The Song of Achilles: Review

Publication Date: September 20th, 2011
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Series: None
Format: Hardcover, 352 pages
Source: Library

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.

After hearing about this book through Goodreads, I finally decided to get it from the library. I am so glad I did, because this was the type of book that will stick with you even after you are finished. 

We all know the story of Helen of Sparta, the Trojan War, and Achilles. It's a story that has been told many times, made into many movies, books, and even plays. One would think that another version would be tedious and not interesting, but that is not the case here. 

First off, if you are looking for the "true" story of Achilles and the events that followed with the Trojan War, this might not be the book for you. This is Madeline's take on the famous myth that has fascinated people for thousands of years. It's different, but it also has similar elements.

The book starts off with Patroclus's backstory and how he came to meet Achilles when they were both young boys. Patroclus was the shy, outcast who managed to capture the attention of Greece's most famed hero during the Trojan War. What followed from the time they met was a budding friendship that slowly turned into something more throughout the years. What I really loved about the story was how real their love felt. It took years to manifest, it was not instant. It was raw, emotional, and unyielding, despite the many factors that were against them: most notably Achilles's mother, the Goddess Thetis, who did everything in her power to keep them apart, and of course the Trojan War itself, where they both had to be discreet about their relationship, even though it was common for men to take other men as lovers. 

Madeline's writing was so lyrical and beautiful which made everything come together. I loved all of the characters, with the exception of Agamemnon, because he's a dick no matter what version of the Trojan War you read about, and Pyrrhus, Achilles's son. 

She managed to create a wonderful story while pulling elements from Ancient Greece into it without being an information overload. Readers will get a feel of what life was like back then, even if the majority of the book is about one of the greatest myths of all time. 

As far as narrators go, Patroclus was honestly one of the best I have read. He is compassionate, articulate, humble, and kind. He was the exact opposite of his lover, but that didn't matter, because they were true soulmates. 

I really can't form coherent thoughts about this book because it was so wonderful and since everyone knows the myth, it does not bear repeating. 

Just read it and see for yourself how amazing this book is. I will end with one of my favorite quotes: 

“And perhaps it is the greater grief, after all, to be left on earth when another is gone.”


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