The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

OH NOOOO I’m losing it!  This book made me feel EVERYTHING, and there’s no way this review will be anything coherent.  I guess I know why The Iliad continues to be read millenia after it was created–no one can create a drama like the Greeks!  The tragedy here is SO STRONG, with characters acting so stupidly human that you want to shake them, but you totally see their point, and then everything falls apart because there are no real “good” guys and “bad” guys, but dumb humans seeking glory, and AHHHH!

Okay, I’ll try again.  Reading The Song of Achilles is like watching Titanic.  I knew what was going to happen, but I couldn’t help but desperately hope things would turn out differently.  Every bit of foreshadowing heightened the horrified anticipation so that when the climax came I was just helplessly awash in emotion.  I mean, I actually thought I was holding it together pretty well, until I read the very last paragraph and surprised myself by bursting into tears.  

Miller takes one of Western histories greatest stories and plays up the romance angle, milking two sets of drama for all they’re worth.  She doesn’t have to change anything around at all for Achilles and Patroclus to believably be in the most epic romance of all time.  I am a total sucker for friendship turning into romance – set in ancient Greece against the backdrop of gods and goddesses, blood oaths and battles – I was a goner.

I have this weird habit, as moving to Greece approaches, of claiming Greek things as my own.  Like, because I will walk its land and breathe its air, its stories will become mine.  AND NOW I WANT THAT EVEN MORE.  The Song of Achilles was amazing, everyone should read it, I want to read it again as soon as I stop jumping up and down to get rid of all the feels crawling around in my heart.

SongAchilles-pb-cBook Jacket

Greece in the age of heroes.  Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the kingdom of Phthia to be raised in the shadow of King Peleus and his golden son, Achilles.  “The best of all the Greeks” – strong, beautiful, and the child of a goddess – Achilles is everything the shamed Patroclus is not.  Yet despite their differences, the boys become steadfast companions.  Their bond deepens as they grow into young men and become skilled in the arts of war and medicine – much to the displeasure and the fury of Achilles’ mother, Thetis, a cruel sea goddess with a hatred of mortals.

When word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, the men of Greece, bound by blood and oath, must lay seige to Troy in her name.  Seduced by the promise of a glorious destiny, Achilles joins their cause, and torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus follows.  Little do they know that the Fates will test them both as never before and demand a terrible sacrifice.

Built on the groundwork of the Iliad, Madeline Miller’s page-turning, profoundly moving, and blisteringly paced retelling of the epic Trojan War marks the launch of a dazzling career.

Release Date: September 2011


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