The Song of Achilles slipped through the cracks of my To-Be-Reviewed list a few months ago. I lent it to a friend (who loved it – even more than I did, actually), which delayed me, and by the time I got it back, other reads were fresher in my mind…
Excuses aside, I really liked this book, and I still want to share it – so here’s a quick review of what sticks with me!
- Title: The Song of Achilles
- Author: Madeline Miller
- Published: 2011, Bloomsbury
In the age of ancient heroes in Greece, Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the court of King Peleus and his perfect son Achilles. Despite their differences, 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’s 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.
- Historical LGBT+ rep; it’s funny how people might think this pairing revisionist or a reach now, but it totally wasn’t in Ancient Greece
- Lovely prose
- Retells a well-known story (Homer’s The Iliad) through a lesser-known interpretation/from the perspective of a lesser-known character
- Poignantly and relevantly questions how far one will go and how much damage one will do to preserve/promote one’s ego
Patroclus. Maybe it’s a cop out to choose the narrator, but I loved his thoughtful, steadfast, and kind nature. I also found his character arc the most relatable – particularly his need to reconcile what he loves and what he wants to be true with what is right and what he knows to be true.
Most Memorable Scene
The scene that resonated with me most ties directly into that arc. Patroclus witnesses an injustice that Achilles has the power to make right, but Achilles refuses to act, prioritizing his own agenda. Patroclus wrestles with his rage towards and his love for Achilles, all while working out how he can take matters into his own hands and make a difference.
A tilting vertigo, as if I were drunk. I could not speak, or think. I had never been angry with him before; I did not know how… My mind is filled with catacylsm and apocalypse: I wish for earthquakes, eruptions, flood. Only that seems large enough to hold all of my rage and grief. I want the world overturned like a bowl of eggs, smashed at my feet.
Rec it or Forget it: Rec it!
4.5/5 stars. (What does this mean?)
Have you read The Song of Achilles yet? If so, what did you think? Let me know in the comments!
This review has been cross-posted on Goodreads and LibraryThing.