Lion El’Jonson: The Legendary Primarch of the Dark Angels In Warhammer 40k

Lion El’Jonson: The Legendary Primarch of the Dark Angels In Warhammer 40k


The Primarchs, genetically-engineered transhumans created by the Emperor of Mankind, were scattered as infants across the galaxy by the machinations of the Chaos Gods.

Each landed on a different world, shaping them into the legendary figures that would lead the Space Marine Legions in the Emperor’s Great Crusade to unite humanity.

Of these heroic beings, Lion El’Jonson, Primarch of the Dark Angels Legion, was perhaps the most mysterious and tragic.

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Key Takeaways:

  • Mysterious origins on the savage world of Caliban
  • Brilliant strategist and unmatched warrior
  • Secretive, taciturn personality distanced him from his brother Primarchs
  • Dark Angels Legion split by Luther’s betrayal during the Horus Heresy
  • Recently awoken from 10,000 year slumber to lead the Imperium once more

Origins on Caliban

Lion El’Jonson’s life began in isolation and adversity. His gestation capsule crashed into the forests of Caliban, a death world infested by monstrous creatures warped by the planet’s proximity to the Eye of Terror.

Against all odds, the infant Primarch survived alone in this hostile wilderness for a decade before being discovered by a knight of the Order, a monastic group of techno-barbarians that protected Caliban’s people.

Luther, the knight who found him, named the feral boy Lion El’Jonson, which meant “Lion, Son of the Forest” in the Calibanite dialect.

Luther adopted the Lion as a younger brother, and together they quickly rose through the ranks of the Order. But even then, the Lion’s taciturn personality and penchant for secrecy set him apart from his fellows.

Crusade Against the Great Beasts

The Lion’s genius for strategy and unmatched martial prowess made him a legend among Caliban’s knights. He conceived of and led a grand campaign to purge the planet of the monstrous beasts that had terrorized its people for generations.

This great Crusade took nearly a decade, but with Luther at his side, the Lion rallied the disparate knightly orders and freed Caliban from the tyranny of the Great Beasts.

Lion El’Jonson was named Supreme Grand Master of the Order in recognition for this momentous victory. While outwardly he accepted the accolades with regal stoicism, inside the Lion brooded on what he saw as the flaws and corruption weakening the orders from within. These misgivings would later bear bitter fruit.

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Discovery by the Emperor

As the Emperor’s Great Crusade reached Caliban, the Master of Mankind recognized the Lion as one of his lost Primarch sons.

Seeing himself in the Lion’s martial bearing and strategic brilliance, the Emperor gave Lion El’Jonson command of the Ist Legion of Space Marines, which had been created from his gene-seed.

Caliban’s knightly orders were absorbed into the Ist Legion, and the Dark Angels, as they would come to be known, joined the Great Crusade.

The Lion swiftly reshaped the Legion around the monastic and knightly traditions of his homeworld, forming many specialised orders with the Dark Angels such as the Deathwing, Ravenwing, Dreadwing, Firewing, Ironwing, and Stormwing.


An Aloof and Driven Crusader

Lion El’Jonson’s leadership and combat prowess saw the Dark Angels rack up victory after victory as they brought worlds into Imperial Compliance, but his distance and inhumanity made him few friends among his brother Primarchs.

The Lion disdained the intrigues and politics of the Great Crusade, focusing only on prosecuting war and destroying mankind’s enemies. He had no patience for his brothers’ personal pursuits or ambitions, seeing them as distractions from his own relentless drive to conquer.

Perhaps the Lion’s most famous dispute was with Leman Russ, Primarch of the Space Wolves. After fighting side-by-side to pacify the world of Dulan, Russ felt dishonored that he had been unable to slay the rebel leader before the Lion.

In a confrontation between the Primarchs, Russ struck El’Jonson, and the two brawled for days in a battle that has become legend. Though they eventually reconciled, their legions would honor this duel through ritual contests for millennia to come.

Secrets and Schisms

While he earned many Imperial victories, Lion El’Jonson’s aloofness and secretiveness increasingly alienated him even from his own sons. He entrusted more and more duties to his Terran-born mentor in the Order, Luther, who had been the Legion’s second-in-command.

Many felt that the Lion spent too much time leading campaigns personally rather than guiding the Dark Angels as a whole.

These simmering resentments finally erupted after the Lion discovered that Luther had hesitated when uncovering a plot to assassinate the Primarch using a Warp-tainted bomb. Interpreting this as a sign of Luther’s corruption and unsuitability for command, the Lion exiled his adoptive brother and his followers back to Caliban while he continued to crusade across the stars.

Luther and his faction saw this as a grave insult, and their love for the Lion curdled into jealousy and hatred.


The Horus Heresy

When the Warmaster Horus betrayed the Emperor and half the Space Marine Legions turned traitor, Lion El’Jonson was among the most stalwart defenders of the Imperium. After securing a pivotal forge world and its powerful siege weapons on Diamat, the Lion attempted to reach Terra and aid in the defense of the Imperial Palace.

However, severe Warp storms summoned by the Traitor Legions made navigation increasingly difficult.

As the Heresy raged on, the Dark Angels found themselves trapped in the Shield Worlds, battling the Night Lords Legion in the Thramas Crusade. Lion El’Jonson obsessively hunted his elusive brother Konrad Curze, Primarch of the Night Lords, matching wits and blades with his twisted mirror image.

Eventually, the Lion cornered Curze and defeated him in single combat, breaking his back over his knee.

Curze’s capture did little to slow the Dark Angels’ troubles, however. Cut off from Terra, the Lion and several of his brothers established the Imperium Secundus as a bastion of order among the chaos of the Heresy.

But the Lion’s ruthless actions, including using Exterminatus-class weaponry on civilian targets while hunting for signs of Curze’s allies, led to a falling out with his brothers.

Sanguinius and Guilliman banished the Lion from Imperium Secundus for his excesses.

Tragedy at Caliban

As the Siege of Terra played out and Horus was defeated by the Emperor, Lion El’Jonson could only watch from afar, helpless to influence the battle. Burdened by grief and shame, the Lion led his Dark Angels in a vengeful rampage against Traitor homeworlds across the galactic south, venting his fury on the enemies of the Imperium.

But the roots of treachery had grown deep on Caliban in the Lion’s absence.

Luther and his Fallen Angels, resentful of their exile and corrupted by Chaos, declared the planet independent from the Imperium and renounced their oaths to the Emperor and the Lion. They had the gall to fire upon the Dark Angels fleet as it returned to Caliban.

Enraged, the Lion immediately ordered a furious planetary assault, bombarding the planet from orbit and leading his forces to the surface. In the Order’s ruined fortress-monastery, he confronted Luther in an epic duel between surrogate father and son.

Empowered by the Chaos Gods, Luther fought the Lion to a standstill, delivering a mortal psychic wound to the Primarch before a massive Warp storm erupted.

The cataclysm, triggered by the intensity of the battle, tore Caliban apart.

The Fallen Angels who had sided with Luther were scattered through space and time, while the Lion disappeared entirely. Only the Watchers in the Dark, enigmatic servants of the Order, knew that he had been secreted deep within the Dark Angels’ new fortress-monastery, The Rock, to slumber and heal from his wounds until such time as he would be needed again.

Dark Angels Symbol

Legacy of Secrets and Salvation

For ten thousand years, the Dark Angels and their Successor Chapters, known as the Unforgiven, have born the shame of Luther’s betrayal.

They relentlessly hunt down the Fallen in the hopes of capturing them and forcing them to repent, thus erasing their sins. The sons of Lion El’Jonson fear that, were the truth of their Legion’s schism to be revealed, they would be labelled Traitors and Excommunicate.

But deep in the heart of The Rock, the Lion sleeps still, watched over by the Watchers in the Dark. Only the Supreme Grand Master of the Dark Angels knows of his presence, stoically guarding the secret of secrets. Even in his absence, the Lion’s brilliant strategies and impenetrable mysteries continue to shape his Legion.

When the hour is darkest and the Imperium’s need is greatest, the Unforgiven believe that Lion El’Jonson will return. The Primarch of the Dark Angels will awaken from his long slumber and lead his sons on one last crusade to defeat the Emperor’s foes and earn redemption at long last

The time of secrets and shame will end, and the Lion’s honor will be restored.

The cryptic sign of the Lion’s return emerged during the Arks of Omen Campaign in the Era Indomitus, as many of the Imperium’s beleaguered worlds whispered of a mysterious “Cowled Giant” destroying foes of Mankind as he materialised out of thin air and mists, before disappearing once more into a vision of ancient forests that faded from the aether as quickly as he did.

Even without realizing his legendary identity, the common folk called this brooding spectre of doom “the Emperor Incarnate” and “the Unforgiving Knight.”

Long have the Dark Angels labored in the shadows, but in the twilight days of the 41st Millennium, their lord and savior will arise and shake the galaxy once more with his mighty roar.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ):

What were the circumstances of Lion El’Jonson’s youth on Caliban?

A: Lion El’Jonson, one of the Emperor’s Primarchs, landed in his gestation capsule on the death world of Caliban. Left to fend for himself in the monster-haunted forests for a decade, he was found feral and near-dead by the knights of the Order, who adopted him and named him Lion El’Jonson after the great beasts of the forests.

Despite his taciturn personality, the Lion and his mentor Luther quickly became the greatest heroes of the Order, leading a grand campaign to purge the planet of the Great Beasts.

What was the cause of Lion El’Jonson’s rivalry with his brother Primarch Leman Russ?

During the early days of the Great Crusade, Lion El’Jonson and Leman Russ, Primarch of the Space Wolves, joined forces to bring the world of Dulan to Imperial Compliance.

However, Russ was enraged when the Lion personally slew the rebel leader whom Russ felt he should have had the honor of killing. In the confrontation afterward, Russ struck the Lion, and the two brawled for a day and a night, matching each other blow for blow.

Though Russ eventually accepted the fight’s futility and began laughing, the Lion coldly knocked him unconscious in retaliation for the first punch. The two Primarchs eventually reconciled, but their Space Marine Legions often performed ritual duels to commemorate the battle between their masters.

What role did the Lion and the Dark Angels play in the Horus Heresy?

When the Warmaster Horus betrayed the Emperor and half the Space Marine Legions turned Traitor, Lion El’Jonson took decisive action to reach Terra and stand in defense of the Emperor. However, the Dark Angels were trapped in a series of campaigns in Shield Worlds and against the Traitor Night Lords Legion, unable to directly influence the wider conflict.

The Lion helped establish the Imperium Secundus as a fallback empire if Terra fell, but was eventually exiled from it due to his draconian methods.

After the Emperor defeated Horus but was himself mortally wounded, the grieving Lion led the Dark Angels on a purge of Traitor homeworlds, destroying the strongholds of several Legions that had turned against the Emperor.

What happened during Lion El’Jonson’s return to Caliban after the Horus Heresy?

While Lion El’Jonson fought to defend the Imperium during the Horus Heresy, his surrogate father Luther and a faction of the Dark Angels chafed at their exile to Caliban and were corrupted by the whispers of the Chaos Gods. When the Lion returned to Caliban, he was greeted by traitorous fire from Luther’s forces, and a furious battle erupted.

After a titanic duel that resulted in a mortal wound to the Lion, Luther finally realized how far he had fallen and repented – but it was too late. A massive Warp storm erupted, scattering the traitorous Dark Angels through space and time. The planet of Caliban itself broke apart, with only The Rock, the Dark Angels’ fortress-monastery, surviving.

The Lion’s ultimate fate was a mystery known only to the Watchers in the Dark, his Legion’s secret benefactors – that he rests deep within The Rock, healing from his wounds, waiting for the time when he will return to lead the Dark Angels once more.

What signs are there of Lion El’Jonson’s prophesied return in the 41st Millennium?

Near the end of the 41st Millennium, during the Arks of Omen Campaign, a mysterious figure known as the “Cowled Giant” or the “Unforgiving Knight” was whispered of on many beleaguered Imperial worlds.

This strange warrior appeared as if from nowhere, shrouded in mist and visions of ancient forests, to turn the tide of key battles before disappearing once more.

Many hailed him as the Emperor Incarnate, while the Dark Angels saw in him the signs of their Primarch’s long-awaited awakening. Just as the Imperium faces its darkest hour, the Lion is prophesied to return and lead his sons to glory and redemption, ending the legacy of shame and secrets that has plagued the sons of the Lion for ten thousand years.

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