I am currently reading my way through a long list of science fiction and fantasy titles. (http://www.npr.org/2011/08/07/138938145/science-fiction-and-fantasy-finalists if you are interested in the list).
By A.D. 2110 nearly 100,000 humans had fled the civilized strictures of the Galactic Milieu for the freedom they thought existed at the end of the one-way time tunnel to Earth, six million B.C.
But all of them had fallen into the hands of the Tanu, a humanoid race who'd fled their own galaxy to avoid punishment for their barbarous ways.
And now the humans had made the Tanu stronger than the Firvulag, their degenerate brethren and ritual antagonists. Soon the Tanu would reign supreme. Or so they thought . . . .
Lots of nice twists & turns in this second installment of the Saga of the Pliocene Exile. The worm turns, when humans turn out to be nastier and craftier than their Tanu overlords ever imagined. For one thing, humans are willing to fight dirty. It’s reminiscent of the British facing Native Americans, two different codes of conduct ending in unexpected victories for the less-well-armed side of the conflict. Honour means different things to different cultures and May exploits those differences masterfully.
I love May’s involvement of geology in this book, and the couple of appearances by plesiosaurs! Despite the fact that we’re pretty sure that those massive marine reptiles didn’t live in the Pliocene, but still, plesiosaurs!
We also discover that becoming psychically operant is not for the faint-hearted, there is pain involved and even necessary for that transformation. Just like childbirth, there is pain & struggle, but once the end product is achieved, there is joy. Unknowingly, the Tanu’s torment of certain humans opens the doorway for operancy.
Also an interesting revelation: Mercy (the woman who drew the anthropologist Bryan into exile) has been genetically tested and though she came from the future, she is almost full-blooded Tanu. Which begs the question of how that was possible—presumably some hints will be given in later books.
Aiken Drum continues to be a wild card—showing odd moments of compassion, but mostly looking out for number one, this psychopathic human has angered all sides of the conflict now, Tanu, Firvulag and Human. It remains to be seen if all three cultures can agree on his elimination!
A lovely balance of male and female roles, which passes the Bechdel test with flying colours. A pleasure to read.
Book 177 of my science fiction and fantasy reading project.