The Song of Achilles
By: Madeline Miller
The legend begins…
Greece in the age of heroes. Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the kingdom of Phthia to be raised in the shadow of King Peleus and his golden son, Achilles. “The best of all the Greeks”—strong, beautiful, and the child of a goddess—Achilles is everything the shamed Patroclus is not. Yet despite their differences, the boys become steadfast companions. Their bond deepens as they grow into young men and become skilled in the arts of war and medicine—much to the displeasure and the fury of Achilles’ mother, Thetis, a cruel sea goddess with a hatred of mortals.
When word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, the men of Greece, bound by blood and oath, must lay siege to Troy in her name. Seduced by the promise of a glorious destiny, Achilles joins their cause, and torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus follows. Little do they know that the Fates will test them both as never before and demand a terrible sacrifice.
Built on the groundwork of the Iliad, Madeline Miller’s page-turning, profoundly moving, and blisteringly paced retelling of the epic Trojan War marks the launch of a dazzling career.
Genre: Historical Fiction
Bookish Tip: You won’t have to worry about mispronouncing names if you read this via audio book. OH! And have tissues handy. This one is…..WOW.
The Song Of Achilles by Madeline Miller is an absolutely breathtaking tale spun from Homer’s The Illiad. Told from the perspective of Patroclus, an exile prince, The Song of Achilles effortlessly takes you through the time of Ancient Greece and through the Trojan War.
Of course, there is action, adventure, trickery and tragedy as it is a Greek tale. There are Gods and Goddesses, princes and princesses, Paris and Ajax and Odysseus and of course, Helen of Troy. The plot is captivating and filled with all the golden nuggets that make a Greek mythology…well, a Greek mythology.
In The Song of Achilles, Madeline Miller builds the tale of two companions: Patroclus and Achilles. Patroclus, the meek and insecure exiled prince, does not initially like Achilles. He is envious of him. Yet through the story, readers will witness Patroclus learn to build himself up, to become more confident. He is tired of being called unworthy and begins to prove that his so much more than an exile prince. Patroclus learns to become stronger, respected. His “meekness” is his actual strength – gentle, patient and kind with a heart of gold and the Greeks love him for it.
In The Illiad, Achilles is known for his fierceness on the battle field. He is all about the fame. Yet, Madeline Miller writes him in a way that makes Achilles more than the one dimensional hero Greek mythology wants him to be. Achilles is shown as soft-hearted and naive. He is impressionable and follows his mother’s advice except when it comes to Patroclus. He has an overwhelming sense of duty yet is extremely humbled by it.
Somewhere along the way, although I cannot pinpoint the exact moment, Patroclus becomes Achilles’ moral compass. The story starts with Patroclus as unworthy of Achilles, yet some how comes close to ending with Achilles as unworthy of Patroclus.
By the end of The Song of Achilles, I was wrecked. I cannot recall a book that wrecked me the way that this one did. It did not matter that I knew what was going to happen. I shed tears. I sobbed. My heart ached. There were so many emotions running through me that I was overwhelmed.
Patroclus and Achilles are RELATIONSHIP GOALS. The sacrifices each made for each other, their beautiful companionship and the perfect ending quote simply wrecks me.
Recommendation: The Song of Achilles is ALL THE ADJECTIVES of amazing. It is such a beautiful, slow burn tale of companionship and love. It is my first 5 star review for 2020 so I want you all to go listen to it.
Want more Madeline Miller?
Last year, I proudly reviewed the audiobook of Circe by Madeline Miller. You can find my review HERE.
But it should come to no surprise, that I highly recommend it. It too is a great spin on Greek Mythology.
And in other news, Madeline’s interview with Bustle states she is working on a retelling of Shakespeare’s The Tempest. I can’t hardly wait!