Title: The Song of Achilles
Author: Madeline Miller
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mythology
Page Count: 378
Published by: Ecco Press
Date Published: September 20, 2011
You can find it here: Amazon, Bookshop.org
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.
If Achilles is the “best of the all the Greeks” then Madeline Miller is the best of all the Greek mythology writers. She has a captivating way of bringing the plethora of Greek mythology stories and Greek gods, goddesses, and key players to life. She weaves the almost bottomless canon of information into one coherent story, which alone is an enormous caveat.
Her writing is poetic, smooth, and gentle as a balm on a burn. I absolutely love it. But I will say, I read her two masterpiece works of fiction out of order. In my opinion, Circe is her better work. This is likely a personal preference, as I found the pacing of Achilles to really slog under the duration of the Trojan War … which obviously makes up a hefty portion of the novel.
Simply: The Song of Achilles is a beautiful love story. The fact that this was Madeline’s first novel astounds me as the quality of the story and the voice from which she writes is so sure and polished. While this didn’t match my love for Circe, as I’m not particular to drawn out stories centring on war, I cannot commend the feat of this achievement enough. Madeline Miller is one of the best story tellers of our time and I will happily read anything she writes.
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