The Song of Achilles
by Madeline Miller
Greece in the age of Heroes. Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the kingdom of Phthia. Here he is nobody, just another unwanted boy living in the shadow of King Peleus and his golden son, Achilles.Achilles, ‘best of all the Greeks’, is everything Patroclus is not — strong, beautiful, the child of a goddess — and by all rights their paths should never cross. Yet one day, Achilles takes the shamed prince under his wing and soon their tentative companionship gives way to a steadfast friendship. As they grow into young men skilled in the arts of war and medicine, their bond blossoms into something far deeper — despite the displeasure of Achilles’s mother Thetis, a cruel and deathly pale sea goddess with a hatred of mortals.Fate is never far from the heels of Achilles. When word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, the men of Greece are called upon to lay siege to Troy in her name. Seduced by the promise of a glorious destiny, Achilles joins their cause. Torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus follows Achilles into war, little knowing that the years that follow will test everything they have learned, everything they hold dear. And that, before he is ready, he will be forced to surrender his friend to the hands of Fate.
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.
“Name one hero who was happy.”
Achillies is a numpty, a spoiled prince and cannot swallow his pride and in doing so loses the thing he loves dearly. He of course did not deserve Patroclus. A book completely different to what we’ve read at book club, no phones, technology, just a simple story about war in Greek times with a twist. I loved and hated this book at the same time that I nearly gave up on it. I didn’t realise how much of a prude I was or that I would blush while reading sections of this book. Part of me felt there was no need for it, but that’s just me. In other parts it was brilliant to see how the mortal faired against the gods, and how ego and pride will always ruin a man or person. People can be so fickle, that they become blinded until the thing they love most has gone. Achillies, was lead to believe he was ‘the one’ and in the end it was all a trick, he was a pawn in the God’s games and he fell for it hook line and sinker.
“Odysseus inclines his head. “True. But fame is a strange thing. Some men gain glory after they die, while others fade. What is admired in one generation is abhorred in another.” He spread his broad hands. “We cannot say who will survive the holocaust of memory. Who knows?” He smiles. “Perhaps one day even I will be famous. Perhaps more famous than you.”
Usually when I read a book and start to dislike it I quit on it. But it was something about the Greek Gods that kept me glued to it. I wished in some parts there was more about Helen and Paris, but in others it was good to see how the relationships unfolded and how one man, Patroclus, tried his best to save everyone.
It’s beautifully written, the characters feel real, real enough to punch Achillies for being so stubborn and stupid. To see the loyalty lying in people who are constantly seen as lower than others but who are worth more without realising it.
This was our latest pick for book club and in recent months I haven’t finished books. I will do my best in the future to plough through it as I did today as it might just surprise me.
Thank you for reading