“When he died, all things soft and beautiful and bright would be buried with him.”
Title: The Song of Achilles
Author: Madeline Miller
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
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. Despite their difference, Achilles befriends the shamed prince, 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 when word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, Achilles must go to war in distant Troy and fulfil his destiny. Torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus goes with him, little knowing that the years that follow will test everything they hold dear.
If anything I am a huge mythology nerd. I love learning about the different myths and legends from all around the world; the different folklore and beliefs intrigue me – and Greek and Roman mythology have always been my favourite.
The Song of Achilles is essentially a retelling of the myth of Achilles. Although, in this case, it’s from the perspective of Patroclus; who was famous for being Achilles’ closest friend or his lover (which is a heavily debated topic amongst scholars).
Reading this, as it is with any other retellings, was painful. I knew what the ending was, and reading the build up to that just made me sad because I knew there wasn’t a happy ending.
I admit, Madeline Miller is an extremely talented writer. The way she told the story of Achilles and Patroclus was meaningful and poignant. Although there were a few instances of purple prose which left me a bit frustrated; I did otherwise enjoy the writing style.
The way in which Patroclus was portrayed, and his pure and raw love for Achilles was shown I couldn’t help falling in love with them both. Their personalities were real and raw, and they weren’t the “macho” sort of soldiers that are shown in every movie about ancient Greece or Rome.
This book gave was able to give me a fresh perspective on the battle for Troy. It wasn’t from the perspective of Achilles, which would have probably resulted in a huge bundle of bias for a novel. But instead, from his lover, who was able to show both his love for Achilles, his own way of living his life, and a different (less violent) perspective on everything.
As a whole, I loved this book but the only thing that prevented the five stars was probably the first few chapters. As far as I know this book starts off with Patroclus at a fairly young age, and despite the normality of young marriage then; I find it hard to believe the way he spoke and the way he saw Achilles was accurate or realistic. It just left me a bit confused. But everything got back to normal after that!
Overall, I think that if you love mythology and romance this is probably the book for you. It probably wouldn’t appease to mythological experts but otherwise, this was a bittersweet read which I really enjoyed!