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The Philosopher's Apprentice: A Novel Paperback – February 3, 2009
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Top Customer Reviews
Mason Ambrose, materialist and philosophy student is at a crossroads. His future in philosophy is in jeopardy when he is offered a lucrative job. His task will be to tutor teenager Londa, and provide her with a conscience, for due to an accident, she has amnesia and doesn't know how to act ethically. Mason's acceptance of this role takes him and others on an "odyssey" that the reader doesn't know how or where it will end until the story's conclusion.
The Philosopher's Apprentice contains great philosophical/ethical and political issues and would really appeal to someone who has interest in cloning and genetics(hint, hint.) I don't want to say more and give away any of the twists and turns of this story. I really enjoyed this novel. Good stuff.
Onto the matter at hand. After the meandering, unfulfilling "Witchfinder" where ideas were too simple and plot twists too unnecessary, I was very eager to get my hands on a "The Philosopher's Apprentice". The title alone had me. I cracked it open and the brilliant Morrow of Old had returned and with a vengence! Beautiful sentences and consistently original metaphors continually sprung from the page, some of which made me laugh uproariously and all of which made me remember what a fine craftsman Morrow is with language.
And then. And then the second section of the book began and what was a finely crafted narrative suddenly came grinding to a halt. The plot was nearly non-existent. What was an interesting diegesis with characters I was empathetic towards almost immediately lost my interest. I had no inclination to continue reading. Though, of course, I did.
The final section of the book returns with a plot worthy of the ideas it is designed to convey. The characters, however, don't seem to do much changing and, as another reviewer mentioned, they tend to make decisions that don't align with who I think they are.
And though the final section is good, it is not enough to redeem the plodding, dull and poorly conceived middle section. To be honest, I was glad when the book was done. And though I may read it again in times far away, I am not really looking forward to doing so.
Do I recommend it to Morrow fans? Absolutely, for there are some real jems in here. Do I recommend it to the general public? Nope, for it gives the reader a view of Morrow which is not accurate to his genius.
It's impossible to talk much about the plot without revealing major spoilers, but genetic engineering is a major theme. The book should probably be classified as science fiction, rather than general modern fiction: there are not any space aliens, but you'll need to be very generous with the author in terms of what you think is scientifically possible. The problem you'll have will be whether you find the actions of the main characters (or other characters) to be believable. There were times when I felt that the actions were reasonable and rational, but at other times I felt quite the opposite.
About halfway through, the novel begins to get rather political--perhaps a bit like 1984 or even more, perhaps, like the movie Brazil, which had a madcap surrealistic quality to it. So what you get is quite a mixed bag! I'll be starting Morrow's The Last Witchfinder soon--this sounds like it will provide an interesting contrast to The Philosopher's Apprentice. So with the latter book, don't begin with many preconceived ideas about what you'll be reading, be patient, and it should be rewarding.