Review: The Death of Antagonis (Space Marines Battles) / Author: David Annandale / Publisher: Black Library / Release Date: Out Now
The Warhammer 40,000 setting is a vast space opera filled with wild ideas and cinematic action. It is at its best when the explosions are loud, the action is fast and the ideas are very, very wild. The Death of Antagonis delivers all of these things and it’s a perfect example of what makes the Space Marines Battles series so much fun.
The book starts with a bang; we have a world in revolt as a zombie-style plague takes a grip and we get some great action scenes in which superhumans shoot shambling corpses. The secret to the plague is a surprising one and this sets the pace. Every time it looks like the challenges are going to be resolved, another gloriously freaky thing happens. There is a quest of sorts, but the plot seems to exist simply to allow Annandale to put all his ideas together into a readable order.
The bulk of the action focuses on the Black Dragons, a cadre of genetically altered super-soldiers who serve the galaxy-spanning Imperium of Man. These Space Marines have the slight problem that they enjoy a mutation that gives them horns and blade-like bone spurs. Though useful in combat, this sort of deviation isn’t usually appreciated by the Imperium, and draws the attention of powerful people who wish to ‘correct’ this issue, mostly through violent means. This conflict forms much of the storyline and it is a little weak in places; some of the motivations simply seem to be there to make the plot work rather than create interesting characters.
There is plenty of personality available, however. Fans of the Sisters Of Battle (another Warhammer 40,000 faction) will be especially delighted to learn that there is a very interesting and well considered Sororitas character in the book, and she’s so much fun that we’d quite like to see her in a novel on her own. Overall, The Death of Antagonis will delight those who like the setting. Annandale has a real talent for the cinematic and the strange, and this will appeal to fans of both.