Snow (Assassins, 2007, etc.) and de la Croix weave philosophy, romance, and mystery into three separate but intertwined narratives to create a high-stakes scholastic adventure.
The academic world is shaken up by the discovery of a one-of-a-kind, previously unknown manuscript of a new Platonic dialogue: The Erotic. The find fits perfectly into doctoral candidate Dora von Neuback’s thesis, but the book is stolen before it can be properly released to the world. Dora’s adviser, the dashing, self-assured philosophy/history professor Philip Platner, sends her to southern France to meet with a female colleague and locate the dialogue. Although Snow and de la Croix aim for passion, the budding relationship between adviser and advisee comes across as excessively theatrical and reminiscent of a bad romance novel. Things get worse when both Dora and her colleague become entangled with gypsies and a secret organization and then get kidnapped, relegating the otherwise strong female characters to being damsels in distress. Platner and a male friend rush off to save the women and Plato’s book. The second storyline, set in 14th-century Europe, tells the star-crossed love story of a knight and a countess’s daughter; however, it remains unclear until the very end why this narrative is included. The third plotline transports readers back to ancient Greece, centering on Plato and other great thinkers in the previously unknown dialogue. For historical accuracy, the authors helpfully include footnotes throughout, most prominently in the ancient Greece narrative. However, although the notes are informative, they can also be cumbersome, as they pull readers out of the story to explain minutiae. Each of the three narratives is bursting with ambitious numbers of characters and locations. However, they all have comprehensive but often confusing plots.
A philosophical novel that takes an innovative approach but which might have benefited from fewer storylines.