The Philosopher Kings by Jo Walton is the second book in the Thessaly series which began with The Just City. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the first book. This time, my expectations were much higher so I wasn’t as surprised by it, but I still enjoyed it a lot.
The book started off with an event that I completely did not expect and was not happy about. The book ended with an event that I completely did not expect but thought was a lot of fun. The middle parts were interesting and kept me reading whenever I could find time this week. My review of the first book gives more details about the premise, and I’m not going to repeat it, but I’ll just summarize by saying it involves Greek gods, ancient Greek philosophers, and time travel. There are other elements, but I can’t list them without spoiling one or both books.
The event I didn’t like in the beginning was necessary, I think, to tell the story the author chose to tell. One comment I made about the first book was that it was very character-driven and didn’t have a lot of action. This book was also very character-driven, but it did have more action. I wouldn’t call it action-packed, but it had a more clearly-defined plot and a greater sense of jeopardy. As before, the story rotates between three characters, with each character's story told in the first-person format. The rotation is less even in this book; one character gets a much larger portion of the chapters than the other two.
This isn't a perfect book. There were some things I thought seemed inconsistent, and a few plot threads that were somewhat less interesting to me, but over-all I really enjoyed it. As I said, the ending surprised me. Some of the things that happened were things I hadn’t expected until closer to the end of the series, and the direction it took at the very end was completely unexpected to me, although in retrospect I can see that there were small hints. The ending left me eager to see what happens in the third book.