The Philosopher Kings by Jo Walton
Release Date: June, 2015
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 volunteers–including the now fantastically aged Marsilio Ficino, the great humanist of Renaissance Florence–Pythias/Apollo goes sailing into the mysterious Eastern Mediterranean of pre-antiquity to see what they can find–possibly 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.
The first 12 chapters (about 102 pages) were released on NetGalley as a ‘read now’ preview, and as I’d been meaning to read the first book for a while I instantly jumped at the opportunity as it would finally force me to read the first. I’m so glad I did, as the first book has bounced instantly into my ‘favourite books of the year’ list. Easily. So now I have high hopes for this one!
I’ve you’ve read the first book and you’ve come to love some of the characters then you’ll probably be devastated as I was by the first few chapters, as is hinted at in the above summary. The preview then leaves you somewhat in the middle of the action, making it an agonising wait for the rest of the book – thankfully due for release in a few days. See, sometimes it’s good to leave things until the last minute!
From the previous book there is a jump of four years, throwing us right into what The Just City has become since the debate between Athene and Sokrates. The Workers were taken from them other than the two who have begun conversation, and there are now several cities spanned out and around… which means there are now fights as the new cities want some of the art from the original city, and they plan to take some by force.
In this book we now follow Arete as one of the main characters – one of the children born to the original children of The Just City. She is everything they would hoped the new world would be – she’s vastly intelligent and thoughtful, and a credit to the masters and Gods who have made this all happen.
I can’t wait to read the rest of this book! And now I really need to read everything else Walton has done immediately.