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The Adversary

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Until the arrival of Aiken Drum, the 100,000 humans who had fled backward in time to Pliocene exile on Earth knew little but slavery to the Tanu, the humanoid aliens who came from another galaxy. But King Aiken's rule is precarious, for the Tanu's twisted brethren are secretly maneuvering to bring about his downfall. Worse, Aiken is about to confront a man of incredibly po Until the arrival of Aiken Drum, the 100,000 humans who had fled backward in time to Pliocene exile on Earth knew little but slavery to the Tanu, the humanoid aliens who came from another galaxy. But King Aiken's rule is precarious, for the Tanu's twisted brethren are secretly maneuvering to bring about his downfall. Worse, Aiken is about to confront a man of incredibly powerful talents who nearly overthrew a galactic rule. He is Marc Remillard. Call him...The Adversary.


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Until the arrival of Aiken Drum, the 100,000 humans who had fled backward in time to Pliocene exile on Earth knew little but slavery to the Tanu, the humanoid aliens who came from another galaxy. But King Aiken's rule is precarious, for the Tanu's twisted brethren are secretly maneuvering to bring about his downfall. Worse, Aiken is about to confront a man of incredibly po Until the arrival of Aiken Drum, the 100,000 humans who had fled backward in time to Pliocene exile on Earth knew little but slavery to the Tanu, the humanoid aliens who came from another galaxy. But King Aiken's rule is precarious, for the Tanu's twisted brethren are secretly maneuvering to bring about his downfall. Worse, Aiken is about to confront a man of incredibly powerful talents who nearly overthrew a galactic rule. He is Marc Remillard. Call him...The Adversary.

30 review for The Adversary

  1. 4 out of 5

    Wanda

    My least favourite of the 4 Pliocene Exile books. It took me a while to get into this one, although eventually I found myself back into the flow. I have to admire the intricate nature of May’s plot and how it all ties together eventually. I did find that the sheer number of characters (not all of whom I remembered well) was part of the reason that it was slow going in the beginning. Also, the involvement of Marc Remillard was tiring to me—I was much more interested in the other humans, the Tanu My least favourite of the 4 Pliocene Exile books. It took me a while to get into this one, although eventually I found myself back into the flow. I have to admire the intricate nature of May’s plot and how it all ties together eventually. I did find that the sheer number of characters (not all of whom I remembered well) was part of the reason that it was slow going in the beginning. Also, the involvement of Marc Remillard was tiring to me—I was much more interested in the other humans, the Tanu and the Firvulag and their various plots and plans. Looking back, I realize that there was much less attention paid to the ancient environment and extinct animals in this book than in the others, and since that was one of the best parts of the series for me, it stands to reason that this book would be less appealing. I also missed the firey Felice and so many others who perished en route to this installment of the tale. (Perhaps George R.R. Martin learned a thing or two about killing off beloved characters from Ms. May?) A satisfactory conclusion to a really good tale. Many of my questions have been answered, although I think Ms. May has left herself some wiggle room to continue on at some future point, should she hear the Many Colored Land calling to her again.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Kevin

    George R.R. Martin can suck it. Ten years before Martin started his yet unfinished Song of Ice and Fire, May's four Pliocene Exile books were published at a rate of one every year between 1981 and 1984. And they are epic. Dense and filled with grand world-building concepts and vocabulary (although tinged with a bit of anachronism in places, mostly in some out-of-date ethnic clichés), The Adversary was a solid ending to a science fiction story set six million years ago. Rest in peace, Ms. May - y George R.R. Martin can suck it. Ten years before Martin started his yet unfinished Song of Ice and Fire, May's four Pliocene Exile books were published at a rate of one every year between 1981 and 1984. And they are epic. Dense and filled with grand world-building concepts and vocabulary (although tinged with a bit of anachronism in places, mostly in some out-of-date ethnic clichés), The Adversary was a solid ending to a science fiction story set six million years ago. Rest in peace, Ms. May - your books still bring me joy after all these years.

  3. 5 out of 5

    AndrewP

    My reread of this series concludes with this volume. Unlike the first couple of books I did not remember anything about the events in this one, so it was like reading it for the first time. Because of this I would not give this book 5 stars, only 4. Still a very good series and this time I will continue on to read the Galactic Milieu Trilogy that steps back in time to the Galactic Rebellion that is so much of the background to the last two books of the Pliocene series. But before that I have to My reread of this series concludes with this volume. Unlike the first couple of books I did not remember anything about the events in this one, so it was like reading it for the first time. Because of this I would not give this book 5 stars, only 4. Still a very good series and this time I will continue on to read the Galactic Milieu Trilogy that steps back in time to the Galactic Rebellion that is so much of the background to the last two books of the Pliocene series. But before that I have to read Intervention, that May wrote to bridge the two series.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Sharon Reamer

    The overall series deserves four stars, even though I've given the third and fourth book three stars. I enjoyed the continuity, the exquisite world-building, enhanced by the cool geological descriptions. The detail of the survival of the humans in the Pliocene and their various trades and specialties was also rendered more than believable. I sometimes felt I was there, with them, in the Pliocene Exile. However, the telepathic powers plot device overshadowed all of the good things, pushing my ove The overall series deserves four stars, even though I've given the third and fourth book three stars. I enjoyed the continuity, the exquisite world-building, enhanced by the cool geological descriptions. The detail of the survival of the humans in the Pliocene and their various trades and specialties was also rendered more than believable. I sometimes felt I was there, with them, in the Pliocene Exile. However, the telepathic powers plot device overshadowed all of the good things, pushing my overall enjoyment of the series down somewhat. I felt it got out of hand and would have liked a more 'mundane' solution to some of the problems between the different races: human, Tanu and Firvulag (including Howlers), and some conclusions about the mixed bloods influencing human evolution - that was never really satisfactorily explained (or I missed it). Many of my problems with the telepathic nature of the various antagonists and protagonists was that some things were just 'too easily' solved because of this. Character A has an insurmountable problem that Character B helps him/her solve using his/her superior telepathic (insert specific type of power here) skills. The series ended rather calmly, but it did have a solid ending so I can't complain too much.

  5. 4 out of 5

    prcardi

    Storyline: 2/5 Characters: 2/5 Writing Style: 2/5 World: 2/5 This series has the distinction of making every subsequent volume worse than the one before. Despite having 1,748 pages in which to develop the Pliocene, I never felt that I got to know the Many-Colored Land. We were immersed in politics and war, distracted with minor romances and side-quests, and pelted with PK technobabble, Latin and French, but the only feeling I got for the land was that the mountains were taller and the fauna more sau Storyline: 2/5 Characters: 2/5 Writing Style: 2/5 World: 2/5 This series has the distinction of making every subsequent volume worse than the one before. Despite having 1,748 pages in which to develop the Pliocene, I never felt that I got to know the Many-Colored Land. We were immersed in politics and war, distracted with minor romances and side-quests, and pelted with PK technobabble, Latin and French, but the only feeling I got for the land was that the mountains were taller and the fauna more saurian. I don't think the book would have been all that different were it to have taken place in the Galactic Milieu or in Duat. May set up the Pliocene Exile well; there was great potential at the end of book one. Unfortunately, she suspended her worldbuilding efforts thereafter and it was more of a court intrigue and warring factions series thereafter. I think May was at her best when starting new ideas. She very rarely saw them through to satisfactory completion however and instead jumped on to something new. It was clear by midway through this final volume, that the Adversary was as much a bridge to the spin-off Galactic Milieu trilogy as it was a finale to the Saga of the Pliocene Exile series.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Mandy Galileo

    Loved this series, interesting characters and ideas, really looking forward to the follow on series to explore these themes and ideas some more.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Lewis Cunningham

    This whole series is awesome. I would love to see a movie, even an animated movie, of the many colored land and the galactic milieu.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Roddy Williams

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. ‘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 Fi ‘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.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jim

    (view spoiler)[ I thought this book was pretty average. It felt too long, but in spite of its length it left a couple of plot strings dangling badly. One was that she took a major character, Felice, out of the story but rather than killing her left her in sort of limbo. There was also this subplot about two infants that apparently were destined to do something but never did. These were dwelled on in book 3 at considerable length but never mentioned at all in book 4. The author may have been trying (view spoiler)[ I thought this book was pretty average. It felt too long, but in spite of its length it left a couple of plot strings dangling badly. One was that she took a major character, Felice, out of the story but rather than killing her left her in sort of limbo. There was also this subplot about two infants that apparently were destined to do something but never did. These were dwelled on in book 3 at considerable length but never mentioned at all in book 4. The author may have been trying to tie this series into another. If so, the connection was not obvious and I never read it. The author's style was average, not impressing me one way or the other. I did like the setting and some of the characterizations. The story showed a lot of imagination but overall it was not a very satisifying read. (hide spoiler)]

  10. 4 out of 5

    Chris Branch

    I was surprised at how much I had forgotten about this book. I have to admit that the lengthy subplots involving the misadventures of Tony Wayland and the climb up Monte Rosa were probably the least interesting part of the series for me, which may have contributed to its forgettableness. But this also may have made it even more enjoyable as a reread - for example, I didn't remember what happened to Basil when he reached the top of the mountain, so that was a nice surprise. And to be honest I did I was surprised at how much I had forgotten about this book. I have to admit that the lengthy subplots involving the misadventures of Tony Wayland and the climb up Monte Rosa were probably the least interesting part of the series for me, which may have contributed to its forgettableness. But this also may have made it even more enjoyable as a reread - for example, I didn't remember what happened to Basil when he reached the top of the mountain, so that was a nice surprise. And to be honest I didn't recall exactly how everything sorted itself out at the end. The parts involving the strongest characters, Aiken, Elizabeth, and Marc, were the most engaging, bringing the central story to a solid and satisfying end for the Pliocine saga. Looking forward to rereading the Milieu books next.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Betawolf

    Satisfactory ending to an overall satisfactory science-fictionish epic. I found it hard to buy Marc as a real Abaddon (perhaps the books set prior to the series lay groundwork for that?), and I never really got Elizabeth, but May managed to slot her mythic pieces together without too heavily straining the characters, and there was an amusingly literal big bang to end it all. I liked this series. Most of this was the concept -- men and fey living as gods in ancient times, wrought from technology a Satisfactory ending to an overall satisfactory science-fictionish epic. I found it hard to buy Marc as a real Abaddon (perhaps the books set prior to the series lay groundwork for that?), and I never really got Elizabeth, but May managed to slot her mythic pieces together without too heavily straining the characters, and there was an amusingly literal big bang to end it all. I liked this series. Most of this was the concept -- men and fey living as gods in ancient times, wrought from technology and psychic powers, all stirred into a primeval myth that tugged at vague memories and presented similarities with a bunch of cultural artefacts. But it was competently executed too, and I enjoyed not having to worry about the author getting lost in their own world.

  12. 5 out of 5

    David Meiklejohn

    The conclusion of the saga. Felice has been zapped, but she seems to have d-jumped to fry Marc in the final milliseconds of her life. As Marc recovers he tries the obscure manoeuvre himself. Aiken faces and subsumes Mercy and then Nodonn, leaving himself in a vulnerable state as the grand tourney approaches and the Firvulag plan for Nightfall. Elizabeth tries to help but doesn't know what her destiny should be. A fantastic finale! I can't recommend this series enough, the writing is immense, cha The conclusion of the saga. Felice has been zapped, but she seems to have d-jumped to fry Marc in the final milliseconds of her life. As Marc recovers he tries the obscure manoeuvre himself. Aiken faces and subsumes Mercy and then Nodonn, leaving himself in a vulnerable state as the grand tourney approaches and the Firvulag plan for Nightfall. Elizabeth tries to help but doesn't know what her destiny should be. A fantastic finale! I can't recommend this series enough, the writing is immense, characters are great and visualisations amazing. I just wanted Felice to last a bit longer.

  13. 5 out of 5

    John Devlin

    Simply the best space opera, and the best series of novels I've ever read. This is the first of the nine, and while the last three show signs of fatigue, these novels capture a cast of characters, and one in Marc Remillard, that are truly memorable. From the worlds and milieu May imagines to her evocative themes, the novels capture humanity with all its foibles and promise, and if you stick around for #6, you'll get the best plot twist in all of bookdom. Simply the best space opera, and the best series of novels I've ever read. This is the first of the nine, and while the last three show signs of fatigue, these novels capture a cast of characters, and one in Marc Remillard, that are truly memorable. From the worlds and milieu May imagines to her evocative themes, the novels capture humanity with all its foibles and promise, and if you stick around for #6, you'll get the best plot twist in all of bookdom.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Books And Chocaholic

    I've finally found the kind of sci-fi I've been looking for! The kind of sci-fi that uses space and technology and made up sciences as plot devices. This is far from a perfect series and is certainly problematic. I feel this is a guilty pleasure for me in a way. There are so many things wrong with it but it's a book I enjoyed. It does handle more delicate topics and representation badly. Not to mention the excusing of abusers. I enjoyed it. Be wary going in as it's a product of its time. I've finally found the kind of sci-fi I've been looking for! The kind of sci-fi that uses space and technology and made up sciences as plot devices. This is far from a perfect series and is certainly problematic. I feel this is a guilty pleasure for me in a way. There are so many things wrong with it but it's a book I enjoyed. It does handle more delicate topics and representation badly. Not to mention the excusing of abusers. I enjoyed it. Be wary going in as it's a product of its time.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Neal Schlegel

    magnificent I had hoped that obscene midget would get his come upance courtesy of Abbadan but it was not to be it was a very good ending or is it the begining wink wink

  16. 5 out of 5

    Ria

    A great conclusion, a sweeping epic that introduces a new theme in the saga that leads on nicely and is very open ended for the next series. A clever story blending a mix of fantasy and sci fi.

  17. 5 out of 5

    AndrewP

    The conclusion of the Piocene Exiles saga. A great series of book by this very underrated author. As usual my rating of the final book reflects my enjoyment of the series overall.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jean Triceratops

    Hoo boy. I wanted to be surprised and like The Adversary, but there was no way, for three huge reasons: 1) Abusers are, at best, treated as “well-meaning but complicated” and, at worst, excused without second thought. 2) The scope becomes so large it’s impossible to support. 3) Facts are artificially withheld from the reader to generate interest. That first point is hard to swallow no matter what, but the last two could have been mitigated with good characterization and a world brimming with persona Hoo boy. I wanted to be surprised and like The Adversary, but there was no way, for three huge reasons: 1) Abusers are, at best, treated as “well-meaning but complicated” and, at worst, excused without second thought. 2) The scope becomes so large it’s impossible to support. 3) Facts are artificially withheld from the reader to generate interest. That first point is hard to swallow no matter what, but the last two could have been mitigated with good characterization and a world brimming with personality, but the vibrancy of The Many Colored World is long gone. I guess I'm glad that I know how it ends, but The Adversary is so bad that I think it detracts from every book that preceded it. [I read old fantasy and sci-fi novels written by women authors in search of forgotten gems. See a full length review at forfemfan.com]

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jeffrey Bluhm

    Why I'm commenting on a series that seems to be out of print is a bit beyond me, but it's been one of my personal faves for many, many years, and over multiple readings. After completing it yet again, I can confidently say this final book in the series brings it to a completely satisfying conclusion. The individuals and factions we've been following throughout all get what seem to be appropriate endings to their stories, in some cases even better than they might have hoped for. It's fun to think Why I'm commenting on a series that seems to be out of print is a bit beyond me, but it's been one of my personal faves for many, many years, and over multiple readings. After completing it yet again, I can confidently say this final book in the series brings it to a completely satisfying conclusion. The individuals and factions we've been following throughout all get what seem to be appropriate endings to their stories, in some cases even better than they might have hoped for. It's fun to think back to the eight individuals that comprised Group Green at the outset, reflect on the arcs their stories followed, and also remember the new characters met along the way, and the outcomes both good and unfortunate for all. Fantastic series if you get a chance to read it.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Marco Hoogh

    I try to avoid writing any spoilers in my reviews. So I can't write about the plot, other than to let you know that the story came to a suitable end. I can't write about the firvulag (I think that's what they were called?) and the Tanu. And hurley as the new tournament. Shoot, that is a bit of a spoiler... What I can say is that the books were extremely well-written. A bit heavy on the emotional sometimes, a bit heavy on the science sometimes, and (if I recall) a bit hard for a young teenager to I try to avoid writing any spoilers in my reviews. So I can't write about the plot, other than to let you know that the story came to a suitable end. I can't write about the firvulag (I think that's what they were called?) and the Tanu. And hurley as the new tournament. Shoot, that is a bit of a spoiler... What I can say is that the books were extremely well-written. A bit heavy on the emotional sometimes, a bit heavy on the science sometimes, and (if I recall) a bit hard for a young teenager to comprehend at times. But I loved it back then, as I still do now. And that is probably the best thing I can say about this series. Thank you, Julian May, for sharing your creation with us.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Barbara

    Abandoned halfway through because I realized I couldn’t care less about this crazy bunch of misfits and aliens. #1 had an intriguing premise with the gate allowing time travel to the Pliocene era only to find aliens were enslaving all the new arrivals. Maybe because I didn’t read #2 and #3 but there was too much going on here for me to understand and ultimately to want to figure out. Ironic, isn’t it, that I’ve moved this book to at least 3 different homes before realizing it doesn’t mean anythi Abandoned halfway through because I realized I couldn’t care less about this crazy bunch of misfits and aliens. #1 had an intriguing premise with the gate allowing time travel to the Pliocene era only to find aliens were enslaving all the new arrivals. Maybe because I didn’t read #2 and #3 but there was too much going on here for me to understand and ultimately to want to figure out. Ironic, isn’t it, that I’ve moved this book to at least 3 different homes before realizing it doesn’t mean anything to me.

  22. 5 out of 5

    F.P.G. Camerman

    Having finished rereading the entire Saga, which I've always considered one of my all-time favourites since I first read it ~30 years ago, my conclusion is that it really consists of two stories each split in two volumes, and that the first one (i.e. the first two volumes of the Saga) is the one I remembered so fondly and still consider a classic. The second (i.e. the third and fourth volume) was a bit of a slog to get through, but I'm still glad I reread it. Having finished rereading the entire Saga, which I've always considered one of my all-time favourites since I first read it ~30 years ago, my conclusion is that it really consists of two stories each split in two volumes, and that the first one (i.e. the first two volumes of the Saga) is the one I remembered so fondly and still consider a classic. The second (i.e. the third and fourth volume) was a bit of a slog to get through, but I'm still glad I reread it.

  23. 4 out of 5

    JasWill

    The last book in this series keeps you guessing to the end The tension building in this last book is very well done and the ending has some surprises. There is also some humour mixed in amongst it all. Our king Aiken Drum manages to hold the world together until the climatic ending. One of the best series I've read. The last book in this series keeps you guessing to the end The tension building in this last book is very well done and the ending has some surprises. There is also some humour mixed in amongst it all. Our king Aiken Drum manages to hold the world together until the climatic ending. One of the best series I've read.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Michel Meijer

    Great end to a fantastic series. The last part of the book felt slightly rushed, but all individual storlines concluded. For any fantasy/sci-fi lover, the Saga of Pliocene Exile is a recommended read. I fell for it long long time ago, and still do.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Bob Rose

    The Adversary is the fourth book of the Saga of the Pliocene Epoch. I found this book to be more of the same, but by itself didn’t meet my expectations. Each book of any series (by any author) should bring something new to the table. The Adversary wasn’t special in that regard.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Andy Goldman

    Still amazing for how all the puzzle pieces fit together, but overall rather slow, even the quick-wrap-it-up ending. After this reread I probably won’t need to read this series again, but I’m glad to have done it once as an adult and once when younger.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Malrey

    This is the 4th and last book of the Pliocene Exile series. Julian May does not disappoint. This is a book with a multitude of characters and side plots, so it takes time to get to know the individuals. It’s worth the effort.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Oliver Smith

    Julian May brings this work to an impressive conclusion - and hints at what might be in store in a sequel series. I enjoyed everything about this book and have moved straight to Intervention. Strongly recommend.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Gunnar

    The weakest of the four books, but still enjoyable enough. I guess I just don't like Marc's character as much as most of the others. The weakest of the four books, but still enjoyable enough. I guess I just don't like Marc's character as much as most of the others.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Shelly

    It's good, but not as good as the rest of the series. It's good, but not as good as the rest of the series.

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