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.
Synopsis from Goodreads
I’m so happy I finally found this book! After reading Circe, I was desperate to get my hands on a copy of Achilles and read more by Madeline Miller. I’ve always been interested in Greek and Roman history, and actually studied it as a minor in university, and I was blown away by Miller’s rendition of Circe’s story. So would Achilles live up to my expectations? Yes, absolutely yes!! And here’s why:
Although The Song of Achilles is her first book, Miller’s way of writing the story, the way she weaves this narrative from two young boys becoming friends to the deaths of these amazing heroes, is nothing short of spectacular. Anybody who knows the Trojan war knows that Achilles enters the battle again after the death of Patroclus. I was really curious to know how Miller would write this into the story since Patrick class is our narrator. The way she continues his story although he is no longer living is so well done, and I was so in awe of the way the story seamlessly continued even though the narrator has died. I don’t want to say exactly how she does it, because I don’t want to give to much away, but it’s definitely something that I was really, really impressed with.
Readers Become Part of History
Miller has this ability to bring a reader directly into the story, which is incredibly impressive when we’re talking about mythology, stories often taking place centuries ago. It’s hard to articulate how she’s doing this, but I hope it comes across how wonderful it is to read. In Song of Achilles, we are introduced to Achilles as a preteen through the eyes of Patroclus, somebody who has no real martial skills himself and sees the beauty in Achilles, not just the deadly warrior. I love that we get to see these boys both grow up to become the legends that they are, specifically Achilles, and that we are able to see other characters from Patroclus’s perspective, like Agamemnon, Menelaus, Diamedes, Ajax and Odysseus. Miller makes these heroes of legend into average men that are trying to make a place for themselves in history and we are given a real look at them.
Patroclus is My New Favourite Greek
I’ve always felt that many of these Greek and Roman heroes of mythology that we read about are pretty arrogant and egotistical. After all, while Helen is credited with being the “face that launched a thousand ships” and the cause of the Trojan War, it’s clear that Agamemnon wanted Troy and she just happened to be his excuse. This is why while reading this book Patroclus definitely become is my new favorite Greek. He simply wants to live his life, make his own choices, and see the man he loves live a long life. I loved that in Miller’s rendition, Patroclus doesn’t really even bother training for war, but rather spends time learning about healing and medicine. And he has a true caring and kindness for those around him. Although the Achilles we see in this book is definitely less arrogant then he is in other media, it’s Patroclus that forces him to think about others and try to help them.
I’m sorry that this was such a long review but there was so much that I wanted to say and praise about this book, and really try to make clear why it’s such a beautiful story. You may think that you know the legend of Achilles, that you know about the Trojan war, but Miller gives us a very new perspective on it and one that really humanizes all of these Greek heroes of legend. If you have some time on your hands, I would HIGHLY recommend this book, as well as her other novel Circe (I reviewed here) and I hope you let me know what you think!
FINAL RATING: 5/5
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Hi, I'm Alexandra! I love reading (largely YA fiction, but sometimes I'll read "adult" books), playing board games, Nutella, and binge-watching TV shows on Netflix with my husband.
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2020 Reading Challenge
Alexandra has read 20 books toward her goal of 85 books.
2019 Reading Challenge
Alexandra has read 5 books toward her goal of 90 books.
2018 Reading Challenge
Alexandra has completed her goal of reading 80 books in 2018!
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