Long Break and Review: The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller Is a Beautiful Greek Tragedy

This book gets:

So my last post was February 2016, which meant I disappeared for a month and a few weeks. I had a new job and things were a bit hectic while I tried to relearn the ropes, and I had some writing projects in the works. But I miss the bookish community and I was finally able to get the time to read and leave reviews, so here I am again! Onto the review:

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I bought The Song of Achilles when it was on sale via BookBub. I didn’t really mind it because I thought it would just be another rendition of the Trojan War, only that it would, of course, be more about Achilles’ life. Boy was I wrong.

The story is actually told in Patroclus’ point of view. He’s our narrator, our eyes, the mere mortal in the presence of a (demi)god.

As someone who already knew the story of the Trojan War and Achilles’ fate, I was intrigued. How will Miller spin this tale?

It begins with Patroclus and his father, a king, hosting athletic games. Patroclus doesn’t join the games, though, because he’s weak and sickly. One of the winner of the games, however, is a fair-haired youth, a prince. When Patroclus kills a boy by accident, his father dis-owns him and he is exiled.

He goes to Peleus, king of the Myrmidons, where he and several exiled boys train and study. There, he meets Achilles, who Patroclus describes this way:

…his beauty shone like a flame, vital and bright, drawing my eye against my will.

Enjolras-Aaron Tveit
Y’know, like this handsome, like being compared to a god.

So anyway, the ball really starts rolling when Achilles chooses Patroclus to be his therapon i.e. companion/brother-in-arms/sidekick and potential lover. It confuses the hell out of Patroclus, though, and other boys why Achilles chose him when there were other sycophants – ehem, worthier companions – for the prince.

By this time, I was already so invested in the story. There was Chiron, the centaur mentor, and Thetis, the angry goddess. She hates Patroclus. At first, she makes it look like she doesn’t think Patroclus is worthy of Achilles, but we all know it goes deeper than that, especially during the events of the Trojan War.

The characters are so brilliantly written and portrayed. Odysseus is brilliant and crafty, and Patroclus is so grounded, so mortal – it’s a good foil to Achilles’ god-like charm, his pride and anger, his vindictiveness, and his fury.

And the ending? Very nice. It’s worth the Greek Tragedy-induced pain and heartache.

Published: March 6, 2012; Ecco | Amazon | Goodreads

 

2 thoughts on “Long Break and Review: The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller Is a Beautiful Greek Tragedy

  1. I hope you’re settled in at your new job and your writing projects are going well! I like bookbub and it’s a great way to discover some great discounted or free books. I grabbed so many freebies thanks to bookbub and some nice discounted ones too.

    I don’t think I’ve ever read a book about the Trojan war before and it sounds like it has an original take on the subject with how it focuses on Patroclus. I am glad to hear you enjoyed this one so much!
    Lola recently posted…Lola’s Kitchen: Lukewarm Couscous Salad RecipeMy Profile

     
    1. Thanks so much Lola 🙂 It’s really a fascinating book, where we see the big players of the War via a slightly different perspective.

       

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