Tag Archives: The Thessaly series

Tough Travelling – Strongholds

Standard

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.

Advertisements

Sunday Post – 2nd October

Standard

Sunday Post

This is part of the weekly meme over at the Caffeinated Book Reviewer, where book bloggers can share the books and blogs they have written.

100_5117Another fortnight has elapsed since I touched based with everyone here, as last Sunday we were travelling by car from Scarborough to our home on the south coast, after attending Fantasycon. Scarborough is a lovely town and The Grand, which was the main conference hotel, is a large, distinguished looking building. Sadly, the splendour didn’t extend to our room, which was dirty and reeked of cigarette smoke. The staff were completely uninterested in sorting out the situation, so we spent most of Friday evening after a long, long drive, trying to get some satisfaction. Eventually we moved out of the hotel and across to the Travelodge across the way, where the accommodation was warm, welcoming and spotlessly clean, with staff that genuinely cared. Inevitably, this put a dampener on our enjoyment of the Con.

We attended the Grimbold Book Launch and heard Jo Hall read an extract from her fabulous new novel100_5120 The Summer Goddess on Friday evening and later had a bop at the disco. During Saturday, I attended a couple of the excellent masterclasses laid on where industry professionals discussed the current state of publishing and answered 100_5145questions from the small audience. I also very much enjoyed a couple of excellent panels – the first on historical fantasy was moderated by Jonathan Oliver, with Steven Poore, Susan Bartholomew, Zen Cho and Jacey Bedford taking part. The quality of the discussion was excellent and wide-ranging. The second panel I very much enjoyed was entitled This Used to be the Future, chaired by Richard Webb, with Daniel Godfrey, Kim Lakin-Smith, Susan Boulton and Robert S. Malan discussing their approach to science fiction and where they think the genre is going.

We also managed to fit in a walk along the beach and a ride back up the tram up the cliff during a lovely 100_5137sunny afternoon. However, we still had the monster journey back and I was teaching on Monday, so reluctantly we took the decision to cut short our time and leave straight after breakfast on Sunday. We took it easy and managed to avoid the worst of the holdups caused by the accident on the M1, arriving home in the evening. However, we both agreed that we wouldn’t travel so far for a week-end conference again. It was too far to go in the time and left us both very tired.

This has been a busy week, as I am now back in the swing with teaching at Northbrook and Tim, while continuing with my Fitstep and pilates classes. I’m delighted how much I have improved in strength and agility since starting. We have also been busy sorting things out in the house as this week-end, when the grandchildren came to stay, we put them in separate bedrooms for the first time. Quantities of Lego had to be shovelled up and sorted out…

I’ve been editing Netted this week after the massive rewrite at the start of the summer, as well as thoroughly enjoying my reading this week:
The Summer Goddess by Joanne Hall
thesummergoddessWhen Asta’s nephew is taken by slavers, she pledges to her brother that she will find him, or die trying. Her search takes her from the fading islands of the Scattering, a nation in thrall to a powerful enemy, to the port city of Abonnae. There she finds a people dominated by a sinister cult, thirsty for blood to feed their hungry god. Haunted by the spirit of her brother, forced into an uncertain alliance with a pair of assassins, Asta faces a deadly choice – save the people of two nations, or save her brother’s only son.
Another excellent read by this talented author, with a plausible heroine put in a horrible situation and doing the best she can. This page-turner provides plenty of action and adventure with great character progression.

 

 

 

Aveline – Book 1 of the Lost Vegas novella series by Lizzy Ford
In post-apocalyptic America, five hundred years in the future, famine, war, and chaos have created a hellaveline on earth. Outside the isolated city of Lost Vegas, violent skirmishes among the Native Americans – who have retaken their ancestral homes – claim lives by day, while ancient predators awakened during the Age of Darkness hunt humans by night. Inside the city, criminals, the impoverished, and the deformed are burned at the stake weekly. Among those ruthless enough to survive is seventeen-year-old Aveline, a street rat skilled in fighting whose father runs the criminal underworld. On the night of her father’s unexpected death, a stranger offers to pay off her father’s debts, if she agrees to become the guardian of Tiana Hanover, the daughter of the most powerful man in Lost Vegas. Aveline’s skills as an assassin may have kept her alive to date – but she’ll need every ounce of ingenuity and grit to keep herself safe once she enters the household of the most powerful man in Lost Vegas…

This is the first time I’ve come across this prolific, capable author but it certainly won’t be the last – I thoroughly enjoyed this gritty world and Aveline’s spiky personality, woefully misrepresented by the cover.

 

Necessity – Book 3 of the Thessaly series by Jo Walton
necessityThe Cities, founded on the precepts laid down by in Plato’s The Republic by Pallas Athena, are flourishing on Plato, and even trading with multiple alien species. Then, on the same day, two things happen. Pytheas dies as a human, returning immediately as Apollo in his full glory. And there’s suddenly a human ship in orbit around Plato–a ship from Earth.

This is the final book in this extraordinary series. Few authors could consider tackling such ambitious subject, never mind bringing it to such a triumphant close with this uplifting, fascinating book which I will be reviewing this coming week.

 

 

 

My posts last week:
Review of The Dark Dream – Book 4 of the Beaver Towers series by Nigel Hinton

Teaser Tuesday – featuring Aveline – Book 1 of the Lost Vegas novella series by Lizzy Ford

*NEW RELEASE SPECIAL* Review of The Summer Goddess by Joanne Hall

*NEW RELEASE SPECIAL* Review of Revenger by Alastair Reynolds

Friday Faceoff – The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn… featuring We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

*NEW RELEASE SPECIAL* Review of Aveline – Book 1 of the Lost Vegas novella series by Lizzy Ford

Other interesting/outstanding blogs and articles that have caught my attention during the last week, in no particular order:

22 Interesting Facts About Writing https://interestingliterature.com/2016/09/30/22-interesting-facts-about-writing/ Once more this favourite site comes up with a quirky, enjoyable article…

Bye, bye Rosetta – How To Crash on a Comet http://earthianhivemind.net/2016/09/30/bye-bye-rosetta-crash-comet/ Steph Bianchi charts the final chapter in this amazing slice of human exploration of space.

Awards News – The British Fantasy Society and the David Gemmell Awards for Fantasy
http://www.julietemckenna.com/?p=2287

Of Flying and Writing http://melfka.com/archives/1962

Many thanks for visiting and taking the time and trouble to comment – and may you have a wonderful reading and blogging week.

Review of The Philosopher Kings – Book 2 of the Thessaly series by Jo Walton

Standard

I loved the first book in this series, which I got for Christmas – see my review here. Would this second book be as enjoyable?

thephilosopherkingsTwenty years have passed since the goddess Athene founded The Just City. The god Apollo is still living there, albeit in human form. Now married and the father of several children, the man/god struggles to cope when tragedy befalls his family. Beset by grief and fuelled by a bloodthirsty desire for revenge, he sets sail for the mysterious Eastern Mediterranean to find the man he believes may have caused him such great pain.

Jo Walton is an amazing writer. Truly. And if you look at the notion of Athene and Apollo cooking up a social experiment to set up a city based on the precepts advocated in Plato’s Republic, roll your eyes and decide to pass, don’t. Go and get hold of it. This science fiction/fantasy mash-up is an alternate history, with a twist of magic courtesy of the gods. I cannot compare it with anything else out there, because I simply can’t recall reading anything else quite like it.

Walton could have easily turned this into a turgid, ideas-led story with all the narrative pace of a  dozing snail – but she is an innate storyteller with an easy readable style. While I had enjoyed reading Apollo’s story in the first book, in this book we have far more of an insight into his vulnerability, now he is living in human form. The other main character who caught my interest is his daughter, Arete, which means Excellence, which brings its own problems, as she feels the continuous pressure to live up to her name…

Now the original population of The Just City have adjusted to the consequences triggered by the Last Debate initiated by Sokrates, they are in a state of constant preparedness for warfare, also advocated by Plato. But war has consequences – consequences that immortal gods don’t generally have to face.

Apollo is overwhelmed by grief and fury and is determined to go after the culprits for the cause of his misery. His grown children also want to accompany him on this voyage, including Arete. But first, there is a lot of discussion as to whether they should be setting off, at all. After all, Athene has deliberately set up her Just City in the shadow of a huge volcano, whose explosion will swallow it, so that all the people she has pulled out of their own timespans will be able to revert back to their own historical time. But what happens if they now travel further afield, spreading their sophisticated advancements as they go? How will that impact on the historical timeline?

The pacing and shift in setting is perfectly designed to widen the concept of the story and give us greater insights into how the characters react when placed in a variety of dangers, both natural and manmade. I also love the nifty way in which the story unfolds, such that Walton marries up our knowledge of the ancient world with these events. And as for the ending – well that’s a doozy! I certainly didn’t see it coming, and yet, now that I think about it – it’s absolutely logical that a certain individual would become involved in this whole business.

So now, I’m really looking forward to reading Necessity, the third book in the series, which is due out in July. I have had a storming start to 2016, having read a slew of superb books – and the Thessaly series is right up there as outstanding.
10/10

Teaser Tuesday 26th January

Standard

TeaserTuesdays-ADailyRhythm3-300x203

This is a regular weekly activity Jenn has set running over at A Daily Rhythm.

Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

 

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

The Philosopher Kings – Book 2 of the Thessaly series by Jo Walton

This is the second book in the science fiction/fantasy adventure by the amazing Nebula and Hugo Award winning author, Jo Walton, who is ALWAYS worth reading. See my review of the first book, The Just City, here.

p. 54 “It’s sad, and we’re all extremely sorry, but you’d think from he way you’re acting that we’d never lost thephilosopherkingsanyone before,” Maia said.

Father didn’t say so to her, but the truth was that he’d never really lost anyone he cared about before, not lost them permanently the way he’d lost Mother.

BLURB. Twenty years have passed since the goddess Athene founded The Just City. The god Apollo is still living there, albeit in human form. Now married and the father of several children, the man/god struggles to cope when tragedy befalls his family. Beset by grief and fuelled by a bloodthirsty desire for revenge, he sets sail for the mysterious Easter Mediterranean to find the man he believes may have caused him such great pain. What his expedition actually discovers, however, will change everything.

 

Review of The Just City – Book 1 of the Thessaly series by Jo Walton

Standard

I must have been good last year – because Santa (in the form of my lovely husband) gave me just what I wanted… BOOKS. And one of those books I especially requested was Jo Walton’s The Just City

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.

This is a book driven by an idea of what an ideal society should look like, as proposed in Plato’s Republic – as an thejustcityexperiment, Athene and Apollo decide to put it into practice. Doesn’t sound like a gripping read, does it? And in most hands it wouldn’t be – but it’s written by one of the most exciting, original writers in speculative fiction – the awesome Jo Walton, who turns this supposedly perfect notion into a thoroughly engrossing book.

Told in multiple viewpoint, including two of the children who are brought to the city as ten-year-olds, having been bought as slaves, in addition to one of the philosophers who prayed for freedom from her limited life as a Victorian woman, this could have been an almighty mess. Instead, it’s an intriguing story ringing with originality as it examines the notion of running humanity along the lines of a philosophical monarchy.

Apart from anything else, a serious look at another form of government is timely, with multi-global companies currently running the planet into ecological ruination, despite hand-wringing and pointless target-setting by concerned nations. Not that I think we’ll be lining up to replicate this particular model…

While the founders are very committed to give it their best shot, there are some inherent weaknesses in the system. Who will do all the hard labour necessary to keep everyone fed and clothed? In this Just City, it is unthinkable to use slave labour, even though it is still common during this time in other parts of Greece. But Athene has had the option of combing through the rest of human time to find help with the chores, so has found a solution to this problem. But once Sokrates is transported to Kallisti, he starts to question the use of the robots – as well as other aspects of the society, such as the abolition of the traditional family unit. With dramatic results…

I enjoyed all the characters, but young Simmea is my favourite, closely followed by Sokrates. They leap off the page as they strive to be the best they can be, in keeping with the precept of the Just City. I stayed up waay too late to find out what happens – and I wasn’t disappointed. It will leave you with all sorts of ideas and thoughts you didn’t have before, unless you were privileged enough to have a classical education. So one of my New Year’s resolutions will be to get hold of the sequel, The Philosopher Kings. And if you read nothing else this year, or the next, get hold of this and give it a go. I’ll freely admit it won’t be to everyone’s taste, but Walton’s writing is so accomplished and accessible, I’m betting you’ll find it a deal more easy to read that you might think.
10/10