It has been a lot of fun re-reading all 9 books in this series but it finally comes to an end with Magnificat. Julian May truly has crafted a series that is extraordinary in scope and with characters who are vibrant. And that series does come full circle in this final installation.
One of my favorite TV shows is Firefly and a quote from that show that I love is “It’s not about the destination, it is about the journey.” We have know from the first book that there was a failed metapsychic rebellion and that Marc was the primary force behind this but the reasons for it have always been murky.
In this book, Marc’s slow transformation into a Miltonic Satan is complete. His original desire, to help humanity achieve its full potential, becomes subsumed by his jealousy towards his brother and an unwillingness to allow other non-human races to dictate to him what he can and cannot do. As a result, he embarks on this path to try to extricate humanity from the Milieu. What makes this fascinating is that we see what factors into his decision, including his manipulation by Fury, over the course of 3 books so we understand why he is doing this, even if the reader can clearly see this is the wrong course of action.
One of the final decisions he makes that dooms him as a villain (at least temporarily, until he redeems himself over 6 million years) is his decision to use extreme pain on fetuses as a way to get them to become bodiless, as his brother Jack became. Pain as a tool for growth, both physical and psychic, is a common theme throughout May’s series but it was always adults who felt the pain, often (although not always) of their own choice. To have fetuses experience this, who have no ability to refuse or make a choice in the matter, is monstrous. When Marc’s wife learns of this, and is told that he own children will be part of this experiment, she turns against her husband and pays the ultimate price.
The ending of the book will probably be divisive to people. I saw it as a direct outgrowth of the actions that saved humanity at the end of the Intervention. Others, however, may find a prayer as a mechanism for saving all of humanity to be a bit preachy. For me, it aligns perfectly with the Teilhardian philosophy of all minds striving and evolving towards an omega point, just on a larger scale than Teilhard de Chardin envisioned.
I cannot recommend this book and this series highly enough