Review: The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

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My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Received: Bought through Barnes & Noble
Publication Date: August 28, 2012
Publisher: Ecco
Point of View: First Person (Patroclus)
Genres & Themes: Historical Fiction, Mythology, Fantasy, War, Romance, LGBTQ,

BLURB:

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.

REVIEW:

Sometimes a book chooses you.

Really, I mean it. It’s happened quite a few times to me. With The Song of Achilles, I was in Barnes & Noble searching for Death of a Salesman for my American Literature class. So, I’m there mumbling to myself “Miller. Miller” sifting through the names and the titles when in a nanosecond my eye catches the name. It’s like that moment when you’re just focused on one thing that you don’t register anything else, but then there’s this one moment, this one instance when it does. To me, that sounds like the book choosing you.

Now The Song of Achilles is a book that’s has caught my eyes for years now, it’s always on the most read this week section of Goodreads and naturally the book cover and title caught my fancy, I’m a big mythology fan, after all. I’ll tell you the truth—I loved the cover on the Goodreads site than the one I bought.

Nonetheless, I fell in love with it. With everything that this book is. With Patroclus and Achilles, with the name, with the story, the writing, everything. I’ll be haunted by this story for years to come, and I left a bit of my soul with it.

“ This is how I came to be ten, and an orphan. This is how I came to Phtia.”

The Song of Achilles is told in the point of view of Patroclus, and what I fine choice that was. He’s always been this secondary character to Achilles’ first. Even I thought it would be in Achilles, but to live his and their stories through Patroclus’s eyes was beautiful. The fear, the love, the passage of time is all palpable.

The story of Achilles, and, by association, Patroclus is a well known one. How it ends is also widely known. Knowing that I thought I could build a wall around my heart, knowing how it would ultimately end, but if you don’t know the story I can tell you I felt the same thing a person with no knowledge of the ending would/will feel.

                     

“The Fates were well known for such riddles, unclear until the final piece had fallen.”

The foreshadowing is amazing, beautifully written. The story was so intricately woven to create a story that stays in the heart for a long time.

            

“He had light enough to make heroes of them all.”

Achilles is beautiful through the eyes of Patroclus. And when you read the story, you can’t help but see where their stories will lead, and why, and how. How cheating the Fates is only but a foolish dream.

In the end, you could so that their ending was the only ending for this two. You feel the war, the despair, the agony, the hopelessness, but also the hope, and mostly the love this two had for each other. The good times they spent together, loving each other, supporting each other, and the lengths they would go for each other.

“He is half of my soul, as the poets say.”

The story goes through their lives, from when Patroclus was a boy, through his childhood in his new home in Pthia, to being taught by Chiron, in the land of Scyros, ten years of war with Troy, to the very end of their lives.

“I could recognize him by touch alone, by smell; I would know him blind, by the way his breaths came and his feet struck the earth. I would know him in death, at the end of the world.”

The Song of Achilles is very thorough in the characters, in incorporating the events of the Illiad, but with conscious decisions of the author. The author makes this well-known story her own, and from it arises a new story. A tale of love and war, fame and greed, decisions and lessons, fate and will.

“IN THE DARKNESS, two shadows, reaching through the hopeless, heavy dusk. Their hands meet, and light spills in a flood like a hundred golden urns pouring out of the sun.”

                               

“Achilles, grinning as the figs blur in his hands. His green eyes laughing into mine. Catch, he says. Achilles, outlined against the sky, hanging from a branch over the river. The thick warmth of his sleepy breath against my ear. If you have to go, I will go with you. My fears forgotten in the golden harbor of his arms.

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