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. Despite their difference, Achilles befriends the shamed prince, and as they grow into young men skilled in the arts of war and medicine, their bond blossoms into something deeper - despite the displeasure of Achilles' mother Thetis, a cruel sea goddess. But when word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, 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 that follow will test everything they hold dear.

The Song of Achilles Details

TitleThe Song of Achilles
Author
FormatHardcover
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseSep 20th, 2011
PublisherBloomsbury Publishing
ISBN1408816032
ISBN-139781408816035
Number of pages352 pages
Rating
GenreHistorical Fiction, Fantasy, Mythology, Fiction, Glbt, Romance, Historical

The Song of Achilles Review

  • Rick Riordan
    November 8, 2013
    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.
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  • Lola Reviewer
    August 18, 2016
    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.Blog | Youtube | Twitter | Instagram | Google+ | Bloglovin’
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  • Clau R.
    May 31, 2015
    Pa-tro-clus.This and this and this.HOW CAN MY HEART BE MENDED AFTER THIS!????Sólo edito esto para decirles que TIENEN QUE LEER ESTE LIBRO OMG. Favorito del año hasta ahora. Lo amo lo amo lo amo y no hago más que pensar en él. Definitivamente lo voy a releer.
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  • Navessa
    August 24, 2014
    "Achilles. Who was he if not miraculous, and radiant? Who was he if not destined for fame?" 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, anyone 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 cared.This is the story of the fall of Troy. Or rather, a part of "Achilles. Who was he if not miraculous, and radiant? Who was he if not destined for fame?" 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, anyone 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 cared.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. This review can also be found at The Alliterates.
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  • Whitaker
    June 10, 2012
    *This review is dedicated to Kelly without whose question I would not have thought so hard about why I loved this book. Miller has called this book “The Song of Achilles”. The title could refer to a song sung by Achilles. It could also refer to a song sung about Achilles. This double meaning is significant as the book retells the story of the Illiad but with a very different focus. The title is significant too because it deliberately recalls the start of the Illiad: “Sing, goddess, of the wrath *This review is dedicated to Kelly without whose question I would not have thought so hard about why I loved this book. Miller has called this book “The Song of Achilles”. The title could refer to a song sung by Achilles. It could also refer to a song sung about Achilles. This double meaning is significant as the book retells the story of the Illiad but with a very different focus. The title is significant too because it deliberately recalls the start of the Illiad: “Sing, goddess, of the wrath of Achilles Peleus’ son”. However, instead of telling us of the wrath of Achilles, it tells us of his softer side: his love or rather his loves—Patroclus and music. To call the story “The Song of Achilles” is, to some extent, misleading, because it is also the song of Patroclus with the same double meaning: a song sung by Patroclus and a song about Patroclus. For the very heart of the book is the love between Patroclus and Achilles. Told by Patroclus from the first person perspective, the question that haunts us right from the start is, “How is Miller going to be able to keep this up once Patroclus dies?” She does, and impressively, presents not simply a perfectly good way to explain that but to make that explanation a crucial part of her story. The other question that is asked, not just by us but by the characters as well, is, “Why Patroclus?” Why of all the young men that Achilles has around him does he choose the awkward, weak exile? The most moving thing about this book is that it proceeds to show us why. Achilles’ answer, almost too glib, is, “Because he’s surprising.” But the real answer, or at least the answer that Miller gives us, is that Patroclus cares, and cares deeply, about other people. It is this that makes him surprising: a man who cares about others in a world of greed and realpolitik where men are, first and foremost, killing machines, and Achilles the best of them all. And it is this care for other people that ultimately triggers the story’s denouement: Achilles' selecting of Breisis, the theft of Breisis by Agamemnon, Achilles’ sulking, Patroclus’ going to war in Achilles’ armour are all explained within that context, arising from and connected to this deep sense of love and responsibility that Patroclus feels for other people’s suffering and his desire to ease it. It is significant that the only other show of love by a man in this book is that of Odysseus for Penelope. His love for her is presented to us several times throughout the book and at a crucial scene at the end. Odysseus, of course, leaves the tale of the Illiad and becomes the hero of his own story, The Odyssey. That tale is, in its own way, a story of love as Odysseus struggles to return home to Ithaca and to Penelope. And through Miller’s tale, so too does the Illiad become—finally—a story of love: the love of Achilles and Patroclus and how they each struggled to keep that love alive. For that, her story deserves to be read and loved too in its turn.
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  • Bookdragon Sean
    January 17, 2014
    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 Iliad 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 Iliad 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. It could only end in tragedy - "Achilles Laments the Death of Patroclus" 1767. I’ve not included a spoiler warning because everybody knows the story of Homer’s Iliad. 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. A strong four stars 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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  • Ana
    December 20, 2015
    {BR with Anne and McKenna} Those seconds, half seconds, that the line of our gaze connected, were the only moments in my day that I felt anything at all. Oh cruel, cruel fate! I had found myself thinking why there was so much heartache. Then I remembered this is Greek mythology. Few things interest me more than the monsters, heroes, gods, semi-gods and creatures of the greek myths. I easily get caught up in reading the fates of the legendary heroes. Achilles, Heracles, Odysseus, Hector, Per {BR with Anne and McKenna} Those seconds, half seconds, that the line of our gaze connected, were the only moments in my day that I felt anything at all. Oh cruel, cruel fate! I had found myself thinking why there was so much heartache. Then I remembered this is Greek mythology. Few things interest me more than the monsters, heroes, gods, semi-gods and creatures of the greek myths. I easily get caught up in reading the fates of the legendary heroes. Achilles, Heracles, Odysseus, Hector, Perseus, Jason, Orpheus... I refuse to acknowledge Theseus. He freed the citizens of Athens from their blood-tribute to King Minos, but he was still a douche. Just ask Ariadne. What can I say about The Song of Achilles? The title of a book sets the tone. Madeline Miller's poetic title is simply beautiful to me, and perfectly captures the dreamy contented feel of the book. I have had virtually no complaints and felt no frustration, thanks to the author's extended research. Ms. Miller has managed to create a compelling story, while always staying true to the spirit of the original myth. Odysseus is my favorite character and my alternate universe husband. He has always been my most beloved mythological hero. He may appear to be prideful and arrogant. But he's also super smart and cuddly. He's a cool dork. I felt invested in the characters. The relationship between Achilles and Patroclus is as complex as it is simple. They have a special bond. They love each other deeply. Yet there was always something keeping them apart. There are so many beautiful lines in this book. I thought I'd share a few of them with you here. He is half of my soul, as the poets say. "I'm going to be the first." He took my palm and held it to his. "Swear it.""Why me?""Because you're the reason. Swear it.""I swear it," I said, lost in the high color of his cheeks, the flame in his eyes."I swear it," he echoed. “I could recognize him by touch alone, by smell; I would know him blind, by the way his breaths came and his feet struck the earth. I would know him in death, at the end of the world.” “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.” Are you as big of a Greek mythology freak as me? If so then this book might interest you.
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  • Lucía
    May 20, 2015
    Mi reacción al terminar el libro:
  • Victoria Schwab
    January 11, 2013
    Epic.
  • Richard Derus
    February 10, 2012
    Rating: 6* of five, 2012's best read by a mile.It's National Book Lovers Day! A day to bask in the amazing power of books to inform, amuse, educate, and alter our views and viewpoints.This review can now be seen at Expendable Mudge Muses Aloud!And how wonderful it is.
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  • Judith Starkston
    April 15, 2012
    Madeline Miller says the idea for her novel The Song of Achilles arose from wondering about the extremity of grief Achilles suffers when his closest friend Patroclus dies in the ancient Homeric poem the Iliad. What kind of relationship did they have that Achilles loved Patroclus that much? She answers that question with depth and sensitivity. The novel focuses primarily on the theme of the human capacity to love. In Miller’s interpretation, the gods, and most especially Thetis, Achilles’s mother Madeline Miller says the idea for her novel The Song of Achilles arose from wondering about the extremity of grief Achilles suffers when his closest friend Patroclus dies in the ancient Homeric poem the Iliad. What kind of relationship did they have that Achilles loved Patroclus that much? She answers that question with depth and sensitivity. The novel focuses primarily on the theme of the human capacity to love. In Miller’s interpretation, the gods, and most especially Thetis, Achilles’s mother, don’t understand love, and thus being half-god as Achilles is, sets him up for some complicated trouble in matters of the heart. Told from the point of view of Patroclus, The Song of Achilles is a graceful new exploration of the ancient tale, taking you inside these two heroes in a compelling way. As in the Iliad, from which Miller has drawn the beginnings of her characters, Achilles loves his friend Patroclus with profound intensity, but in Miller’s take, this love blocks out everyone else in Achilles’s view. The half-divine hero seems to have no capacity to love anyone else, not even other friends. Gone are the loyalties and bonds with his fellow warriors that Homer portrays. He doesn’t understand how Patroclus knows and holds in affection many of the men and women they live with and fight for each day, including, interestingly enough, Briseis, the woman over whom Achilles will quarrel with Agamemnon. Achilles notes he doesn’t even recognize most of these people. Even as a boy in his father’s court in Phthia, Achilles does not connect with the other boys with whom he eats and plays each day. “But in all those years, Achilles showed no interest in any of the boys, though he was polite to them all, as befitted his upbringing. And now he had bestowed the long-awaited honor upon the most unlikely of us, small and ungrateful and probably cursed.” And why does he bestow his singular affection on Patroclus? Because, Achilles says, “He is surprising.” No one else finds Patroclus the least bit lovable, at least not until several years into the Trojan War, by which time Patroclus has won many friends through his work in the tent where the wounded are brought and through his kindness to Achilles’s women captives. Since he doesn’t want sex from the women, nor does Achilles, being kind to them is greatly simplified. One of Miller’s conscious choices has been to make the relationship between Achilles and Patroclus entirely exclusive. No captive women appear in the beds of Achilles and Patroclus as they do in the Iliad. The novel starts with Patroclus’s early childhood. His father is disappointed in him almost from the beginning, and his mother is a simpleton, as far an opposite of Achilles’s mother as Miller can portray. When Patroclus accidently kills another boy, his father’s biggest disappointment is that he doesn’t have the sense to lie about it, and his father doesn’t seem overly upset by the need to permanently exile his son. This early emotional deprivation forms Patroclus into a man who will accept Achilles’s odd friendship that grows eventually into love—anything to be accepted, especially by someone so extraordinary.Although Peleus, Achilles’s father, shows warm affection and tolerance for his son, Achilles’s mother, the goddess Thetis, is clearly the source of the “deficient at love” trait in her son. Miller’s Thetis is hard and cold and frightening. Later she will understand that discounting love deprives life, even immortal life, of meaning, but that’s much later when it can do no human good. We learn early on that she hates her mortal husband Peleus. Her single ability to love is directed at her son and even that is never intimate or sweetly maternal. As soon as the relationship between Achilles and Patroclus develops into one of physical love, Thetis appears and makes it clear she despises Patroclus and her son’s love for him. At one point Thetis will trap her son into lying with a woman “because of you,” Achilles says to Patroclus. Thetis’s hatred for Patroclus carries Miller’s plot forward in some essential ways and contrasts effectively with the redeeming nature of their relationship, and that may be why she has developed this divine distaste for the love between two men. But it strikes me as an anachronism, and it’s an ugly one I’d prefer didn’t leak backwards into time where it didn’t exist. Since the main point seems to be, I think, that Thetis doesn’t understand love, why play up so strongly her distaste for male love in particular? Greek mythology is full of male unions (Zeus and Ganymede, Heracles and Jason, Poseidon and Pelops, Dionysus and Adonis to name a few) and Thetis’s virulent hatred arising directly from the physical relationship seems unnecessary and historically unwarranted. It’s true that in the Iliad Thetis reminds her son after Patroclus’s death that “It is a good thing to lie with a woman in love.” But she also reminds him it’s a good thing to eat and drink. She means, it’s a good thing to enjoy life while you can and besides, in the Iliad, Achilles often sleeps with women, so her suggestion is not tinged with criticism as the same statement would be in Miller’s novel. (If anyone’s interested in a scholarly discussion of this issue in the Mycenaean context, read the first chapter of Eva Cantarella’s Bisexuality in the Ancient World). The early indication of Patroclus’s innate honesty (when he fails to lie about the death he’s caused), while a disappointment to his father, is essential to the novel. Patroclus’s virtues don’t coincide with his father’s or Thetis’s ideas of heroic attributes—or even his own at first—but he turns out to be the best of the Greeks in Miller’s rendering because of his moral sensibilities and his capacity to love. Being best at slaughtering Trojans does not define Miller’s Aristos Achaion, “Best of the Greeks,” although that is how the phrase is understood among Achilles’s fellow warriors. Achilles, for all the intensity of his love for Patroclus, is deficient in these gentler virtues because he cannot connect to anyone but Patroclus. The direness of Achilles’s sorrow when Patroclus dies appears to spring from this failing. There can be nothing or no one to replace the hole left by this loss. Miller has a unique solution, arising from this crippled nature of Achilles in the area of love, to two questions the Iliad asks: why Achilles allows Agamemnon to take Briseis away without a fight and why he chooses to stay out of the fight even while so many of his fellow Greeks die as a result. Her answers provide a surprising moment. I won’t spoil the shock by revealing it, but it will grab you whether the Iliad’s an old friend or you’ve never read it. Suffice to say, Patroclus does not share this crippling, narrowed focus of love, and this lifts him into Miller’s new definition of the best hero. Miller has made a superb offering in the tradition of redefining the Homeric hero. It’s an old project dating back to the Iliad itself. Achilles says in Book Nine (in Lombardo’s translation), “It doesn’t matter if you stay in camp or fight—In the end, everybody comes out the same. Coward and hero get the same reward: You die whether you slack off or work. And what do I have for all my suffering?” His comrades on the field beg to differ. They are quite sure fighting for loot and glory is well worth the suffering—the Mycenaean definition of a hero. I am fascinated by Miller’s reinterpretation of Achilles and Patroclus and the Homeric tradition. She tells an engaging, emotionally gripping tale. Miller, who is clearly knowledgeable about Greek history and archaeology, has chosen to float the tale in a mythological world much as the Homeric tradition did, with heroic details of armor and ship, but not much detail of daily life as it occurred in that place and time as we have recently reconstructed it. The Song of Achilles has vivid descriptions. Chiron’s cave, for instance: “In front of us was a cave. But to call it that is to demean it, for it was not made of dark stone, but pale rose quartz.” This is a magical place, and we enter it, as the two young men do, with wonder and awe. And of course Miller builds Troy for her readers. “Back in the main camp, we stood on the hill that marked the boundary between sand and grass, and regarded the thing we had come for. Troy. It was separated from us by a flat expanse of grass and framed by two wide, lazy rivers. Even so far away, its stone walls caught the sharp sun and gleamed. We fancied we could see the metallic glint of the famous Scaean gate, its brazen hinges said to be tall as a man. Later, I would see those walls up close, their sharp squared stones perfectly cut and fitted against each other, the work of the god Apollo, it was said. And I would wonder at them—at how, ever, the city could be taken.” These descriptions paint brilliant images—Miller’s especially good at her descriptions of nature—but they are more mythological than archaeological. The Song of Achilles takes the reader on a thoroughly enjoyable voyage into the legendary world of these heroes. For an interview with Madeline Miller about The Song of Achilles click here.
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  • Raeleen Lemay
    March 17, 2015
    *2.5*DON'T HATE ME. I know I'm in the minority here, but this book really wasn't my jam. I think when it comes to ancient history and mythology like this, I prefer to see it rather than read it. I found the plot to be way too dry and dull, at least for the last 2/3 of the book. I really enjoyed the beginning! I loved reading about the childhood years of the boys, and their friendship and romance that blossomed. Oddly enough, I was hoping there would be MORE romance, and I feel like it was lost a *2.5*DON'T HATE ME. I know I'm in the minority here, but this book really wasn't my jam. I think when it comes to ancient history and mythology like this, I prefer to see it rather than read it. I found the plot to be way too dry and dull, at least for the last 2/3 of the book. I really enjoyed the beginning! I loved reading about the childhood years of the boys, and their friendship and romance that blossomed. Oddly enough, I was hoping there would be MORE romance, and I feel like it was lost along the way, right alongside my interest.
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  • Alienor ✘ French Frowner ✘ (of badger and SNAKE)
    December 19, 2015
    ► Ô, Patroclus, what did you do to me? After having hesitated for a long time, I decided to give 4 stars to The Song of Achilles, no matter how flawed I thought it was. The reason for this is that I know that this book will linger, and that I treasure this kind of feelings above everything. This being said, it does not mean that I'm able to overlook what annoyed me, and I will try to give it the fairest review possible - if such thing really exists, which I doubt. Look, I'm not going to argue ov ► Ô, Patroclus, what did you do to me? After having hesitated for a long time, I decided to give 4 stars to The Song of Achilles, no matter how flawed I thought it was. The reason for this is that I know that this book will linger, and that I treasure this kind of feelings above everything. This being said, it does not mean that I'm able to overlook what annoyed me, and I will try to give it the fairest review possible - if such thing really exists, which I doubt. Look, I'm not going to argue over details and trying to decipher if Madeline Miller stays true to the original(s) because for me there is no such thing as a perfect retelling, but I'll say this : she manages to mix the greatest events of the Iliad with crediting other opinions, as Eschyle's, and fills in the blanks, creating this way a believable and captivating story with them. What more would we ask for? If reading this book can convince people to have a look at classics, I'd say that The Song of Achilles is without any doubt a success, and I immensely enjoyed every one of the references.Madeline Miller's writing, if not exempt of purple prose sometimes (I'll come back to that), stays compelling and flows smoothly, capturing these Great characters in a simple light that I found really enjoyable. One might say that most of the story is rather dull, and I sure cannot disagree with them. Yet even if I wanted more, I do understand the path Miller chose : this is not the story of great battles and honors. This is the story of the men behind them. Stripped of the sparkling lights of fame, they remain flawed men whose lives also know their fair share of boredom and everyday events. Oh, and they made me laugh, too. I swear! Along the way The Song of Achilles brings an interesting thinking about what it means to be famous and the dangers of losing who we are to fulfill our pride's needs. In that, she nails her subject in my opinion, as well as the evolution of Patroclus' love for Achilles. See, if you take an unflinching look at all these Greek Heroes and Gods, they've really nothing to be proud of, to be honest. Parricides. Fratricides. Rapists. Liars. Self-absorbed. Mad. So very stupid, really. I loved that she didn't try to make us love them but offered some pieces of understanding - yes, I'm talking about Achilles. "Who was he if not miraculous and radiant? Who was he if not destined for fame?" Unfortunately the pacing was uneven and the second half didn't work for me as much as the beginning. Bored, I grew restless, my inner devil urging me to skim (I didn't), especially between 60 and 75%. The ending makes it worth it, though. I'm not one for changing my rating because of the way a book ends but I can't deny that the way Madeline Miller splendidly wrapped her plot impressed me so much that I know it influenced my rating a little. "This feeling was different. I found myself grinning until my cheeks hurt, my scalp prickling till I thought it might lift off my head. My tongue ran away from me, giddy with freedom. This and this and this, I said to him. I did not have to fear that I spoke too much. I did not have to worry that I was too slender or too slow. This and this and this!" I know that many readers didn't like that aspect, but one of my favorite part was the romance, especially because it was flawed. Beware, the first half is mostly focused on Patroclus and Achilles' growing relationship, so if you can't stand romance it could be hard to handle (just thought I'd warn you :P)In my opinion the way Patroclus went from a blind - and, really, obsessed - love for Achilles to the lucid acceptation of his flaws was wonderfully handled. It didn't start promisingly, though. I mean, in the beginning Patroclus worships Achilles way too much, nurtures some weird fixation on his feet (I swear! He can't stop mentioning them!) and can't keep his mouth shut about how fucking beautiful Achilles is. So as a reviewer the only thing I can say is - it is there. If you're put off by somewhat unrealistic and purple descriptions of love from a young teenager it will upset you. But as a reviewer I must also say that for someone who can't stand purple prose 9 times out of 10, I still loved it, because I understood Patroclus need to be accepted and how he transferred it to his princely companion. Not to mention that his love evolves along with him, and more we progress through the story, more it appears that his puppy love morphs into something way more mature and realistic. "I know, now, how I would answer Chiron. I would say : there is no answer. Whichever you choose, you are wrong." But let's talk about Patroclus, okay? I adored him and the way his character grew through the story. From a shy and rejected child to a fierce and compassionate man, he is complex and cannot be limited to his relationship with Achilles. Loyal, he's still able to see the mistakes his lover does and always tries his best to find the best way to handle things. He's not perfect, but really, nobody is, and that's for the best. In a world where warriors are put on pedestals, how to survive when you prefer healing than killing? He made me care so, so much. "My stomach feels burned to cinders; my palms ache where my nails have cut into them. I do not know this man, I think. He is no one I have ever seen before" My feelings towards Achilles are way more complicated, but I don't think we're meant to love him. See, I always pictured Achilles as this bragging proud hulk - and there are hints of this part of him still, yes. But there's more. He doesn't know how to be himself in a different way, and if his young self is pretty likeable, he grows more and more indifferent to everything but Patroclus and himself. His conscience seems to go MIA several times and I sure can't forgive some of the decisions he took (especially toward women), but again, I'm not supposed to. "He is a weapon, a killer. Do not forget it. You can use a spear as a walking stick, but that will not change its nature." Yet his love for Patroclus was so big, I couldn't help but feel, if not sorry, but sad for him and for the path his life took. However, I never fully connected with him and I regret that his character wasn't as true-to-life than Patroclus, especially as an adult (I really liked his teen self full of mischief, though). If I'm being honest, at first I had a hard time understanding why Patroclus loved him so much - except because he was handsome and skilled, it goes without saying. But as I stated earlier, I genuinely think that Achilles fulfilled Patroclus fierce need to be accepted, to be taken care of - and I can't argue with that. As for the other characters, I applaud Madeline Miller for making them feel so real, even if I would have wanted better roles for the women, who either stay overshadowed and grandly mistreated and abused (I know that this world was harsh and unforgiving towards women, but still, I was furious) or are pictured as greedy bitches. They are the big absent of this story, and that's a shame - but this is the case in the original(s), therefore I'm not sure I can hold a grudge against Miller for this. I did appreciate how Patroclus tried to make things better in the end, even if it wasn't enough. A special award for Chiron - God, this sarcastic Centaur is perhaps my favorite character in the whole book. Well, except Patroclus. "He paused. "You have been taught to ride, I suppose?"We nodded, quickly."That is unfortunate. Forget what you learned. I do not like to be quizzed by legs or tugged at." ► To sum-up, if you have an interest in Greek Mythology and don't shy away from romance, I think you should give this book a chance. This book made me feel so much. This book made me cry and laugh. I can't wait to hear your thoughts. For more of my reviews, please visit:
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  • Arah-Lynda
    May 28, 2016
    This feeling was different. I found myself grinning until my cheeks hurt, my scalp prickling till I thought it might lift off my head. My tongue ran away from me, giddy with freedom. This and this and this, I said to him. I did not have to fear that I spoke too much. I did not have to worry that I was too slender or too slow. This and this and this! I taught him how to skip stones, and he taught me how to carve wood. I could feel every nerve in my body, every brush of air against my skin.Do you This feeling was different. I found myself grinning until my cheeks hurt, my scalp prickling till I thought it might lift off my head. My tongue ran away from me, giddy with freedom. This and this and this, I said to him. I did not have to fear that I spoke too much. I did not have to worry that I was too slender or too slow. This and this and this! I taught him how to skip stones, and he taught me how to carve wood. I could feel every nerve in my body, every brush of air against my skin.Do you remember that feeling of being in love? How you can be in a room full of others and just know, without even turning to see, that he has entered. You can feel his gaze at it lands upon you across that crowded space. Or the warmth that spreads slowly from within, and builds gradually but surely in intensity, until your entire being is aflame, lit it would seem by the merest whisper of his skin upon your arm. His hand perhaps as it grazes your elbow or his scent as he leans in to speak to those around you. How your body reacts independent of intention, turning toward him, unfurling as a flower does for the sun. In short The Song of Achilles is a modern retelling of The Iliad. Miller tells this tale from the perspective of Patroclus, son of Menoetius. Patroclus at the tender age of ten is exiled from his father’s kingdom for accidently killing the son of a nobleman and is fostered out to King Pelius of Phthia. It is there that he meets Pelius’s golden haired son, the prince Achilles. Soon thereafter Achilles chooses Patroclus as his companion and they become fast friends spending their childhood growing and basking in each others company. Achilles mother, the sea-nymph Thetus, however, does not like Patroclus, feeling he is unworthy of being the friend of a future god. To separate the two after having seen them in an intimate embrace, Thetis sends her son away to be taught further by Chiron, the centaur on Mount Pelion. But unable to cope with the loss of his best friend, Patroclus soon follows, joining Achilles on Mount Pelion where they spend many idyllic seasons together, as their friendship blossoms into something more, being taught about war, medicine and survival by Chiron. But this too will pass as all good things must. Achilles is summoned back to Phthia where he learns that war is imminent against Troy. Oh my goodness this book is so beautiful, so tender, yet strong and passionate. It has me all a tingle, quivering in recollection of the words read, anxious to start all over and experience those feelings anew, read those glorious words once again. Yes it is about war and death, gore and blood, lust and gods and betrayal. There is rape and plunder, hubris and humility, but at its heart, this is a love story and Miller tells it to us in words that leave me breathless, my knees shaking, thirsting for more. Just listen……… “I will go,” he said. “I will go to Troy.” The rosy gleam of his lip, the fevered green of his eyes. There was not a line anywhere on his face, nothing creased or graying; all crisp. He was spring, golden and bright. Envious death would drink his blood, and grow young again.He was watching me, his eyes as deep as earth.“Will you come with me?” he asked.The never-ending ache of love and sorrow. Perhaps in some other life I could have refused, could have torn my hair and screamed, and made him face his choice alone. But not in this one. He would sail to Troy and I would follow, even into death. “Yes,” I whipsered. “Yes.”Relief broke in his face, and he reached for me. I let him hold me, let him press us length to length so close that nothing might fit between us.Tears came, and fell. Above us, the constellations spun and the moon paced her weary course. We lay stricken and sleepless as the hours passed.”Please read it.Five furiously quivering, phenomenal stars!!!!!
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  • Juliana Zapata
    December 14, 2015
    Hermoso y desgarrador! Amo la mitología y todas sus historia, y el mito de Aquiles es uno de mis favoritos, por lo que sufrí mucho leyendo este libro, ya que al conocer la historia supones como va a terminar. Me encantó
  • Simona Bartolotta
    July 17, 2015
    EDIT 05/04/2016: As predicted, I changed my mind. I read this book months ago and not a day goes by when I, for a reason or another, don't think of it, its characters, its beauty. It's a full five.---Given the storm of feelings that right now doesn't let me think straight, I dare say that those four stars are likely to evolve into five in the future, so my actual rating for the moment is 4.5 stars out of 5."He was spring, golden and bright. Envious Death would drink his blood, and grow young aga EDIT 05/04/2016: As predicted, I changed my mind. I read this book months ago and not a day goes by when I, for a reason or another, don't think of it, its characters, its beauty. It's a full five.---Given the storm of feelings that right now doesn't let me think straight, I dare say that those four stars are likely to evolve into five in the future, so my actual rating for the moment is 4.5 stars out of 5."He was spring, golden and bright. Envious Death would drink his blood, and grow young again."There are many, many reasons for which I love retellings: one of them is the new perspective they offer on the well-known story of interest. Because, as I see it, stories are fair game: the beautiful thing about them is that you can take them and reshape them and turn them into something never seen before, and even if you don't like what has come out of the rearrangement, you can always pretend it never existed, toss it aside and stay true to the original. What I like about stories is their lack of limits, their inborn, intrinsic freedom; just as the freedom we have when, at the end of the tale, we are called to interpret it. But I'll talk about this later.Now, our story. It seems and is useless to say: The Song of Achilles revisits Achilles and Patroclus' story, and covers the entire span of Patroclus life, and a little further. His is the voice which speaks through the entire book, and let me say it: what a voice.I unreservedly adored Patroclus as narrator. His voice is honest, frank, raw, almost painful in its nakedness. It makes Patroclus' characters feel even more exposed and vulnerable than he actually is, and that is all to his advantage. His bareness is so glaring you can't help developing this precious but subtle feeling towards him, a sympathy that never leaves you until the very end. His development, too, is astonishing. I very much admire the way Miller made his attitude towards Achilles grows from overt and blind admiration to something far, far more deep and complex: Patroclus acknowledges Achilles' faults, he never tries to deny or sugarcoat them, but them only make him love the hero more. Not less. Never less. "Why me?""Because you're the reason."When Achilles goes to Chiron, Patroclus is there. When he goes back to Phthia, he follows him. He looks for him when his mother takes him to Scyros, he understands what happens with Deidameia. Achilles joins the war, and Patroclus, though not a warrior, joins it too. When his thirst for glory blinds him, it is Patroclus the only thread of sanity that ties him to reality.This is what dooms them both.The strenght of this book, I think, is how Miller managed to give her characters a true psychological depth. Let's take Achilles, for instance: the classic version of the myth, or what leaks from it and imprints itself on almost everyone's minds, depicts a bragger, a conceited and arrogant boy dressed in a shiny armour, someone who lets hundreds and hundreds of man die out of pride and vanity. The former, according to Miller's version, couldn't be farther from the truth; but for the latter, that's not the case. In the book, Achilles is horrified by the thought that his short life would bring him no glory, or not the mighty one he was promised by the prophecies that hang on him since his birth. He's willing to give away even a friend of theirs in order to gain the right to kill Agamemnon and be the only leader of the Greek army. He's scared by the little time he has and is obsessed with the idea that his legend may be lost in time, his name erased, his deeds forgotten. He acts foolishly, but this is the first version of his story that provided me with a comprehensible reason for him to do so. And it does not sound weak at all. I found myself to be rather empathic towards Achilles' character, in fact. I wouldn't have bet on it before starting the book, if you asked me, but I was. Oh, if I was.The ending is just as excruciating as you probably already expect it to be. One might object that it was all Achilles' fault, but I don't see how that should soothe my pain. It doesn't. Not at all. So don't you dare hint he deserved it. He didn't. Not at all.I thought I had well prepared myself for what was to come, but, as it turned out, I wasn't, not completely. I was ready to cry in despair when (view spoiler)[it seemed that Patroclus and Achilles were bound to be separated in death and Patroclus' soul condemned to find no rest, but then Thetis came and... well, let's say I despised her a little less after that. (hide spoiler)].So, yes, I absolutely loved the ending. To say it is just perfect is not an overstatement, believe me.And finally, a mention to the writing. It was maybe the first thing of this book to win me over. Breathtakingly beautiful, lyrical, delicate, and extremely fit for this stunning, powerful story. "This, and this and this."-PREREADING17/12/15: I'll start this only on December 21st, honestly, right after being done with my first university exam. I put it as currently reading from now to remind me that if I don't study and do well, I will never actually start it.So, yes, this book and I are playing carrot and stick.
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  • Brian Yahn
    December 18, 2015
    It's pretty hard to mess up The Iliad, and Madeline Miller's magical narration and unique perspective definitely don't. She manages to tell the tale from angles never before seen and put a fresh spin on one of the best known stories of all time. On top of being mostly accurate, what Madeline Miller does especially well is make this story accessible to anyone. A lot of the sybolisms that make The Iliad great are easy to miss, but in this version, that's not the case. And the way she structures se It's pretty hard to mess up The Iliad, and Madeline Miller's magical narration and unique perspective definitely don't. She manages to tell the tale from angles never before seen and put a fresh spin on one of the best known stories of all time. On top of being mostly accurate, what Madeline Miller does especially well is make this story accessible to anyone. A lot of the sybolisms that make The Iliad great are easy to miss, but in this version, that's not the case. And the way she structures sentences, and the words she chooses, the way she has her characters speak--everything about it has this transportive property to it, that takes you back 3000 years to classical Greece.But it's not without the flaws of a 3000 year-old story. Like the voyage from Mycenae to Anatolia, the start is rough but well worth it for the epic ending. The way Madeline Miller closes this tale is ESPECIALLY brilliant. It makes it clear why The Iliad might be best told from the eyes of Achilles and Patroclus. There's a relationship between these two characters, particularly Achilles' pride and how Patroclus handles it, that is so ingrained in this epic, it seems strange that the story hasn't been told from this perspective before.The problem, though, with this version is that, from the way Patroclus is portrayed, it's hard to see what draws Achilles to him until the end. He's seemingly just an uncoordinated hot messy accidental murderer, until out of left field he becomes the forgotten hero of the Trojan War, the true Aristos Achaion. There's not much growth for Patroclus: where one second he is a buffoon, the next he simply is not. Until that switch, for about 95% of the story, the relationship between Patroclus and Achilles that holds this tale together seems wildly unrealistic--the worst kind of InstaLove, the kind without reason.On top of that, the MOST important part of the story--the battle between Achilles and Hector--falls short. Since the perspective comes from Achilles/Patroclus, it leaves out some majorly important characters: Helen and Hector and Priam and Paris. To me, that side of the story is necessary for The Iliad to have all its deserved glory.All that said, experiencing the story from this angle was truly unique and awesome, and I'm so glad that I did.
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  • Thomas
    January 28, 2013
    We despise spoilers. We avoid them at all costs, cover them with spoiler tags, and castigate those who share them. But a great book is one that we can appreciate even when we already know the ending. That's how it was with The Song of Achilles: I knew the fates of the characters beforehand, but no matter how much I tried to brace myself, the last few chapters still broke my heart in the best possible way.What had Deidameia thought would happen, I wondered, when she had her women dance for me? Ha We despise spoilers. We avoid them at all costs, cover them with spoiler tags, and castigate those who share them. But a great book is one that we can appreciate even when we already know the ending. That's how it was with The Song of Achilles: I knew the fates of the characters beforehand, but no matter how much I tried to brace myself, the last few chapters still broke my heart in the best possible way.What had Deidameia thought would happen, I wondered, when she had her women dance for me? Had she really thought I would not know him? I could recognize him by touch alone, by smell; I would know him blind, by the way his breaths came and his feet struck the earth. I would know him in death, at the end of the world.Madeline Miller retells the Trojan War through Patroclus's point of view. The book begins with his childhood, and it captures almost all of his life. Miller takes us from his exile from his own land to when he meets Achilles, to their gradual and growing friendship, to when they embark on the war together. She incorporates various historical qualities and characters such as the battle strategies of the time period and Thetis's difficult relationship with her own son. The Song of Achilles will please those searching for a retelling of the Iliad as well as those who want a fresh take on Patroclus and Achille's relationship.Can we all take a collective moment to appreciate the beautiful bond between Patroclus and Achilles? Their relationship developed in the most sincere, realistic, and wonderful way. Miller did not bypass the societal standards of the Trojan War period, rather, she used them to strengthen an already solid friendship. The best and worst part was that I knew how it was going to end - heck, anyone who has learned about the Trojan War or Achilles knows - but my prior knowledge could not stop the waterfall of tears that flooded my face upon the book's conclusion. Patroclus's kind heart, Achille's gumption and glory, and the prophecy that hung over them captured me and held my heart captive. Instead of releasing my emotions at the end, Miller tore them apart, and I enjoyed every second of it.The never-ending ache of love and sorrow. Perhaps in some other life I could have refused, could have torn my hair and screamed, and made him face his choice alone. But not in this one. He would sail to Troy and I would follow, even into death. "Yes," I whispered. "Yes."Miller's writing transported me. It took her ten years to write this and the effort she put into her research shows; the development of Patroclus and Achilles and all of the different events in the story exemplifies her passion for classics. Achilles, Patroclus, and even side characters like Thetis and Briseis received human qualities that allowed them to remain true to their portrayals in history while making them easier to relate to at the same time. Achilles and Patroclus's relationship won me over and made me cry, but this book succeeds in several other areas as well, like its description of settings and battles.Highly recommended for history/classic buffs or anyone searching for a story with a romance that will leave you breathless. It left me sobbing and gasping for breath at 8 AM in the main lobby of my college dorm, and I am confident it will evoke a similar reaction in other readers who come across it.*review cross-posted on my blog, the quiet voice
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  • Laura Marcela ✎・:*:・ |spoilers af|
    September 1, 2015
    4.5 stars This and this. The way his hair looked in summer sun. His face when he ran. His eyes, solemn as an owl at lessons. This and this and this. So many moments of happiness, crowding forward. Blurb: 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 into young men skilled in the arts of war and medicine, their bond blossoms 4.5 stars This and this. The way his hair looked in summer sun. His face when he ran. His eyes, solemn as an owl at lessons. This and this and this. So many moments of happiness, crowding forward. Blurb: 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 into young men skilled in the arts of war and medicine, their bond blossoms into something deeper - despite the displeasure of Achilles' mother Thetis, a cruel sea goddess. But when word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, 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 that follow will test everything they hold dear.Oh dear gods, this is pain.This is going to be a really short review because, honestly, I have no heart left to try to talk about this book. Even though I knew how doomed things were since the beginning, I never expected it to be like that and I never thought I was going to feel this raw.Okay, I thought the book was going to be quite different due to its story. I thought the writing was going to be a little more epic and richer, in a way but I didn’t feel like that affected the book’s quality. If anything, it gives it and on-point characteristic that could appeal to younger readers, so that was pretty cool.I enjoyed the writing style, as well as the characters. I think they were well developed and so realistic. They has so many layers and they were such a gray area, I liked them a lot.Now, I don’t know if I can even start talking about Patroclus and Achilles. I finished the book last night and I haven’t stopped crying so it’s very difficult things to do right now.They were kids, they fell in love, they battle against everyone, they changed a lot, they never stopped loving each other, they died and they got together again.They belonged to each other in every single way you can think of, there’s no doubt of that. “Name one hero who was happy.”“You can’t.”“I can’t.”“I know. They never let you be famous and happy. I’ll tell you a secret.”“Tell me.”“I’m going to be the first. Swear it.”“Why me?”“Because you’re the reason. Swear it.” I don’t think I won’t stop thinking about them in the near future. Gods, their love was so pure, so right.I’m crying right now, I’m a mess. 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. They deserved the world but the world did not deserve them.
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  • Will Byrnes
    January 26, 2012
    Updated 5/30/12 - see link at bottomI feel a bit silly doing this, but I have put a spoiler alert on this review, just in case there are folks out there who might not be versed in the classics. In a nutshell, Boy meet demi-god. Boy gets demi-god. Boy loses demi-god. Wait, demi-god loses boy, goes a bit funny in the head and behaves badly. Greece loses demi-god, the happy couple wind up sharing an afterlife.You might want to dust off your Iliad, as this is a retelling of the story of Achilles, yo Updated 5/30/12 - see link at bottomI feel a bit silly doing this, but I have put a spoiler alert on this review, just in case there are folks out there who might not be versed in the classics. In a nutshell, Boy meet demi-god. Boy gets demi-god. Boy loses demi-god. Wait, demi-god loses boy, goes a bit funny in the head and behaves badly. Greece loses demi-god, the happy couple wind up sharing an afterlife.You might want to dust off your Iliad, as this is a retelling of the story of Achilles, you know, the greatest warrior of his time, from that slightly older work. It is impressive, when looking up details from Miller’s novel, how directly her version corresponds to that of Homer. It was very important to me to stay faithful to the events of Homer’s narrative. The central inspiration behind the book is the terrible moment in the Iliad when Achilles hears about Patroclus’ death. His reaction is shocking in its intensity. The great half-god warrior—who carelessly defies rules, and condemns a whole army to death—comes completely unglued, desperate with grief and rage. I wanted to understand what it was about Patroclus and their relationship that could create that kind of crisis. Although Homer tells us what his characters do, he doesn’t tell us much of why they do it. Who was Achilles? And why did he love Patroclus so much? Patroclus is a twelve-year-old prince down on his luck. Born of a damaged mother and possessed of none of the obvious gifts that make fathers proud, he defends himself against a bully. The bully slips, falls, coshes his deserving skull on a rock and the planet is one bully lighter. Oops, sorry. But since the bully was a royal, Pops exiles Patroclus to the island of Phthia. (Go ahead, try to say it out loud, five times fast, or at all. You know you want to. Sounds like Parseltongue to me.) Luckily for him, the island’s king, Peleus, is kind and receptive. In fact he seems to have made a business of re-treading unwanted, or in-need-of-training blue-bloods, running a sort of island of lost royalty, a military training camp for boys. He is also father to the luminous Achilles. The questionably-heeled one (BTW, the heel never enters the story here. As Miller explains on her website, it was added to the myth of Achilles way later, by the Romans) is presented in such glowing terms that we are uncertain if the author is elevating him to the level of Homeric perfection, or we are seeing the externalization of the smitten Patroclus’ achy smitten-ness. In any case, Achilles turns out to be a pretty decent sort, and takes Patroclus under his wing, even inviting him to share his room. In time it gets steamy. Boys have, well, needs, and their inclinations, it turns out, are in synch. Thankfully the soft-core element of this story cools down enough to give us a look at the times, the idiocy of the Trojan War, and the ridiculousness of leadership, which does not seem to have changed all that much over the millennia. While some physical intimacy is noted, the author very much focuses on the affection between the two as a moving force. What one gets here is a touch and feel (go ahead and snicker) of what life might have been like at the time of the Trojan War. And it sounds like they could have used a few of the more contemporary Trojans, what with unintended pregnancies and all. Patroclus is our eyes and ears, but he is not merely a plot device. He is a fleshed-out character with significant conflicts to resolve, and growth to endure. Miller says, In writing this novel, I thought a lot about personal responsibility. Patroclus is not an epic person, the way Achilles is. He’s an “ordinary” man. But he has more power than he thinks, and the moments where he reaches out to others and offers what he sees as his very modest assistance have huge positive ramifications. Most of us aren’t Achilles—but we can still be Patroclus. What does it mean to try to be an ethical person in a violent world?You will have to suspend your disbelief a bit, as magical things do happen. Just as Homer included magical elements in his epic, so Miller follows. Gods do indeed engage themselves in human affairs. Achilles is the product of a human father and a fishy-dearest sea nymph of a mother. The lads are trained by a centaur, Chiron, who is a pretty cool character, (fans of Harry Potter will recognize in Chiron the source for Hogwarts’ own Firenze, also a teacher of medicine, and overall good guy) and of course the gods can’t help but interfere with the doings of men, like early-version Koch Brothers with training in the Dark Arts. Miller takes the odd liberty here and there. Patroclus, for example, was older than Achilles in the Iliad. They are the same age here. But The Song of Achilles is a novel. Miller gets her important facts right. Of course, the facts have to do with re-creating the story told by the great Greek poet, not, you know, actual facts. Unless of course you are one of those who believes that Achilles’ mother, Thetis, really was a sea nymph, or that the actual Greek gods personally interfered with the goings on down below. There are plenty of people who believe stranger things. In fact, the clearly homosexual relationship between Achilles and Patroclus is sure to raise the hackles of folks who hold beliefs of a more contemporary theistic bent. Expect to see calls for this book to be banned in the usual places. But really, it’s the 21st century. Get over it. If it was good enough for the Iliad…Miller is a classics scholar and teacher and knows her stuff. What she has done here is take the eternal tale and re-tell it in a manner that is easy to read. In fact it is so easy to read that it felt like a YA title to me. Maybe too easy? She does teach high-schoolers, so I expect that was her target demographic, but it still seemed a bit young to me. While I have no philosophical issue with the same-sex element of the tale, I found the youthful pining and sex scenes mushy and maybe gag-worthy, but once the pairing is secured, the story is free to flow back to Homer’s tale. It does so smoothly and well.One benefit of this book is that it offers young readers an entrée to one of the great works of literature in a more accessible form. I expect that Miller will eventually get around to producing another modern interpretation from the classics. In the meantime, if you are a student, seek this lady out and take her classes. She seems to me like the sort of teacher we all dreamed of having and rarely got, in love with her material and able to communicate it well. =============================EXTRA STUFFDefinitely check out Miller’s web site, one of the better author sites I have seen. She is on FB and Twitter too.May 30, 2012 - The Song of Achilles wins the 2012 Orange Award
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  • Tatiana
    May 17, 2012
    Up to page 55, The Song of Achilles is nothing but a romance between Achilles and Patroclus. There is nothing wrong with that, except this romance is a mopy and gushy wide-eyed affair. I have a hard time believing that a 10-year old boy would wax so poetically about his beloved's appearance, down to his feet:"In the huge hall, his beauty shone like a flame, vital and bright, drawing my eye against my will. His mouth was a plump bow, his nose an aristocratic arrow." (p. 26)"His dusty feet scuffed Up to page 55, The Song of Achilles is nothing but a romance between Achilles and Patroclus. There is nothing wrong with that, except this romance is a mopy and gushy wide-eyed affair. I have a hard time believing that a 10-year old boy would wax so poetically about his beloved's appearance, down to his feet:"In the huge hall, his beauty shone like a flame, vital and bright, drawing my eye against my will. His mouth was a plump bow, his nose an aristocratic arrow." (p. 26)"His dusty feet scuffed against the flagstones as he ate. They were not cracked and callused as mine were, but pink and sweetly brown beneath the dirt." (p. 27)No, this is not how a 10-year old boy describing his crush would sound like, but a female MFA graduate. Also, boring.
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  • Ken
    February 11, 2012
    I'm conflicted here, and 3-stars is my go-to rating when faced with conflict. How ironic, then, that this would be a book about one of the greatest conflicts of all time: Greece v. Troy. Too bad it only sort of is, though. About Troy, I mean. What this book really is about is a relationship: Achilles and Patroclus'. Playing that card means that the characterization had better be all aces. Jacks, it turns out.I could have easily 4-starred the book for its writing. Miller has a way with the word a I'm conflicted here, and 3-stars is my go-to rating when faced with conflict. How ironic, then, that this would be a book about one of the greatest conflicts of all time: Greece v. Troy. Too bad it only sort of is, though. About Troy, I mean. What this book really is about is a relationship: Achilles and Patroclus'. Playing that card means that the characterization had better be all aces. Jacks, it turns out.I could have easily 4-starred the book for its writing. Miller has a way with the word and uses imagery and figurative language in a classic (yet modern) style. I should mention that word "modern" more often in this review. This is not some stodgy read favored by readers steeped in the ancient classics. In fact, its narrative reads like a modern novel, even if the trappings are all ancient. In that sense, believe the hype: Miller breathes new life into old classic! News at 11.As for the face that launched a thousand ships, we never see it. And the bloody battles around Troy? Well, it takes a long time to get there. In that sense, the book is very UNmodern -- and unwise -- in its approach. Miller's strategy is to focus more on Achilles through Patroclus' adoring-ain't-the-word-for-it eyes. This can get old. Older than this myth, even, until you CRAVE the myth and cry out, "In the name of Zeus, get us to Troy by p. 100 and let her rip for a couple of hundred pages! Bring Ajax and Odysseus and Agamemnon and Paris and Priam and Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice more to life!"But no. Miller's still in Achilles' tent, fascinated with Achilles' relationship. Which is not to say that this gambit couldn't have worked. It could have. But somehow the characterization does not save the day. Neither Achilles nor Patroclus is terribly compelling or sympathetic. With over-exposure, they even risk being annoying at times.Students of the classics, of the Trojan War, and of convention, then, risk disappointment here. If, on the other hand, you're into alternate retellings of history and/or just want to luxuriate in Miller's writing, read the ample number of 5-star reviews here, pay no attention to that curmudgeon behind the curtain, and go for it.
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  • Viktoria (seelieknight)
    January 24, 2015
    I knew the ending before it happened, but the tears were as real as if I hadn't. Despite the title, the real protagonist of this story was without a doubt Patroclus. I fell in love with his awkward boyishness, and I hated myself for it because I knew there would be no escaping the fatal finale. I think Miller puts the word BROTP on the charts. Honestly, Achilles and Patroclus' relationship is something to be cherished. There were so many scenes, especially their nightly dalliances, that had my h I knew the ending before it happened, but the tears were as real as if I hadn't. Despite the title, the real protagonist of this story was without a doubt Patroclus. I fell in love with his awkward boyishness, and I hated myself for it because I knew there would be no escaping the fatal finale. I think Miller puts the word BROTP on the charts. Honestly, Achilles and Patroclus' relationship is something to be cherished. There were so many scenes, especially their nightly dalliances, that had my heart swelling and contracting with the sheer blissfulness of it all. But then, of course, it only made the ending that much more unbearable. Not to mention the amount of AUs I've seen floating around Tumblr haven't been exactly helpful to my wounded heart.The only issue I had with this book was...that it ended. I want mooooreee!Nothing warms my blackened soul like tormented romance and mythology :)
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  • Kiki
    January 8, 2016
    Bury me in a tomb on the beach, because I am dead.This book killed me. It was a rollercoaster of emotions. Joyful and strange and confusing and then fucking heartbreaking. Just terrible event after terrible event, but the book itself revolves around a conceptual spoiler; we know how it's going to end. But for some reason, we hope that it might be different this time. It won't. There's nothing I can, in good conscience, criticise: I hated Achilles with his infuriating hubris, and I hated the loom Bury me in a tomb on the beach, because I am dead.This book killed me. It was a rollercoaster of emotions. Joyful and strange and confusing and then fucking heartbreaking. Just terrible event after terrible event, but the book itself revolves around a conceptual spoiler; we know how it's going to end. But for some reason, we hope that it might be different this time. It won't. There's nothing I can, in good conscience, criticise: I hated Achilles with his infuriating hubris, and I hated the looming certainty of the Trojan war, and most of all I hated Pyrrhus, but it's not an irritating hatred. It's a carefully plotted hatred, knowingly tugged from the reader. This book is superbly written, emotionally manipulative in a subtle, intelligent way. The prose alone is beautiful. Bright images, like the bloody chaos of the battle on the beach at Troy, Chiron's crystal cave, the sea spray at Scyros, Achilles and Patroclus against the starry night sky in Phthia. It's a frustrating read, rage-inducing and only occasionally sweet, but always so lovely. The inevitability of the heartbreaking ending doesn't diminish the purpose of reading it. You don't arrive at the end and feel like all of it was pointless, as is always a pitfall with stories that end this way. (view spoiler)[Half Lost, The Book Thief, you catch my drift. You walk a fine line when you kill all of the protagonists. (hide spoiler)] But this book is deft, and it knows how to handle its subject matter with finality, with frankness, with respect. After all of this, I think I need to lie down with a cold cloth on my forehead. And I need like seven cups of tea. I feel so drained.Oh, yeah, and one last note, just to clear up any doubts anybody might have about my feelings towards Achilles, fucking Achilles:Patroclus deserved better.Patroclus deserved better.Patroclus deserved better.
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  • Silvia
    January 21, 2017
    Buddy-read with my co-shipper Pragya ♡____ We are men only, a brief flare of the torch. Those to come may raise us or lower us as they please. It's been almost a month and I figure if I don't try to write something now I never will. Which I would be perfectly fine with, since I'm currently having my soul ripped apart again while I'm rereading the passages I highlighted on my kindle (I wouldn't wish that on anyone), if it wasn't that this book deserves a review. Basically this is your chance t Buddy-read with my co-shipper Pragya ♡____ We are men only, a brief flare of the torch. Those to come may raise us or lower us as they please. It's been almost a month and I figure if I don't try to write something now I never will. Which I would be perfectly fine with, since I'm currently having my soul ripped apart again while I'm rereading the passages I highlighted on my kindle (I wouldn't wish that on anyone), if it wasn't that this book deserves a review. Basically this is your chance to see me go full emo.So, or the sake of authenticity, please imagine my poor self wailing on the floor, hitting my fists on the hard tiles while simultaneously eating spoonfuls of nutella and hugging the softest plushy I can find, because that will give you an accurate idea of the state I’m trying to write this review in.Let me start by saying that jumping into this story was such a nostalgic experience by itself for me. I went to a classical studies school in high school, where we learned ancient Greek and Greek lit for five years, and obviously the Iliad was a big part of it. It’s been a while now since I went there obviously, but personally I found so many things in this book that rang true to me. I know Miller spent 10 years on this work and it really shows. To my eyes, there was no “info-dump”, but then again, I was familiar with the world and the tradition. My buddy-read partner wasn’t familiar with any of it and basically read it like yet another fantasy, which is a completely valid experience, but very different from my own.So what is this book, besides a tool of endless torture?Well it’s Patroclus’ story, Patroclus who was Achilles’ soulmate. Therapon, was the word he used. A brother-in-arms sworn to a prince by blood oaths and love. Don’t let anybody tell you otherwise, kids. “Philtatos,” Achilles says, sharply. Most beloved. “Best of men, (view spoiler)[and slaughtered by your son.” (hide spoiler)] Nobody dare straight-wash my sons. I will not be democratic when it comes to this book or this story. (Seriously, I’ve seen that around and I’m like ??????? 20% confused, 10% amused and 70% honestly pissed.)It’s a story about love, surrounded by myth and war and an amazing cast of secondary characters (I want to be Briseis when I grow up). Fight me.A lot of the story revolves around the theme of immortality. Having studied this a lot in school in regards to Achilles, it was just one of the many things that made me emotional and nostalgic about the ancient Greek world.What this book did, though, was reshape the myth of Achilles and make him human. “She wants you to be a god,” I told him. “I know.” His face twisted with embarrassment, and in spite of itself my heart lightened. It was such a boyish response. And so human. Parents, everywhere. So human. He feels so human because we see him through Patroclus’ eyes. We see the man (boy) who dreads his first kill, who dreads his own death but knows he can’t escape it.We see a love so powerful it defies death and time and oh well I can’t stop the tears. Achilles’ eyes were bright in the firelight, his face drawn sharply by the flickering shadows. I would know it in dark, or disguise, I told myself. I would know it even in madness. I could recognize him by touch alone, by smell, I would know him blind, by the way his breaths came and his feet struck the earth. I would know him in death, at the end of the world. (view spoiler)[That foreshadowing though. He would know him in death. Baby. (hide spoiler)]The next part is all going to be a huge spoiler so open at your own risk, even if you know how this story ends without having read it. (view spoiler)[Can we talk about the fact that I thought knowing what happens was enough to be prepared for this immense Pain™ but it turns out it just makes it worse??? Can we talk about the fact that I’ve been crying this whole time while choosing quotes and writing this? And some quotes (“Name one hero who was happy”) I literally couldn’t type down because my fingers were shaking and I couldn’t see the keyboard or the screen through my tears? I’m sorry but I haven’t been able to function properly since I finished this book.When I first opened the book and realized it was 1st person (Patroclus), I wondered what would happen to the narrative when The Thing happens. Would it become Achilles’ first person? Would it turn to 3rd person? Silly me had forgotten all about souls in ancient Greece, so I was extremely shook when I realized Patroclus was going to keep narrating. I also lost several years of my life because of this. Baby. He was so helpless. He saw his soul mate go crazy and could do nothing.I am air and thought and can do nothing.They wouldn’t give him proper burial and I couldn’t stop crying and I was thankful I was reading on my iPad because I would have soaked a physical paper book.Somewhere his soul waits but it is nowhere I can reach. Bury us, and mark our names above. Let us be free. His ashes settle among mine, and I feel nothing.And then finally Thetis allows him to go and I am saved™ and -guess? Yes, I cried again. And again. And 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 the sun.PLEASE BE HAPPY FOREVER MY BABIES I LOVE YOU BOTH SO MUCH YOU’RE SO PRECIOUS I CAN’T(hide spoiler)]Would I reread this book? Fuck no. I love pain when it comes from books but this was too much even for me. But I do recommend it to everyone, just as long as you read it when you’re emotionally stable (I think I wasn’t, or not enough for this book at least). I would also recommend to avoid fanart at all costs because it will murder you.____I need a moment.I'm still not ready to write my review but I haven't been able to stop listening to "Immortal" by Marina and the Diamonds and that's honestly evidence for some highly self-destructive behavior from my part.
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  • Lin
    March 15, 2012
    I read this book in two days, and kept pinning the remaining pages together to see how much I had left. It was the sort of book that I kept wanting to go through slower, wanting it to last longer. I'm not entirely sure what it was about this book that got me so involved, but I guess I'm just a sucker for this jazz. Maybe it was the Iliad story itself, maybe it was the slow-built romance and friendship between the two leads, maybe it was the lovely poetic prose and the striking description. As lo I read this book in two days, and kept pinning the remaining pages together to see how much I had left. It was the sort of book that I kept wanting to go through slower, wanting it to last longer. I'm not entirely sure what it was about this book that got me so involved, but I guess I'm just a sucker for this jazz. Maybe it was the Iliad story itself, maybe it was the slow-built romance and friendship between the two leads, maybe it was the lovely poetic prose and the striking description. As lovey-dovey as it was--mostly in the beginning--I did actually BELIEVE that these kids were feeling their lovey feelings, and moreover, I felt like their relationship went beyond "you're pretty so I love you forever", which seems to be the dull, dull, DULL standard for most romances I've had the misfortune of reading. Hey, I can get into lovey-dovey if I actually give a shit about the characters and their relationship. So often I DON'T that it was a nice surprise here! Hey, everyone who thinks I'm a crab apple about romance, I ACTUALLY LIKED THIS ONE!I should mention that my general attitude towards revisionings is that I don't mind alternative characterizations as long as they're interesting, and while the book isn't flawless in this regard, I did really like and feel invested in Patroclus and Achilles and their romance, which is, honestly, more than I normally feel reading about romances. While Patroclus is not the most vibrant of characters, I did feel like he was an effective narrator in conveying just how amazeballs Achilles was, and in that regard I felt like the contrast worked. This is maybe not for the classics purist, but since I'm not one of those, I'm rating the book based on my personal enjoyment, divorcing the book from comparisons to the original. It's not perfect, no, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't feel like I got five stars worth of fun and feelings out of this.
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  • K
    August 23, 2012
    I am going to disagree with the Orange Prize committee. I am going to disagree with thousands of goodreads reviewers. This book is crap.Okay, all you trolls. Go ahead and tell me what a philistine I am, how ignorant I am of Greek literature and mythology, and how my failure to appreciate this book reflects my limitations rather than those of the book. You don't really need to bother defending this book, because the masses seem to agree with you. But if you ask me, this was a Harlequin. Boring Pa I am going to disagree with the Orange Prize committee. I am going to disagree with thousands of goodreads reviewers. This book is crap.Okay, all you trolls. Go ahead and tell me what a philistine I am, how ignorant I am of Greek literature and mythology, and how my failure to appreciate this book reflects my limitations rather than those of the book. You don't really need to bother defending this book, because the masses seem to agree with you. But if you ask me, this was a Harlequin. Boring Patroclus is wholly infatuated with the impossibly perfect Achilles, who, even more impossibly, returns Patroclus's passion. Lots of purple prose, lots of love, daring battles, blah, blah, blah. I got about halfway through and decided I was finished wasting my time.I'm fine with Patroclus and Achilles being in love, but a little complexity PLEASE. How about some characterization? How about some relationship tension from within, not just without?I've read some glorified Harlequins that managed to break my snob barrier -- Outlander and Water for Elephants to name just two. Sadly, this one didn't. Perhaps this was, in part, because all the accolades led me to expect something far more literary or deep. And maybe had I read The Iliad I would be more excited by the references and more forgiving of the book's flaws.So feel free not to take my word for it, but I found this book incredibly disappointing.
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  • jamieson
    March 7, 2017
    historian: Achilles he --me: -------------ooh boy. No surprises this was soul crushing and it hurt alot and I am so ,,, emotionally compromised. I AM IN LOVE WITH THEM BOTH SO MUCH I love this book the prose is beautiful and the way the relationship between Achilles and Patroclus developed so organically and beautifully I just ,, *clenches fist* I loved this so much, I love the Iliad anyway and greek mythology (its what I study at uni like im serious about it haha !) and it was just a perfect ho historian: Achilles he --me: -------------ooh boy. No surprises this was soul crushing and it hurt alot and I am so ,,, emotionally compromised. I AM IN LOVE WITH THEM BOTH SO MUCH I love this book the prose is beautiful and the way the relationship between Achilles and Patroclus developed so organically and beautifully I just ,, *clenches fist* I loved this so much, I love the Iliad anyway and greek mythology (its what I study at uni like im serious about it haha !) and it was just a perfect homage to Achilles and Patroclus and their relationship which is so often misrepresented (lookin @ u Troy)BUT ANYWAY, full review to come because I wanna write a good, serious one. But rn I'm too upset I LOVE THEM AAAAHH
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  • Yonaily
    November 26, 2015
    *Wipes away a tear* Patrochilles I just finished the book and am devastated. If I try to put my feelings into words I know I'll fail miserably; this book deserves so much better. rtc
  • Rachel Reads Ravenously
    August 20, 2016
    4.5 stars! “We were like gods at the dawning of the world, & our joy was so bright we could see nothing else but the other.” The Song of Achilles is a retelling of the life of Achilles through the point of view of his childhood friend Patroclus. Patroclus was a prince who made a mistake as a young boy and was exiled. He became friends with Achilles and the two were inseparable; they even both began training under Chiron the Centaur together even when Patroclus was not meant to be trained 4.5 stars! “We were like gods at the dawning of the world, & our joy was so bright we could see nothing else but the other.” The Song of Achilles is a retelling of the life of Achilles through the point of view of his childhood friend Patroclus. Patroclus was a prince who made a mistake as a young boy and was exiled. He became friends with Achilles and the two were inseparable; they even both began training under Chiron the Centaur together even when Patroclus was not meant to be trained. There had always been a strong connection between Achilles and Patroclus, but over time friendship grew to love, and love into passion. Though their relationship may anger some, the two do not care, they only wished to be together. But then war against Troy comes calling, for both of them. And they must face fate, together. “He is a weapon, a killer. Do not forget it. You can use a spear as a walking stick, but that will not change its nature.” I picked up this book because I went to a book signing for author Taylor Jenkins Reid and she recommended this book to the crowd. After hearing her rave about it I was curious. I work in a library and requested it, and when another coworker saw I was going to read it she freaked out and became so excited because she loved this book. So basically at that point I had to read it.This book completely blew me away. I normally don’t read contemporary fiction, at least not anymore. But this book is something special. I love retellings, even if the story isn’t exact because I love other people’s interpretations. Plus I am a sucker for the male/male romance. Beautifully written, poetic, I fell in love with both characters despite their faults.And if you’ve read The Iliad, or seen any movies based on it, you know the outcome. Yet knowing what would happen, Miller still put her own unique spin on it and it was like reading a new ending. So so many feels, and I may have let a tiny tear escape (A TINY ONE). I will hold these men in my heart very dearly, their story is one I could never forget. “Name one hero who was happy."I considered. Heracles went mad and killed his family; Theseus lost his bride and father; Jason's children and new wife were murdered by his old; Bellerophon killed the Chimera but was crippled by the fall from Pegasus' back."You can't." He was sitting up now, leaning forward."I can't.""I know. They never let you be famous AND happy." He lifted an eyebrow. "I'll tell you a secret.""Tell me." I loved it when he was like this."I'm going to be the first." He took my palm and held it to his. "Swear it.""Why me?""Because you're the reason. Swear it.""I swear it," I said, lost in the high color of his cheeks, the flame in his eyes."I swear it," he echoed.We sat like that a moment, hands touching. He grinned."I feel like I could eat the world raw.”
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