on 21 January 2004
I bought the Many Coloured Land on a recomendation from a friend. I have not been so truly gripped by a book in a very long time. Admittedly the book starts very slowly as you become introduced to the Exiles but suddenly after about 150 pages the book takes off and you're whirled away in to the Pliocene Epoch.
May has mixed some wonderful and plausible views of the future with myths of the past and come up with something quite astounding. I think what impressed me most through the series is the way that she (Julian May is a she by the way) swings your emotions from one side to the other almost at will. As the saga continues through The Golden Torc, The NonBorn King and The Adversary you will be amazed at your own fickleness as your support sways from one faction to another and back again.
These four books are a delight. If I was to grade The Many Coloured Land as a book in and of itself it would probably get 4 stars if only because of its slow start, but once you have started just make sure that you have the others waiting on the shelf!
on 7 July 2001
Having bought my first Land book via a local charity shop, I have to say it was not this one.So off I went and bought it. Bad move I was hooked, addicted to this stupendous story. Here in one novel were so many things I just am interested in. But this first one is really great it tells you so much about what is to come, yet never spoils the punch lines. Having bought the whole series I sat down for a week and reread them all, no housework little cooking just reading. Then suddenly I realised there were no more, I suffered withdrawel symptoms and still do. Yet for me this first book is the best, still worth investing in the set, if you are one of the few who do not own them.
on 2 December 2009
Julian May's Saga of the Exiles and the related Galactic Mileu trilogy are without doubt my first choice "desert island" reading. Classic SF elements of time travel, aliens, monsters, and the only fantasy world to equal Tolkien's Middle-Earth. All combined with acute characterisation, gentle humour and the odd episode of good earthy sex. I must have read them half a dozen times and they are as every bit as enjoyable now as they were the first time. Buy! Now!
on 8 August 2007
all this saga of books is uniquely excellent. Julian May carries the longs and complex story arc without a hitch. buy every one of them. unlike many fantasy and sci fi series that you dutifully buy to the bitter end, this one will continue to delight all the way. then move on to the galactic milleiu books
on 1 March 2010
It is a travesty that this is now out of print. Particularly compared to some of the juvenile rubbish in the fanstasy/sci fi genre.
Strong characters, and an intriquing system of 'magical' powers, make this one of the great sci-fi/fantasy hybrids.
on 1 March 2007
Although having achieved some success with short fiction, Julian May seemed to leap from nowhere into SF major status with this initial sequence of four books (The Saga of The Exiles)
The Many-Coloured Land is one of those wonderful books in which the narrative refuses to provide explanation of its own internal history. In the first chapters, tantalising hints are given about `the Intervention' and `The Metapsychic Rebellion' and the reader gradually picks up the pieces of human history throughout the text although some references are not explained until much later in the novel sequence.
It is not clear whether the entire overall saga (which comprises of eight books) was initially designed as such, but as the full narrative is in the form of a time-loop, the final novel comes back to almost the point at which The Many-Coloured Land starts.
Deftly manipulating a multi-character storyline, May starts us off in a near future in which human colonists are being set up on hundreds of ethnically-streamed fresh planets; many humans are developing metapsychic operancy with talents such as psychokinesis, telepathy, the transformation of matter, illusion spinning and mental coercion.
Five alien races, members of a kind of superpsychic gestalt, have made themselves known and are helping Humanity along the road to Coalescence.
Meanwhile, Madame Guderian, a French hotelier, is custodian of an odd piece of Earth history. Her late husband had constructed a machine which interfaced with a unique geological and temporal anomaly within the Earth's crust. He had built, in effect, a time portal, but one which led only one way, back to Earth's Pliocene past.
After a traveller paid handsomely for the privilege of escaping the modern world into Exile, Madame Guderian began a trade in transporting `misfits', those discomfited by the strange complex place their society had become.
Once in the past, however, the travellers find themselves enslaved by the Tanu, an oddly humanoid race. The aliens had fled to earth from their own world where they were being forced to abandon certain traditions which their enlightened brethren deemed barbarous.
We follow the fortunes of several travellers, all of whom got to know each other in the orientation and survival training sessions before they left. May's characters are an eccentric bunch; a `blinded' Grandmaster Metapsychic lady, a disgraced space captain, a neurotic Viking, a psychotic lesbian sports player, a recidivist trickster, a lovesick sociologist, a bereaved palaeontologist and an `old school' nun.
It sparkles with wit and a depth of character and background research which is refreshing and breathtaking. It is by far one of the best series of books of the late Twentieth Century, and is compulsory reading for fans of SF.
on 12 May 2013
I happen to love this series of books, but for best appreciation read in order, with Intervention first, then Jack the Bodiless, Diamond Mask, Magnificat and then the Saga of the Exiles from Book One. It probably isn’t the choice of your hard core sci fi addict, but I love the idea of following the Remillard family from the beginning, as they are mentioned in passing in the Exiles books.
on 3 July 2013
The Saga of the Exiles on e-reader! Excellent!
First read Julian May's brilliant Saga years and years ago and still have the paperbacks. Went on from the Pliocene exiles to Jack the Bodiless and Diamond Mask and all the rest of the Milieu stories. Fabulous stories of telepathically and psychokinetically operant humans and how they got there. Yes, it's nonsense by any normal, everyday standards but the story is a huge sweep of imagination with cleverness and wit woven right the way through it - Aiken Drum, the trickster and arch-manipulator being the spitting image of Machiavelli, for instance.
If you're an SF buff I highly recommend this series. Funnily enough, I was looking idly for it as e-books just a few months ago and there was nothing available from "official" channels - an unofficial copy I found and downloaded had no formatting. You'd be amazed how flat and boring a story becomes with no paragraphs! Then they appeared as "trade copies" - not quite sure what that means, but perhaps it's associated with one gripe I do have about the e-versions - that scanner misreads haven't been sub-edited out. For example, one of the Firvulag Great Heroes is called Sharn-Mes; usually abbreviated to Sharn. In the e-version it appears about 70% of the time as "Sham" which grates badly every time. There are other examples.
Nonetheless, I'm ploughing my way through the whole lot all over again and loving it. Give yourself a treat. Get at least the four "Saga" books and read them!
on 21 June 2011
There are those who will never read anything that has a spaceship in the story. Then there are those who will never read anything that involves fantasy, magic, swords or dragons. For the rest of us, although there are no dragons, this is a unique blend of great, sustained storytelling approximately but not entirely in the SF/Fantasy genre, combined with a leap of the imagination which I have not seen equalled for its effect long after one has finished the books. She combines plausible future history and technology with an inspired link to our distant evolutionary past via time travel, and even weaves in the myths of our early societies. The childish desires of us all are also indulged with wonderfully imagined treats such as the ability to fly unaided or blow up a whole mountain with the power of thought alone.
Quite brilliant and with very wide appeal - if you can deal with one spaceship (at the beginning) and plenty of swords (in the middle). If not, well there's always that biography of Clinton to get to....
on 23 January 2013
The story is fantastic, a must-have for any sci-fi / fantasy fan - really can't praise it enough and the story is worth 5-stars. So why the 4-star rating? The implementation to the Kindle version is sloppy. Some passages are worse than others, but it feels like there's a typo every 3 pages or so. Most of the time you can live with it, but on a few instances (and I'm only two-thirds the way through the first book) the first time a character is mentioned, the name is misspelled (examples: Pallol becomes Pallob and Sharn-Mes is Sham-Mes). If you know the story it can be overlooked but is nevertheless annoying, if you don't know the story you'd be left wondering what's going on. It's clear this was produced by scanning a print book and the result has not been read or checked, even by an amateur.
The other slight disappointment is the maps - they're next to useless. They've been scanned at a low resolution so while the Kindle can zoom in on a section, all you get is a grey smudge.
All in all, I think it's still worth buying as these little issues are small compared to the fantastic story.
P.S. If you wanted to (as another reviewer has done) you could read a lot of Catholic 'redemption-through-suffering' into it, but you don't have to, it's not rammed down the reader's throat!