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Review – The Philosopher’s War by Tom Miller

the Philosopher's war (detail) by Tom Miller
The Philosopher's War
Overall
8.5/10
8.5/10
  • Writing - 9/10
    9/10
  • Development - 8/10
    8/10
  • Overall - 8.5/10
    8.5/10
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Summary

Author: Tom Miller
Book Format: Hardcover
Pages: 416
Description:
The second book in the thrilling series that began with The Philosopher’s Flight finds Robert Canderelli Weekes as a rookie Rescue and Evacuation flier on the front lines of World War I in France. He came to save lives, but has no idea how far he’ll have to go to win the war.

Thanks to a stunning flying performance and a harrowing shootout in the streets of Boston, Robert Canderelli Weekes’s lifelong dream has come true: he’s the first male allowed to join the US Sigilry Corps’s Rescue and Evacuation service, an elite, all-woman team of flying medics.

But as he deploys to France during the waning days of the Great War, Sigilwoman Third-Class Canderelli learns that carrying the injured from the front lines to the field hospital is not the grand adventure he imagined. His division, full of misfits and renegades, is stretched the breaking point and has no patience for a man striving to prove himself. Slowly, Robert wins their trust and discovers his comrades are plotting to end the Great War by outlawed philosophical means. Robert becomes caught up in their conspiracy, running raids in enemy territory and uncovering vital intelligence. Friends old and new will need his help with a dangerous scheme that just might win the war overnight and save a few million lives. But the German smokecarvers have plans of their own: a devastating all-out attack that threatens to destroy the Corps and France itself. Naturally, Robert is trapped right in the thick of it.

The Philosopher’s War is the electrifying next chapter in Robert Weekes’s story, filled with heroic, unconventional women, thrilling covert missions, romance and, of course, plenty of aerial adventures. The second book in a series “that grabs readers from its opening lines and doesn’t loosen its grip or lessen its hold all the way through” (Associated Press), Tom Miller again brings Robert’s world to life with unrivaled imagination, ambition, and wit.

Review – The Philosopher’s War by Tom Miller

The Philosopher’s War is the second novel in The Philosophers Series by Tom Miller. If you haven’t read The Philosopher’s Flight, read that first. Obviously, this review is going to have some spoilers for the first novel. So, read at your own risk.

The Philosophers is a world in which magic lives—but in a different form. It’s a blend between magic and alchemy called Philosophy. For one reason or another, women tend to be stronger in the arts. Robert is one of the rare exceptions to that rule, and he’s going to break many more rules before he’s done.

The Philosopher’s War is a historical fantasy set during World War I. Obviously, things go a little differently, thanks to the use of Philosophy. There are still injured men that need to be rescued, and that’s where the R&E—Robert’s specialty and unit—come in handy.

Writing

The Philosopher's War by Tom Miller
The Philosopher’s War by Tom Miller

The Philosopher’s War was an intense and deeply emotional novel. Tom Miller did an excellent job of covering some of the worst elements about war, as seen from the Rescue and Evacuation side. It was intense at times because of these scenes.

This novel showed the horrors of witnessed injuries, loss, PTSD, and survivor’s guilt. All of these layers are portrayed with exceptional detail. Still, the book is respectful of the hardships of war. That’s a tough balance, but I feel like Tom Miller did it well here. It helps that he had the more fantastical elements to lean on, as a way of escaping.

Historical fantasy novels are not for everyone. I get that—normally I tend to avoid them. But there’s something so satisfying about this one. Maybe it’s the Philosophy being used, or maybe it’s the characters and world-building that Tom Miller brought to the table. Maybe it’s a combination of the three.

There was so much going on in this novel, so it’s really no surprise that the pacing was on point. There was always something happening; always something for Robert to do; always something to worry about. While there may have been lulls in the action, they were filled with character development and more.

Development

The Philosopher’s War had a huge set of characters. The main character (of course), his friends and family, all of the characters introduced in the first novel, plus all of the R&E team Robert worked with, and so many other characters. Together they fleshed out this brutal world and made it feel real.

Of course, some parts of the world were based on real elements, so that helped. Still, the character-building in this series was spectacular. Even the secondary characters felt real and alive—which made their losses all the more tragic, when something happened to them (not a given, mind you, but this is a war we’re talking about).

This book is over four hundred pages long, but it went by in the blink of an eye. It sucked me in and wouldn’t let me go. It got in my head, and I imagine I won’t be the only one saying that. Robert’s tale just had so much going for it, it’s hard to be anything other than fully invested in it.

Conclusion

The Philosopher’s War lived up to, and possibly exceeded, the expectations built by The Philosopher’s Flight. It was intense, dark, emotional, and breathtaking. It took all of the brilliant parts of fantasy, and all the heartbreaking elements of real life, and smashed them together.

This series isn’t for everyone, but for those it resonates with, I know they’ll enjoy it as much as I have. It isn’t what I’d consider an escape, though. The material is too heavy, and touches too close to what happens in real life for it to ever be considered that.

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About the author

Cat Wyatt

Cat Wyatt is an avid comic book reader, as well as a reader of novels. Her favorite genres are science fiction and fantasy, though she's usually willing to try other genres as well. Cat collects Funko Pop figures, Harry Potter books (different editions), and has more bookshelves than she's willing to admit.

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