The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
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.
The Song of Achilles was a beautiful book about Patroclus and Achilles’ relationship and how they grew to love each other. Madeline Miller did an amazing job at describing characters, places, and sounds. Reading this, I felt like I was standing there on the fields of Troy surrounded by clattering shields and swords or sitting under a shady olive tree next to Achilles and Patroclus. She really made the story come to life and set the mood for every scene. Her retelling of the Iliad created a more personal connection to Patroclus and not just the famous Achilles.
The ending to The Song of Achilles really struck hard. I cried while reading it and had to take a break because I couldn’t read from my eyes getting so watery from tears. This book stays close to the original depictions of Achilles and his life, but gives more details into personal matters. This causes us to look into more reasons of characters’ downfalls and motives for actions.
This book shows the human side of characters instead of showing them as grand heroes who only slayed monsters and enemies. Because a major part of the characters’ lives was maintaining honor and glory, you see the struggle Achilles and Patroclus went through when they had to choose between love and fame. This constant struggle showed how their relationship went through thick and thin and they still loved one another.
One character that never failed to get on my nerves was Agamemnon. He was always rude and had no respect for anyone or anything. His stunts of showing power always seemed twisted and wrong. Another thing that I’m not ashamed to admit is that if I met Thetis in the story, I would’ve run for my life. She seemed very scary and mean, and I have no idea how anyone could just stand there next to her despite being scared for their lives.
The Song of Achilles was a touching book that showed the struggle between love and glory. This book granted us a view of the famous story of Achilles from the more personal and intimate view of Patroclus. I would recommend this book to anyone who loves the stories from Greek mythology because this was a well written retelling.
Just in case someone doesn’t know the original story of Achilles, Achilles was a hero from Greek Mythology who fought in the Trojan War. Some versions of the story says that his mother (Thetis, a sea nymph) dipped him in the River of Styx when he was a baby. This granted him invulnerability except for one spot, his heel. His heel was vulnerable to any injury because that was where his mother held him in the river which led to his heel not getting soaked in the River of Styx. This is a popular version although Achilles appears the most in Homer’s epic The Iliad which does not state how he died. Some people say he was shot with an arrow through the torso, others stick to the story of his vulnerable heel and say Paris (a Trojan Prince) shot him in the heel and caused his death.
- Have you heard of the story of Achilles?
- Do you have a favorite story from Greek mythology?
- Have you read the Song of Achilles?