Tough Travelling – Strongholds

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At the start of every month, Fantasy-Faction will lead you (yes, YOU!) on a tour of the fantasy genre. From high to low, from classics to new releases, from epic to urban; each month, we will guide you in search of a different trope, theme or cliché. Lest we become lost, we’ll be referring to The Tough Guide to Fantasyland by Diana Wynne Jones.

I’ve know I’ve left it right to the last minute to jump on board with this enjoyable meme – but after seeing what fun several of my blogging friends have had with this one, I wanted to join in.

My choice for a stronghold is Kallisti, known as The Just City, which is a thought experiment dreamed up by Athene in Jo Walton’s fascinating book. And yes… I’ve cheated just a weeee little bit in that it is something of a mash-up between fantasy AND science fiction – but those robots could be made out of chocolate by a witch, right? And then it’s pure fantasy… I love this book which takes an off-the-wall idea, gives it some intellectual heft – Kallisti is run along the precepts laid down in Plato’s The Republic – and in the subsequent two books, Jo Walton takes that idea and stretches it into yet another level see my review here.

However she has crafted this marvellous series, Kallisti has to be one of the coolest strongholds ever built as it is set in Atlantis before it is swallowed up by the sea and everyone in the city strives to be the best they can possibly be. While I may not want to live there for my entire life, I would LOVE to be able to visit for a year or so.

Here in the Just City you will become your best selves. You will learn and grow and strive to be excellent.
FACTS FOR TRAVELLERS
Name: Kallisti
Nickname: The Just City
Population: 10,520 children, 300 philosophers, Sokrates, Athene, An unknown number of robots
Languages: Classical Greek, Latin
Location: Thera (aka Atlantis)
Climate: Mediterranean
Government: Philosophical Monarchy
Religion: Hellenistic Pagan (with onsite gods)
Sports: Wrestling, Running in Armour, Archery
How to get there: Read Plato’s Republic and pray to Athene. Or be a ten-year-old. Or be a god.
How to leave: You can’t.

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12 responses »

    • It really, really isn’t a heavy read… She is an amazing writer, but is principally concerned with telling a good story so has a very accessible easy style. But I will concede that there are some aspects that you might want to mull over and think about – so if you’re looking for something to tear through on the beach, this isn’t necessarily the one:).

  1. What a unique and fun choice. Sounds like a great place to hang and debate philosophy for a while- as long as we can waive that “no leaving” rule ! 🙂

    • Oh absolutely! Have you read any of her work, Greg? I think you’d enjoy her writing – I don’t know anyone else who writes quite like her. Everything she does is quite different from the previous project and she is absolutely fearless in what she tackles. But then, I happen to think she is one of the finest writers out there today…

  2. I remember your review of the book, and Jo Walton is definitely on my TBR list. Glad you had fun with that blog hop, even if you cheated a bit (but robots can be fantasy too, right?).

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