The Adversary (Saga of The Exiles #4) – Julian May (1984)
‘The Firvulag are rising, while the children of the metapsychic rebels race to reopen the time-gate, the sole escape route back into the Galactic Milieu.
Now the adversary takes up his destined role in the power play… Marc Remillard, defeated leader of the metapsychic rebellion determined to keep the time-gate sealed and to create a new race from his own offspring. Will he aid the Firvulag or bring succour to Aiken, when the day of the Grand Tourney comes, when the Tanu and the humans meet the Firvulag in the last great contest of the exile world…’
Blurb from the 1984 Pan paperback edition
May rounds off her Pliocene quadrology with panache in ‘The Adversary’
Aiken Drum is attempting to hold his kingdom together while the Firvulag are rising, convinced by ancient Duat prophecy that the Nightfall War is about to begin, the final battle to oblivion between the Tanu and the Firvulag.
The central figure of the prophecy, The Adversary, is seen as Marc Remillard, who has sailed from his exile in Pliocene Florida back to Europe in order to prevent his children reopening the Time Gate and escaping back to the Twenty-Second Century.
As a result of having nearly been killed by Felice when she teleported to America, Marc is slowly learning how to ‘D-Jump’ himself, and begins to appear to the Metapsychic Grandmaster Elizabeth Orme where he helps her to ‘cure’ the black-torc babies (i.e. babies who cannot adjust to the mind-enhancing torc).
It transpires that a metapsychic programme is able to not only cure the children but raise them to metapsychic operancy.
Once again, May manages to combine the fantasy settings with complete 22nd Century science quite seamlessly, and one has to ask how much she was influenced by the Science fantasy boom of the Seventies and writers such as Moorcock, M John Harrison and Jack Vance.
There are certainly echoes of their work here. Where these writers often set their civilisations of decadent technology on a Far Future Earth, May takes us back to the Pliocene of six million years ago, but the trappings are the same. The Tanu and the Firvulag are, after all, merely elves and goblins, trolls and ogres with a technology so advanced it appears to be magic. Where May triumphs is in linking her world so directly to our near future and creating a structure in which the narrative returns to the future and, to a certain extent, comes full circle to where it began.
Finally, it is revealed, although it has been hinted at within previous volumes, that the human race are descendants of all three races, which is why Humanity ends up possessing such a huge metapsychic potential.