From acclaimed, award-winning author Jo Walton: Philosopher Kings, a tale of gods and humans, and the surprising things they have to learn from one another. Twenty years have elapsed since the events of The Just City. The City, founded by the time-traveling goddess Pallas Athene, organized on the principles espoused in Plato's Republic and populated by people from all eras of human history, has now split into five cities, and low-level armed conflict between them is not unheard-of.
The god Apollo, living (by his own choice) a human life as "Pythias" in the City, his true identity known only to a few, is now married and the father of several children. But a tragic loss causes him to become consumed with the desire for revenge. Being Apollo, he goes handling it in a seemingly rational and systematic way, but it's evident, particularly to his precocious daughter Arete, that he is unhinged with grief.
Along with Arete and several of his sons, plus a boatload of other volunteersincluding the now fantastically aged Marsilio Ficino, the great humanist of Renaissance FlorencePythias/Apollo goes sailing into the mysterious Eastern Mediterranean of pre-antiquity to see what they can findpossibly the man who may have caused his great grief, possibly communities of the earliest people to call themselves "Greek." What Apollo, his daughter, and the rest of the expedition will discover…will change everything.
About the Author
JO WALTON won the Hugo and Nebula Awards in 2012 for her novel Among Others. Before that, she won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, and her novel Tooth and Claw won the World Fantasy Award in 2004. The novels of her Small Change sequenceFarthing, Ha'penny, and Half a Crown have won acclaim ranging from national newspapers to the Romantic Times Critics' Choice Award. A native of Wales, she lives in Montreal.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This is the second book in a trilogy. As I'm writing, the third book hasn't come out, and so I'm not sure how all the threads will tie together, and how the set up in this book will play out. That said, I am intensely curious. Thus, middle book. Good set up. The Philosopher Kings picks up after the chaos from the ending of The Just City has had time to settle out. The Just City is now a bunch of smaller cities, all of which are trying to "do" Plato's Republic in various ways. When one of the characters eventually meets people not from The Just City, she is struck by how odd it is that not everyone is trying to make Plato's Republic. Really, I do not know of many authors who could make this concept interesting; it's rip for reductionist thinking and platitudes; it creates an ostensibly simple base culture, but brings in the complexities of people from a truly staggering number of different places and times. Doing so much is hard to do well, but Jo Walton pulls it off, and that's the real fascination of this story, for me. How do so many disparate people come together, and what do they make? Notable things: Many of the ideas seeded in The Just City flower in this book. Apollo's godhood plays a more definite role, and it turns out, he's had an awful lot of children. My favorite of these is his only daughter, Arete, who is an excellent viewpoint character. She's young but smart and thoughtful. Also, that awful interaction between Ikaros and Maia gets some resolution. That lack of resolution in The Just City bothered me to no end, but I suspect that was the point. Trauma doesn't tie up neatly or definitively, much of the time. Likewise, Athena made a reappearance, which added some clarity to her motivation. She's the most difficult character in these books, for me. Especially in comparison to Apollo, she seems both unjust and unwise. At best, she's so high above everything that she lacks Apollo's understanding of the situation on the ground. I'm still not altogether satisfied with her, and I still do not understand what Jo Walton is up, but I'll definitely read the third book to find out. This all sounds high minded and complex, and it is. That said, there are also some terribly funny bits, here and there, with the beats landing on the nature of human and gods. And if The Just City seemed to end abruptly (like it did for me), The Philosopher Kings is a deeply satisfying continuation of the same story.