Book Review: The Song of Achilles
Hello Gods and Goddesses, mortals and everything in between,
Welcome to another book review!
I hope the fates are smiling on you this week. It’s been a mixed bag for me, but one good thing that happened is I got final approval to volunteer at a local library! I’ve been searching for a position for months (Kansas City is tough!), and this experience will be vital to building a foundation for me as I complete my graduate degree in librarianship.
Anywho, let’s get into things.
Today I’m reviewing the Greek tragedy The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller.
I was gifted this book years ago (I know, shame on me!) by the illustrious Thea McAlistair. Recently I decided to catch up on the reads that I own, and this one had quite a bit of dust on it, so I dove right in.
Have the Gods smiled upon this epic story, or will it falter beneath their omnipotent wrath? Keep on reading for the review!
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.
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Where do I even begin with this masterpiece?
On paper, this book shouldn’t have worked for me. I rarely if ever have read a historical fiction novel, and I tend not to like character-driven stories. Despite that, this novel knocked it out of the ballpark!
This story is an epic Greek tragedy focused on an exiled Prince Patroclus and the legendary warrior Achilles. Exiled for murder, young Patroclus is sent away where he meets Achilles. Achilles and Patroclus grow up together, an epic story intertwining between them as Achilles grows into a refined demigod and Patroclus wrestles with his feelings for him.
I have to say, the characters really made this spectacular. Patroclus is a gentle soul. He is kind and generous, definitely an oddball for ancient Greek times. He was so easy to relate to throughout this story, and his reasons for his attraction to Achilles made complete sense to me.
Achilles was amazing too. I enjoyed all the great descriptions of him, and he’s brave and unapologetic for how and who he is, which I absolutely loved since I’ve always been that way myself. His flaw of pride and overly trusting others helped ground his perceived perfection, which was a nice added touch.
But really, what was riveting about these characters was the romance between them. It blossoms throughout the novel and kept me riveted especially in the beginning when things start in a more uncertain place. It’s not all sunshine and rainbows, and my heart still aches at what transpired in this novel.
Miller’s writing was flawless and seamless. She spent a ton of time writing this book, and the quality truly shines through. This is more of a slow burn, but each page is rich with detail, engaging, and easy to follow.
At the beginning the novel focuses more on the characters before events of the outside world force them to act. The great war was portrayed wonderfully, and I especially liked that Miller didn’t shy away from including the Gods in all of this. They were a tangible force not to be trifled with, a step above magic realism, and that was needed in my opinion.
I have no complaints with this book. Even if you don’t think it’s right for you, try it out. You won’t be disappointed.
That’s A Wrap!
Well that’s it for this book review. I hope you enjoyed it!
Have you read this book? Are there other similar books you’ve read that you simply have to gush about? Feel free to leave a comment. I’d love to start a conversation!
Have a great day!