In his landmark 1980 novel, Way of the Peaceful Warrior, Millman blended fact and fiction to tell the story of a young man whose life is transformed by his encounter with a mysterious sage named Socrates.
In this intriguing follow-up, Socrates takes center stage. It’s late 19th-century Russia, and young Sergei Ivanov has been drafted into training to become one of the czar’s elite guards. When Sergei saves the life of a brutal fellow student, Dmitri Zakolyev, during a difficult training exercise, he knows this act has actually made him an enemy… Millman’s narration clips along, and he does a fine job with period flourishes.
But the extended training chapters suffer from clichés of character and narrative, and dampen the suspense. A shocking surprise about the fate of Sergei’s unborn child and a ham-fisted meeting between Sergei and his rival strain credibility, but Millman’s fluid storytelling makes this an easy read.
Exciting Journey by Jason Nelson (Kansas City, MO USA)
This book is Dan Millman’s third in the Peaceful Warrior Saga. I didn’t know quite what to expect but had heard this book changed course from his previous writings. This is true because this book is more of a narrative as opposed to the other Peaceful books which tend to be a little more instructional.
The Journeys of Socrates is about the early life of Millman’s guru, Socrates. It starts off with recounting his early boyhood in a Russian military school. Orphaned and distraught at having to stay in the school the young Socrates escapes. He starts to build an enjoyable life for himself as a young man with a wife only to meet tragedy. A key nemesis from his old military school days shows up and contributes to a horrific tragedy of unimaginable proportions. Socrates can think of nothing else but revenge. He spends his days and years after this plotting for ways to get back at the evil he has experienced.
As the book progresses Socrates meets many new teachers. These teachers are Masters of certain disciplines (like the martial arts) but more importantly they are Masters of life in general. After years of hard work these wise teachers teach Socrates how to live, breathe, forgive and find happiness. He comes to discover that the only way he can truly be free is by releasing this awful burden of hate he carries around day after day. It’s a very wise but painful lesson. For obvious reasons I am not divulging everything but suffice it to say you’ll be surprised, horrified, entertained, and inspired by the end of the book.
Concerning the book, I felt the story was very good but the writing seemed a little rough around the edges. I got the impression that Millman, despite having written several other books, is still learning his craft as a narrative type storyteller. It seemed in parts he could have developed the plot more thoroughly and provided more realistic detail for certain key players. Despite these minor flaws I still enjoyed the book tremendously for the insight, wisdom, and entertaining nature of it all. There is nothing better than being able to read an exciting story and also learn how to live in a better way at the same time.
Anyone who enjoys personal transformation, inspiring stories, and fascinating characters will really treasure this read. I only hope that in the future Dan continues to write, teach, and give us more timeless advice from the Warrior/Buddha Socrates.
Who knew? by MARK DIMASSIMO (New York City)
I loved “Way of the Peaceful Warrior” when I first read it at least twenty years ago. And I’ve continuted to love it as I’ve re-read it periodically over the years. In “Warrior,” Dan Millman created a myth that spoke to the young man I was on many levels — the usefulness of getting lost and depressed, the possibility of finding a mentor, the magic of training and rigorous discipline, the totality of the present moment, the acceptance of the death of the ego, and the transcendence of life beyond death — all in a fast-moving, involving story.
It’s a hard act to follow. This is by far the best of Millman’s subsequent novels. It is a much more mature book from a more mature writer for a more mature reader. While the author is still concerned with many of the same themes, he brings in many others with greater depth and seriousness — devasating loss, ethnic violence, evil, vengence and much more. Who knew that old trickster Socrates came from and through such a dark place? A must read.
A Must-Read for Millman Fans by Avalon Daughter (I wish I was in Glastonbury)
If you were like me you were incredibly curious about the mysterious Socrates. Who was he? Where did he come from? Was he a real person?
This book is all about his life in Russia and how he came to be. It also explains how he came into his “peaceful” power, his family background and how he came to the United States. I’m not going to go into too much detail but I will say it’s a definite must-read as a companion to “Way of the Peaceful Warrior.”
It can be a bit slow at times and unless you’re familiar with Russian names it can also take a bit of thinking to keep track of characters. Some of them have other names they use. Socrates has three at some points and for me, it took a little more careful reading. Doesn’t make it less interesting, though.
However, there are three big shockers that will keep you glued to the book. Especially the ending which had me gasp twice, keep reading and blown away by what else Millman discovered. You’ll never guess what Dan discovered about Socrates at the end but be amazed when you do; It makes WotPW much, much more personal for Dan.
Definite must-read for fans of the first book — newcomers, should most definitely read “Way of the Peaceful Warrior” first. That way it would make much more sense.
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