19 July 2013

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
Release Date: April 12, 2011 (UK)
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Source: Gift
Recommended by: Tatum
Goodreads Stars: 5
Rating: All Time Favourite

Buy it: Amazon UK

Greece in the age of Heroes. Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the kingdom of Phthia. Here he is nobody, just another unwanted boy living in the shadow of King Peleus and his golden son, Achilles.

Achilles, 'best of all the Greeks', is everything Patroclus is not — strong, beautiful, the child of a goddess — and by all rights their paths should never cross. Yet one day, Achilles takes the shamed prince under his wing and soon their tentative companionship gives way to a steadfast friendship. As they grow into young men skilled in the arts of war and medicine, their bond blossoms into something far deeper — despite the displeasure of Achilles's mother Thetis, a cruel and deathly pale sea goddess with a hatred of mortals.

Fate is never far from the heels of Achilles. When word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, the men 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. Torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus follows Achilles into war, little knowing that the years that follow will test everything they have learned, everything they hold dear. And that, before he is ready, he will be forced to surrender his friend to the hands of Fate. - Goodreads

My father was a king and the son of kings.
I honestly wouldn't expect me to be very coherent in this review. It's been a couple of weeks since I finished The Song of Achilles, and I'm still having a breakdown over it. Thanks a lot, Tatum. 

I both love and hate Tatum for sending me this. she knows how I love my mythology, and how Ancient History tends to ruin my life, and yet she still decided to go right ahead with recommending this one. And yep, my post-Spartacus life is officially ruined. I haven't read the epic poem (yet!) but this makes me even more desperate to check it out. Right. Now.

The Song of Achilles tells Achilles' life story through the eyes of Patroclus. Since I don't read book synopses for fear of spoilers, I wasn't expecting this, and was immediately intrigued by Miller's approach to the tale since this book is not told from the point of view of the classic hero. As the novel moves forward, it follows both Achilles and Patroclus from when they are children, right up until the very end.

Patroclus and Achilles have one of the most beautiful relationships I have ever read about. There are some ups and downs, and each time those downs came around my heart broke in half. It was quickly melded back together, though, because the pair actually work things out. The love and trust and respect they hold for each other - all for different reasons - is beautiful. I don't know what else to say about it, really, other than it's one of my favourite relationships and I'm actually struggling to think of one that can top it. 

For once, I wasn't craving ALL THE ACTION. I know, isn't it shocking?! I must talk all the time about how I want more action in books, more fight scenes, for fire fights... but in this, Patroclus and Achilles were enough. I was happy reading about what the two were going through with their families, with the war, with their enemies... and I was probably too overcome with emotions about their epic love to crave anything other than the two of them.

Miller has a really captivating writing style that fits with the setting and the time. I'm very impressed. I especially enjoyed how she wrote the love scenes between Achilles and Patroclus. I was concerned that these scenes would be jarring before they came about, considering how the rest of the story is told, but they were actually tender and sweet rather than erotic and in-your-face.

The ending absolutely slaughtered me. No one warned me about it, although to be fair I knew I was going to be devastated one way or another since I knew how Achilles' story ends. What I wasn't sure about was Patroclus. When the ending came around it shattered my heart into a million pieces.

I'd recommend this to every reader out there, no question. If you're looking for two characters that will have a huge impact and move you, then The Song of Achilles is what you need. Just... just read it! It deserves all the awards. The book pushing starts now.

(Hey, who said I was only going to be recommending books in this section, hmm?)


  1. CRYING but also laughing, you didn't even mention you'd be reviewing it ;_____; AND ALL TIME FAVOURITE GOODBYE

  2. Omg! That's an awesome review :) I have to read this book, like I must read it! It sounds amazing, and since I love mythology, I think I'll enjoy every single page :)

  3. Ok that's another person that has said this is good. I don't read a lot of LGBT (actually I think I've only read 1) so I wasn't sure about this but everybody has said how gorgeous the writing is and I LOVE mythology, especially Greek so I'm going to add this to my tbr.

    I know I'm gonna be gutted by the ending because well... Achilles :(

  4. I honestly cannot believe I haven't read this yet. I adore Greek mythology so freaking much (especially Trojan-War related) and I bought it for my Kindle ages ago. I guess that's what happens when you blog about books and are constantly surrounded by ALL THE BOOKS - some end up passing us by. But I will not let that happen with The Song of Achilles. I also really enjoy stories told from an unusual perspective, or the perspective of a side character.
    After reading your lovely review, I just need to get on with it already! Hopefully very soon. Your comment has got me super interested in the ending of this book - since I know where Patroclus and Achilles both end up by the war's end. Hmm.

  5. I saw this book in a bookstore somewhere last year and since, like you, I LOVE everything about Ancient Greece and Rome, I really wanted to read it. I'm so happy that you loved it so much (though I knew this already) and I think I might have to buy it soon. I'm pretty sure you will force me to anyway.

    Also, love the new review style!!

  6. Yay! I loved this one too! Bleh, the epic poem. I am not a fan of Homer. I'm pretty sure I stalled out partway through The Iliad. There's this part where he lists ALL OF THE SHIPS and who is sailing them. Like, remember that there were HUNDREDS of ships? OH MY GOD I HAVE NO CARING ABOUT THIS.

    Patroclus and Achilles are so cute. Gah! I love that part where Achilles is like I don't care if they judge me and I'm like squeeeee.

    This one was pretty slow, but it was totally the right speed. And, also, yes, the writing. It was simple, but deceptively so. It just fit so well.

    Ooooh, you didn't know about Patroclus? YOUCH.

  7. I'm still processing the ending as well. Even though I had read The Iliad and knew what had to happen, I didn't anticipate becoming so attached to Patroclus. The way that Miller describes their relationship is so beautiful and haunting.

    I wrote a review on my blog if you'd like to check it out: http://alexandrampatterson.com/2013/07/26/book-review-the-song-of-achilles-by-madeline-miller/


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