The Just City by Jo Walton
Neat premise: Suppose the gods of Homer’s era were real, and all other gods before and since (including the Greek perceptions of them during the Classical Greek period) were not … maybe. And suppose a couple of gods decide to create Plato’s Just City. You know, as an experiment. There you have it.
Having the point of view jump between two female characters and one god is not so confusing as having it jump back and forth during their time—that is, of the experiment. I almost quit before page 100.
Then Sokrates shows up. Excellent. Yeah, that Socrates. He’s good for comic relief. “‘You can’t trust everything … Plato wrote.’ Said Sokrates.” The closing dialogue shows much like those recorded by Plato, and just as artificial.
As you can imagine, the wheels start wobbling–if not coming off–early. Still, Walton tries to make it work almost as hard as Athene, despite some improbably physical attribute, food and work distribution problems. “Children love philosophy.” Improbable, even with divine and high-tech help. Oh, about that help …
A fun read, but not engaging enough to attract me to the rest of the series.
The opening scene might be illustrated by this incredible statue by Bernini (except that WordPress routinely messes up the proportions). The marble twigs supporting the laurels leaves are about one tenth inch in diameter. Amazing sculpture.