Book Review: The Song of Achilles
The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller is not new. In fact, it was published 10 years ago, but it is still extremely popular. I swear I see people mention it or post about it multiple times a week. I first heard of the book a year ago from a friend who loved it and said I had to read it. I’ve had it on my tbr since then and have come across multiple people who have warned me they cried or even sobbed while reading it. I picked it up when I went to Powell’s Books in Portland in July and I finally read it earlier this week!
Dress: Vici | Bodysuit: Express | Headband: Francesca’s
Aside from knowing it would probably be a sad ending because of everyone telling me they cried reading it, I do have some basic knowledge of Greek mythology so I know a little about Achilles’ story. I won’t give it away on the off chance that any of you reading this post don’t know Achilles’ story.
The novel takes place over years and is narrated by Patroclus. Patroclus was a young prince who becomes exiled from his kingdom. He ends up in another kingdom – one where Achilles, another young prince lives with his father, King Peleus. Achilles’ mother is the Thetis, a goddess and sea nymph. He is prophesied to be the greatest warrior. When Patroclus arrives in Achilles kingdom it doesn’t take long for them to become close friends and companions as they are around the same age.
The novel follows their friendship that over time becomes a real love relationship. Even as kids they had a deeper connection and it is beautiful to watch their relationship evolve and deepen. When Achilles is called upon to fight in the Trojan War and help retrieve Helen back for Menelaus, king of Sparta, he is hesitant. Prophecy says he will not survive the war, but will be remembered as a great hero. If he doesn’t fight, he will be forgotten into obscurity. All his life he has trained and been a naturally strong warrior; he was born to be a hero. Knowing that he will eventually fall in Troy, he and Patroclus go to join Menelaus, Agamemnon, Odysseus, Ajax, etc. The war goes on for many years and as the fighting continues we see more growth in Patroclus and in his relationship with Achilles.
I won’t say how it all goes down and what happens because I don’t want to spoil anything, but if you’re wondering if I cried like everyone else did, I did. Even knowing what the ending would ultimately be, I cried.
Side note: While I was reading, I kept picturing things I remembered from the movie Troy that I saw a long time ago. I’m pretty sure that in the movie they made it seem like Achilles and Patroclus were cousins, but I might be mis-remembering. According to mythology they were companions since childhood and were possibly lovers so I guess Hollywood just didn’t want to explore that aspect of the story! I also remember thinking Eric Bana playing Hector was the best one out of all of them (Brad Pitt as Achilles, Orlando Bloom as Paris).
The novel was a little slow at the beginning, but eventually I did get sucked in emotionally and loved it. The love between Patroclus and Achilles will stick with me.
A quote I loved:
“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.”
The quote alone makes me want to sob! Anyway, highly recommend if you like Greek mythology retellings.
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