Book Review · Historical Fiction Challenge · Tournament of Books

REVIEW: The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

The Song of AchillesThe Song of Achilles
Madeline Miller
Kindle edition (borrowed from library)

Goodreads Synopsis: click the picture for the synopsis.  It’s really long and I didn’t want to take up a lot of space on here. 🙂

Having been a student of Latin for 5 years, I’ve heard, read, and/or translated a lot of the Greek/Roman myths and legends.  I learned about many of the gods and goddesses and the epic tales.  However, Achilles was never one that I learned a whole lot about.  I knew the gist of his story, and that he was one of the “bad guys” in the Trojan War (of course, it all depends on which side you were on!).  Maybe I would have learned more about him if I had taken Greek in my last year of high school (instead of not taking any language…but I digress.)

Miller says she was influenced by Homer’s Iliad rather than other versions of Achilles’ myth (for example, we are probably most familiar with the “Achilles heel” and that only his heels were vulnerable and thus his downfall; this was not how Homer wrote him, so this was not how he was portrayed in this novel).

Patroclus narrates the novel and it’s a very interesting voice.  I never really knew anything about this character, so I was glad this was from his point of view. In that time, he would have been considered a coward, and in some instances, perhaps he was.  Maybe having Achilles’ strength and lack of fear around him made him a stronger person in other aspects of his life.  But he was a good man, even if he wasn’t a fighter.  He was smart and caring. While Homer barely hints at the whisper of a romantic relationship between the Patroclus and Achilles, Miller leaves no room for doubt.  It was a touching relationship.  This story, their story, was one of love, strength, death and most importantly Fate.  Can Fate be thwarted? (or I guess in this case, can the Fates?)

I really enjoyed this book and definitely recommend it.  It was a quick read and there weren’t really any dull parts that I just wanted to get through. Many of the names were familiar (like Menelaus, Agamemnon, Hector, Paris, Helen, Priam, etc.) but it was interesting to see them from the Greek side instead of the Trojan side of things.  (However, in the Trojan war battle scenes, I kept picturing Brad Pitt from the terrible movie adaptation, Troy, as he was leaping through the air to attack his enemies…gosh that was an awful movie, I can’t believe I saw that in the movie theatre… nerd problems?).

I think it’s safe to say my reading of the finalists in the Tournament of Books is off to a good start!


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