The Song of Achilles
Greece in the age of heroes. Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the court of King Peleus and his perfect son Achilles. By all rights their paths should never cross, but Achilles takes the shamed prince as his friend, and as they grow into young men skilled in the arts of war and medicine their bond blossoms into something deeper - despite the displeasure of Achilles' mother Thetis, a cruel sea goddess. But then word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped. Torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus journeys with Achilles to Troy, little knowing that the years that follow will test everything they hold dear.Profoundly moving and breathtakingly original, this rendering of the epic Trojan War is a dazzling feat of the imagination, a devastating love story, and an almighty battle between gods and kings, peace and glory, immortal fame and the human heart.

The Song of Achilles Details

TitleThe Song of Achilles
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseSep 20th, 2011
PublisherBloomsbury Publishing
ISBN-139781408816035
Rating
GenreHistorical, Historical Fiction, Fantasy, Fiction, Mythology, Lgbt, Romance

The Song of Achilles Review

  • Rick Riordan
    January 1, 1970
    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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  • Virginia Ronan ♥ Herondale ♥
    January 1, 1970
    ”We were like gods, at the dawning of the world, and our joy was so bright we could see nothing else but the other.”This book!!! Gosh I loved this book!!! The moment I read the first page I was already certain of two things:1.) This would become one of my all-time favourites and I’d gush about it like crazy.2.) It wouldn’t only leave me devastated and heartbroken but also sobbing like a little child. Well, both of those things came true, even way earlier than I had initially anticipated. I was ”We were like gods, at the dawning of the world, and our joy was so bright we could see nothing else but the other.”This book!!! Gosh I loved this book!!! The moment I read the first page I was already certain of two things:1.) This would become one of my all-time favourites and I’d gush about it like crazy.2.) It wouldn’t only leave me devastated and heartbroken but also sobbing like a little child. Well, both of those things came true, even way earlier than I had initially anticipated. I was about 37% percent in (yes I looked it up! ;-P) when I first started to cry and it didn’t get any better after that. This book was just so beautiful! So, so damn beautiful! Madeline Miller definitely has a way with words and I loved how this story was written: Poetical with a lot of mythological facts and with so many details that it succeeded to make this a more than just intriguing journey. What I loved the most was how she managed to convey Achilles’ and Patroclus relationship though. Even though she never went into detail, never actually let them say that they loved each other; it was still palpable in every single moment they shared together. Those moments were so precious I couldn’t get enough of them and all I wanted was for them to be happy. Unfortunately I’m a little geek and know a lot about Greek mythology so yeah, I already knew how it would end before it even ended. Still, the sense of foreboding in this book!!! Oh gosh, it killed me!! All those little hints, those infinitesimal innuendos, those tiny insinuations, they piled up and up and up until all I was able to feel was dread!!! By the end of the book I was reduced to a sobbing and crying nervous wreck and the final sentence was like a dagger in my heart. In other words:This was exceptionally painful and utterly devastating, BUTit was also so damn good and worth every second of pain!The characters: This is my spoiler section in which I’m going to speak about the individual characters and what I thought of them. So you better beware and don’t read it if you still want to read the book. Heed my warning or get lost in the underworld. It’s your choice, choose wisely! ;-P Achilles:’Ah.’ A sly smile spread across his face; he had always loved defiance. ‘Well, why should I kill him? He’s done nothing to me.’This sentence killed me when I first read it! Achilles, my beautiful, innocent and naïve boy!!! Jeez! I loved him so much! He was every bit the hero people believed him to be and most of the time he actually did the right thing. Well, most of the time. At the end of the book there happened a lot of things I didn’t agree with and the longer his conflict with Agamemnon lasted the more I dreaded the end! It made me so sad to see how much Achilles changed over the years and when the thing with Briseis happened my reaction was the same as Patroclus’! I mean I knew what Achilles did (I’m a geek remember?) but reading it the way Madeline Miller wrote it? Boy it destroyed me! There was this wonderful, perfect, righteous, honourable, intelligent, innocent and honest golden boy and then the war over Troy tainted him, transformed him and made him an entirely different person. The true tragedy about this all is that he never even wanted to take part in the war, he was more or less forced into it and I think looking at it in retrospective a life as a normal person would have been preferable to the one of a hero. I guess in the end Achilles saw it the same way and would have done everything in order to change his path. Even if it would have meant that he would have been forgotten and would have never become a legend… it would have been worth it. Patroclus would have been worth it… *cries*”I stopped watching for ridicule, the scorpion’s tail hidden in his words. He said what he meant; he was puzzled if you did not. Some people might have mistaken this for simplicity. But is it not a sort of genius to cut always to the heart?””Your honour could be darkened by it.”“Then it is darkened.” His jaw shot forward, stubborn. “They are fools if they let my glory rise or fall on this.”“But Odysseus –“His eyes, green as spring leaves, met mine. “Patroclus. I have given enough to them. I will not give them this.””They grinned, loving every inch of their miraculous prince: his gleaming hair, his deadly hands, his nimble feet. They leaned towards him, like flowers to the sun, drinking in his lustre. It was as Odysseus had said: he had light enough to make heroes of them all.””It is not true. You left yourself today. And now you are returned.”His shoulders rise and fall on a long breath. “Do not say that,” he says, “until you have heard the rest of what I have done.”Patroclus:”I went to Peleus. I knelt before him on a wool rug, woven bright with purple. He started to speak, but I was too quick for him. One of my hands went to clasp his knees, the other reached upward, to seize his chin with my hand. The pose of supplication. It was a gesture I had seen many times, but had never made myself. I was under his protection now; he was bound to treat me fairly, by the law of the gods.‘Tell me where he is,’ I said.”I adored Patroclus! He was the best! He was wonderful and beautiful in his own way and I loved how faithful he was. That boy was one of the kindest and sweetest people I ever read about (tough competition for Lazlo Strange *lol*) and I was so happy Achilles saw this too. He realized that Patroclus is special and he encouraged him to speak his mind. It felt like Patroclus was Achilles’ conscience, intervening whenever his divine heritage showed. Without Patroclus Achilles path would have been dark and bloody but with him at his side he became the glorious figure we all know about. Patroclus was so much more than just a companion. He was a friend, a lover, a teacher, a conscience, a reminder and Achilles past, present and future! This boy was literally the embodiment of Achilles life and actions and the people around them were fools for not seeing their strong connection. Patroclus was everything that was good about Achilles, he brought out the best in him. Taught him compassion and love, he was an anchor and someone he could come home to! Speak to! Confide in! Once Patroclus was gone the relentless godly part of Achilles showed though and the rest of it is (bloody) history. T_T’Patroclus.’ It was the name my father had given me, hopefully but injudiciously, at my birth, and it tasted of bitterness on my tongue. ‘Honour of the father,’ it meant.”Perhaps she thought I was mocking her, flourishing my triumph. Perhaps she thought I hated her. She did not know that I almost asked him, a hundred times, to be a little kinder to her. You do not have to humiliate her so thoroughly, I thought. But it was not kindness he lacked, it was interest. His gaze passed over her as if she were not here.”’Willl 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 whispered. Yes.”I do not know this man, I think. He is no one I have ever seen before. My rage towards him is hot as blood. I will never forgive him. I imagine tearing down our tent, smashing the lyre, stabbing myself in the stomach and bleeding to death. I want to see his face broken with grief and regret. I want to shatter the cold mask of stone that has slipped down over the boy I knew. He has given her to Agamemnon knowing what will happen.”Odysseus:”May I give you some advice? If you are truly his friend you will help him leave his soft heart behind. He’s going to Troy to kill men, not rescue them.” His dark eyes held me like swift-running current. “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.”Damn, how much I hated and liked that sneaky and cunning bastard!! I’m still very torn when it comes to him. On the one hand he gave sound advice and knew exactly what he did and on the other hand he forced Achilles on his destined path. If it wouldn’t have been for Odysseus he would have never gone to Troy and even though I agree with his sentiment that Achilles could save them all, I still disagree with the way he played him. Of all the countless men that manipulated young Achilles, Odysseus probably was the worst, hiding behind the mask of a friend but ultimately pursuing his own goals. Clever! Very clever indeed! Agamemnon:”Then you are a traitor to this army, and will be punished like one. Your war prizes are hostage, placed in my care until you offer your obedience and submission. Let us start with that girl. Briseis, is her name? She will do as a penance for the girl you have forced me to return.”I HATE AGAMEMNON!!! Fiercely!!! Such an unfair and dishonourable numpty!!! I hate him and all his actions! I mean what kind of father would trade his daughter away and then kill her?! His own flesh and blood! Gosh, I CAN’T EVEN WITH HIM!! I’m still so angry! Those moments at the end and the tense situation between Achilles and him had me at the edge of my seat and all I wanted to do was to scream at the injustice that took place in front of me!!! Such a stubborn and self-righteous fool!! He should have listened to Achilles but he was too proud to. *shakes head in disbelief* I. HATE. HIM!!! Enough said! Thetis:Another person that landed on my shit list! *lol* I really, really disliked her too! I mean I understand that she was Achilles mother and only wanted the best for her son, but it was more than just obvious that the best was Patroclus and I hated her for always trying to drive a wedge between them! Without Thetis half of their troubles wouldn’t have even existed and even though she kind of redeemed herself in the end I still don’t like her! Sorry Thet, but you’ll never get a thumbs-up from me! #SorryNotSorrryThe relationship:Achilles & Patroclus:”This morning he had leaped on to my bed and pressed his nose against mine. ‘Good morning,’ he’d said. I remembered the heat of him against my skin.”Ohh how sweet those two were! I loved their relationship! They were so gentle and adorable and no matter what happened and no matter how many obstacles were in their way they always managed to find back to each other! They had confidence in each other and they supported each other regardless of the consequences. Achilles and Patroclus had such an honest and beautiful relationship, I CAN’T EVEN!!!! THIS was the real deal!!! A connection so deep that no one could destroy it, a love so strong that it cast aside all obstacles, their trust so deep that they could talk about everything!!! Boy, I could gush about this relationship at eye level for eternity and still would never get tired of it! *lol* I just adore them so much! It was so sweet they couldn’t even be angry with each other and even though Patroclus wasn’t always happy with Achilles decisions, he still did his best to support him as best as he could, even if that meant that he had to go against his will. I think in the end their unconditional love for each other was the only thing that was able to break them and it eventually did. Jeez! How it did! *cries again* Achilles had no reason to kill Hector, no reason to fulfil the prophecy. Well, at least not until Hector took the only thing that mattered to him, the only thing he didn’t want to live without. Patroclus! *sobs* Hell! The way Achilles grieved!!! It broke my freaking heart!!! It was like a punch in the gut! I know first-hand how much this hurts, how painful it is to lose a person you love so much, and boy did it trigger my emotions. T_T I felt Achilles grief with him and it was so intense it left me crying and sobbing. They were so beautiful together… so, so, so damn beautiful. I can’t anymore… *weeps* ”I saw then how I had changed. I did not mind any more, that I lost when we raced and I lost when we swam out to the rocks and I lost when we tossed spears or skipped stones. For who can be ashamed to lose to such beauty? It was enough to watch him win, to see the soles of his feet flashing as they kicked up sand, or the rise and fall of his shoulders as he pulled through the salt. It was enough.””My pulse jumps, for no reason I can name. He has looked at me a thousand times, but there is something different in this gaze, an intensity I do not know. My mouth is dry, and I can hear the sound of my throat as I swallow.He watches me. It seems that he is waiting.””His eyes were unwavering, green flecked with gold. A certainty rose in me, lodged in my throat. I will never leave him. It will be this, always, for as long as he will let 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.””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 him. “Swear it.”“Why me?”“Because you’re the reason. Swear it.”“I swear it,” I said, lost in the high colour of his cheeks, the flame in his eyes.“I swear it,” he echoed.”There was more to say, but for once we did not say it. There would be other times for speaking, tonight and tomorrow and all the days after that. He let go of my hand.”All told this was one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read. It caused me to cry, it made me angry, it made me smile and it touched me deeply. I’m a total mess after reading this and my emotions are still all over the place, to say I regret reading it would be one hell of a lie though.I rarely write this into my reviews but: If you haven’t read this, do it now!!! You won’t regret it! =)Last but not least I want to thank my Sweet Sugar Bun who dared to buddy read this book with me! Thank you for all the comments, messages and updates that made it bearable to read this book. I swear if you wouldn’t have discussed this with me I would have cried even more often than I already did. *lol* So yeah, thanks for that wonderful buddy read and for keeping my sanity intact. I really appreciate it! XD We definitely should go for another buddy read some time soon! I heard “Circe” is a nice book too! *lol* ;-PIn 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.”
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  • Lola
    January 1, 1970
    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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  • Sean Barrs the Bookdragon
    January 1, 1970
    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.FBR | Twitter | Facebook | Insta | Academia
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  • Navessa
    January 1, 1970
    "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. Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest
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  • Claudia Ramírez
    January 1, 1970
    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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  • jessica
    January 1, 1970
    ‘we were like gods at the dawning of the world, and our joy was so bright we could see nothing else but the other.’ i must be a masochist because i can think of no other reason to endure the emotional and stunning pain of this story for a second time. but here i am. crying for my sweet, sweet patroclus. the best of men. the best of the myrmidons. <3_________________________________its been nearly 12 hours since i finished this and i still am at a loss for words at the beauty of this book. i ‘we were like gods at the dawning of the world, and our joy was so bright we could see nothing else but the other.’ i must be a masochist because i can think of no other reason to endure the emotional and stunning pain of this story for a second time. but here i am. crying for my sweet, sweet patroclus. the best of men. the best of the myrmidons. <3_________________________________its been nearly 12 hours since i finished this and i still am at a loss for words at the beauty of this book. i dont think i have ever read anything as gorgeous as this and nothing i write will even come close to describing its loveliness. truly, a touching masterpiece. and i will forever be singing its praises until the end of my days. ↠ every star, to give patroclus his own constellation
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  • Jeffrey Keeten
    January 1, 1970
    ”He was a marvel, shaft after shaft flying from him, spears that he wrenched easily from broken bodies on the ground to toss at new targets. Again and again I saw his wrist twist, exposing its pale underside, those flute-like bones thrusting elegantly forward. My spear sagged forgotten to the ground as I watched. I could not even see the ugliness of the deaths anymore, the brains, the shattered bones that later I would wash from my skin and hair. All I saw was his beauty, his singing limbs, the ”He was a marvel, shaft after shaft flying from him, spears that he wrenched easily from broken bodies on the ground to toss at new targets. Again and again I saw his wrist twist, exposing its pale underside, those flute-like bones thrusting elegantly forward. My spear sagged forgotten to the ground as I watched. I could not even see the ugliness of the deaths anymore, the brains, the shattered bones that later I would wash from my skin and hair. All I saw was his beauty, his singing limbs, the quick flickering of his feet.” Madeline Miller studied Latin and Ancient Greek from Brown University and even more interestingly studied at the Yale School of Drama, specializing in adapting classical tales for a modern audience. I ignored this book when it first came out because I had read The Iliad twice and plan to read it many more times if the Gods grant me enough time to do so. A reimagining of Homer’s words? There is enough debate over translations of the original source documentation without adding in additional controversy over Miller’s interpretation of events. Or so I thought.After all, aren’t these books designed for a “modern audience” who will never even attempt to read Homer? I am not the target audience, as there is very little modern about me. I have ancient book dust permanently lodged in my lungs. I cough, and the air is redolent with the scent of decaying leather and the intoxicating smell of the slightly hallucinatory book fungi. Miller is doing good work, though, bringing Homer to life for a new generation. Her books are not for me. Or so I thought. When her book Galatea came out, I barely even flinched. A mild flickering of interest, but I was up to my eyeballs in books to read so I easily dissuaded myself from giving it much thought. Deciding to read Galatea would also mean that I would need to read Song of Achilles first because I do believe that books by serious authors build upon one another. I wasn’t taking Miller serious...yet. Part of my resistance came from the fact that I’m not a big fan of Achilles. He might have been ”The Greatest Warrior of his Generation,” but I didn’t find him very heroic. Now Hector, poor doomed Hector, to me he was the hero of The Iliad. I didn’t really want to read a book glorifying Achilles and how effortless it was for him to kill a hundred Trojans in one lazy, bloody afternoon. Or so I thought. The lovely and talented Madeline Miller.I fully expected Miller to fade back into the woodwork of academia, but then this year she published Circe. With one raised Nadalesque eyebrow, I thought to myself, now Circe is someone I don’t know nearly enough about. The five star reviews started raining down on me like thunderbolts from the fingers of Zeus. Cupid shot a quiver full of arrows at me, piercing me in numerous appendages until I looked like Saint Sebastian. If I could have gotten my hands on that pink tinted, chubby, precocious toddler, I’d have turned him over my knee and paddled him with his own bow. Really, I must confess that my new found love for Achilles, Patroclus, Briseis, Chiron, Odysseus, and even Madeline Miller herself could be the result of those love poison tipped arrows. Regardless, does it matter the reason why? Even in an addled state, there is no way I would ever confuse great writing for poorly conceived writing. As I was reading through my notes and savoring favorite passages again, now that Cupid’s fog has cleared from my mind, I must say Miller is a wonderful, lyrical writer. It all begins with a rape. The Greek Gods want to reward Peleus for being such a good subject and decide that he should be given a sea nymph named Thetis as his bride. ”It was considered their highest honor. After all, what mortal would not want to bed a goddess and sire a son from her? Divine blood purified our muddy race, bred heroes from dust and clay. And this goddess brought a greater promise still: the Fates had foretold that her son would far surpass his father. Peleus’ line would be assured. But, like all the gods’ gifts, there was an edge to it; the goddess herself was unwilling.”The Gods whisper in his ear. Don’t even bother trying to woo her with kelp flowers, Aquaoir Ocean aged wine, or shrimp cocktail. The Greek Gods, being rampant assaulters of unsuspecting, pink cheeked, mortal maidens, have no compunction about advocating rape. Jump her on the beach, take her, and make her thine! The Greek Islands are lousy with half Gods. You will meet many of them in the course of this story. Achilles is the greatest of them all. Greater than Hercules. His chosen companion is Patroclus, the disgraced and banished son of a king, an odd choice in many eyes as the closest friend of the greatest warrior. Patroclus is, after all, rather unremarkable at...well...everything. It doesn’t matter, though, because Achilles is good enough at everything for the both of them. Thetis is rather annoyed at his choice. She doesn’t feel that Patroclus is good enough to spend so much time with her son. Her favorite greeting for Patroclus is: ”You will be dead soon enough.” With Patroclus being the narrator of this story, it is rather poor judgement on her part. Any quest I’ve been on I have always plied the narrator with honeyed wine and the most succulent figs in the hope that I would be rewarded in the prose and poetry of his/her telling of the tale. Achilles and Patroclus by Barry J.C. PurvesHomer skates around the closeness between Achilles and Patroclus, although much can be read between the lines. There is also the possibility that some homophobic Christian hundreds of years later made some deft corrections to the original, obscuring any overt reference to a homosexual relationship. Homer may have been blind, but his ears must have heard the rustling of the reed mats whether he was an “eye” witness to the Trojan War or an interpreter of events many years later. Madeline Miller wades into the sweaty bedsheet truth of the matter, and yes, the Greatest Warrior to ever live is light in his sandals. Miller puts flesh on these ancient bones, Gods and mortals alike, and brings a freshness to one of our most venerated stories. Though I resisted, it turns out that Madeline Miller was writing these books for me. She has also given me a burning desire to read The Iliad again while her interpretation is still imprinted so deeply in my mind. I have a feeling my reading experience will be deepened and her observations will glow like phosphorus between the lines.If you wish to see more of my most recent book and movie reviews, visithttp://www.jeffreykeeten.comI also have a Facebook blogger page at:https://www.facebook.com/JeffreyKeeten
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  • Victoria Schwab
    January 1, 1970
    Epic.
  • Will Byrnes
    January 1, 1970
    I 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. Madeline Miller - image from her siteYou might want to dust off your Iliad, as this is a retelling of the story of Achilles, I 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. Madeline Miller - image from her siteYou 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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  • Ana O
    January 1, 1970
    {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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  • Lia (a paper pigeon)
    January 1, 1970
    ACHILLES, it reads. And beside it, PATROCLUS. Can anyone please call my boss and let her know I may not go to work for a week or so? I need time to recover from this book that m u r d e r e d me. No kidding, here. I think getting a Brazilian wax wouldn't have hurt this much.I'm an ugly sobbing mess, running nose and hair pulling included. Wow. What a-wow! I have no words. I can't remember the last time a book made me weep so much. This is the kind of books I like: zero dull moments, fast-paced ACHILLES, it reads. And beside it, PATROCLUS. Can anyone please call my boss and let her know I may not go to work for a week or so? I need time to recover from this book that m u r d e r e d me. No kidding, here. I think getting a Brazilian wax wouldn't have hurt this much.I'm an ugly sobbing mess, running nose and hair pulling included. Wow. What a-wow! I have no words. I can't remember the last time a book made me weep so much. This is the kind of books I like: zero dull moments, fast-paced, character characterization (lol what is this) on point, and stuffed with all the feels and angst a novel is capable of containing. It was wonderful, poetic and the writing was 100/10. If you haven't read it already, please do yourself a favor and give it a try. Goooosh, I'm still shaking. Favorite book of 2017!A huge thanks goes to my lovely little waffle for recommending it to me. You were right, I did do love it! <3
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  • Lucía
    January 1, 1970
    Mi reacción al terminar el libro:
  • Whitaker
    January 1, 1970
    *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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  • megs_bookrack
    January 1, 1970
    This Story! Wow. This one took me completely by surprise. I knew nothing about it going in besides that fact that it is based off some events in Homer's, The Illiad. Despite the fact that I took 4-years of Latin in high school, I couldn't tell you the first thing about The Illiad today; so, no spoilers there!I was completely floored by the absolute beauty of this story. The center of the tale is the love between Achilles and Patroclus. I am not a romance reader AT ALL and oftentimes the romance This Story! Wow. This one took me completely by surprise. I knew nothing about it going in besides that fact that it is based off some events in Homer's, The Illiad. Despite the fact that I took 4-years of Latin in high school, I couldn't tell you the first thing about The Illiad today; so, no spoilers there!I was completely floored by the absolute beauty of this story. The center of the tale is the love between Achilles and Patroclus. I am not a romance reader AT ALL and oftentimes the romance will be my least favorite aspect of a given story but for some reason...this one...struck me straight in the feels. There was something so pure and confident in their love - they were loyal and brave and kind to one another in a way that had me reaching for the tissues instead of choking down my mirth. I just knew from my level of attachment that this one wasn't going to end well for me. Puddle, puddle of goo, right on the floor. I was overwhelmed by the intensity of feeling this story was able to elicit from my cold, dark heart. The Ice Queen hath melteth.If you are considering reading this yourself, for whatever reason, I cannot recommend the audiobook enough. This narrator absolutely nailed the feeling of the story - plus, his voices for all characters was just so expressive and was always recognizable for who he was portraying at the time (if this makes any sense at all). In particular, his voice when speaking as Achilles...straight up Chris Hemsworth, which honestly, not a bad picture to have in mind whilst listening to a book.To sum it all up: READ THIS BOOK! The world would indeed be a better place if this book were required reading and I honestly believe that.
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  • ✨ jamieson ✨
    January 1, 1970
    “We were like gods at the dawning of the world, & our joy was so bright we could see nothing else but the other.” way back I said there was a review of this beautiful book to come and I never did it. So now it's June and finally, finally I am ready to review this book. deidamia: marry me ach-achilles: in case you haven’t noticed, i’m gay. i’m gay as fuck. i don’t like girls and i don’t want to... like girls. have you ever seen me without patroclus standing right beside me? that’s gay In a “We were like gods at the dawning of the world, & our joy was so bright we could see nothing else but the other.” way back I said there was a review of this beautiful book to come and I never did it. So now it's June and finally, finally I am ready to review this book. deidamia: marry me ach-achilles: in case you haven’t noticed, i’m gay. i’m gay as fuck. i don’t like girls and i don’t want to... like girls. have you ever seen me without patroclus standing right beside me? that’s gay In a weird turn of events, before I talk about me reading this book I'm gonna talk about other people reading this book. Because I've read alot of reviews of this book and alot of them made me laugh. Like, "Madeline Miller twists history to make Achilles gay" or "this is a new take on events" which is just, endlessly funny to me because there's literal, solid evidence Achilles and Patroclus were at least bonded in a way that wasn't considered "typical" for men in Ancient Greece. My actual ancient history professor talked about Achilles and Patroclus probably being gay in a lecture once. So it's really funny to me when people dismiss this book for being historically inaccurate. It's really not. One thing I really like about this book is that, it DID THAT. That Madeline Miller actually decided to tell the story of Patroclus and Achilles - a story, like many other gay narratives in history, people have tried to erase. (Looking at you, Hollywood. Troy making them cousins is Hollywood's biggest shame)To me, it is just really amazing and special that authors are actually rewriting such ancient history and stories to make them lgbt+ and remind people that the internet didn't invent being gay in 2000. It's always been real and people won't stand for that erasure in history anymore. ( by katiemcgrath on tumblr)okay enough ranting. Here's something about the actual book. for those who don't know The Song of Achilles is a retelling of the Iliad, focussing specifically on the relationship between Achilles and Patroclus. It's explicitly a male gay romance and incorporates elements of the myth retold by ancient playwrights as well as the original works of Homer. This book is so beautiful and precious i literally want to launch myself into the sun just thinking about it because I'm suffering and I want it to end. It's a good suffering though. It's a - wow, I'm so invested in these characters and this story it physically hurts me that I'm not reading about them anymore - kind of suffering. Miller's writing is absolutely stunning, so rich and full of beautiful detail. The way she explains things is so tangible and she uses such rich imagery you can't help but immediately fall in love with every chapter, every word even. Some people say this is boring, but I disagree. It's not slow, it's exactly what it needs to be. A slow burn, organic story of two boys falling in love. It's tragic and soft and it hurts and that all is because Miller takes her time to write them so well, to build them up so high the ultimate fall is unbelievably crushing. I wouldn't have had this book any other way, I really wouldn't. Because in the end it's not about a war or tragedy or heroes or even loss - it's about two people and their connection and how much others can mean to us. “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.” The way Patroclus and Achilles are written really constructs them to be more then the allegorical symbols history has turned them into. Achilles especially, has been written and rewritten and romanticised so much in many ways he's a symbol more then a person. I think Madeline Miller really reversed that. What I love about this is how much she humanises them - these are people living in 1200 bce - and I think people tend to forget those were real people too. Madeline Miller attaches hopes, dreams, passions and sorrows to these characters that makes them so real. You cannot see them as anything other then entirely, blindingly human. The ending of this book left me absolutely shattered, and even though I knew what would happened and I tried to protect my heart from it I just couldn't. You're forced into becoming to invested in these characters and their love for eachother and their love for life and want to just be okay that when they fall, so hard, it truly breaks you. Achilles and Patroclus aside, the other characters were really well written and i liked the small twists on the original story. Thetis and Odysseus were wonderfully written, Odysseus especially was given such cunning and wit it really plays into his character. Again, Miller is able to humanise such a well known and beloved character. The setting and imagery employed to make this foreign and ancient setting come alive felt really well done to me, and despite the foreign concepts it worked out so well. Miller has a degree in the classics, and her knowledge of the period and her expertise in the subject really showed to me. This is genuine, well written ancient historical literature. (by kalebkrychek on tumblr)What I think makes this book so incredibly special is how unique it is. There is no other books in the ya genre that do this kind of thing - that so beautifully and eloquently retell such an old story. I love how this book has inspired so many to learn more about the classics. It truly is a masterful work, something I can see myself reading over and over because it does something I've seen no other ya book do, and it has so much charm and beauty it's impossible not to fall head over heels for it. It's about glory, heroes, blood and war. About joy and love and suffering. About sorrow, mothers, memories. About being remembered, being forgotten. The cruelty of time, the cruelty of men. It's about violence and friendship and death. And I love it so so much. The Song of Achilles is honestly just such a wonderful and beautiful book, I truly think it deserves more praise and recognition. It is the kind of thing I want to just see more and more of, and I cannot wait to read what Madeline Miller comes up with next. he is half my soul ... as the poets say ------------historian: Achilles he --me: -------------
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  • Melanie
    January 1, 1970
    “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.” I read The Song of Achilles many years ago, before I got into book reviewing, but it always bothered me that I didn’t have a proper review for this beautiful book. I was a little apprehensive about rereading it, because I wasn’t sure if it would hold up and impact me the way it did many years ago. But, friends, this story is “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.” I read The Song of Achilles many years ago, before I got into book reviewing, but it always bothered me that I didn’t have a proper review for this beautiful book. I was a little apprehensive about rereading it, because I wasn’t sure if it would hold up and impact me the way it did many years ago. But, friends, this story is still everything.I feel like this is still a hard review to write, because I don’t want to spoil anyone, but I feel like everyone knows how this tragic tale ends. But friends, the ending of this story literally broke me and my heart into a million pieces all over again. But if for some reason you do not know the story of Achilles, please stop reading this review, pick up this book immediately, and have your life changed forever. In high school I became really obsessed with Greek mythology. I couldn’t get enough of the adventures in The Iliad and The Odyssey. And the Trojan War is almost a decade worth of adventures that I fell completely in love with. And I always had a special soft spot for Achilles, son of a god and a king, being convinced to join the Greek army by the Greek commander, Odysseus, to become the greatest warrior in the world. But so much happens before that deadly battle between Hector and Achilles outside the gates of Troy. And The Song of Achilles is Madeline Miller’s love letter to Achilles complete story, and it is an actual masterpiece that is the best reimagining I’ve ever read in my entire life. This is also a story about Patroclus, also a son of king, who was exiled from his kingdom when he was only ten-year-old. But when he is sent away, he is sent to Achilles’ kingdom, where Achilles claims him as his companion, and they become best friends. And eventually, they become more than friends. “We reached for each other, and I thought of how many nights I had lain awake loving him in silence.” Patroclus is totally bi or pan, and obviously Achilles is for sure queer, but I am not actually sure if he is only gay or where he falls in LGBTQIAP+ because I feel like he was questioning gender and gender-roles during this reread, too. But regardless, this is such a beautiful m/m romance that will leave me swooning and crying forever. This is a story about the cruelty of men and war and how that impacts so many others. This is a story about how sometimes we can become what is not expected of us, but sometimes the expectations are impossible to hide from. This is a story about love, and friendship, and honor, and what it means to sacrifice everything for those very things. This is a story about how those things never end; not even in death. “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.” Overall, if you want a reimaging that will completely break your heart, but also heal your very soul, this is it. Madeline Miller has created something so magnificent that it truly transcends words. This is one of the most beautifully told and crafted stories I’ve ever read in my entire life. I recommend the book with the sum of who I am.Blog | Instagram | Twitter | Tumblr | Youtube | TwitchContent and trigger warnings for murder, death, slavery, abduction, abandonment, torture, mention of rape, blood depictions, human sacrificing, physical violence, human trafficking, graphic mention of a plague, self-harm, child abuse, and war themes.
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  • Elise (TheBookishActress)
    January 1, 1970
    “Why would I kill Hector? What has Hector ever done to me?” Fun Fact of the Day: I was in a Latin class my freshman year where the teacher mentioned how gay Achilles was every single sentence. She could not bring up these two without mentioning that they were believed to be in a romantic relationship. That's honestly at least half the reason I picked this book up, so thanks, Magistra Vasquez, for being so extra. Can't wait to have you again next year for AP Latin. Can probably wait for the “Why would I kill Hector? What has Hector ever done to me?” Fun Fact of the Day: I was in a Latin class my freshman year where the teacher mentioned how gay Achilles was every single sentence. She could not bring up these two without mentioning that they were believed to be in a romantic relationship. That's honestly at least half the reason I picked this book up, so thanks, Magistra Vasquez, for being so extra. Can't wait to have you again next year for AP Latin. Can probably wait for the rest of my life before I translate the entire Aeneid, but that's okay. The Song of Achilles is a romantic retelling of the Illiad. It's written with gorgeous prose, but that's not what really stands out about this novel. Emotion drips from the pages, making it impossible not to at least tear up through the book.For the first 150 pages, this book is a simple romance. While these two main characters are well-built and interesting, I didn't feel much emotion. That all changed over time. As the war begins, Patroclus slowly begins to realize and acknowledge Achilles' faults, leading to a steady character change for him. Both these characters developed so much and were so flawed, yet so interesting. The mythology of this is fairly accurate and interesting– sure, some of the plot points around Briseus were far-fetched, but nothing here is disproved by the mythological canon. That made me really happy, although I know many won't really care. For those of you who need reference on key players:✔Agamemnon, an asshole, abandoning his wife Clytemnestra✔Menelaus, another asshole, missing his wife Helen✔Odysseus, a mixed man, missing his wife Penelope✔Helen, a daughter of Leda and Zeus but raised by Tyndareus, and deeply in loveHighly recommended just for sheer emotion and character development.Blog | Goodreads | Twitter | Instagram | Youtube
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  • Sabrina The Trash Queen
    January 1, 1970
    “ACHILLES, it reads. And beside it, PATROCLUS” “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” This book was just utterly heartbreaking and breathtakingly beautiful. I’m in love with every aspect of it.The end, the end broke me💔! In the best and worst way possible.BR with Khadidja (sorry, I just couldn't wait, had to finish this💗).
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  • Thomas
    January 1, 1970
    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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  • Catriona (LittleBookOwl)
    January 1, 1970
    Rating: 4.5 stars
  • Richard Derus
    January 1, 1970
    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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  • may ➹
    January 1, 1970
    imagine being me and rereading this and having no care for my own emotions and wondering why I’m crying at 2 am(I already want to reread it again)
  • Lily ☁️
    January 1, 1970
    “When I die, bury my ashes with this book.”—every person who finished reading The Song of Achilles, ever. “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.” Blog | Bloglovin’ | Instagram | Tumblr | Twitter
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  • Annet
    January 1, 1970
    I will wait for you among the shades… ..Just finished the last pages. As said to a good Goodreads friend here earlier today: Beautiful, brutal, raw, mythical, extraordinary and heartbreaking. How can I not give five stars?!The fifth star did come in the last part of the book, which I loved. The final pages surprised me, emotional. This type of book is not immediately my genre, but after reading Circe, I find myself intrigued by Greek mythology and this writer knows how to tell great stories. Thi I will wait for you among the shades… ..Just finished the last pages. As said to a good Goodreads friend here earlier today: Beautiful, brutal, raw, mythical, extraordinary and heartbreaking. How can I not give five stars?!The fifth star did come in the last part of the book, which I loved. The final pages surprised me, emotional. This type of book is not immediately my genre, but after reading Circe, I find myself intrigued by Greek mythology and this writer knows how to tell great stories. This is a beautiful and rich story, full of character. Yes, exceptional. And now I find myself wanting more. Very recommended!More to follow, as usual...
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  • Raeleen Lemay
    January 1, 1970
    *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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  • Charlotte May
    January 1, 1970
    “We were like gods, at the dawning of the world, and our joy was so bright we could see nothing else but the other.” The hype was real with this one guys! This book was wonderful. Heartbreaking yet powerful. Violent yet with some of the softest hearts. I’ve read The Iliad. I studied Classics at University. I know the story of Achilles and the Trojan War like the back of my hand. But that didn’t stop me from being entirely swept away by the epic love story of Achilles and Patroclus. I watched th “We were like gods, at the dawning of the world, and our joy was so bright we could see nothing else but the other.” The hype was real with this one guys! This book was wonderful. Heartbreaking yet powerful. Violent yet with some of the softest hearts. I’ve read The Iliad. I studied Classics at University. I know the story of Achilles and the Trojan War like the back of my hand. But that didn’t stop me from being entirely swept away by the epic love story of Achilles and Patroclus. I watched their story unfold with more and more trepidation as I waited for its ultimate tragic end. “Our world was one of Blood, and the honour it won; only cowards did not fight. For a Prince there was no choice. You warred and won, or warred and died.” Seeing them both as they grew up together. Patroclus with his lack of fighting ability, compared with Achilles’ god-like abilities. I enjoyed reading about Achilles’ nymph mother, even though I hated her! I loved spotting all the other characters, from Odysseus and Nestor, to Paris and Hector. This is a historical retelling at its most gripping. Never a dull moment, never a time when I wasn’t either petrified or heartbroken. Madeline Miller I salute you. “It is right to seek peace for the dead. You and I both know there is no peace for those who live after.”
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  • Whitney Atkinson
    January 1, 1970
    I imagine death so much it feels more like a memory.so wow. I've heard for years that this book is sad but so, so powerful, which I understand. I think it was a leeeeeettle overhyped for me, but it was still a magnificent read. This story had such a great aesthetic. Set in ancient Greece but told through the lens of a quiet, conflicted main character. I thought it was beautiful. The writing, the way that Achilles is described, the first half of this book developing the characters was just absolu I imagine death so much it feels more like a memory.so wow. I've heard for years that this book is sad but so, so powerful, which I understand. I think it was a leeeeeettle overhyped for me, but it was still a magnificent read. This story had such a great aesthetic. Set in ancient Greece but told through the lens of a quiet, conflicted main character. I thought it was beautiful. The writing, the way that Achilles is described, the first half of this book developing the characters was just absolutely gorgeous. Then I began to have a lot of issues with it. Mainly, the whole middle section about the developing Trojan war was boring. Nothing was happening, there were too many characters with unpronouncable names, and Achilles turned into sort of a pompous ass. One of the main downfalls of this story is that it focuses so much on Achilles' honor, and that was so annoying to me. This book really emphasizes the flaws in characters, which I assume is why this was discussed so much, but it just irritated me that I was expecting a love story and there was actually a lot of underlying conflict between Patroclus and Achilles. This is more of a war story and the development of individual characters than it is about a love story. That being said, I felt like the romance was a little bit on the dry side. I adored the two together, but at some points, the story just felt so drained of any emotion and it was like Miller was just slugging through a textbook saying "this happened then this happened then this happened." There were so many moments that I felt we could have taken a step back and added some more impactful imagery and dialogue to make a short scene more meaningful to the reader, but it ended up feeling so stretched thin because this book takes place over 12+ years. Regardless, I cried throughout the last 50 pages of this book. It delivered the punchy ending I was anticipating, and it SLIGHTLY appeased the hatred I have for Achilles' mother. slightly. she's still a raging bitch but like...... a chill raging bitch. (also just kill me so i never have to read that last paragraph ever again my chest hurts)
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  • anna (readingpeaches)
    January 1, 1970
    "i feel like i could eat the world raw" vs. "i will kill u & eat u raw"(but actually, the only thing that was eaten raw was my heart) Blog | Twitter | Instagram | Bloglovin | Reads Rainbow
  • Lucy Langford
    January 1, 1970
    5*****"Pride became us- heroes were never modest."Patroclus, an awkward and shy young prince, is exiled from his family due to a misfortunate incident and is sent to the court of King Peleus, where his perfect son Achilles resides. Patroclus and Achilles are very different; Patroclus is shy, alone and an onlooker to others activities, whereas Achilles is confident and destined for greatness. Despite these differences, Achilles befriends the shamed Patroclus and it is the start of a blossoming fr 5*****"Pride became us- heroes were never modest."Patroclus, an awkward and shy young prince, is exiled from his family due to a misfortunate incident and is sent to the court of King Peleus, where his perfect son Achilles resides. Patroclus and Achilles are very different; Patroclus is shy, alone and an onlooker to others activities, whereas Achilles is confident and destined for greatness. Despite these differences, Achilles befriends the shamed Patroclus and it is the start of a blossoming friendship. As they grow into young men, Achilles becomes skilled in the art of war and Patroclus the art of medicine. Through their training their bond becomes stronger and progresses to something deeper. When news comes of a war in Troy, Achilles must go and fulfil his destiny and Patroclus makes the decision to follow. The events throughout this book tests the boundaries of friendship, love and everything Patroclus holds dear. This book was simply stunning! It was utterly captivating and heart breaking. Patroclus and his relationship with Achilles captivated my heart and mind. Some of the events of the book were gut-wrenching and filled me with dread. There was such a grand feeling of love and tragedy throughout this book. Madeline Miller was able to portray this through her poetic prose, and the result was utterly beautiful. This book follows Patroclus POV- from a young boy to a young man. It describes his developing love for Achilles, despite facing the displeasure from other people and the adverse events he must overcome to be with him. It questions how far Patroclus would go to be with the one he loves. He also has to face the questions of whether he truly knows Achilles, when Achilles' blood lust and pride become too much. Throughout this book you see Patroclus develop as a character. He is first depicted as weak and shy, but he continually grows throughout the book to become self-accepting and confident in his decisions, which is shown through his skill with surgery and helping others. He helps a girl called Briesis to escape a terrible fate and in turn they form a friendship. He continuously grows to be more brave and makes the decision to face the war- all in the name for saving someone he loves and doing what he believes is just and right. He is simply a character to love and admire in this book! There were some great secondary characters in this book. I especially loved Chiron the centaur, with his wisdom and teaching of skills and his knowledge of the world. I also loved Briesis as she was so loyal to Patroclus despite the fact her actions could get her harmed. We also get to see angry and vengeful gods, such as Apollo, causing havoc for the mortals.Madeline Miller writes in such a way that you feel like you are there to witness these events. She describes human sacrifice and the degrading treatment of women that would be expected of that time (and still relevant to today's world sadly), she describes war strategy and death as well as love and enjoyment. It is easy to imagine the scenes and events of this book vividly.My words simply cannot capture how fantastic this book is and how it captivated me from start to finish! I just definitely know I will reread this in the future!
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