The Philosopher Kings by Jo Walton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
When I finished The Philosopher Kings, my first thought was that it wasn't nearly as good as its predecessor, The Just City, but was still really good. After sitting with it a bit, I think that's really the most apt description. It's still really good, almost stand-alone while existing in the universe established from before, while still not reaching the conceptual or useful heights of the former.
This is basically an Apollo revenge tale, with a few factions at war and Apollo obsessed with avenging tragedy. The quest that comes about on this ends up going into really strange and terrible directions.
Why is this not as good as the prior book? The conflict is less interesting, for one, but, more to the point, the result of the conflict is really the most compelling part and it happens very late in the narrative. It's weird and strange and arresting, but the travel there just isn't as solid. Given that it is directly correlated with the existing Apollo myth, it's just a lack of strength in this story in comparison.
Still highly recommended if you liked the first one, but just be aware.
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