I recently re-read Homer’s The Iliad, which I read in high school probably 45 years ago. I had forgotten much of that story, but definitely think it should be called “Let’s Just Kill Everybody”. But the re-reading helped me really enjoy with renewed meaning The Song of Achilles. A fascinating book. Here is my book review The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller.
Even if you don’t know The Iliad and the story of the Trojan War, you still will enjoy The Song of Achilles. Miller has taken the age old story and rewritten it with an emphasis on Achilles and even more emphasis on his companion Patroclus.
Told from the viewpoint of Patroclus the story begins when he is a young prince. An unfortunate accident gets him shunned from his father’s halls and he is sent to live with King Peleus and his golden son Achilles – “the best of the Greeks”.
Achilles and Patroclus could not be more different. One brave and confident the other quiet and meek. But in each other they find a bond, a common need for companionship and rapport. As young boys they learn the ways of war and prepare for their future. But as they grow to young men they find love for each other as well. Miller’s imagination creates a retelling of their relationship, a true love story, heartfelt and beautiful.
When Helen of Sparta is kidnaped the Greeks lay siege on Troy and the decade long Trojan War begins. Much is written about this war and the heroes. The Song of Achilles goes deep into the personalities of both mortal men and gods, the women in the shadows and the egos of the leaders. Miller’s imaginative dialogue and storyline is far more interesting to me than the Iliad, though the ending remains sad and bloody just the same.
I highly recommend The Song of Achilles for it’s intelligent, thoughtful, moving and fresh look at this ancient tale.
*****Five Stars for The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller.
Read last week’s review of What We Carry.
My current read A Thousand Ships
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