A tale of gods, kings, immortal fame, and the human heart, The Song of Achilles is a dazzling literary feat that brilliantly re-imagines Homer’s enduring masterwork, The Iliad. An action-packed adventure, an epic love story, Miller’s debut novel has already earned resounding acclaim from some of contemporary fiction’s brightest lights
Where to start with this book! Hmmm… I think I will start with background information on how I decided to buy this book. I remember when I was browsing through the books in Magrudy’s bookstore, a girl, who I have no idea who she was, came to me and told me that this book was her favorite book and we chatted for few minutes and then she left. But, I never bought the book or even thought of buying it because I wasn’t interested in it at that time, however, it stayed in the back of my mind.
Fast forward to now.
Last month, I think, I was browsing through the books on the clearance sales in one of the websites I buy books from and I saw this book and it was so cheap to not buy, and I know that it’s not a good reason to buy a book, but sometimes, it can be a great reason if the book is good and I am glad that I bought this book. And I am even happier that I bought the book now and not back then because I don’t think that I would’ve appreciated and enjoyed the book as much as I enjoyed it now.
Now, let’s get into the actual review where I tell what I think.
The book is a retelling of the famous story of Achilles and his very best friend, Patroclus but the twist is that instead of them been best friends, they are lovers in this book. However, the book is still truthful to the original story of the Trojan War and Homer’s the Iliad, which I read twice and loved it each time.
So, the books starts with an introduction of Patroclus’ life and honestly, I was confused because the book’s name is The Song of Achilles and why am I reading from Patroclus’ point of view?! But, then stuff happens and Patroclus had to leave his country and kingdom to another kingdom and there he met Achilles.
At the beginning, Achilles shows a slight interest in Patroclus but he doesn’t show it and he don’t do anything about it. But, their friendship quickly develop into something more than just that, and Patroclus starts to fall in love with Achilles, but he is afraid to do anything about it because a) Achilles is a prince b) he is a son of a goddess c) he is destined to do great things, and for all these reasons Patroclus saw himself unworthy of Achilles in any kind of way.
Then, they start growing up and a lot of stuff happens and so Achilles decides to go to train in the mountains and of course, Patroclus goes with him because at this point of the book, they became inseparable.
Fast forward to few years later. They have to go to Troy to fight in the Trojan War against Achilles’ will. In my opinion, this is the best part of the book because a lot happened that tested their relationship, starting with Brises.
Brises is a war prize that Achilles claimed, but he have no interest in her at all. So, she spent most of her time with Patroclus in the tent because he doesn’t fight. He is just there to accompany Achilles. Brises being there in the story is the reason why the Trojan War in the book ended the way it did (I wish I can say more, but I don’t want to spoil the book to anyone).
Now, that we covered some of the basics, let’s talk about our main characters.
In the book, Patroclus is showcased as a weak boy and he grows up to be like that. He never got the approval of his father, which effected his personality in more ways than he thought. Then when he meets Achilles, his personality starts to change, but slowly because Achilles have this aura around him that makes it almost impossible for him to shine and rise. However, only when Brises appear in the book, I sense that Patroclus changed almost completely.
I enjoyed seeing how he developed and grew through out the book starting from the age 9. I loved him so much and I sympathized with him a lot, I connected with him on some level.
Achilles is the son of a king and sea nymph. He is destined to greatness as the prophecy said and that made him grow up in a certain way. All his life, he was being prepared to this prophecy. His mom, Thetis, the sea nymph, is really hard on him and she hates Patroclus so much because she see him as weakness. But, with all that, Achilles managed to be different from what his mother wanted him to be. He is kind of humble, yet he can be a true jerk and a brat because of who he actually is. But, at this book, I believe that his character has been modified from the original one that is mentioned in Homer work and the other books about Greek. But, his greatest weakness was his pride. If there is one thing that I learned from this book is that Pride, no matter how important it’s, it can be the one thing that destroy you. No wonder it’s named as one of the 7 deadly sins.
I enjoyed reading the book from Patroclus’ point of view and I think that it offered a more interesting perspective. I think that he humanized the Achilles’ character and made him look like more than a half god. Patroclus’ POV, allowed us to see the good and the bad of Achilles in this interpretation of the legend. But, let me warn you. The book is really graphic when it comes to describing the sex scenes, which was extremely awkward and uncomfortable to read that I skimmed through them, so yeah just be aware of that. I would recommend it for adult readers because of such things, but if you are a very mature teenager, then I guess you can read it. It’s up to you at the end of the day.
Another thing that I loved is the time lapse. The book jumps from one phase of their lives to another and you get to see these characters grow up, but at the same time you don’t feel that there’s something missing or there is a huge time gap. The book summarizes 20 years or something in 350 pages, which is incredible. The writing style is just elegant and smooth that you can fly through the book, but at the same time you get to enjoy every word of it.
In my opinion, this is a perfect example of historical fiction. It’s a great retelling but at the same time it preserved the real essence of the original legend. I highly enjoyed this book and I wasn’t expecting that at all! I thought that it would be an Okay read, but it blew me away. It’s fantastic. I Highly recommend it. If I were asked to summarize it in two words, I would say: Epic and Tragic.
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars