The Philosopher's Flight
A thrilling debut from ER doctor turned novelist Tom Miller, The Philosopher’s Flight is an epic historical fantasy set in a World-War-I-era America where magic and science have blended into a single extraordinary art. “Like his characters, Tom Miller casts a spell.” (Matthew Pearl, author of The Dante Club and The Last Bookaneer)Eighteen-year-old Robert Weekes is a practitioner of empirical philosophy—an arcane, female-dominated branch of science used to summon the wind, shape clouds of smoke, heal the injured, and even fly. Though he dreams of fighting in the Great War as the first male in the elite US Sigilry Corps Rescue and Evacuation Service—a team of flying medics—Robert is resigned to mixing batches of philosophical chemicals and keeping the books for the family business in rural Montana, where his mother, a former soldier and vigilante, aids the locals.When a deadly accident puts his philosophical abilities to the test, Robert rises to the occasion and wins a scholarship to study at Radcliffe College, an all-women’s school. At Radcliffe, Robert hones his skills and strives to win the respect of his classmates, a host of formidable, unruly women. Robert falls hard for Danielle Hardin, a disillusioned young war hero turned political radical. However, Danielle’s activism and Robert’s recklessness attract the attention of the same fanatical anti-philosophical group that Robert’s mother fought years before. With their lives in mounting danger, Robert and Danielle band together with a team of unlikely heroes to fight for Robert’s place among the next generation of empirical philosophers—and for philosophy’s very survival against the men who would destroy it.In the tradition of Lev Grossman and Deborah Harkness, Tom Miller writes with unrivaled imagination, ambition, and humor. The Philosopher’s Flight is both a fantastical reimagining of American history and a beautifully composed coming-of-age tale for anyone who has ever felt like an outsider.

The Philosopher's Flight Details

TitleThe Philosopher's Flight
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseFeb 13th, 2018
PublisherSimon & Schuster
ISBN-139781476778150
Rating
GenreFantasy, Historical, Historical Fiction, Fiction, Science Fiction, Science Fiction Fantasy, Adult Fiction, War, World War I

The Philosopher's Flight Review

  • Will Byrnes
    January 1, 1970
    And what is empirical philosophy—what is sigilry—except a branch of science that we don’t yet fully understand? There’s no dark art to it; it’s nothing more than the movement of energy to produce a physical effect. The human body provides the power, while the sigil, drawn sometimes with beads of water, sometimes with cornmeal or sand, catalyzes the movement. You can do a thousand useful things: make a plant grow larger and faster; send a message a thousand miles in an instant; fly. If you grew And what is empirical philosophy—what is sigilry—except a branch of science that we don’t yet fully understand? There’s no dark art to it; it’s nothing more than the movement of energy to produce a physical effect. The human body provides the power, while the sigil, drawn sometimes with beads of water, sometimes with cornmeal or sand, catalyzes the movement. You can do a thousand useful things: make a plant grow larger and faster; send a message a thousand miles in an instant; fly. If you grew up with it, it’s natural. It’s right. Why would anyone want life to be otherwise? Why indeed? Eighteen-year-old Robert A. Canderelli Weekes lives with his mother, Major Emmaline Weekes, in Guille’s Run, Montana. Mom is something of a legend in her chosen profession, that being Empirical Philosopher. Of course, the word philosophy is used a bit differently here from what most of us are used to. It refers to a special power, the ability to order the world about using sigils, or hand-drawn designs. The major sigil skill at issue here is flight. There are plenty of others, but flying is prime. Also core is that it may be a man’s world, but sigilry is most definitely a woman’s domain. Enough so, that many conflate it with witchcraft, to the sigilists’ peril. This makes life a bit challenging for Robert. Think the equivalent of a female left tackle for the Steelers. Sure, it is theoretically possible, but, for now at least, it is just not done. Mom passed along enough DNA, from her, and her forebears’ pool, and considerable training and practice, so that Boober—yes, really, this is the poor guy’s nickname in the family (palms to face, looking down, shaking head slowly left and right, while sighing deeply)—is actually a pretty decent flyer. A talent that comes in handy when emergencies arise that require rapid transport of aid in, and/or evacuation of the injured, or people in danger, when wheeled, winged, or aquatic vehicle-based transport is not a possibility. Serious, important, and challenging work.Tom Miller - photo by Abigail Carlin-image from Simon and SchusterThe Philosopher’s Flight falls into the alternative history category. The closest thing I have read to it is Jonathan Strange and Mr Norell, which imported magic into 19th century England. This one refers to roots in earlier times, but adds bits of magic mostly to the early 20th century in the USA, specifically in the days leading up to the USA entering World War I. I am sure there are plenty more of this sort, but you will have to rely on better-read reviewers to ferret them out. These two novels differ from works like Philip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle, which considers what the world might look like had the Axis powers won World War II, sans incorporation of fantastical elements. Miller looks at how the presence of this strange ability, sigilism, might have changed events, how it might have been harnessed by governments for military purposes. The American Civil War is the first major application. Later, sigilry becomes subject to international treaty restrictions, sigilists being removed from combat, but employed as a sort of Red Cross. When the USA enters World War I, Robert, 18, is eager to join the Rescue and Evacuation Department of the US Sigilry Corps. Mom is aghast, knowing from painful personal experience how unsafe the war theater can be, and, in any case, they would certainly turn their noses up at a male applicant in an all-female group.Robert may have serious sigilist talent, but is rarely taken seriously. After all, sigilry is woman’s work, and Robert is just a man. A nice twist on the usual gender-based trope. And Miller has a lot of fun with it. The serious aspect of this being a look for the reader at sexism as if through a photo negative. The imagined illuminates the real. The major action of the novel takes place after Robert is accepted into one of the handful of colleges that trains sigilists, Radcliffe. It is at school where he not only makes some lifelong friends, but must overcome personal and institutional bias to prove his mettle. A love interest enters while there. I am not certain if this book is being marketed as YA or not but the sexual element struck me (heathen that I am) as tame enough for a YA audience, most assignations, thankfully, taking place off-screen, with lots of winking, nodding, and euphemism.There is another seam that permeates. A dark side to the bright light of sigilry. There is a group that breathes brimstone and is determined to restore the world to its pre-sigilry state, and if that means slaughtering all sigilists, they are perfectly fine with that, eager in fact. The Trencherists. Think KKK mixed with misogynist Death Eaters. Atrocities happen. There is a significant body count. The politics of bigotry certainly has resonance with the real world. It is what happens when hatred and fear turn kinetic that we must worry about. There is plenty of kinetic here. We know that Robert survives it all, as the book opens with him telling his nine-year-old daughter about the history of sigilry. But we do not know the fate of anyone else. And some of these characters will make you care, will make you want to know. The age grouping here is late teens, early twenties, with most teachers and leaders being a generation or more ahead. The age difference of the primaries separates this a bit from the Harry Potter target demo by at least a few years. I was very much reminded of a science fiction writer of note. Robert Heinlein, who wrote a passel of books featuring young and young-ish characters. Starship Troopers stands out, but there are others. The group camaraderie is reminiscent of boot-camp-bonding and allegiance under fire. An older female character stands in for the cigar-chomping Drill Instructor who is tough as nails, but truly concerned for the safety of his charges, and a softie underneath. In many instances, Heinlein’s teen heroes shared a sort of gung-ho, let’s-go-kill-the-enemy vibe. That feel permeates here, with the significant difference that, despite having to engage in actual battle at home, the wartime activity that our hero and heroines aspire to is not mass murder but search and rescue. As with many such novels, the gung-ho mindset gets exposed to actual mortal peril and has to face up to the reality of war, battle, and group hatred. My primary gripe with the book is that the characters seemed a bit thin, with the exception of Robert. There are enough edges, hard and soft, to go around, but some of them seemed lacking in texture or color. Also, the mechanics of sigilry seemed a bit clunky to me. I don’t really see the sort of writing devices sigilrists use ever matching up against wands. I expect, though, that much of the hardware can be downsized or eliminated with some creative writing in future volumes. Too much hardware resembled contemporary digital devices. On the other hand, the costuming was pretty sweet.I don’t want to leave you with a narrow view of what sigilists can do. Flying is definitely way cool, but there is a thing called Smokecarving that is pretty impressive, and a transport talent that comes in quite handy. Definitely a grimoire or two short of the Potter range of magical capability, but this is the first in what absolutely has to be a series, so I expect that range of magical possibility will fill out in time. One item of note is that each of the chapters is introduced with a quote from a noted personage, some of whom are characters in the book. These offer some interior history and a bit on where this alt-history diverges from the one we know. One thing these quotes provide is a glimpse into both what came before and what lies ahead in the big-picture story arc, seeding material for future sequels and prequels.In short, this was a delightful read, fast-paced, engaging, with a few nifty core themes and concepts to add substance to the mayhem. My only real disappointment here was that the book was not due for release in time for Christmas. It would have made an outstanding holiday gift. Next year, for sure. I’d sign out, but don’t want to chance making a mistake and transporting myself into a boulder. Tom Miller is a major new talent. The Philospher’s Flight is the opening gambit in what promises to be a brilliant new fantasy series. It soars!Review posted – 12/22/2017Publication date – 2/13/2018=============================EXTRA STUFFMiller maintains a minimal on-line presence. I am hoping that as the release date nears, that will change. When it does, I will add the appropriate links here.In addition to the absence of on-line activity, there is a singular absence of interviews with the author. I am also hoping that this changes ‘ere long.The book was formerly titled The Philosopher’s War, which maintains the focus on one character and would have been a better fit, IMHO, but not by a huge margin. They could use it for a subsequent volume.Image from Pinterest
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  • Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
    January 1, 1970
    WWI era setting + science that looks like magic, and it's a field practiced and controlled almost exclusively by women. Review to come.
  • Mike
    January 1, 1970
    This was excellent, and I'm really glad I took the risk with it. It was recommended by a fellow writer on a forum we both frequent, and when I saw it was on Netgalley I picked it up. My big concern was that the genderflip inherent in the premise - women are, for unexplained reasons, the best at magic, and a young man tries to establish himself among them during the period of the First World War - could so easily have gone terribly wrong. (I'm thinking of that awful raceflipped Pearls thing from This was excellent, and I'm really glad I took the risk with it. It was recommended by a fellow writer on a forum we both frequent, and when I saw it was on Netgalley I picked it up. My big concern was that the genderflip inherent in the premise - women are, for unexplained reasons, the best at magic, and a young man tries to establish himself among them during the period of the First World War - could so easily have gone terribly wrong. (I'm thinking of that awful raceflipped Pearls thing from a few years back.)I'm relieved to report that for me - and you have to remember I'm male - it succeeded in not being horribly tone-deaf in its treatment of the genderflip. First of all, many of the female characters, including the protagonist's mother, sisters, colleagues, and friends, are the kind of pragmatic, competent women that my own mother, sisters, colleagues, and friends are. Secondly, they're not idealised; though they're fine people in all the ways that really count, they're often coarse, they make bad decisions at times, and they struggle with assorted character flaws and blind spots. Other female characters are petty, selfish, silly, shallow, manipulative, all the things that real people (of both genders) are. If you're going to portray people who are not like you, this is the way to do it: make them feel like real people. Then the genderflip itself, the man struggling to succeed in a woman's world, is well done. I found Robert instantly relatable; he has a noble dream, to be part of the Rescue and Evacuation Corps who save wounded soldiers on the battlefield, using "sigilry" (the magic system) to fly them to safety. It looks like he can't have that dream. Even the women who support him becoming the best sigilrist he can be don't believe he can be accepted to the Corps; even his mother, his hero and inspiration, doesn't believe he should be accepted, even if he qualifies. He'd be a distraction to the women. He wouldn't fit in. He'd be a curiosity. It would be an exercise in political point-scoring, not a merit-based appointment. He wouldn't be able to do the work as well as a woman. If he was accepted, he'd have to be called a Sigilwoman; that's the name of the rank, and you can't simultaneously ask for equal treatment and ask for special treatment, now can you? Women bully him, haze him, threaten to boycott a major sporting event if he takes part, mark him down unfairly, strip him of an honour he's won by tremendous effort. He has to be better than most women to even be considered. He has, in other words, the experience of any outsider trying to enter a social space that's traditionally been closed to people like them. It's a story about family, and love, and friendship, and overcoming prejudice and injustice. Apart from a very early infodump, there's not a craft misstep in it; the author has both an MFA and an MD, which is an unusual combination, and draws on his knowledge of emergency medicine to make the multiple rescue scenes gripping and realistic. I loved Robert's competence in a crisis, demonstrated very early on and repeatedly after that, and so clearly learned from his mother. Robert doesn't just have societal prejudice about gender roles to contend with, either. The Trenchers, a political/religious group opposed to sigilry of all kinds and willing to take extreme measures against those who practice it, are constant threats, with some terrifying encounters that test Robert's values and ideals severely. This, too, is established right out of the gate and persists as a strong thread throughout. I enjoyed the epigraphs to the chapters, quotations from various invented documents which give intriguing glimpses into the characters' future and make me want to read more of their story - if I didn't already want to do so because of the excellent quality of this book. I very much do want to read more, and I will eagerly await a sequel.
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  • R. Bonne
    January 1, 1970
    Robert “Boober” Weekes is one of a few male philosophers. His mother is a famous war veteran transporter, and he aspires to become the same, despite the limited capability of his gender.This book was fun, despite how harsh the gender politics came across during the first half. Eventually, the alternate history/reality unfolds and makes sense. Recommend! Thanks to Netgalley for access to the advance copy in exchange for an unbiased review.
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  • Rachel Stansel
    January 1, 1970
    This is one of the most fun books I have read this year. A unique alternate history where "philosophers" use special combinations of chemical or compounds to do what we would consider magic. Smokecarving, hovering, transporting and lots more. Women are the lead sigilists with some men having basic abilities. Robert is the son of one such woman, but he gets the chance to show he is just as capable. Throw in their enemies, traditionalists men who want things done the old way, and you have a terrif This is one of the most fun books I have read this year. A unique alternate history where "philosophers" use special combinations of chemical or compounds to do what we would consider magic. Smokecarving, hovering, transporting and lots more. Women are the lead sigilists with some men having basic abilities. Robert is the son of one such woman, but he gets the chance to show he is just as capable. Throw in their enemies, traditionalists men who want things done the old way, and you have a terrific story layered with religious and gender debates which added to the story. Robert is easy to love, and the story unique and well told. A wonderful first novel.Full disclosure - I received a copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review
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  • Travis
    January 1, 1970
    I received a free copy of this book through NetGalley, but my opinions are my own......And my opinion is: Mr. Tom Miller needs to write more books in this world! This is a 4.5 rounded up. The only reason it isn't a solid 5.0 is because I wanted the plot and story to cover a little bit more ground, but I expect that this is the first in a projected series. If you liked the depth and texture of Clarke's Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, then this is the book for you. The character's are realistic I received a free copy of this book through NetGalley, but my opinions are my own......And my opinion is: Mr. Tom Miller needs to write more books in this world! This is a 4.5 rounded up. The only reason it isn't a solid 5.0 is because I wanted the plot and story to cover a little bit more ground, but I expect that this is the first in a projected series. If you liked the depth and texture of Clarke's Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, then this is the book for you. The character's are realistic and the world is like a marvelous tapestry with tidbits of worldbuilding woven into every bit. Check this book out, you'll love it.
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  • Koeur
    January 1, 1970
    https://koeur.wordpress.com/2017/11/2...Publisher: SimonPublishing Date: February 2018ISBN:9781476778150Genre: FantasyRating: 4.4/5Publishers Description: Eighteen-year-old Robert Weekes is a practitioner of empirical philosophy—an arcane, female-dominated branch of science used to summon the wind, shape clouds of smoke, heal the injured, and even fly. Though he dreams of fighting in the Great War as the first male in the elite US Sigilry Corps Rescue and Evacuation ServiceReview: Well everyone https://koeur.wordpress.com/2017/11/2...Publisher: SimonPublishing Date: February 2018ISBN:9781476778150Genre: FantasyRating: 4.4/5Publishers Description: Eighteen-year-old Robert Weekes is a practitioner of empirical philosophy—an arcane, female-dominated branch of science used to summon the wind, shape clouds of smoke, heal the injured, and even fly. Though he dreams of fighting in the Great War as the first male in the elite US Sigilry Corps Rescue and Evacuation ServiceReview: Well everyone that has read this novel so far, have loved it. Even the ones that rated it 3/5 raved about it like a pundit voting for the other side. This had all the elements that make a good novel, especially the intangibles like; looking forward to reading sessions and feeling comfortably warmed by the entertainment value that resides in well built characters.“So why you no give 5 stars!!?”. For an extravagantly built world that is fantastic in it’s creative allure, I found the story line a bit too safe. It just did not marry well with the sigil magic premise. Trencher’s as a constant threat was the evil dichotomy that was soon rendered a bit thin by overuse. I was not hoping for war, so much as an adventure outside the realms of societal norms. Still a fantastic author to watch out for.
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  • Simone
    January 1, 1970
    I honestly and truly wished I loved this book. I felt like there's a lot of potential for it being a great series, but after only reading the first novel from both the author and the series I wasn't all too excited. This was definitely more like Harry Potter where magic (also known as Empirical Philosophy) exists alongside the very real world. This "magic" is not inherited, but learned and anyone can basically pick it up. It requires the use of sigils and specific minerals. For example, using a I honestly and truly wished I loved this book. I felt like there's a lot of potential for it being a great series, but after only reading the first novel from both the author and the series I wasn't all too excited. This was definitely more like Harry Potter where magic (also known as Empirical Philosophy) exists alongside the very real world. This "magic" is not inherited, but learned and anyone can basically pick it up. It requires the use of sigils and specific minerals. For example, using a particular sigil with cornmeal will help you to fly and how you write your sigil will determine how well you fly. It's a practiced art and you don't need a certain birthright to do it.I will say that the story did hold my attention and there definitely was some practical use of the philosophy. But a lot of what was happening in the book felt like a direct reflection of what's going on today. Women being the dominant gender to use Empirical Philosophy, Robert Weekes is one of only three men at his college. He's constantly teased and talked down to because men just don't do Empirical Philosophy. It just feels like a role reversal for what's happening nowadays; women being overlooked because they're women. The bad guys in this book are called "Trenchers." These dudes remind me of the extreme right movements in America right now. They are constantly fighting against Empirical Philosophy and trying to make it illegal. They think it's unnatural and the women kill their babies. It's against God and the Bible and people who study it are abominations. They're out trying to kill philosophers so that their numbers dwindle and they disappear. It really reminds me of the news and everything that's going on recently. There was even a march where philosophers went down to Washington DC to march for their rights to use this philosophy.I think this really bothered me the most in this story especially since it's fiction and really could draw from anything and it's just a reflection of what's going on today.Being that this is the first fantasy novel, I feel like a lot of this story was just explaining the universe as well. There was a lot of history that coincided with the very real United States history. The wars being fought are also fought by philosophers. There was a lot of explaining the philosophy, what it does, how it works, how it can be manipulated. I feel like I was in a class listening to a lecture about Empirical Philosophy than actually seeing it in action.When you do see it in action, it's great. The fighting against Trenchers and even The Cup was fun to read. However, reading passage after passage of Robert learning how to fly at a certain speed, his training regiment, or reading about him carry 100-lb bags for practice all just seemed to keep the story very still. The pacing was pretty slow and even though every few chapters had headers with how much time went by, it feels like no time at all. I get with new fantasies there's a lot of groundwork to cover. There's a lot of creating how each sigil worked and how the transporters moved and how flight paths can be determined. I don't want to discredit this novel because it's the first and the first always shares some of that knowledge. I just wish there was more excitement or something to move the story forward.Reading about a young country boy going to college in a big city for the first time is basically all I'm getting from this story. Aside from the fact that he can practice philosophy which is uncommon for men, it really just reads like someone's first adventures being alone and falling in love and learning new skills that he wouldn't have learned before. There's definitely growth for everyone and everyone miraculously knows what they want in life, but it took a long while to get there and a lot of reading.We learn a lot by the end that will probably set you up for the next one, but really it could have happened right in the middle of the book rather than the end. Honestly, at less than 100 pages left in the book I was worried that nothing would happen at all and that I'd have to wait for the next book. Perhaps then we'll see a lot more action for Robert and can chalk up this first book to first-time jitters.I'm going to be looking out for the second book in the future. I really want to like this book and that's why I'm rating it with three stars. The book kept me interested albeit a little wobbly at times, but I did find the whole Empirical Philosophy thing to be interesting and the battle with the Trencher party compelling. I hope I'm just as compelled in the next one.I received this book from Simon Books in exchange for an honest review. My opinions have not been influenced by the method I received this book and I was not paid to write this book review.
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  • Madeleine (Top Shelf Text)
    January 1, 1970
    Review to come!
  • Laura LVD
    January 1, 1970
    I know I'm in the minority here, but didn't like it. I give two stars because it's really well written, but couldn't connect with the story at all. Sorry, but couldn't suspend my disbelief for one moment. I found the use of certain words irritating ("Sapphist", "cartogramancer" for example, why choose so many archaisms, euphemisms and invented words?) and the weird physics was too much for me (Example "at the same time you're braking, you are also accelerating toward the ground", wtf? how can so I know I'm in the minority here, but didn't like it. I give two stars because it's really well written, but couldn't connect with the story at all. Sorry, but couldn't suspend my disbelief for one moment. I found the use of certain words irritating ("Sapphist", "cartogramancer" for example, why choose so many archaisms, euphemisms and invented words?) and the weird physics was too much for me (Example "at the same time you're braking, you are also accelerating toward the ground", wtf? how can someone accelerate and brake simultaneously?). I know it is supposed to be a fantasy book, still had trouble buying the story or the characters. Even if it is an alternate history book, the fact that these teens are so liberal and XXIth century-like it's too weird for me.The end was a bit predictable and I didn't find it exciting at all. To sum up, I struggled to finish it since the beggining. Was tempted to quit all along and just finished because i got a free copy from the publisher.DISCLAIMER: I received a free ARC (advance-reading copy from the publisher in exchange for a honest review) #NetGalley #thephilosophersflight
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  • Brittany
    January 1, 1970
    MUST READ! I LOVED this book! It was so refreshing and such a new concept. Women have this ability to be great philosophers in terms of basically making magic happen through the act of drawing sigils. Men, however, are just not that great at it...they're even more terrible at being able to fly. And I mean fly, literally...not in an airplane...but like just them with a harness, some bags of powder, and drawing sigils. But then comes along Robert...and he is determined to join the military and be MUST READ! I LOVED this book! It was so refreshing and such a new concept. Women have this ability to be great philosophers in terms of basically making magic happen through the act of drawing sigils. Men, however, are just not that great at it...they're even more terrible at being able to fly. And I mean fly, literally...not in an airplane...but like just them with a harness, some bags of powder, and drawing sigils. But then comes along Robert...and he is determined to join the military and be a part of their Rescue and Evacuation Corps but everyone says it's impossible. Leave it to Robert to try and prove them wrong!I absolutely loved the gender role reversal, the empowerment, the hatefulness of women, the determination of Robert to prove himself. It was such an amazing book that I flew through and highly recommend to anyone. If you like historical fiction, go for it. If you don't, who cares?! It's still a phenomenal book! There's a wee bit of politics...and I hate politics...but I loved them in this book and they were necessary for this book. There's an interracial couple in a time when it's really like WTF MATE?! There's just so many poignant topics that you have to read this book! GO! NOW!
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  • Out of the Bex
    January 1, 1970
    In a world much different, yet entirely similar to our own, debut author Tom Miller crafts a story for the ages.Between a spellbinding front and back cover, 405 pages explore artfully crafted characters and phenomenal world-building. The play between science and magic introduces a myriad of previously unexplored technologies, inventions, and unique perspectives. Additionally, Miller’s choice to experiment with an alternate reality where standard gender roles are reversed made for a thought-provo In a world much different, yet entirely similar to our own, debut author Tom Miller crafts a story for the ages.Between a spellbinding front and back cover, 405 pages explore artfully crafted characters and phenomenal world-building. The play between science and magic introduces a myriad of previously unexplored technologies, inventions, and unique perspectives. Additionally, Miller’s choice to experiment with an alternate reality where standard gender roles are reversed made for a thought-provoking, and at times political, read. The Philosopher’s Flight had plenty to offer for a debut fiction novel: captivating characters, a pleasant writing style, and absolutely fantastic world-building. What it lacks, however, is a sense of imminence. There is no driving factor that makes you feel a need to know what happens next. As a result, the plot can begin to feel slow in the latter half of the novel. I think this is a weakness in the overarching narrative. As a debut author, Miller may have misunderstood just how much attention to give to one plot over another.If you are a general fiction reader and enjoy a slower pace, this will be an incredible read for you. I can imagine you getting pleasantly lost in these intricate pages. However, if you enjoy a fast-paced read (like myself) you may still find it fascinating, but likely a bit tiresome.The world-building alone makes this a worthy and entirely memorable read. It’s the perfect book to borrow from your local library and would make for a great discussion piece at your book club.3.5 StarsVerdict: Borrow ItThank you to Simon and Schuster for sending me this for review!
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  • Rachel
    January 1, 1970
    Really good books grab hold of you and don’t let you go, even after you close the cover. I have a feeling this one is going to stick with me for a while. It is not at all what I expected. As the description indicates, it’s part alternative history of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, particularly the beginning of WWI, and part coming-of-age story for Robert Weekes, a male skilled in a female dominated branch of science/magic. The world Tom Miller creates is richly detailed and his empirica Really good books grab hold of you and don’t let you go, even after you close the cover. I have a feeling this one is going to stick with me for a while. It is not at all what I expected. As the description indicates, it’s part alternative history of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, particularly the beginning of WWI, and part coming-of-age story for Robert Weekes, a male skilled in a female dominated branch of science/magic. The world Tom Miller creates is richly detailed and his empirical philosophy is well thought out and intriguing. But I think what really makes the biggest impression is Robert’s experiences of sexism, harassment, and discrimination as a male who dares to dream of becoming part of Rescue & Evac for the Sigilry Corps - the best of the best of traditionally women. This flipping of typical gender roles and experiences shines an even brighter spotlight on the evils of such behavior because it’s so unexpected. If this were another tale of a woman fighting a rigged-for-men system, I don’t think readers would pay as much attention, sad to say. More than the history and more than sci-fi/fantasy, this really is Robert’s story of leaving home, attending college, and experiencing life and love. There were times when the story seemed to drag, but there were also times when I just couldn’t read fast enough to find out what would happen next. The full cast of characters are wonderful and I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see a sequel come out in a year or two. I would certainly be willing to read it. *I received a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.
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  • Loring Wirbel
    January 1, 1970
    Who would expect an ER doctor with an MFA, on his first novel-length outing, to offer up a trilogy combining elements of J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series, the marvelous 2016 Stephenson/Galland Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O. novel, and even the joint William Gibson/Bruce Sterling novel The Difference Engine? Yep, Miller gives us a little bit of alternative history, a whole lot of witchcraft, and a leavening of sexual role reversals. The action takes place during the first months of the U.S.'s entry Who would expect an ER doctor with an MFA, on his first novel-length outing, to offer up a trilogy combining elements of J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series, the marvelous 2016 Stephenson/Galland Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O. novel, and even the joint William Gibson/Bruce Sterling novel The Difference Engine? Yep, Miller gives us a little bit of alternative history, a whole lot of witchcraft, and a leavening of sexual role reversals. The action takes place during the first months of the U.S.'s entry into World War I, but flashes back to the latter days of the Civil War and the more gruesome days of the Spanish-American War, in both Cuba and The Philippines - except that it is a slightly different history, as the presence of witchcraft changes U.S. foreign policy, and domestic disputes as well.Montanan Robert Weekes wants to be a member of the elite Rescue & Evacuation squadron, a crew of flying witches who rescue teams like the Australian/New Zealand forces at Gallipoli, and who also check for violations of the "no offensive witchcraft" rules. He is scorned by women who say such jobs cannot be handled by clumsy men, but he wants to live up to the ideals instilled in him by his mother, and also take revenge of sorts on the violent zealots who have killed many of his mother's compatriots in the Mountain West.It's important to stress that this book serves as an introductory setup for the two that are to follow, with the bulk of the novel taking place as Weekes attends Radcliffe. In that sense, there is a Tom Swiftian feeling to the whole narrative, a "Boober goes to school" whimsy. That does not imply that all that takes place is campus hijinks - Weekes and his lover Danielle often are in mortal danger from both the zealots and the covert groups of witches who want to strike back at evangelicals. This should make it clear that Miller is no friend of devout Christians - they serve as the bad guys and the evil foils in the book, albeit with good reason.There are moral issues aplenty, but not along the usual "good witch/bad witch" spectrum. Those with "natural philosopher" powers of sigilry, flying, or matter transportation display a combination of good and bad motives the same as any mortal muggle type. Weekes, like his mother before him, succumbs to the desire to murder another human in order to achieve a greater good, but feels he has been befouled as a result. And we get a sense that the supernatural players in this novel act as rash as the mortals who eagerly signed up for war in the real WWI. Just as fools went to the front to get blown away, there is the definite feeling at book's end that our witchy crew will find their own missions on the Western Front less than admirable. The first book of the trilogy has a delightfully swashbuckling feel to it, and should be intriguing for any lover of fantasy or history.
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  • Jennifer
    January 1, 1970
    What a great book.You may go this story into expecting a straight up "person on the outside attempts to enter a world that has been traditionally closed off to them." And this book does cover that territory, and covers it well. It's fascinating to see a man grapple with the same B.S. women have historically dealt with in fields dominated with men. However, this book ALSO explores something else too. In this fantasy world, even though women have great powers, they are still marginalized, discrimi What a great book.You may go this story into expecting a straight up "person on the outside attempts to enter a world that has been traditionally closed off to them." And this book does cover that territory, and covers it well. It's fascinating to see a man grapple with the same B.S. women have historically dealt with in fields dominated with men. However, this book ALSO explores something else too. In this fantasy world, even though women have great powers, they are still marginalized, discriminated against and even hunted. Not only must our hero deal with "fish out of water" issues on his quest, he also gets to experience the ugly side of womanhood too. It's a perspective I've never seen presented in a story before.Overall I found this to be a great book for the times we are living in. It'll get you thinking about gender, race, and even some of the issues that come up with gun control (Should the women's great powers be regulated? What if those powers can be used to kill someone?) But don't get me wrong, this isn't a preachy, heavy book. It's very "Harry Potter meets G.I. Jane." There's a lot of descriptions of magic and flying (so much flying). There's a love story. There are well rounded secondary characters that have interesting journeys. All of these elements made the book an unexpected delight to read. Thanks to the author and NetGalley for granting me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Barb
    January 1, 1970
    Trying to like this book, but finding it a bit challenging. I know, I know. The other reviews are great. And while I promise to come back when I've finished and layer more review on top of this brief one, I have some pet peeves for now. The main one is the use of unknown words that made me have to stop reading to go look them up. Emanuensis? Stasied? Never did find what that meant. Why not just say secretary? The other peeve was character development. I wasn't sure if I liked the mom or found he Trying to like this book, but finding it a bit challenging. I know, I know. The other reviews are great. And while I promise to come back when I've finished and layer more review on top of this brief one, I have some pet peeves for now. The main one is the use of unknown words that made me have to stop reading to go look them up. Emanuensis? Stasied? Never did find what that meant. Why not just say secretary? The other peeve was character development. I wasn't sure if I liked the mom or found her harsh. Maybe she is both. Need the development.
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  • Linda
    January 1, 1970
    In this alternate history set in the World War I era, Philosophers, those with special powers, are all female, until Robert comes along and stirs things up. Their enemies, the Trenchers, seem vaguely reminiscent of unhinged Trump supporters. I am a fan of contemporary fantasy, and alternate history authors like Jasper Fforde, so I really wanted to like this novel. Sadly, I was disappointed. The plot was hard to follow, the majority of the characters unlikable, and by the “exciting” climax, I fou In this alternate history set in the World War I era, Philosophers, those with special powers, are all female, until Robert comes along and stirs things up. Their enemies, the Trenchers, seem vaguely reminiscent of unhinged Trump supporters. I am a fan of contemporary fantasy, and alternate history authors like Jasper Fforde, so I really wanted to like this novel. Sadly, I was disappointed. The plot was hard to follow, the majority of the characters unlikable, and by the “exciting” climax, I found that I just didn’t care at all.
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  • Kay
    January 1, 1970
    This book will hook you and keep you reading. Fantastic story, relatable characters, and world building the likes of which you don't often see. Definitely recommended!
  • Kathy Martin
    January 1, 1970
    This is a story of alternate history with magic. Robert Weekes has a goal of joining the US Sigilry Corps Rescue and Evacuation Service. He has a number of obstacles in his path. First of all, he is male and empirical philosophy and sigilgry is a predominantly female pursuit. Second, he is stuck in rural Montana assisting his war hero mother who is the Empirical Philosopher for her region of Montana. One night Robert is drafted to fly with his mother to rescue a family of empirical philosophers This is a story of alternate history with magic. Robert Weekes has a goal of joining the US Sigilry Corps Rescue and Evacuation Service. He has a number of obstacles in his path. First of all, he is male and empirical philosophy and sigilgry is a predominantly female pursuit. Second, he is stuck in rural Montana assisting his war hero mother who is the Empirical Philosopher for her region of Montana. One night Robert is drafted to fly with his mother to rescue a family of empirical philosophers who have been attacked. He manages to rescue a number of people and fly them to the nearest hospital. Then he has to turn around and rescue his own mother who had a flying accident. His daring rescues wins him a place as a contingency student at Radcliffe - a female college noted for educating empirical philosophers.He has a very uphill battle to reach his goal. He is harassed by women who don't want him at the college at all. But he makes friends too. Felix Unger is another contingency student who is a theoretical empirical philosopher who isn't able to make sigils work for him. He is also befriended by Danielle Hardin who is a war hero who is turning to politics.This is a troublesome time. The Trenchers who oppose the use of empirical philosophy for any reason are gaining a political foothold. They are also perpetrating attacks on empirical philosophers which trigger attacks by vigilante empirical philosophers. Meanwhile, World War I is dragging on and on and half of the women who are in Rescue and Evacuation are killed or gravely injured. While the more dangerous sort of empirical philosophy - smokecarving - has been banned in warfare, there are fears that the Germans will loose their empirical philosophers and escalate the war.I enjoyed the world building in this story. I also liked the role reversal for the genders with Robert being the definite minority in his college and in his future career. The format of the story with a prologue written by a more mature Robert retelling the events of 1917 and 1918 and the chapter beginnings being excerpts from other history books written about the time, added a sort of reality to this fantasy story. Fans of alternate history and magic won't go wrong reading this novel about a young man with a goal and the turbulent times he lives in.
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  • Mike
    January 1, 1970
    4.5 out of 5 starsMy thanks to Edelweiss/NetGalley and the publisher for an advanced reader copy in exchange for an honest review.In the midst of World War I, society grapples with the proliferation of Empirical Philosophy or “sigilry”, an art form that allows users to summon wind, carve smoke, or fly through the sky. Opponents of the field denounce and demonize these practitioners, as they seek to eradicate their kind from the face of the earth. Robert Weekes, a teenager with a burgeoning gift 4.5 out of 5 starsMy thanks to Edelweiss/NetGalley and the publisher for an advanced reader copy in exchange for an honest review.In the midst of World War I, society grapples with the proliferation of Empirical Philosophy or “sigilry”, an art form that allows users to summon wind, carve smoke, or fly through the sky. Opponents of the field denounce and demonize these practitioners, as they seek to eradicate their kind from the face of the earth. Robert Weekes, a teenager with a burgeoning gift for sigilry, attempts to succeed in the female-dominated field and find himself along the way. He must exert considerable effort to prove himself against the notion that men are not good enough to be skilled in Empirical Philosophy.In today’s current cultural climate, it seems ill-considered to center a book around a male character who must overcome gender discrimination...but at the same time, it’s refreshing to read an alternate history where women are so revered and respected for their talents in the first place. It also helps that Robert is a virtuous and endearing lead character who is easy to root for and works hard for everything he earns.Author Tom Miller displays an impressive aptitude for storytelling as he deftly spins this wholly engrossing yarn. His writing style and dialogue choices really do a great job situating the reader in the early 20th century setting. Additionally, the plot, characters, motivations, and worldbuilding are all nicely fleshed out and well developed.The Philosopher’s Flight is a wonderfully inventive historical fantasy that sinks its hooks into you and doesn’t let go. I truly enjoyed Tom Miller’s debut and hope a sequel is on the horizon. (The cover is great, too!)See this review and others at The Speculative Shelf.
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  • Jackie
    January 1, 1970
    I was not sure what to expect when given a chance by the Publisher and Netgalley to download a digital ARC copy of this particular book.As a mixture of fantasy and sci-fi the book description sounded challenging as well as interesting so gave a new-to-me author a chance. Happily that idea was a sound one as the story engrossed me from beginning to end despite the fact it held many characters and many situations that were a stretch to find credible even when took into account that this is all mak I was not sure what to expect when given a chance by the Publisher and Netgalley to download a digital ARC copy of this particular book.As a mixture of fantasy and sci-fi the book description sounded challenging as well as interesting so gave a new-to-me author a chance. Happily that idea was a sound one as the story engrossed me from beginning to end despite the fact it held many characters and many situations that were a stretch to find credible even when took into account that this is all make believe not real.The themes of family, friendship, honor, rivalry and the concepts that make up the gist of a Philosopher competed with the overwhelming reverse sexism that was very weird to say the least. Being female and reading about discrimination against males took some getting used to for me. Full review closer to release date.
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  • Abi (The Knights Who Say Book)
    January 1, 1970
    *I received an advance reader copy of this book in exchange for an honest review*I HAVE A HEADACHE (unrelated to this book) SO LET'S GET THIS OVER WITH QUICKLY. (lmao this is me from the end of the review adding on: i did not get this over with quickly)The Philosopher's Flight is weirdly good. The magic system is super there (it's just... very there. It's there, guys.) and the complexity of the characters was unexpected and cool. Unexpectedly cool, you might say.All the moving parts of the novel *I received an advance reader copy of this book in exchange for an honest review*I HAVE A HEADACHE (unrelated to this book) SO LET'S GET THIS OVER WITH QUICKLY. (lmao this is me from the end of the review adding on: i did not get this over with quickly)The Philosopher's Flight is weirdly good. The magic system is super there (it's just... very there. It's there, guys.) and the complexity of the characters was unexpected and cool. Unexpectedly cool, you might say.All the moving parts of the novel were developed nicely — the war effort Robert longs to join while others become disillusioned with it, the political complexity of the Trenchers who want to outlaw philosophy (that's the Magic, except here we call it by the name of something entirely different, because reasons, I'm sure Tom Miller has them), the violent clash of the Philosophers fighting back, Robert falling for war hero and political activist Danielle Hardin, all while Robert just wants to be taken seriously as a male Philosopher.But within the plot were the things that gave me mixed feelings about the book. Its slowness at many parts (it has pockets of action, but overall it's not fast-paced), and the fact that honestly... I wasn't there for the politics. Now, it's not the book's fault. The blurb didn't lie and say there wouldn't be politics and violent factions. It's just that the thing that drew me to the book in the first place was the "female-dominated branch of science", not the politics.I wanted the reverse narrative.You know that story, the one where a girl wants to enter in a male-dominated field and must go up against massive amounts of sexism and roadblocks to succeed? I wanted it flipped. I was tired of "everyone is sexist and everything is terrible but watch this young girl fight tooth and nail to prove that one (1) girl can succeed anyway!". I thought it would be fun to watch a boy have to do it instead. But I got cheated, because The Philosopher's Flight is fairly historical. Meaning that while this fictional field of magic is majority-women, the rest of the world is extremely misogynist.Women cannot vote during this time. Girls' strengths are described in terms of delicateness and gentleness while boys' strengths are described in terms of superior physical strength. Rape threats and slut-shaming abound. Not condoned by the narrative — I'm not saying this is a sexist book: it's just set during a sexist time period. Robert's position trying to succeed as a male Sigilrist didn't actually flip the script (though there were many times that his struggles paralleled those such as, for example, Kel's in First Test). If you're thinking of reading this book, read it because you want a story of sciency-magic grounded in history, not because you think this'll be a cool reversal of the story you already know. In many ways, it's still that story.Also present are quite a few instances of era-accurate (I assume) racism, homophobia, and transphobia. There were mentions of gay women at the college, which was nice, but it would be nicer to have major gay and trans characters. Racism was probably addressed head-on the most, with Danielle being mixed race and the worldbuilding integrating the magic system with history, including slavery to how things stood at the time of WWI, not that it was a focus of the book.Another thing I'd hoped for with Robert attending a 99.9% female college would be a lot more speaking time for female characters. And compared to many other books there was. But there were more male characters in the book than you'd expect from the blurb, so it wasn't quite the women-heavy book I wanted/expected. (Though again, better than you get from plenty of male writers who think they can give women 10% of the spoken lines and not expect me to assume their book is set in some badly-explained dystopian future where the female birthrate has dropped to 10% of the population.)So here's where we stand: sometimes the pace and historical setting of this book made me want to give up on it, but it has some real strengths in its worldbuilding, plot twists, and treatment of moral/political grayness (not to mention I actually really liked the romance, and descriptions of food made with magic. Sorry, made with Philosophy). It's not for everyone, but I don't regret reading it.
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  • Wendy
    January 1, 1970
    I liked the characters a lot, but the world felt a bit off, and a little derivative of other things (there were a few things that, were I the editor, I would have suggested be changed). That said, I read through to the end and I'm curious where he'll take it next.
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  • Cynthia
    January 1, 1970
    What a delightful surprise this book was! I loved the gender-bending, alternate reality mixed with historical fiction. Seems like a tall order to get all that into a single compelling narrative, but Tom Miller pulls it off beautifully. I'm looking forward to reading more about Robert Weekes and his compatriots. I highly recommend picking this one up!
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  • Ricky
    January 1, 1970
    The comparisons to Deborah Harkness and especially to Lev Grossman make a lot of sense for Tom Miller's debut, for which I was lucky enough, in my duties as a Stanford Bookstore associate, to have acquired an ARC. Though less romantic than Harkness and (mercifully) less grimdark than Grossman, The Philosopher's Flight is a well-crafted piece of alternate history that nevertheless doesn't feel quite so alternate. More like reflecting the present day back to a hundred years ago, and showing a sort The comparisons to Deborah Harkness and especially to Lev Grossman make a lot of sense for Tom Miller's debut, for which I was lucky enough, in my duties as a Stanford Bookstore associate, to have acquired an ARC. Though less romantic than Harkness and (mercifully) less grimdark than Grossman, The Philosopher's Flight is a well-crafted piece of alternate history that nevertheless doesn't feel quite so alternate. More like reflecting the present day back to a hundred years ago, and showing a sorta post-steampunk world where gender and racial equality have made considerable strides, but still has too long a way to go. Because of course there are racists and sexists out there to crap on everyone else just because they feel inadequate (as they should.) Maybe the book doesn't deal with all these social ills as neatly as it could - in fact, it feels like it keeps the action going almost all the way to the end, but then the ending itself is very abrupt and fails to tie in well to the "recounting my past exploits to my child" framing device in the prologue. I'm hoping there'll be at least one sequel just because of how generally incomplete the resolution of this one feels. But the social-commentary game is strong with this one, as is the use of magic that resembles a lot of 21st-century tech - like a sand-powered message board that basically sounds like Etch-a-Sketch text messages (right down to the frequent misspellings on the part of the user.) And the political game, with a few digs at the Republican Party (for in-universe straying away from being the Party of Lincoln, but it can so easily apply to today's Republicans as well.)At the very least, it's more than a bit disconcerting to see all the characters refer to recent years as '04, '98, etc. and know that it's all supposed to be set 100 years ago, almost exactly. Which, I suppose, was Miller's point entirely.
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  • Emma
    January 1, 1970
    I received this book through a Goodreads giveaway. Overall I thought it was really good, especially for a debut novel. I would not have guessed that this was Miller's first book. I found the characters to be likable but not too perfect and the gender dynamics to be really interesting. Occasionally the sexist complaints that the main character faces (women don't want to share their locker room with him, people in the R&E Corps say he will be a distraction to his fellow corpswomen, the people I received this book through a Goodreads giveaway. Overall I thought it was really good, especially for a debut novel. I would not have guessed that this was Miller's first book. I found the characters to be likable but not too perfect and the gender dynamics to be really interesting. Occasionally the sexist complaints that the main character faces (women don't want to share their locker room with him, people in the R&E Corps say he will be a distraction to his fellow corpswomen, the people in the corps are CALLED corpswomen in the first place, etc.) feel almost too heavy-handed and pulled from real life, but if you think about it they are plausible and only come across the way they do because they are so true to what women in male-dominated jobs and other spaces have to endure.I thought the historical setting was well-researched and rich, but not to the point where it obscured the narrative--sometimes it seems like authors want to show off how much they learned and it gets distracting, but that didn't happen here. Some of the invented magical history and mechanics seemed a little ridiculous or overwrought to me, but I'm not typically a fantasy reader and I expect that it wouldn't bother me if I were.The main frustration I had with this book was how it is packaged, which (crossing my fingers) may change before the book comes out. The back cover blurb on the advanced reader's edition gave away what I considered to be a huge plot point (Spoiler: (view spoiler)[That Robert falls in love with Danielle Hardin (hide spoiler)]) and the cover illustration and general design made it look sort of steampunkish, which wasn't its style at all. I really enjoyed this book and I don't think I would have picked it up in the library or at a bookstore, which is too bad.
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  • Jane
    January 1, 1970
    This is a solid fantasy, with decent world-building and alternative history in the Victorian/WWI era in which women can draw “Sigils” in the air to access abilities such as flight. And, it’s a solid debut novel. I definitely wanted to finish it. This world where women can outdo men in many ways is introduced through young Robert Weekes, whose mother is a decorated flyer, legendary in war efforts and in rescues. He is one of the few men who can use sigils and receives a scholarship to Radcliffe, This is a solid fantasy, with decent world-building and alternative history in the Victorian/WWI era in which women can draw “Sigils” in the air to access abilities such as flight. And, it’s a solid debut novel. I definitely wanted to finish it. This world where women can outdo men in many ways is introduced through young Robert Weekes, whose mother is a decorated flyer, legendary in war efforts and in rescues. He is one of the few men who can use sigils and receives a scholarship to Radcliffe, along with a handful of other men, to hone his skills. He wants to join the all-femalerescue corp in Europe to help with the war effort.So...we see a talented young man trying to break through barriers in a world dominated by females. I struggled with this overall theme because...we still have too few tales of the reality of women making it in a world designed by men. Yes, the author does a great job of probing male assumptions, both with the norms in Rober’s world and with the all-male “Trencher” terrorist groups who want women in their place at home and no use of these new powers. And yes, these themes parallel some of the craziness in our own society. However, I got tripped up by the stereotypes of the women—the love interest Danielle who is a hero of Gallipoli but is turned to mush by the thought of Robert serving overseas and being in danger. Or the way the female instructors are betrayed.Read and enjoy the book—I certainly did. But pause and think about what we really need if both males and females are to be free to reach their full potential, no matter the nature of their gifts.Thanks, Netgalley, for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Amy Gennaro
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you to NetGalley for providing an ARC in exchange for my candid opinion.What a delightful book! It is a book about "Philosophy" or what we would call magic. There are Hoverers, Transporters, Smokecarvers, with each having special talents.While it is a wonderful fantasy about magic and science and college...it is also a social statement about war and about sexism and bias. In this book, women are typically the only ones with these special skills. And it has become a women's world. The world Thank you to NetGalley for providing an ARC in exchange for my candid opinion.What a delightful book! It is a book about "Philosophy" or what we would call magic. There are Hoverers, Transporters, Smokecarvers, with each having special talents.While it is a wonderful fantasy about magic and science and college...it is also a social statement about war and about sexism and bias. In this book, women are typically the only ones with these special skills. And it has become a women's world. The world revolves around women and women have the power---women even go to war. Is was a wonderful look at how silly some things can be and about how enervating sexism can be. This story is about Robert, a man with special magic skills and about how hard he has to fight to get recognized in spite of all the prejudice. I laughed particularly when Robert was asked if he would be called a "First Sigilwoman". Of course he would----it would be too silly to change it. They even got into whether or not Robert would have to wear the uniform---skirt and all!I could not wait to get home to read this book!!!I loved Robert from the first moment and you will too. Please, please read this book!!!!
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  • David Ketelsen
    January 1, 1970
    I received a free copy of The Philosopher's Flight from Netgalley.This book is fantastic, a solid 5-star novel, and amazingly enough it's Tom Miller's first book. I hope his day job of being an ER doc doesn't prevent him from writing many more.Philosopher's Flight is an alternative history novel that allows that some people, mostly women, are able to draw sigils in a way that will affect them and their surroundings--kinda like magic. This ability is called empirical philosophy and Miller spins a I received a free copy of The Philosopher's Flight from Netgalley.This book is fantastic, a solid 5-star novel, and amazingly enough it's Tom Miller's first book. I hope his day job of being an ER doc doesn't prevent him from writing many more.Philosopher's Flight is an alternative history novel that allows that some people, mostly women, are able to draw sigils in a way that will affect them and their surroundings--kinda like magic. This ability is called empirical philosophy and Miller spins a world so real that I often got chills imagining the events in the book really happening.We experience this world through the experiences of 18-year old Robert Weekes, a young man with an unusually strong skill at creating powerful sigils, as he leaves home and goes to college to work on his skills at empirical philosophy. The backdrop is a world at war in the early 1900s with recent conflicts in Cuba and the Philippines shaping the lives of the older characters. It's very convincing and a lot of fun to watch the drama unfold.
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  • Susan
    January 1, 1970
    Philosophy (i.e. magical science), flying, interesting characters, and intrigue rolled in with some actual historical moments all serve to make A Philosopher’s Flight well worth picking up! The gender reversal twist (a male daring to try to practice sigilry which was a female dominated branch of science), was done better than I expected and allowed for some interesting twists to the story although it would have been bit cliche had it been a female protagonist. The strong, domineering parent, the Philosophy (i.e. magical science), flying, interesting characters, and intrigue rolled in with some actual historical moments all serve to make A Philosopher’s Flight well worth picking up! The gender reversal twist (a male daring to try to practice sigilry which was a female dominated branch of science), was done better than I expected and allowed for some interesting twists to the story although it would have been bit cliche had it been a female protagonist. The strong, domineering parent, the taunts from classmates of the opposite sex, the humiliation and roadblocks all placed in the main character’s way take on a different hue when that character’s name is Robert and the antagonists are female. Robert was such a likable character that you will root for him to succeed no matter what obstacles are placed in his way! Hoping book number two is on its way soon and will explore a little more of some of my favorite characters like Jake and Unger as they seemed a little short changed in this book.
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