The Song of Achilles

The Song of Achilles

Book - 2012
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Patroclus, an awkward young prince, follows Achilles into war, little knowing that the years that follow will test everything they have learned, everything they hold dear. And that, before he is ready, he will be forced to surrender his friend to the hands of Fate. Set during the Trojan War.
Publisher: New York : Ecco, c2012.
Edition: 1st ed.
ISBN: 9780062060617
Branch Call Number: FIC MILLER, MADELINE
Characteristics: 378 p. ; 24 cm.


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So, this is a tough one. Not just for me personally, but subject-wise, tone-wise, and heartache-wise. I see now why everyone said to have tissues ready and to be ready to part with my heart when I finally picked it up. It's been on my list for so long, and though I didn't absolutely adore it, I did really like it.

The Song of Achilles is a retelling of the Iliad focused on Achilles, told through the perspective of Patroclus, his childhood companion and eventual lover. The boys grow up together, learning about the world from famous figures like Achilles' father Peleus and the centaur Chiron before finding themselves battling in the Trojan War.

There are prophecies, violence, and a ton of angst in this novel. Like, excessive amounts of angst, but sprinkled in with moments of pure bliss that left me clutching at the book wishing for happiness for these two boys with every ounce of my being. Some of the scenes of them figuring each other out when they're younger and innocent are just so bittersweet; Madeline Miller really nailed the emotions involved in their relationship, and that is ultimately what kept me reading.

Character-wise, though, I did struggle with Patroclus at first. He feels weak for a large part of the novel, and it left me wondering why Achilles would want him as badly as he does. It's his development over the course of the events that saved it for me. Because truly, he does develop as a character, and it made the ending even more heart-wrenching. Achilles is wonderful, and as they aged, I really grew to love their relationship.

The one word that comes to mind when I think of this book is beautiful. The writing is lyrical and so carefully constructed that I cannot fault any part of it. The atmosphere is wonderful and makes it really feel like an ancient story, simply being retold for us by someone who witnessed it all. The relationship between Patroclus and Achilles is just...beautiful. I really just don't have any other words for it.

I think I ultimately feel somewhat lukewarm towards it because I never felt truly invested. I wanted to read, I was happy when I was reading (slash also just always melancholic and sad because I knew where it was going), but I didn't have that insatiable urge to read read read. The language slowed me down, as gorgeous and lush as it is, because I felt I had to savour it in order to get the full effect, and I think that contributed as well.

All said and done, though, I am very glad I finally picked this one up. It is a beautiful story about two boys battling for their hearts, for their families, and for their city, and it is a retelling I won't soon forget.

Mar 13, 2020

Great book! Really enjoyable read. Had a nice mix of action with it's romance, enjoyed the Greek methodology.

Mar 10, 2020

If Achilles had a song, of what would it sing?⁣⁣
Is it the heroes who succumbed to his hand in the Trojan War? Is it the extraordinary fate dictated before even his birth? Or is it his love with Patroclus, whose death threw him into such a rage that even the gods could not escape from it unscathed?⁣
Patroclus’ tender eyes shows us another side of the demigod. A golden boy rather than an irritable militant. A reluctant hero rather than a killing machine. A faithful lover even in death. While the epic bellows of his rage and physique, Miller’s song is one of love and mortality.⁣
Rather than simply contextualizing the epic, Miller also wrestles with the eternal mysteries of Greek mythology which are, in another way of speaking, those of life: the relationship between free will and predetermination, friendship and romance, identity and power. In short, The Song of Achilles is one of struggles and growth, of the fragility beneath the mask of invulnerability, of humanity in suppression and conflict.⁣⁣

For more book and movie reviews, visit me on Instagram @ RandomStuffIRead

ReadingAdviser_Lori Mar 02, 2020

This is a love story filled with action and adventure. Miller re-tells Homer’s ancient Greek poem the Iliad. The story is told from the prospective of Patroclus, an exiled prince and lover of the legendary warrior Achilles. Miller gives the reader insight into what the epic’s characters may have felt and experienced during the time of the fabled Trojan War.

Feb 16, 2020

I couldn't put this book down even though I knew exactly where we would end up. The story was so bittersweet and really showed off the flaws that the characters have while making you want them to be happy even if history tells us they won't be.

Jan 22, 2020

Her latest book, "Circe," is also very good. Ancient Greece comes alive!

Dec 22, 2019

Told from Patroclus' POV, a very sympathetic retelling of the events leading to and through the Trojan War. Reads swiftly as javelin plummeting from the pure purple of the Aegean eve. The tears that almost flow, the clenched jaws as the strong beards on the strong jaws of strong men turn from smoldering coals in the brazier; the flush running over a lover as a hand brushes against a beloved, leaving the the head swimming... all very passionate.

And, I liked it very much.

There are curious choices: sometimes sensibilities are ancient, sometimes modern, and I imagine this bothers some readers as it has me on other occasions. Here it did not. Also the balance between early years at the court, training with Chiron, hiding from the war and the war itself - with fewer than 400 pages decisions must be made about what to cut, what to highlight. Largely I'm happy with Miller's choices, but I'm sure many readers would find reason to argue over this.

For those that enjoy Mary Renault, of course. For the rest of, most likely.

Dec 03, 2019

Song was unexpectedly romantic without being cloying and many times more captivating than Circe IMHO.

PawsFurBooks Dec 03, 2019

Such a gorgeous book. If you love Greek mythology or books set in ancient Greece, this is a book for you. The writing is compelling and so well done.

Nov 09, 2019

Great book. Has predictably tragic ending but is very sweet.

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Aug 22, 2012

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Add a Quote
Jul 21, 2018

“I could recognize him by touch alone, by smell; I would know him blind, by the way his breaths came and his feet struck the earth. I would know him in death, at the end of the world.”

Dec 08, 2017

"Our man liked conquest, they did not trust a man who was conquered himself" (pg 176)

Aug 27, 2016

"Go, he waits for you."

Aug 27, 2016

"This and this and this."

Jun 07, 2015

We were like gods at the dawning of the world, and our joy was so bright we could see nothing else but the other.

Aug 23, 2012

"She used to be known as the most beautiful woman in our kingdoms. Now they say she's the most beautiful woman in the world.....A thousand ships have sailed for her"


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