Title: The Song of Achilles
Author: Madeline Miller
Pages: 378 pages
Published: August 28th. 2012
Source: Paperback from Barnes & Noble
Genre: Greek Mythology, Fiction
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
Achilles, "the best of all the Greeks," son of the cruel sea goddess Thetis and the legendary king Peleus, is strong, swift, and beautiful— irresistible to all who meet him. Patroclus is an awkward young prince, exiled from his homeland after an act of shocking violence. Brought together by chance, they forge an inseparable bond, despite risking the gods' wrath.
They are trained by the centaur Chiron in the arts of war and medicine, but when word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, all the heroes of Greece are called upon to lay siege to Troy in her name. Seduced by the promise of a glorious destiny, Achilles joins their cause, and torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus follows. Little do they know that the cruel Fates will test them both as never before and demand a terrible sacrifice.
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The Song of Achilles is a book, I believe, all readers must read before they quit reading (because saying die is too harsh). There's something so fascinating about Greek mythology and how there are so many ways one event in history can be explained. Madeline Miller's historic retelling on the events of the Trojan War is fascinating and the story comes from a perspective new to historians and students alike. It's what I like to call, a new way of looking at the Trojan War. What really happened in the battle between the Greek and Troy? Let's find out together!
You'd think that a book about the Trojan War would be told from the point of view of someone very important like Achilles, Odysseus, Menelaus or even Paris. I thought it was especially interesting how this book was told from the POV of Patroclus, Achilles' sidekick. Of course, the relationship and dynamic of Patroclus and Achilles is crucial to understanding the Trojan War, but many people over time have neglected the teachings of this relationship. Even in school, I never read about Patroclus in my history textbooks. He was simply never introduced! There have been ideas that Patroclus' and Achilles' relationship was romance rather friendship. This book explores that idea. Before you think of anything else, yes, this book does include an LGBT relationship. AWESOME-SAUCE, right?
This book sheds light on the events a little before the war and after, but sadly, there is little background information. For readers who go into this book knowing nothing of Greek Mythology or of the happenings of the war, you're in for hell. Fortunately, I went into this one having extensive background on the topic since I'd read The Odyssey and have a big interest in mythology. It can still be read as a story but I think the background in mythology and history would help a ton. For those who have read The Odyssey, this book takes place in events that happen before. I don't know if it's the same for The Iliad.
The Trojan War is such an interesting battle in history. There's just too many ways and perspectives it can be told from. There are so many he says and she says, but do we actually know what happened during the war? I think it's great that authors contribute to this major part in understanding history. They craft stories around fact to bring interest in the topic and rising inquiry.
The shining gem in this novel was definitely the romantic character dynamic between Achilles and Patroclus. How could two warriors find love in a time of war? Their love was more based on the actual relationship and bond rather than simple attraction. Achilles is the brooding and shining hero in armor who was prophesied to help the Greeks win the battle at Troy. Patroclus was next to nobody, being an exile from his own home and taken in by Achille's father. The budding romance was amazingly well-done and I don't think the author could've done better with that romantic ending (read to find out what happened!). The relationship itself aided in explaining the events that have been known in history. For example, many people aren't sure as to why Achilles killed Hector even though there was a prophecy about how he would die if he killed him. This is explained in the book in reference to Patroclus' relationship with Achilles.
This book has really opened my eyes to the genre of mythology, and I'm sure it will do the same for anyone else who is willing to try this amazing story. I'd recommend to fans of mythology but also to ones that want to learn more. If you like character-driven books, Achilles and Patroclus will sweep you off your feet! Please leave all recommendations for mythology books down below :D Thanks for reading!