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Necessity (Thessaly #3)

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  918 Ratings  ·  169 Reviews
Necessity: the sequel to the acclaimed The Just City and The Philosopher Kings, Jo Walton's tales of gods, humans, and what they have to learn from one another.

More than sixty-five years ago, Pallas Athena founded the Just City on an island in the eastern Mediterranean, placing it centuries before the Trojan War, populating it with teachers and children from throughout hum
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published July 12th 2016 by Tor Books
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Jo Walton I'm still revising it. It won't be any sooner than Summer 2016, and it may well be Fall 2016. I do want to get it right.

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Sherwood Smith
Aug 09, 2016 added it
Shelves: fantasy
This was a fitting conclusion to a series that is unlike anything else in science fiction, and I'm so glad that I listened to the audiobook rather than reading it. (Not that I'm going to not read it. When I get a copy, that will probably spark my third reread of the previous books, and this one again.)

Two reasons why I loved hearing this book instead of reading it: I loved the narrator, whose accents and emotional colorations added a dimension that I hadn't expected. The second reason is that li
Sep 21, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: sci-fi, fantasy
Athena and Apollo created an experimental city designed to create a perfect version of Plato's Republic. In the first book of the series, the denizens of this Bronze Age city debated with Athena and decided to change some of the rules; those who disagreed left to found their own cities. In the second book, the cities began to war with each other, until at last Zeus intervened and moved them to an alien planet thousands of years in the future, where they could freely create without troubling abou ...more
Apr 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a really beautifully told trilogy, and the trilogy I’m giving 5 stars. It starts sort of slowly and without much action in The Just City, but ends on a high note with what is known as The Last Debate. It gives the reader lots of philosophical questions to consider. The action in The Philosopher Kings increases overall, but there are still plenty of philosophical questions to chew on.

We end here, with Necessity, which gives us almost nothing philosophical to consider, yet provides us with
And it was a sentimental fantasy, in the end. The last thing I expected from this intellectualized, consciously cerebral thing. Review to come on B&N in the next couple weeks.
Tudor Ciocarlie
Dec 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016-my-best-of
Another superb novel by Jo Walton. I absolutely love this series that explores many science-fictional themes using the culture of classical Athens (the majority of the other SF novels about ancient Greek or Roman culture are really much more fantasy than science-fiction; see the recent Wolf's Empire: Gladiator). Walton manages to overcome the majority of the problems and creates, despite the presence of gods, a perfect science-fiction series (and of course that Socrates would've been an avid ski ...more
Sep 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
Review from Tenacious Reader:

3.5/5 stars

Necessity is the final book in the Thessaly trilogy by Jo Walton. As the story continues generations from the start of the series, we find the citizens doing very well, integrating themselves into the interstellar world. There are alien residents and traders visiting the planet. The individual cities seem to be thriving, and people are free to move wherever they feel best fits their personal ideology. It is utopia,
Aug 14, 2016 rated it liked it
...On the whole, I don't think Walton finishes the trilogy as strong as she starts it. It is not a book that adds that much to her vision of Plato's republic. I enjoyed reading it quite a bit but not as much as the previous two volumes. As a whole, the trilogy is a work to remember though. Walton takes on complex subjects and ideas in these books and yet manages to keep them very accessible. I would not be surprised to see a few people pick up some of Plato's works (note that Walton does not rec ...more
Oct 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is the third and apparently final book in the Thessaly series by Jo Walton. I enjoyed the entire series, although I did think this book was a little weaker than the previous two.

When the book first began, I had the impression that the story would focus on something that seemed very interesting to me. Instead, that “something” made up only a small portion of the story because the main characters were caught up in other things that were going on. The actual story was interesting, and there w
Andrea McDowell
I was so disappointed in this book. It was not the conclusion to the series I hoped for.

For one, the opportunity presented by reuniting with humanity was entirely overlooked: the novel appears to assume that of course Plato's culture will hold its own, that it has reached some kind of permanent maturity that will not be open to outside influence. We don't even see the two sets of humans interacting with each other; they don't even meet until the last page.

For another, this assumption appears to
Carol Douglas
Sep 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Jo Walton's Thessaly series is brilliant. If you've ever read Plato, you should enjoy it.
The basic premise is that the goddess Athene lets mortals create a city based on Plato's Republic. The first volume, The Just City, thrilled me, partly because Socrates appears and questions everything.
The second volume, The Philosopher Kings, was also very good, but lacked the presence of Socrates.
Socrates shows up again in Necessity and shines again. A world without Socratic questioning is not worth
This... is not the finale I was hoping for.

"The Just City" and "The Philosopher Kings" were remarkable books about how societies are built. About what one does when one feels, "No, society can be better than this," finds compatriots, and makes an honest, devoted attempt at it. About the problems and pitfalls societies face, how complexity and tension and differences mount inevitably, and, perhaps, how one can make the effort nonetheless.

I had expected "Necessity" to continue along these lines, t
Sep 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
(For another version of this and other reviews, see my blog:

As a science fiction fan and philosophy professor who teaches Plato's Republic somewhat regularly, these books are right up my alley. I really enjoyed the first two (see my previous reviews: and I was lucky enough to meet Walton as a book signing recently, where I told her that as a philosopher, I approve of thi
Jul 22, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: sff, hour-before-bed
Looking back, I think The Just City was probably the best and purest of the three after all. The scale here is so grand that Walton has to structure the story around plot coupons (warning: TV Tropes) just to get a handle on things, and that's before we get to the temporal mechanics. Perhaps I'm too dourly unconvinced by the third-volume outbreak of functional utopia: Both of the previous books centered ethically on really nasty divine behavior, whereas here everyone means well(view spoiler) ...more
Apr 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I love each book in the series wholeheartedly, though each in a different way. I don't even want to review these books in more detail, because you just have to experience them for yourself.

Going to work on some pieces inspired by the book--here's the first:

Needless to say this was lovely and I want to make time to reread the whole series all at one go so I can fully appreciate how well all the little bits of story meet up.
Sep 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I actually read this book a couple of months back, and have kept delaying reviewing it because this series is so hard to describe. "Necessity" was not at all what I thought it would be after reading the description and opening. However, I think that that has been one of the strengths of this series for me all along. The books do not rely on plot points and action, but on the development of ideas (and, to some extent, characters). "Necessity" brings the themes begun in "The Just City" to a satisf ...more
The third volume is set forty years after the five Cities are transferred to a new planet, which its inhabitants call Plato.

I don't think the conclusion of the trilogy is quite as strong as the first two volumes, but it has some great moments. There are two different examples of first contact here, with the inhabitants of Plato meeting alien species, and humans from Earth discovering Plato - but I would have liked to know more about those elements, especially the latter which turns out to be a
Feb 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Necessity was a great end to the trilogy, and I really enjoyed reading this so much. I went back to my reviews of the first and second books and bumped them to to 5 stars. I was definitely excited when I got this book in my hands.

At the beginning of Necessity it appears that the plot is going to veer off in a crazy direction, but in fact it focuses on the issues that have been present in all the books. If you haven't read any of the Thessaly books, please go back and read the first one.

In the b
Jun 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fantasy
Even though I have not read volumes one and two in this series, I liked this book a lot. It is science fantasy that posits that the Greek gods (and others--even Christ is mentioned, but he does not appear) really exist. In earlier volumes, they had transplanted a city of ancient Greeks (including Sokrates) to an alien planet, thousands of years in the future, to establish a society based on Plato's principles. Though some of the action here is not entirely clear, given that I don't know exactly ...more
Vicki Cline
Apr 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
The Just Cities on Thera have been moved by Zeus to a planet called Plato. They trade with a couple of alien civilizations, and some of the aliens even live on Plato with the humans. The aliens have their own pantheons of gods. Pytheas has grown very old and dies at the beginning of the book, thus releasing him to be Apollo once more. He finds out that Athene has disappeared into Chaos and he gathers some characters (from the previous books) who have died in order to go several places to get pie ...more
May 11, 2018 marked it as did-not-finish
Did not finish. I really liked the concepts of The Just City, but didn't really care about the characters. The Philosopher Kings unfortunately concentrated more on the characters and it was boring for me. Necessity seems to be following the same path, and after several chapters, i'm just uninterested. The writing is good, there is nothing outwardly wrong, but none of the plot, setting and/or characters draw me in. It's a shame since the overall ideas are great. I might try this again in the futu ...more
Apr 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
A satisfying and surprising end to a fascinating trilogy.
cross posted from
David Meyers
Feb 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
I was a little disappointed by this final book in an otherwise phenomenal series. By all means, I don't think this book was bad- it was quite fun reconnecting with many of the characters from the first two books in the series, and continuing to see what has happened to the city, but the plot felt a little unmoored.

I think the series from the start has had two different threads- the first is the construction of the city, the building of a new society from scratch, and the growing pains that a so
Feb 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars

SOOO, this trilogy has certainly been a MOST interesting journey. I did not expect half the world-building twists that appeared in the course of this series, and there have been long stretches of plot and character narration that have lost me (or at least fallen firmly into the 3-star category). NONETHELESS, I feel nothing but admiration for what Jo Walton has come up with in this odd little trilogy. These are without a doubt the strangest books I've ever attempted to describe to people
I absolutely loved the first book of this series, The Just City. I didn't love book 2, The Philosopher Kings, nearly as much, but I gave it four stars based on my adoration for book 1 and the hope of a strong ending to the trilogy in book 3. I'm sorry to say that this book, Necessity, was pretty disappointing. The first book was just so meaty and fascinating - it took an idea (the gods creating a city as an experiment to see Plato's work in action) and gave it space to breathe. There was no shor ...more
Oct 06, 2016 rated it it was ok
This series really couldn't sustain three books. This one felt particularly rushed and choppy. I felt like I could see the bones of the writing process sticking out all over the place. (For instance, in an overpopulated expository conversation in the middle of the book, after a character speaks, the narrating character notes that they'd forgotten that character was even there--it's okay if you forgot when writing, Ms. Author Lady! Either we don't need to know about it, or it's probably a sign th ...more
Rebecca (agirlirlblog, bekkilyn)
How wonderful for a trilogy to be complete and to not go on for 30,000 more books! It is complete! I find it difficult to review this third book because I feel I'd say all the same things that I already said about the previous two books and what I loved about them, because I still feel the same way, but I'll give it a shot and try to distinguish between them.

About 40 more years have passed since the time of the previous book and some new characters are introduced along with some of those who hav
Tasha Robinson
Oct 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I love this series so much, and pretty much as with all Jo Walton books, I find it hard to explain why. Part of it is just that the ideas are so rich and compelling and different. Part of it is that her writing is still so accessible that I don't get bogged down and bored in topics that would otherwise tend to bore me — in this case, philosophical discussions of the nature of freedom, the gods, justice, and the soul, especially as enacted in an experimental city that started out in ancient times ...more
May 18, 2016 rated it it was ok
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Jo Walton writes science fiction and fantasy novels and reads a lot and eats great food. It worries her slightly that this is so exactly what she always wanted to do when she grew up. She comes from Wales, but lives in Montreal.
More about Jo Walton

Other books in the series

Thessaly (3 books)
  • The Just City (Thessaly, #1)
  • The Philosopher Kings (Thessaly, #2)

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“I am small, but sometimes I am a small part of great things.” 4 likes
“Has spending more time with her stopped you thinking she's perfect?" I asked.
Pico smiled. "No. She's perfect. But I do understand her better. She's the perfect Athene, and that includes a certain amount of pride and vanity and temper."
"But surely—you know I'm not perfect!"
"But you are," he said, picking out the books and piling them on the bed. "You are the perfect Apollo. You're the light. And both of you grow and change and become more excellent, while remaining perfect as you are. Perfection isn't static. It's a dynamic form.”
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