The Journeys of Socrates

Written by Dan Millman
Review by B. J. Sedlock

Millman draws on some of his ancestors’ experiences to create this novel giving the backstory of Socrates, the sage he introduced in Way of the Peaceful Warrior. In late 19th century Russia, orphaned Sergei Ivanov is brought up in a military academy run by his uncle. Fond memories of his Jewish grandfather cause Sergei to be horrified when the academy cadets are ordered to participate in a pogrom. He resolves to run away, but is confronted by a bully. They fight, and Sergei leaves Zakolyev for dead before fleeing to the wilderness.

After hiding several years, Sergei decides it is safe to re-enter civilization, and follows his grandfather’s instructions to find a buried legacy. This leads him to St. Petersburg, where he meets and marries a childhood friend. Their happiness is all too brief when Sergei takes the very pregnant Anya on a picnic and they are attacked by armed bandits, one of whom is Zakolyev. The tragedy sends Sergei on a quest to learn martial arts and gain spiritual training from a succession of teachers. He takes on the name Socrates, and is at last ready to avenge his family. But will a startling revelation learned in the bandits’ camp prevent the Peaceful Warrior from retaliating?

The book can stand alone as an adventure story, but fans of Millman’s works who want to know more about Socrates will probably enjoy it most. Those who appreciate films of the Matrix genre will also like it. I found the plot rather coincidence-heavy, without strong character development. The novel had one error: while in hiding, Millman has Sergei make a spear out of bamboo growing along a river. Bamboo is not native to western Russia, according to the biology sources I consulted.