by Madeline Miller
Published on September 20, 2011 by Bloomsbury USA
Genres: Adult, Fantasy, Historical, LGBTQ+
Greece in the age of heroes. Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the court of King Peleus and his perfect son Achilles. By all rights their paths should never cross, but Achilles takes the shamed prince as his friend, and as they grow into young men skilled in the arts of war and medicine their bond blossoms into something deeper - despite the displeasure of Achilles' mother Thetis, a cruel sea goddess. But then word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped. Torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus journeys with Achilles to Troy, little knowing that the years that follow will test everything they hold dear.
Profoundly moving and breathtakingly original, this rendering of the epic Trojan War is a dazzling feat of the imagination, a devastating love story, and an almighty battle between gods and kings, peace and glory, immortal fame and the human heart.
Book Depository Amazon Barnes & Noble Indiebound Wordery
I’ve known about The Song of Achilles for a while now and despite a love of Greek mythology, never got around to reading it. To be honest, it slipped my mind until Circe released and I finally caved and snagged it on audiobook.
To start, I think Miller’s writing style lends itself beautifully to audio. It felt like I was sitting around the fire listening to the adventures of Achilles and Patroclus rather than reading a flowery version of the story (which was my experience with Circe). I liked that the book didn’t center around Achilles and his accomplishments. In fact, he wasn’t even the main character. So often the heroes become the focus of such stories that the side characters become just that: secondary. But in this version, Patroclus is as crucial to the outcome of this book as Achilles.
For the record, I read The Illiad and The Odyssey in high school and am only vaguely familiar with the myths and history surrounding the Trojan War so while I’m sure there are points of this story that are inaccurate or controversial, I didn’t pick up on them while reading.
Watching Patroclus grow and mature, and develop a relationship with Achilles, was probably the sweetest, purest ship I’ve ever read. Truly. Despite the troubles that plague the two and their world at the time, that aspect of the story remained untouched and just. . . perfect. I loved it. I honestly don’t have any other words for it. And when THAT MOMENT came near the end of the book, the one I KNEW would happen after reading the stories and watching Troy one too many times. . . I knew it would hurt (it did, for the record, but not how I expected).
Miller manages to sway you into accepting whatever is put in front of you, even if it means seeing the world from a perspective beyond the natural world. I thought the book would end with that scene but it didn’t, and I found closure in an ending I hadn’t expected but ultimately needed.
Much like the rest of the book, The Song of Achilles was a story that lulled me into a world of gods and heroes, where I was both present but not and each time I paused the audiobook, the haze lifted. It was beautiful and gut-wrenching and perfect.
Even the moments when Patroclus annoyed me, when Achilles was just too much, I found I didn’t care. I had come to love these two characters so much while also feeling the distance of a story told through the ages. It’s a weird feeling, but a good one.
If you haven’t read this book yet, I HIGHLY recommend the audio version as the text lends itself very well to it, and the narrator does a great job. The Song of Achilles was absolutely lovely and I can’t praise it enough!