Title: Song of Achilles
Author: Madeline Miller
In this retelling of the Iliad and exploration of Achilles’s youth, Madeline Miller has created a wonderful love story. Told through the eyes of Patroclus, Achilles’s best friend and lover, The Song of Achilles has done something that the original story and countless movies have failed to do: it’s made me like Achilles. Whereas in the Iliad, Achilles is brash, bold, hedonistic, and a bully, here he is introspective and thoughtful.
Born the son of a minor goddess, Achilles has always known that he’s destined to be a great warrior. Instead of rubbing that in everyone’s faces, Achilles refuses to display his skill in front of others and, instead, trains in private. He worries about whether he’ll live up to his destiny and what being in battle will actually be like. And he deeply loves Patroclus with a steadfastness and fervor that’s wonderful to read. Miller masterfully makes this romance the center of both his and Patroclus’s world while deftly manipulating events of the Iliad to fit her story in a realistic way.
I also really like Patroclus. Born the son of a king, Patroclus is exiled to Pythia to be fostered by Achilles’s father. He is a gentle, quiet boy with a low self confidence. He blossoms when he and Achilles are under the tutelage of Chrion and then again when he finds his place during the Trojan war. He desperately wants to do what is right. He humanizes Achilles and draws out his sensitive side.
I highly enjoyed this book. It was engaging and interesting. I loved the characters and the flow of the story. I liked the way Miller took a well-known story and turned it on its ear while still staying true to the spirit.
Four out of Five stars