The title character of Griffin’s debut sci-fi novella—one of three overlords from the planet Pentar—encounters curious human obstacles as he sets out to destroy Earth.
Once every 1,000 years, the high demons that control Pentar gather for a conclave called Breeksa during which they decide which less-advanced planets they will cleanse from the universe. As Griffin’s interdimensional, interplanetary fantasy opens, the 20-foot-tall, silver and solitary Rolmar recommends Vestar as an ideal candidate for annihilation. Its “inhabitants are as worthless as the resource-drained planet they reside on,” Rolmar tells his associates, Orakis and Glemnir, in their native Crimnock, a Pentarian language they “speak” telepathically. Rolmar and a wily, lesser demon named Itakir arrive on Vestar, known as Earth to the locals. As they prepare to wreak havoc, they meet a courageous college trio, Adam, Zelia and John; a neglected housewife, Linda Stone; and two adorable foster children, Hailey and Nat. After shape-shifting and having encounters with these humans, the demons start to experience a new emotion: empathy. Despite the fact that the immortal Rolmar considers humanity “just a Tinkertoy,” he gives his human friends a fair hearing to make a case for the fate of their planet. As the humans attempt to lay out their planet’s artistic, scientific, cultural and philanthropic advances, Rolmar’s conscience receives an unexpected challenge. Griffin writes clearly and efficiently, but, overall, not very evocatively. The narrator often forsakes depth and nuance for clichés, shorthand description and overly simplistic, mainly expository, dialogue. The book describes the atmosphere on Pentar in some detail, but the planet doesn’t seem very different from Glencoe, Mo., where Rolmar first meets Adam. The only real conflict appears to be between the all-powerful Rolmar and his own human-influenced capacity to feel. Unfortunately, the novel doesn’t lead its readers into believable emotional or imaginary territory.
A promising sci-fi premise hampered by underwritten prose.