One of my biggest complaints with Battle for the Abyss was that it was essentially a pointless story. Everyone died and literally nothing was accomplished. Damnation of Pythos by David Annandale unfortunately follows the same route. The only difference between the two is that this Horus Heresy book tells a story referenced in C.Z. Dunn’s Pandorax novel. So while it may be a pointless story, what happened on Pythos directly affects what happened in the Pandorax system 10,000 years later. Therefore, it has great meaning for the WH40k universe. However, it does absolutely nothing for the Horus Heresy as a whole.
Doesn’t Make Sense Why They’re Here
We have another ragtag band of survivors from Istvaan V consisting of a company of Iron Hands, some Salamanders, and fewer Raven Guard. This particular company of the Iron Hands has really taken the whole “the flesh is weak” mantra to the extreme, so they really don’t care to be with Salamanders or Raven Guard. Sargent Galba of the Iron Hands sees validity in allying with the other Loyalists, which marks him as weak in the eyes of his Battle Brothers. Oh yes, we’re dealing with a HAPPY bunch of Space Marines.
But none of that really matters because they’re on congressing on Pythos for reasons. At first it was to escape Istvaan V and then regroup, but now they’re staying because head astropath Erephren says there’s an “anomaly” on the planet. Let’s not figure out how to get to Terra or find other Legions to help. Oh noooooo, we’re going to investigate an anomaly.
Because the book has to happen.
Here There Be Monsters
The Damnation of Pythos, at its core, is a monster horror book, which completely explains why the powers that be tapped David Annandale. He lives for monster stories, and he’s really good at writing them. The death world of Pythos is filled with monsters, including blood drinking moss. To be frank, it was the moss that terrified me the most. There’s just something about carnivorous plants that ain’t right.
In Annandale fashion, he finds ways to sprinkle in a bit of humor as these monsters rampage toward the Space Marines. It never stopped being funny that Ptero of the Raven Guard insisted these animals are supposed to be herbivores, even while they’re eating other Space Marines.
GRRM Would Be Proud
Maybe if I had read Pandorax, this book would mean something to me. Or maybe if I actually played the tabletop game and tried the Pandorax campaign, it would mean something. But in the end, The Damnation of Pythos felt like a waste of time. No one really grew as a character, other than a couple of serfs. Erephren did find her anomaly, but she wasn’t able to subdue it. The planet devolved into absolute chaos, and no one could tell the tale. Erephren did get one message out to Terra, but in typical bureaucratic fashion, it was filed away with the Ark of the Covenant.
The venerable Dreadnought Atrax summed up the book best at the end: “‘None of us shall be remembered.'”
No, you really won’t be.
Thirty books down, 24 books to go.
Horus Hearsay is dedicated to Keri’s journey through the Horus Heresy saga. The chronicling of the Horus Heresy began over ten years ago, with currently 54 books in total, not counting The Primarchs series or the various short stories. Horus Hearsay will only cover the main novels.