The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

My rating: ❤❤❤❤❤ of 5!

song of achilles

 


When you search online for new books, many things can happen. Sometimes you find books that are so far from your taste, that it’s a drag to even read the first chapter. Other times you find hidden gems! In 2011 my colleagues decided to pay attention to my love, for Greek Mythology and bought me this book for my birthday. I lost it in 2012 when I moved and then all of a sudden, back in 2015, it popped up as a “suggestion” on my Google Play account, and I bought the digital copy so I’d never lose it again.

The Song of Achilles retells the tale of Greece’s greatest hero from Patroclus point of view. Madeline Miller manages to give this ancient story her own personal spin, when she changes the relationship between Achilles and Patroclus and make them lovers. Miller is still staying true to Greek legends and the famous classic by Homer, the Iliad. With the way Miller paints first their friendship, then their romance, she adds a completely new perspective on the human side of the Trojan War.

To me Achilles have always been the most interesting demigod in the Greek Mythology, but at the same time no one can accuse him of being a sympathetic character. If you’ve seen the film “Troy” he’s portrayed all noble, but in all the written tales he’s more of a bully and mama’s boy. When things don’t go his way, he’ll demand that his immortal mother stand by him and find a way to rectify it. In short; Achilles knows he’s needed and he’ll throw a tantrum if someone as much as looks at him the wrong way.

By telling the story through Patroclus’ eyes, Miler manages to not only show Achilles’ unattractive qualities, but she also makes them more bearable, understandable and at times even endearing. Simply put, this narrating choice humanises this great demigod. As readers we get to see Achilles fall in love, how conflicted this young man is, his sense of humour and his gentle side, which is reserved for his lover. Patroclus meets Achilles when they’re young, so he gets to see him growing from a privileged child to a sensitive teen to the young man who’s struggling to balance his personal feelings with the expectations of his destiny.

If you’re familiar with this hero you know that the story is fated to have a tragic ending and whilst Miller does honour that, she’s managing to put an uplifting and positive spin on it. Her writing throughout the entire book is elegant, simple and downright hauntingly beautiful. Because of the simplicity I would say that this book is appropriate for young adults, new adults, adults, actually, I wouldn’t put any age restriction on this masterpiece.

If you’ve ever wondered about the title, you can see why Madeline Miller chose as she did, here.

The Song of Achilles is without question a breath of fresh air, and it did make me fall in love with this ancient tale all over again.

Have you read this book or anything like it? Comment and let me know.

 

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