Review: The Death of Antagonis by David Annandale

Posted by DarkChaplain at 9/14/2013
This one, like the Skarsnik review, was posted on Goodreads earlier this year. It dates back to March 4, and does not care about previous structure on this blog.
The Story:
"The Black Dragons fall upon the world of Antagonis, summoned to combat the plague of undeath that has engulfed the planet. Allying themselves with Inquisitor Werner Lettinger and a force of Sisters of Battle, the Black Dragons endeavour to save the souls of the Imperial citizens who have succumbed to the contagion. But there is more than a mere infection at play – the dread forces of Chaos lie behind the outbreak, and the Black Dragons stand in the way of the Dark Gods’ victory…"
Review
Getting through this one was a breeze. It never bogged me down, no scene overstayed its welcome and before I knew it, I was getting mad at the Internet and my Computer for throwing games and videos at me again.
This was one of the few books that made me wish restarting the machine or booting up a game would take longer than it did, so I could read just another few pages...

But I digress.

The book provides a really fantastic view on the Black Dragons Chapter, from their non-Codex organization to the way they fight and the mutations they bear, but also shows the risks inherent in deviation from the Imperial norms. My knowledge about the Chapter was minimalistic at best, but the way the Dragons were presented really clicked with me.

The antagonists were fairly unique as well, not least due to their origin, and there was plenty of tension at all times. The main villain of the story is told to have a longer history with the Black Dragons, and the connection gets deepened throughout the book in various ways.
Once the Dragons realized who their enemy was, he became more than just a villain covered in mystery, but an everpresent threat.

But the titlegiving Death of Antagonis marks more than just the first of many genocides the reader gets to read about; it also opens the curtain for a schism within the Black Dragons themselves.
Especially in that regard did David Annandale score highly, in my opinion. He developed a very intriguing conflict between very contrasting characters, and made it the leading theme of the novel.

The book also gets you around a lot; from Antagonis itself to tiny moons and massive Hive Worlds. I might go as far as to call it the most diverse SMB novel yet, in terms of interesting locations. All locations were described tangible ways, no matter how exotic they were, without ever losing their charme.

The Death of Antagonis tells us a story about many Phyrric victories and how they wear a company of Space Marines down not only in strength of numbers but also erodes their confidence, convictions and unity of purpose.
It is not just a Space Marine Battles novel, but one about sacrifice, doubts and finding one's place and role in the service of the Emperor.

The book did have some rare lines that had me scratch my head, but nothing that broke it for me in any way, or took away from my enjoyment of the story.

If there's anything I can say about David Annandale, judging from The Carrion Anthem (printed in Treacheries of the Space Marines), Yarrick: Chains of Golgotha (and Evil Eye ) and now The Death of Antagonis, it is that he simply nails characters, settings, universe and the grimdark side of the franchise down.

This novel specifically presented the bleak side of the Imperium, the hopelessness inherent in a galaxy that has never been kind to humanity, in believable ways. There are no shining victories to be found here, and faith is a limited currency.
What it delivers, though, is a well-presented series of events that lead up to a satisfying, characterful climax, and a good balance between SMB-action and character interaction.

David clearly embraced the grandiose and the macabre once more, and I cannot wait for his next offering.

The Death of Antagonis on Goodreads

About the Author

I'm known as DarkChaplain across the internet, and call myself a passionate gamer and book enthusiast. I have been blogging mostly about games for a couple of years, but finally found my way to reviewing a different medium: Books. Honestly, I prefer that job so far.
Follow Me on Twitter @TheDarkChaplain


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