I received something quite special in the mail today - a very well kept copy of the Codex Imperialis from the Warhammer 40.000 2nd edition box.
This was my introduction to the larger 40k universe back in the early 90's. Before that I had mostly read about my darlings the orks and glimpsed snippets of the rest of the world in scattered White Dwarf articles, so this was the first time I really got a feel for whole story. I remember how reading about the Emperor, the Golden Throne, inquisitors and the the workings of the Astronomican completely blew my fifteen year old mind. Reading it again for the first time in 20 years really brought all that back and reaffirmed my conviction that this really is the ultimate introduction to the 40k universe. It´s all there - at least as far as the imperium is concerned.
The writing by Rick Priestly and Andy Chambers outshines most recent publications. In effective, matter of fact text they present the horror of the 41st millenium in a way that is both imaginative and inspiring without ever being ponderous. It´s also laced with that dry wit that marked out the GW sourcebooks of old.
Personally I´m very fond of the black and white illustrations mainly by Blanche and Mark Gibbons (plus some gems by Jes Goodwin and Adrian Smith). These two were the main illustrators in most GW publications during this period and I´ve always felt they complimented each other rather well. John sketching the gothic world in ink spattered grimdark and Mark nailing the characters with his more cleanly rendered slightly cartoony style. This is very much a mater of personal taste though. Also the layout and quality of the printing is admittedly rather basic by todays standards - the most recent 40.000 backgrond book is vastly superior in this respect. But still, it gets the job done.
Really happpy to have this treasure in my bookshelf yet again. Now I´m going to try to get my hands on a copy of Rogue Trader and the Realm of Chaos books... That´ll probably prove to be a lot more difficult and a hell of a lot more expensive...