs. 76-77

(Chapter noted as part of the Ultramarines Corinth Crusade only, no further mention)

About the Author

Site owner and creator, Sebastian has been updating and maintaining the Scythes of the Emperor webpage since 1997.