In Warhammer 40k Perturabo, Primarch of the Iron Warriors, is one of the Space Marine leaders who fell to Chaos during the Horus Heresy, and one of the major players in the Siege of Terra. A strategic genius and master of logic, siegecraft, and technology, Perturabo is also a conflicted, joyless soul whose envy and bitterness tore him apart, making him one of 40k’s tragic villains. Before collecting Iron Warriors on the tabletop, read on to learn his story – right up to now, in the 41st millennium.
Still driven by the Primarch’s never-ending well of jealous rage, Perturabo and his Chaos Space Marine sons the Iron Warriors continue to wreak havoc across Games Workshop’s sci-fi universe 10,000 years after the Horus Heresy ended, remaining one of the most popular chaotic Warhammer 40k factions.
Now a fully fledged Daemon Prince (though one with no fixed allegiance to any one of the chaos gods Khorne, Slaanesh, Nurgle, or Tzeentch), Perturabo and his legion still fight the Imperium of Man – especially the loyalist Space Marines of the Imperial Fists, gene-sons of Perturabo’s hated rival Primarch, Rogal Dorn. Here’s the full story.
Who is Warhammer 40k’s Perturabo?
After the mysterious scattering of the infant Primarchs, the young Perturabo found himself on a planet named Olympia. For the first year of his life he was alone, wandering rural areas hunting beasts – until he was discovered near the city of Lochos and brought before Dammekos, the Tyrant who ruled the place.
Dammekos raised the young Primarch, noting his prodigious intellect and skill in the spheres of architecture, science, technology, and combat. Despite his adoptive father attempting to care for him, Perturabo proved a cold youth, despising the religious Olympians and shunning most of the rest of Dammekos’ household – though he did show affection for his adoptive sister, Calliphone.
Dour, aloof, and ungrateful though he was, Perturabo fought well in Dammekos’ wars, winning victory after brilliant victory using technologically advanced siege weapons of his own design. He became known as a brutal warlord, willing to spend the lives of his troops cheaply as long as his targets were destroyed.
Already bitter and isolated, Perturabo was haunted by visions of a great maelstrom in the sky that only he could see. He would come to name this the Eye of Terror, though he would keep these visions secret, fearing they would be seen as a sign of weakness.
When the Emperor of Mankind arrived on Olympia, Perturabo submitted instantly. Together they overthrew Dammekos, before leaving the planet behind and returning to Terra. Meanwhile, on Olympia, the Tyrant of Lochos would spend the rest of his life attempting to regain his power, something that would cause problems for the Primarch in the years to come.
On Terra, Perturabo was given command of his own Space Marine legion – the Iron Warriors. Upon analysing their records, effectiveness, practices, and doctrines, Perturabo found them wanting and punished them severely.
He ordered decimation: one in ten Legionaries, chosen randomly, were beaten to death by their brothers. This brutality would quickly become a trademark not only of Perturabo, but also of the Iron Warriors legion.
During the Great Crusade, the bitterness and resentment in Perturabo began to grow. He loved science and architecture more than anything, yet was condemned by the Emperor to make war, and only war, his purpose – much as he had been by Dammekos.
Even worse, many of the targets he was sent to capture were, in his own estimation, tactically unimportant – leading Perturabo to feel bitter, ignored, undervalued, and overshadowed by brothers he saw as inferior. He harboured a particularly deep grudge against Rogal Dorn of the Imperial Fists, loathing the acclaim Dorn earned for designing the colossal defences on Terra.
It was one terrible act that finally drove Perturabo to the side of the traitors. When his childhood homeworld of Olympia rebelled against the Imperium, he returned at once in a towering fury, ordering the planet’s human population to enact decimation upon themselves. The cities that refused were razed to the ground, with millions slain.
Storming the palace at Lochos, Perturabo encountered his sister Calliphone once more and, after an argument, strangled her to death. Amongst the ashes of his former home, having murdered the one person he’d ever come close to loving, Perturabo realised he was no longer a hero of the Imperium. From then on, his Iron Warriors joined the forces of Horus Lupercal in rebellion against the Emperor.
Perturabo in the Horus Heresy
Perturabo swiftly became integral to the traitors’ war, overrunning many planets and demanding tithes to support the war effort. After the First Siege of Hydra Cordatus, Perturabo undertook a mission with Fulgrim of the Emperor’s Children to retrieve a deadly weapon named the Angel Exterminatus.
It was a trick, though: there was no weapon. Fulgrim had lured his brother into a trap, where he used Warp magics to drain Perturabo of his power to ascend and become a Daemon Prince of Slaanesh.
Though Perturabo loved science above all and had always abhorred sorcery and superstition, the dark powers he witnessed at Fulgrim’s apotheosis forced him to look deeper into the Warp in order to understand, and master, the supernatural forces of the Empyrean.
Later in the Horus Heresy, Perturabo became one of the primary commanders during the Solar War and the Siege of Terra. He captured Uranus and Jupiter, and acted to fortify the solar system against the eventual arrival of Roboute Guilliman and his Ultramarines. Eventually, Perturabo and the Iron Warriors led the final assault on the Imperial Palace, promising to tear down the palace and kill Rogal Dorn.
Perturabo was finally happy and truly in his element, as he commanded the greatest siege in the history of the galaxy. However, after a terrible setback at the Saturnine Gate, Horus gave command over to Mortarion and his Death Guard. For Perturabo, who’d always felt hard done by and overlooked, this snub was the final insult. He led his Iron Warriors out of the battle and off Terra, abandoning his former allies for good.
Perturabo, Daemon Prince
Following the end of the Horus Heresy, Perturabo still harboured a deep hatred towards Rogal Dorn. He decided to set a trap for the Imperial Fists Primarch, inviting Dorn to attack him on a world named Sebastus IV. Constructing a vast set of defences known as the Eternal Fortress, the attacking Imperial Fists quickly became ensnared and slaughtered in an incident known as the ‘Iron Cage’.
The arrival of the Ultramarines was the only thing that saved Rogal Dorn and his Imperial Fists, and – though the Iron Warriors fled the battle – it left Dorn a broken and shattered man. In a further twist of the blade, Perturabo had managed to steal the gene-seed of over 400 Imperial Fists – material he sacrificed to the Chaos Gods to fuel his own dark apotheosis into a Daemon Prince.
Now in the 41st millennium, Perturabo still plots the downfall of the Imperium from his Daemon World of Medrengard, deep inside the warp rift known as the Eye of Terror. Most recently, he’s been seen fighting alongside Mortarion in the War of Rust and Ruin – and he’s also been involved in the Arks of Omen Campaign through a collaboration with Vashtorr the Arkifane.
True Iron Warriors fans can pick up a resin Perturabo model, made by Games Workshop’s Forge World arm for the 30k Warhammer: The Horus Heresy system. Usable either in the tabletop game, or inserted into a diorama base for display, the Forge World resin Perturabo model shows the Primarch fighting atop the ruined chassis of a Cerastus-class Imperial Knight.
Perturabo’s model depicts him in his personal armour, technologically enhanced to link directly with his nervous system. In addition, he wields the deadly thunder-hammer Forgebreaker, gifted to him by his brother Horus after it was, er, ‘liberated’ from the corpse of Iron Hands Primarch Ferrus Manus.