This book kicks off the last part of Julian May’s Galactic Milieu series and does so with aplomb. References to Jack Remillard had been numerous in previous books but always vague. It had been stated that he was, arguably, the most powerful psychic ever born but why he did not have a body and how he died was never fully explained.
The story begins with a death, that of Denis Remillard’s brother Victor, who had been the main antagonist in the earlier books. As Victor dies, he tempts or corrupts several fetuses to become evil and also helps birth the creature Fury, who will be the main antagonist going forward. I love this book but the Fury and Hydra (the fetuses he turns into his servants) are a weak point in the story.
Putting aside the idea of an outside influence turning unborn fetuses evil, the abilities that Hydra and especially Fury manifest are really inconsistent with how the powers and their limitations are presented in the rest of the stories. It almost feels like there are two sets of rules, one for them and one for everyone else.
The characters of Jack and Marc, however, are fully three dimensional and so much fun to read about. Jack was conceived illegally and, due to the fact that humanity was still under strict control by alien races, his mother’s death had to be faked in order for him to be born. Uncle Rogi, the main character for much of the last few volumes, goes with Jack’s mom Teresa in order to guide and protect her.
The escape to the Pacific Northwest, their trials in a cabin without electricity and modern conveniences and the birth of Jack are undoubtedly my favorite scenes in the book. Two areas I particularly enjoyed were the conversations between Teresa and Jack about love and about his birth (he was a self aware fetus).
Once Jack is born, he becomes incredibly close with his older brother Marc. As a reader, you know that Marc is destined to lead the Rebellion against Jack but what May does so well is you find yourself hoping that does not occur. Marc is proud and arrogant, unquestionably, but you also see what a good friend he is, and how he will do literally anything to protect those he loves. In some ways, it reminds me of the TV show Better Call Saul, where you know the fate that awaits Saul Goodman but seeing him earlier in his life makes his fall more poignant and the viewer wishing there were some way to stop it from happening.
Obviously, the character of Marc is one that is important to me, and having May tell the story of the early parts of his life, his loneliness (even with a great group of friends), his desire to help others, his love and also jealousy towards his brother, make this character one of the most memorable for me in all of literature.