Title: The Song of Achilles
Author: Madeline Miller
Publication Date: August 28, 2012
Achilles, “the best of all the Greeks,” son of the cruel sea goddess Thetis and the legendary king Peleus, is strong, swift, and beautiful irresistible to all who meet him. Patroclus is an awkward young prince, exiled from his homeland after an act of shocking violence. Brought together by chance, they forge an inseparable bond, despite risking the gods’ wrath.
They are trained by the centaur Chiron in the arts of war and medicine, but when word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, all the heroes of Greece are called upon to 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 cruel Fates will test them both as never before and demand a terrible sacrifice.
Review: I’m a huge fan of Greek mythology and when I first discovered this book I was intrigued! Madeline Miller delivers a heartbreaking retelling of Homer’s Iliad with a focus on Patroclus and Achilles’ tragic romance. She definitely knows her Greek myth and verse and has written such a vivid and authentic retelling of a classic.
I actually took my time with this book because it was emotionally heavy and I wanted to savour it. The writing was so beautiful and practically poetic and I was hanging on every last word. It was amazing to see how much more life could be breathed into this well-known story and I think the author really captured the heart of it.
I fell so hard for Patrolcus! His character went through so much, but he never lost sense of who he was and he was just so morally good. His strength was really something to admire and he become the emotional anchor for Achilles as he struggled to live up to his prophecy. This story was a true epic, following the two young boys as they grow into men and their many adventures in between, including their part in the Trojan War.
I really loved the inclusion of the Gods in this story. It was interesting to see the roles they played in the lives of the Greeks and how they took sides in the Trojan War. The most prominent God in this book is Thetis, who is Achilles mother. She does so much to help her son fulfill his prophecy, and while she remains cold and distant, she does love Achilles.
The Song of Achilles is both brutal and beautiful in the best of ways. The hardest part for me in this book was the ending. I knew the story so I knew it was coming, but still! It was so emotional and I was so invested in the story that it kind of shattered my soul a bit. If you’re looking for a book with a happy ending, this is no fairy tale. There is no shortage of action, adventure, or romance and the characters are impossible not to fall for. I loved this book to bits and I can’t wait to read Circe!