cover image The Philosopher Kings

The Philosopher Kings

Jo Walton. Tor, $24.99 (352p) ISBN 978-0-7653-3267-7

The artificially constructed Republic, populated with people whom the goddess Athene stole from their native time lines, has splintered into warring factions after the events of The Just City. Apollo, living as a human, grieves for his wife, who died in a battle, and his subsequent meandering journey slowly reveals truths that will transform the small society. Walton succeeds well in her mission of showing that the utopia envisioned by Plato is impossible, but her use of god-level powers, including a book-ending deus ex machina, strips the book of tension. The rape of Apollo’s wife is noted in a toss-off journal entry, and her entire existence is reduced to her violation and death, which Walton uses to motivate Apollo to take his children on a lengthy quest for brutal revenge. Later, a second rapist is forgiven and ends up being an acolyte of virginal Athene. The philosophical questions just aren’t enough to push past the troubling use of sexual assault in this unsatisfying sequel. Agent: Jack Byrne, Sternig and Byrne Literary. (June)