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(Thessaly #3)

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  1,329 ratings  ·  230 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.…moreI'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.(less)

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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
Apr 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
This was a great albeit unexpected ending. The book more or less begins with an event that is set up like it will be the center piece of the book, but then it just never happens. Instead our beloved characters go on a scavenger hunt to find Athena who managed to get herself lost outside of time.
If I now think about it this makes for an uneven pacing of the story. But while I was listening to it I didn’t even register that fact. The tone is much more jauntily than in the first two books with a lo
Sep 21, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy, sci-fi
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
Shelves: sci-fi
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
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
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
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.
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,
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
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
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
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
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.
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
Nov 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
It was oddly difficult to find a copy of ‘Necessity’, as the library didn’t have it (despite helpfully providing the first two books), bookshops only had the whole trilogy in a single volume, and the copy I bought off eBay got lost in the post and the seller had to send another. I’m pleased to say that it was worth the wait. I’ve heard Jo Walton speak at a couple of events, including one with Ada Palmer. The two are evidently friends and ‘Necessity’ is dedicated to Palmer. However it was only in ...more
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
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
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
cross posted from ...more
D. H.
Jan 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This novel fits in well with the rest of the series, but I have to admit that I often found it confusing and unclear. As a result, I feel like I have to go through it one more time before giving it a better review.

I will say, however, that the writing in this novel is the literary equivalent of an actor being so completely in the moment that she inhibits the role. I think Walton put all the pieces of this story in motion and then let her imagination take her where it naturally went.
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
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
Wai Kok
Mar 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I gave 5-stars to all 3 books on Goodreads, and it is the first time I did that but that being said, they are not perfect. The weakest link is the 3rd Thessaly book, Necessity. While I still enjoyed it, I felt that it squandered a lot of its potential and anticipation built up at the end of the 2nd book with a fetch quest main plot that relates poorly to the trilogy as a whole, but I ultimately still gave Necessity 5 stars because of how it ended, which was beautiful, moving, and so very human ( ...more
May 18, 2016 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
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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.

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.” 5 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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