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Wanda's Book Reviews

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).

Currently reading

A Book of Spirits and Thieves
Morgan Rhodes
The Sparrow
Mary Doria Russell

The Nonborn King / Julian May

The Nonborn King - Julian May

Book 3 of the Saga of Pliocene Exile.


This series would make a wonderful graphic novel—it has lots of prehistoric beasties, action-packed battle scenes, dramatic psychic powers, and lots of opinionated & quirky characters.


Humans from our future have become part of the Galactic Milieu, a kind of Federation of those races with psychic powers of various sorts. But not everyone has what it takes to fit into this system and others are unhappy with the direction that their society is moving. Some of the most disgruntled take a one-way trip through a time portal into the Pliocene era. You can imagine the sort of people who would not fit in to this future—those who really don’t care to conform. And the Milieu has made a ruling that no one with advanced psychic powers is able to take advantage of the time gate. What could possibly go wrong?


Upon arriving in the Pliocene, these non-psychic humans find themselves taken into custody by an alien race, the Tanu, who also fled their own world in order to do things their own way. By using neck-torcs of various colours they are able to wield psi powers too. The human “deliveries” from the time portal have meant that the Tanu have a distinct advantage over their traditional enemies, the Firvulag (deformed gnomish people who have similar powers without the hardware).


The political machinations are convoluted and, humans being what they are, there are many deviations from the Tanu tradition & system of honour. (As Tana French says in her novel In The Woods, “Humans are feral and ruthless.”) None demonstrate this as clearly as Aiken Drum, the self-proclaimed Nonborn King—created in a laboratory, without family, but with blinding ambition and late-developing psychic talents, Drum attempts to take over the Pliocene world. He faces opposition from all three races, none of whom fancy being ruled by a psychopathic upstart human.


As with the previous two books, female characters continue to play major roles in the action, if not in the warfare, and strong women of various races cause Aiken Drum some major headaches and sleepless nights.


Add to the mix one last group of future asylum seekers (who attempted to overthrow the Milieu and ended up retreating to the past) and the whole situation becomes precarious. There are few pauses in the action and lots of exploration of inter-race relations.


I definitely want to read the fourth book, The Adversary, and also to find May’s other books sets in this universe, Jack the Bodiless, Diamond Mask, and Magnificat.


4 stars.