The Song of Achilles

The Song of Achilles

Greece in the age of heroes. Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the court of King Peleus and his perfect son Achilles. By all rights their paths should never cross, but Achilles takes the shamed prince as his friend, and as they grow into young men skilled in the arts of war and medicine their bond blossoms into something deeper - despite the displeasur...

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Title:The Song of Achilles
Author:Madeline Miller
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Edition Language:English

The Song of Achilles Reviews

  • Rick Riordan

    A new take on the Iliad, written by a high school classics teacher -- how could I not read this? The Song of Achilles retells the story of Greece's greatest hero from the point of view of his best friend Patroclus. The big twist: Madeline Miller casts the story as a romance between Achilles and Patroclus. While staying true to Greek legends and the works of Homer, Miller creatively and convincingly fills in the blanks, giving Patroclus a back story that makes perfect sense, and tracing the frie

    A new take on the Iliad, written by a high school classics teacher -- how could I not read this? The Song of Achilles retells the story of Greece's greatest hero from the point of view of his best friend Patroclus. The big twist: Madeline Miller casts the story as a romance between Achilles and Patroclus. While staying true to Greek legends and the works of Homer, Miller creatively and convincingly fills in the blanks, giving Patroclus a back story that makes perfect sense, and tracing the friendship, and eventual romance, between the two young men in a way that casts a new light on the human side of the Trojan War.

    I always found Achilles to be an unsympathetic character -- a brat, a bully, a big-headed jerk who knows he's the star player on the team and throws a tantrum if he gets put on the bench. Miller shows his unattractive qualities, but she also shows that Achilles is human. He's capable of love. He's deeply conflicted. He has a sense of humor and a gentle side. We see him through Patroclus's eyes, growing from a privileged child to a sensitive teen to a young man struggling to balance his personal feelings with the expectations of an entire country. If you've read the Iliad, you know that the story will have a tragic end, but it's also strangely uplifting and hopeful. I'll never be able to read about these characters the same way again, and that's a good thing. Reading The Song of Achilles put a new light on this ancient story. It was like watching a really good interpretation of a Shakespeare play. You think you know the story, but you're surprised to find how many layers of new meaning can be brought out by a smart production.

    The book is certainly appropriate for YA and up. The prose is elegant in its simplicity. Miller gives Patroclus a Hemmingway-like directness. I read a New York Times review of this book which I thought patently unfair, complaining that the style made the book seem like a fast-food version of the Iliad. I think this misses the whole point of the story. Patroclus's mission in The Song of Achilles is to cut through the legend of the hero and show us the mortal side of demigod. He doesn't want the pompous metaphors and flowery hyperbole of a war epic to bury Achilles's other qualities -- his tenderness, his insecurity, his honesty and lack of guile. The Song of Achilles can serve as an excellent introduction or counterpoint to the study of the Iliad. It certainly made the story new and vibrant for me, despite how many times I've read Homer.

  • Navessa

    Reading this is like reading Romeo and Juliet. We all know the story. We all know the outcome. We all know that our desperate prayers for someone,

    to step in and save these characters from themselves will fall on deaf ears.

    Gods. What a bloody trainwreck. Even though I knew how it was going to end, I was not prepared for how much I

    .

    This is the story of the fall of Troy. Or rather, a part of

    Reading this is like reading Romeo and Juliet. We all know the story. We all know the outcome. We all know that our desperate prayers for someone,

    to step in and save these characters from themselves will fall on deaf ears.

    Gods. What a bloody trainwreck. Even though I knew how it was going to end, I was not prepared for how much I

    .

    This is the story of the fall of Troy. Or rather, a part of it. More specifically, this is the tale of Achilles and Patroclus. Of their undying love for each other. Of the lives they sacrifice on the altar of that love. Of desperate men and petty gods. Of a proud, greedy people engaged in a prolonged, bloody war.

    So often in historical fiction from this time period I see the sharp edges of the Ancient Greek and Roman cultures smoothed away. I see slaves treated well and women given a voice. I'm happy to say there was none of that bullshittery here. Miller paints the pages of this book in blood and suffering. It is awash with pain and brutality. As it should be. Because historical accuracy.

    But, it means that this book is not for everyone. There is a lot of sexism, misogyny, violence, bloodshed, and rape, mentioned almost offhand, because, to these characters, this behavior is commonplace. Expected. I didn't like a single one of them. And not just because of their worldviews. There was Achilles and his hubris. Patroclus and his uselessness. Thetis and her coldness. I didn't even like Odysseus and his famous wit, for there was an edge to it in this book that made him seem less charming and more manipulative than I remember.

    That said, as much as I disliked these characters, I loved their stories. Miller took gods and legends and brought them to life within the pages of this book. She humanized these mythical beings in a way that made them seem real, fallible.

    I just...I cannot say enough about this book. To me, this is literature at its finest. A beautifully written, masterfully crafted story capable of transporting readers within its pages, so enchanting them with what they find within that they forget that the real world lurks without, waiting for their return.

  • Virginia Ronan ♥ Herondale ♥

    This book!!!

    The moment I read the first page I was already certain of two things:

    1.) This would become one of my all-time favourites and I’d gush about it like crazy.

    2.) It wouldn’t only leave me devastated and heartbroken but also sobbing like a little child.

    Well, both of those things came true, even way earlier than I had initially anticipated. I was

    This book!!!

    The moment I read the first page I was already certain of two things:

    1.) This would become one of my all-time favourites and I’d gush about it like crazy.

    2.) It wouldn’t only leave me devastated and heartbroken but also sobbing like a little child.

    Well, both of those things came true, even way earlier than I had initially anticipated. I was about 37% percent in (yes I looked it up! ;-P) when I first started to cry and it didn’t get any better after that. This book was just so beautiful!

    Madeline Miller definitely has a way with words and I loved how this story was written: Poetical with a lot of mythological facts and with so many details that it succeeded to make this a more than just intriguing journey.

    What I loved the most was how she managed to convey Achilles’ and Patroclus relationship though. Even though she never went into detail, never actually let them say that they loved each other; it was still palpable in every single moment they shared together. Those moments were so precious I couldn’t get enough of them and all I wanted was for them to be happy.

    Unfortunately I’m a little geek and know a lot about Greek mythology so yeah, I already knew how it would end before it even ended. Still, the sense of foreboding in this book!!! Oh gosh, it killed me!! All those little hints, those infinitesimal innuendos, those tiny insinuations, they piled up and up and up until all I was able to feel was dread!!! By the end of the book I was reduced to a sobbing and crying nervous wreck and the final sentence was like a dagger in my heart.

    This was exceptionally painful and utterly devastating,

    it was also so damn good and worth every second of pain!

    This sentence killed me when I first read it! Achilles, my beautiful, innocent and naïve boy!!! Jeez! I loved him so much! He was every bit the hero people believed him to be and most of the time he actually did the right thing. Well, most of the time. At the end of the book there happened a lot of things I didn’t agree with and the longer his conflict with Agamemnon lasted the more I dreaded the end! It made me so sad to see how much Achilles changed over the years and when the thing with Briseis happened my reaction was the same as Patroclus’! I mean I knew what Achilles did (I’m a geek remember?) but reading it the way Madeline Miller wrote it? Boy it destroyed me! There was this wonderful, perfect, righteous, honourable, intelligent, innocent and honest golden boy and then the war over Troy tainted him, transformed him and made him an entirely different person. The true tragedy about this all is that he never even wanted to take part in the war, he was more or less forced into it and I think looking at it in retrospective a life as a normal person would have been preferable to the one of a hero. I guess in the end Achilles saw it the same way and would have done everything in order to change his path. Even if it would have meant that he would have been forgotten and would have never become a legend… it would have been worth it.

    *cries*

    I adored Patroclus! He was the best! He was wonderful and beautiful in his own way and I loved how faithful he was. That boy was one of the kindest and sweetest people I ever read about (tough competition for Lazlo Strange *lol*) and I was so happy Achilles saw this too. He realized that Patroclus is special and he encouraged him to speak his mind. It felt like Patroclus was Achilles’ conscience, intervening whenever his divine heritage showed. Without Patroclus Achilles path would have been dark and bloody but with him at his side he became the glorious figure we all know about. Patroclus was so much more than just a companion. He was a friend, a lover, a teacher, a conscience, a reminder and Achilles past, present and future! This boy was literally the embodiment of Achilles life and actions and the people around them were fools for not seeing their strong connection. Patroclus was everything that was good about Achilles, he brought out the best in him. Taught him compassion and love, he was an anchor and someone he could come home to! Speak to! Confide in! Once Patroclus was gone the relentless godly part of Achilles showed though and the rest of it is (bloody) history. T_T

    Damn, how much I hated and liked that sneaky and cunning bastard!! I’m still very torn when it comes to him. On the one hand he gave sound advice and knew exactly what he did and on the other hand he forced Achilles on his destined path. If it wouldn’t have been for Odysseus he would have never gone to Troy and even though I agree with his sentiment that Achilles could save them all, I still disagree with the way he played him. Of all the countless men that manipulated young Achilles, Odysseus probably was the worst, hiding behind the mask of a friend but ultimately pursuing his own goals. Clever! Very clever indeed!

    Fiercely!!! Such an unfair and dishonourable numpty!!! I hate him and all his actions! I mean what kind of father would trade his daughter away and then kill her?! His own flesh and blood! Gosh, I CAN’T EVEN WITH HIM!! I’m still so angry! Those moments at the end and the tense situation between Achilles and him had me at the edge of my seat and all I wanted to do was to scream at the injustice that took place in front of me!!! Such a stubborn and self-righteous fool!! He should have listened to Achilles but he was too proud to. *shakes head in disbelieve* I. HATE. HIM!!! Enough said!

    Another person that landed on my shit list! *lol* I really, really disliked her too! I mean I understand that she was Achilles mother and only wanted the best for her son, but it was more than just obvious that the best was Patroclus and I hated her for always trying to drive a wedge between them! Without Thetis half of their troubles wouldn’t have even existed and even though she kind of redeemed herself in the end I still don’t like her! Sorry Thet, but you’ll never get a thumbs-up from me! #SorryNotSorrry

    Ohh how sweet those two were! I loved their relationship! They were so gentle and adorable and no matter what happened and no matter how many obstacles were in their way they always managed to find back to each other! They had confidence in each other and they supported each other regardless of the consequences. Achilles and Patroclus had such an honest and beautiful relationship,

    THIS was the real deal!!! A connection so deep that no one could destroy it, a love so strong that it cast aside all obstacles, their trust so deep that they could talk about everything!!! Boy, I could gush about this relationship at eye level for eternity and still would never get tired of it! *lol* I just adore them so much! It was so sweet they couldn’t even be angry with each other and even though Patroclus wasn’t always happy with Achilles decisions, he still did his best to support him as best as he could, even if that meant that he had to go against his will. I think in the end their unconditional love for each other was the only thing that was able to break them and it eventually did. Jeez! How it did! *cries again* Achilles had no reason to kill Hector, no reason to fulfil the prophecy. Well, at least not until Hector took the only thing that mattered to him, the only thing he didn’t want to live without. Patroclus! *sobs* Hell! The way Achilles grieved!!! It broke my freaking heart!!! It was like a punch in the gut! I know first-hand how much this hurts, how painful it is to lose a person you love so much, and boy did it trigger my emotions. T_T I felt Achilles grief with him and it was so intense it left me crying and sobbing. They were so beautiful together… so, so, so damn beautiful. I can’t anymore… *weeps*

    All told this was one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read. It caused me to cry, it made me angry, it made me smile and it touched me deeply. I’m a total mess after reading this and my emotions are still all over the place, to say I regret reading it would be one hell of a lie though.

    I rarely write this into my reviews but: If you haven’t read this, do it now!!! You won’t regret it! =)

    Last but not least I want to thank my

    who dared to buddy read this book with me! Thank you for all the comments, messages and updates that made it bearable to read this book. I swear if you wouldn’t have discussed this with me I would have cried even more often than I already did. *lol* So yeah, thanks for that wonderful buddy read and for keeping my sanity intact. I really appreciate it! XD We definitely should go for another buddy read some time soon! I heard “Circe” is a nice book too! *lol* ;-P

  • Bookdragon Sean

    Madeline Miller did what the movie producers of the film Troy (2004) were too cowardly to do; she stayed true to the homosexuality of Homer’s

    rather than writing a censored version of the story which stank of homophobia. Achilles and Patroclus were passionately in love, which resulted in their respective destructions. They were not cousins or man at arms, but soul mates. The watering down of this in the film Troy was an insult to the LGBT community. Nothing more. Nothing less.

    The attract

    Madeline Miller did what the movie producers of the film Troy (2004) were too cowardly to do; she stayed true to the homosexuality of Homer’s

    rather than writing a censored version of the story which stank of homophobia. Achilles and Patroclus were passionately in love, which resulted in their respective destructions. They were not cousins or man at arms, but soul mates. The watering down of this in the film Troy was an insult to the LGBT community. Nothing more. Nothing less.

    The attraction between these two men wasn’t something that was rushed and squandered. It was built up, ever so slowly, and delivered eloquently. The two were friends from boyhood, and Patroclus was enamoured by Achilles after just one glance. He didn’t want to be parted from him. The two grew up together, they fought together, they learnt together and they developed together. They became inseparable and reliant on each other. Their sexual relationship just matured as they did it; it was the most natural thing in the world.

    Like all relationships, there were issues. The two weren’t without their differences. They clashed and quarrelled but only because they truly cared for each other. Patroclus wanted to end the war, and Achilles didn’t think the fight was worthy of his name: he wanted a bigger war to fight in. So, Patroclus, in his most bravest and stupid move goes against his lover’s wish and tries to end the war with a stroke of his sword. But he is no Achilles: he is not a god of war. He was out of his depth, outmatched and doomed.

    I’ve not included a spoiler warning because everybody knows the story of Homer’s

    Well, at least, I hope they do! Following the traditional narrative arc, Achilles goes on a mad rampage to avenge the death of his beloved. In the process he simultaneously destroys and immortalises himself. He got what he wanted, but not in the way he wanted it. I love the way the author wrote this, I could really feel the desperate rage of an Achilles who had lost the only thing that mattered to him in the world.

    I’m so glad the author didn’t deviate from the suggestions of homosexuality that were present in Homer’s writing. This would have failed dramatically had she done so. There would have been no power, and, again, like the film Troy it would have been abysmal. The romance plot in here is one of the truest and believable I’ve read to date: it was strong and real. However, this is not to downplay the other aspects of the story. It is driven by romance, but it is not defined by it. There is also a story of growth, and the story of warrior who is out to prove his strength and honour in a world driven by war. He just happens to like guys.

    p.s- I’ve purposely avoided images of the movie Troy in this review. Anybody who has seen it and read this book really shouldn’t be putting the two side by side, at least, not if they want to make their review fair. One is an insult to the story, the other a novelisation of a timeless classic.

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  • Lola

    I feel so much. And perhaps my emotions are not my own this time? Madeline Miller for sure implanted them deep inside of me, without my consent, and now I'm urging her to withdraw them, or I will not be able to sleep through the night.

    It took me a month to read this book, as I needed to take multiple breaks during the experience that is ‘‘The Song of Achilles.’’ I was about to curse the lyricism for welling too many emotions inside my body, too often, and therefore thwarting my reaching the endi

    I feel so much. And perhaps my emotions are not my own this time? Madeline Miller for sure implanted them deep inside of me, without my consent, and now I'm urging her to withdraw them, or I will not be able to sleep through the night.

    It took me a month to read this book, as I needed to take multiple breaks during the experience that is ‘‘The Song of Achilles.’’ I was about to curse the lyricism for welling too many emotions inside my body, too often, and therefore thwarting my reaching the ending in less than a month, but then I discovered that it took the author ten years to write this book, so my unreasonable annoyance subsided, ha-ha.

    Dear readers, brace yourself as you open the first page. This is unlike anything I’ve ever read before. It certainly is grander than I expected it to be, and the love story a thousand times more poignant. Plus, since I had no prior knowledge of Achilles’ bloody story, this was all the more surprising to me. And now I crave mythology like I crave book mail.

    Patroclus deserves to become a Greek god, although that was never his fate. What I mean by that is that he is compassionate, brave, strong, wise and worth hailing – every quality I believe a god should possess. Achilles, on the other hand, however mortal he may be and so prone to weakness of judgement and power, is harder to connect with. But he is impressive and, ultimately, good, that’s for sure.

    I am pleased to have read this book, because now I can discuss about the book and the two very discussable characters – Achilles and Patroclus – that make this story so formidable. I cannot wait to hear the thoughts of everyone in my entourage that has read it.

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