This review is spoiler-free!
The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
Genres: Historical Fiction, Retelling, Mythology
Release Date: August 28th 2012 by Ecco
Format: Paperback, 378 pages
Find it here: Goodreads || Amazon
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.
Finally I’m home and I’ve got some steady WiFi to write this!
So I read this while in Italy (no, not intentional, but boy I don’t regret it even slightly even if it did grind my feelings into the dirt), and I honestly believe I couldn’t have picked a better possible time to read this. Greek and Roman mythology overlap extensively and it shows quite a lot in their ancient architecture and livelihoods and such. So, naturally, I was smacked in the face left and right with feels the entire time I trekked around Pompeii, specifically, due to the references back to Homer’s Iliad (and Odyssey) that were peppered around the ruins and in all the info plaques (unsure of why since Greek, I’ll have to look into that). Not to mention just the gods in general, since the Romans were real big on their gods.
But, lord, this book? It was so good. It was so good.
Like, oof. I’ve never, ever read a book from Patroclus’ POV, and I don’t think Achilles’ tale could have been done a better justice than it was done in this book because of that. (And because of Miller’s writing, because damn.)
I knew what was coming at the end (I mean, come on, mythology is nothing short of a hurtful mess pretty much constantly anyway), but I was not expecting to be as upset as I was when it came. I’m still sitting here smarting from what this book did to me. It was one thing to know, and it was an entirely different thing to see it from the POV of someone I’d grown to care for throughout the book.
I want to go back and read it immediately. I only finished it like five days ago but I’m about to go crack it open again for round two, that’s how much it’s still getting to me.
Definitely a favorite.
Thanks for reading!