THE SONG OF ACHILLES – MADELINE MILLER

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. Despite their difference, Achilles befriends the shamed prince, and as they grow, their bond blossoms into something deeper.
But Achilles must go to war in distant Troy and fulfill his destiny. Torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus goes with him, little knowing that the years will test everything they hold dear.

Spoiler Warning! This review may contain a few spoilers, I got really excited so if you notice anything let me know.

If there were ever a book that I could safely call my absolute favourite, it would HAVE to be this one. This magnificent blend of mythology and history brings to the Iliad a new dimension of life and colour. 

 An inventive retelling of perhaps the greatest epic of all time, The Song of Achilles succeeds where many others fail, beautifully merging fact with fiction, history with mythology and legend with man.

After accidentally killing a Nobleman’s son, the young prince Patroclus is exiled and sent to live in the court of Peleus, the charitable and pious king of Phthia. When the King’s talented and graceful son, Achilles, a boy conceived and carried by the goddess Thestis, takes notice of the scrawny, awkward boy they forge a bond stronger than blood. They live out their youth in blissful peace but the outbreak of a war, one fuelled by the greed and damaged pride of a king, drags the pair from their quiet, simple lives. Thrust into the arms of conflict, Achilles and Patroclus realise there is so much more to battle than just fighting.

There are no words that can describe the brilliance of this book and any words I do employ can hardly scratch the surface of how remarkable a story this is. There is nothing to fault, I can only gush and blabber on in the hopes of persuading you to read it.

I feel like this story provided the foundation of the two men, letting us to see beyond the legend, beyond the gallant heroes in a story orated throughout Greece hundreds of years later.  This book takes you beyond the men they became to the boys they were once. 

Narrated from Patroclus’ perspective, The Song of Achilles follows the boys from their youth, as they shakily navigate their way through puberty, and into adulthood. It permits insight into the relationship between Achilles and Patroclus, a relationship the ancient philosophers quarrelled over, casting it (realistically) as a romance between the pair.

The relationship, one of absolute trust, between Achilles and Patroclus actually made my heart soar. Those two are beyond cute – my cheeks ache from the constant grin that I couldn’t wipe off and my throat is sore from all the mutilated pterodactyl sounds that escaped my lips in the early hours of the morning when I couldn’t force myself to put the book down. Two sides of the same coin, Achilles and Patroclus balanced each other out and lifted each other up. Patroclus, caring and selfless, a boy with healer’s hands, and Achilles, proud and magnificent yet gentle and kind, a boy raised with music and sent to fight.

I will never leave him. It will be this, always, for as long as he will let me.

There is no match for the language used in this novel. Rich, lush and vivid, I was dragged in by the words. This book fanned my passion for ancient Greece beyond the point of reason.

I don’t think I’ve ever cried so much in my life. Almost everyone knows how this story ends – if not from reading the Iliad or Ancient History books then at least from the largely inaccurate film productions. Everybody knows the life of a Greek hero never ends with happiness; in fact, it was something I was acutely aware of as I started reading. One would think knowing the ending would make it easier to bear, that it wouldn’t hurt so much, that it wouldn’t feel like my soul is being torn from my body. But that is exactly the way it feels. After such happiness and purity in their lives, I couldn’t bring myself to think of Achilles’ end and instead had allowed myself to hope that maybe, just maybe, the ending was altered. But I guess that is where Miller’s genius truly lies. She made us want something, despite knowing it to be futile, so much that when the end came along, it still left us sobbing and broken.

When he died, all things soft and beautiful and bright would be buried with him.

Real, human and raw. This is possibly one of the most accurate depictions of not only ancient Greece, but humanity in itself and the uncertain and confusing span of a boy’s life. I’ve never read a book like this and I fear I never will again.

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.

Rating: 5/5


Please, do yourself a favour and head on over to Amazon or Book Depository to grab this book! It is, without a doubt, worth it.

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