Earth has been joined by other alien races in a galactic society, where mind powers abound. Some humans are unhappy with this and seek ways to escape. A scientist has invented a one-way time machine into the pliocene past 5000000 years ago and the book describes what happens to a group who chose exile in the past.
They discover that earth at that time is not the wilderness they expect but inhabited by another alien race. The Tanu have no scruples using humans as slaves to boost both their flagging technology and breeding program. The two races are able to interbreed. The tanu have a technology of mind amplifying 'torcs' which they use both to boost their own powers and as slave collars to control their new recruits.
The party of exiles is divided into two, with one half sent to the capital and their story is told in the second book.
The others are sent north under guard, but manage to escape thanks to the modest mind powers of Felice, and to the small steel dagger she managed to conceal from their captors. They join a band of outlaws led by Madame Guderian, widow of the time machine's inventor.
The outlaws already have a plan to salvage one of the Tanu's space landers abandoned after they colonised the planet, and also an ancient portable laser canon once used in ceremonial battles. They realise that Felice's lucky escape was due to her using a steel weapon, which proved lethal poison to the aliens.
One group succeeds in passing through howler territory (part of the firvulag alien twin race living alongside the Tanu) and make the spear and rho-craft functional again. The other manages to find iron and forge weapons.
The rebels form an alliance with the firvulag to attack the Tanu city of Finiah, only source of barium for Torc production. Desperately racing against time they attack just a day before the annual truce between Firvulag and Tanu. The city is gutted and the now alone human rebels move on to strike at the capital Muriah.
This report prepared by David Pearce
The first of four books in Julian May's grand vision of Earth's future and past. The Many Colored Land explores the origin of humanity, our myths and folklore in a romp through time to the Europe of six million years ago. Filled with an epic cast of eccentric and colorful characters, The Many Colored Land begins the story of humanity's first struggle... and its greatest triumph.
This report prepared by Joel Feigenbaum