Legendary figures battle over the fate of the world in Hatefi’s debut fantasy novel.
In just a little more than 100 pages, this short work attempts to tell an epic story of a clash between gods, mythical figures, elves, monsters, and demons. When the human Teoe receives a call from Odin on the “end-of-the-world phone,” telling him “it is time,” he begins gathering heroes at Stonehenge. The cast of characters includes Hercules; Thor; King Arthur and Merlin; Kay Khosrow, the mythical king of Persia; the Egyptian goddess Bastet; and so many others that Hatefi includes a guide to them all as an introduction. On the other side, the “anti-God,” or “Great Evil,” awakens Lilith and frees her from her coffin prison. She begins gathering together her demon children and various other evil beings, who wreak havoc on Earth. Meanwhile, Teoe sends out teams of heroes on missions to retrieve items that he’ll need in the final battle over the “last interuniversal gateway” that could let the Great Evil in. The story’s fast pace, sometimes-snappy dialogue, and short scenes give it the quality of a comic book. Hatefi also frequently adopts a rhythmic prose style, stringing sentences together in a cadence that echoes myths or religious texts. However, the author doesn’t take the time to flesh out the story or build suspense, and with so many heroes and villains crowding the stage, there’s not much space for meaningful character development. One of Lilith’s demon children, Celestia, has an intriguing part to play: she turns against her mother and joins the heroes when she sees her brother die. Her speedy romance with Kay Khosrow, however, seems forced. The book also rushes pivotal scenes of conflict; one chapter, for example, describing the planet coming “to the brink of destruction” is only a paragraph long. After all the buildup, the final battle feels anticlimactic, although Hatefi clearly leaves the door open for a sequel.
This scanty apocalyptic tale has heroes galore but not much substance.