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The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

The Song of Achilles (2011)

by Madeline Miller

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
3,1562362,645 (4.11)3 / 801
Recently added byCrystalcateyes, private library, rena75, jaeger84, Minthe, hurdsummer, Miss_Moneypenny, KBrier
  1. 120
    The Penelopiad: The Myth of Penelope and Odysseus by Margaret Atwood (1morechapter)
  2. 80
    The King Must Die by Mary Renault (wrmjr66)
  3. 60
    The Iliad by Homer (alalba)
  4. 50
    The Mask of Apollo by Mary Renault (shaunie)
  5. 30
    The Persian Boy by Mary Renault (emanate28)
    emanate28: Maybe they are too similar... But both The Persian Boy and The Song of Achilles are heartbreaking and beautiful stories of legendary heroes told from the perspective of their devoted boy lovers. The ancient heroes come alive and one is transported back into those times.… (more)
  6. 30
    Ransom by David Malouf (jbvm)
  7. 10
    An Arrow's Flight: A Novel by Mark Merlis (marq)
    marq: Mark Merlis also takes up the story of Pyrrhus (or Neoptolemus), Achilles’ son with Deidamia when he was in disguise as a woman on Scyros. A very different kind of novel, steampunk, wild anachronism, graphically homoerotic, brilliant.
  8. 32
    Grendel by John Gardner (fugitive)
    fugitive: Another brilliantly retold classic by a modern author.
  9. 00
    Alcestis by Katharine Beutner (rarm)
  10. 00
    The Love Artist by Jane Alison (jbvm)
  11. 00
    The Secret Chord by Geraldine Brooks (novelcommentary)
    novelcommentary: Similar narrative idea
  12. 329
    Twilight by Stephenie Meyer (TomWaitsTables)
    TomWaitsTables: Because Song of Achilles is Homer's Illiad as a Twilight novel. Sorry.

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English (228)  Dutch (4)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  French (1)  All languages (234)
Showing 1-5 of 228 (next | show all)
I hate this book. I hate it. Hate hate hate. It broke my heart. I am a poor pathetic mess of a human being right now. It's because of all the amazing characters in the book and the stupid incredible way they were written. It mixed perfectly with the mythology and old stories but still felt like a completely new story. I knew what would happen, but the delivery still broke me. I love Greek myths and I've always loved the Illiad and the Trojan War. I'm not a purist and it's exciting that classics are always up for re-imagining.

Many Greek myths for me personally have a tendency of presenting characters in such a way that you read about their struggles and their greatness and their tragic ends but you never feel for them. You observe their stories instead of experiencing them.

I definitely felt this story. Everyone, even Thetis at the end was very compelling in some way. Minor characters were fleshed out and even the enemies of our main characters were wonderfully human. This book is a perfect example of why I love retellings of stories. You get a different angle which makes you see old things in a new, unique light.

Characters like Odysseus who I liked reading about but never really cared for personally became favourites. Patroclus grew on me so much. He was really pretty pathetic in the beginning but I have a huge soft spot for the underdogs and the development his character made was great. Plus it was only through his eyes we got to see the greatness of Achilles and I felt for Achilles as much as he did. This book made me fall in love and then tore me apart. I knew it was coming but it was impossible for me to be detached. Read this book if you like spectacular things that will also ruin your life.

I have alot of feelings right now.

( )
  Crystalcateyes | May 26, 2019 |
What a beautiful retelling of a classic story, from the point of view of Patroclus. Even though you know how it ends (if you know your Greek myths), it's worth the read for the journey and the relationship. ( )
  ladypembroke | May 17, 2019 |
I’ve had this book on my wishlist for a while and was excited to read it. This was a good read. It's an interesting retelling of Achilles' life. The story is very engaging and easy to read. The story goes through Achilles' life but mainly focuses on his relationship with the exiled prince Patroclus.

Seeing the rise and fall of Archilles through Patroclus's eyes was intriguing and heartbreaking all at once. I love Greek mythology and took a bunch of classes on it in college, so a lot of this story was familiar to me. It was fun to see this put into a format that is more accessible for a large audience though.

My only issue with this book was that the writing felt a bit stiff and the language a bit simple to me. At points the book really lacks in description and makes it hard to picture things. That being said, I think these factors also made it a very quick and easy read.

Overall I enjoyed this and will probably read "Circe" as well since that's been on my wishlist for some time too. Miller does a great job of weaving an engaging tale that is very accessible to everyone (even people who aren't all that into Greek mythology). ( )
  krau0098 | Apr 26, 2019 |
“IN THE DARKNESS, two shadows, reaching through the hopeless, heavy dusk. Their hands meet, and light spills in a flood like a hundred golden urns pouring out of the sun.”

(The last sentence of the book, almost the only good one.)

I was expecting to re-learn my Greek classics, told with a modern voice in modern language. I expected tales of heroism, of the great Greek heroes like Odysseus, of the Trojan war.

What I got was a pale romance, lots of pathos and characters I couldn’t care for at all. Achilles almost always submits to his mother’s wishes, Patroclus is annoying and whiny and both fall in love with each other for no discernible reason whatsoever - unless you count Achilles’s feet...

“His dusty feet scuffed against the flagstones as he ate. They were not cracked and callused as mine were, but pink and sweetly brown beneath the dirt.”

Or Achilles’s feet... Again...

“Up close, his feet looked almost unearthly: the perfectly formed pads of the toes, the tendons that flickered like lyre strings. The heels were callused white over pink from going everywhere barefoot. His father made him rub them with oils that smelled of sandalwood and pomegranate.”

Yes, feet and lots of them...

Everything else takes a backseat compared to the romance parts which simply bored me almost enough to put this thing away for good.

Because, honestly, I don’t like nonsense like this:

“As for the goddess’s answer, I did not care. I would have no need of her. I did not plan to live after he was gone.”

And whenever something threatens to happen in this book, e. g. for pretty much the first time after 50% (!) of the entire book...

“The drums began to beat, and the oars lifted and fell, taking us to Troy.”

… the chapter ends and the next one starts...


… with more stalling. The story never stands a chance against Miller’s prose, it drowns before ever flourishing. It almost feels like Miller is doing it on purpose and mocking us:

“It was easy, in those moments, to forget that the war had not yet really begun.”

Because we can’t ever forget that STILL NOTHING HAPPENED. Even the rare fighting scenes are incredibly boring and full of... feet!

“I could not even see the ugliness of the deaths anymore, the brains, the shattered bones that later I would wash from my skin and hair. All I saw was his beauty, his singing limbs, the quick flickering of his feet.”

And what do we get at the end about the legendary Trojan War?

“THE PROPHECY TOLD TRULY. Now that Pyrrhus has come, Troy falls. He does not do it alone, of course. There is the horse, and Odysseus’ plan, and a whole army besides.”

Wow. Just wow. How do you get to write so incredibly boring and be celebrated for it?!

I’m certainly not going to waste more time on Miller’s books. ( )
1 vote philantrop | Apr 21, 2019 |
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The Song Of Achilles became a part of my TBR list right after I finished reading Circe. I loved Circe and it is one of my favorite books of 2018. I also enjoyed The Song of Achilles, but not nearly as much.

For the ones out there who love greek mythology, this is a book that covers Achilles’s life told from Patroclus’s point of view. It is more or less accurate, and covers a lot of details from the early lives of these two princes. This is a story about one great friendship that turns into something more, a lot of challenges, a lot of doubts, and a lot of choices to be made during a time of war.

The story is very fast paced, and I was skipping through the pages as fast as Achilles was killing Trojan warriors. From their childhood, to their growing up, to their adventures and the war, this book will never keep you calm, because every chapter something unexpected happens. Well, sometimes not too much, as I know the story, but even still, I was quite surprised.

A thing that bothered me a lot throughout the whole book was the inaccuracy at some points and hiding information.

Now, we all know that Achilles was immortal. And we all know the story that his mother Thetis, a goddess of water dipped his body into the water in the river Styx. However, she was holding him by the heel, so his heel was the only place where he was vulnerable. This will be the reason of his death, when Apollo would direct Paris’s spear into Achilles’ heel.

Now - if this is such a common fact, and everybody who heard about Achilles knows it - why wouldn’t the author include it in the book. It wasn’t mentioned once.. Not once… I found this really upsetting.

Moving forward to the characters, we have Patroclus presented as the weaker one, the coward, the person that is mocked by everyone, not loved even by his parents and unworthy. ( Another point that bothered me is that this is not entirely true - according to Homer, Patroclus was apparently wiser than Achilles)

On the other hand, we have the opposite - a wise, brave, strong and handsome man, loved by everyone, immortal and a son of a goddess. We have a perfect example for a leader.

While fate connect these two to meet from their very early years, they also build a love relationship which they try to hide it at first. This relationship will cause them hatred from Thetis (Achilles’ mom) and will prompt them to make choices that might not be necessarily good ones. Now, Homer never mentioned a pederasty in his works between these two, but Miller does. And I am not sure how I feel about it. Not about the fact that they are gay, but the fact that this is Achilles.

All in all, I enjoyed this book. It is a great retelling of the story and a great time capture of the past. It wasn’t anything special, and I didn’t feel heartbroken in the end, but it was definitely worth reading it. I give it three stars ★★★. ( )
1 vote InnahLovesYou | Apr 18, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 228 (next | show all)
That The Song of Achilles offers a different take on the epic story of Achilles and the Trojan War is not, in itself, anything particularly out of the ordinary. People have been putting their own spins on The Iliad from the instant Homer finished reciting it. What's startling about this sharply written, cleverly re-imagined, enormously promising debut novel from Madeline Miller is how fresh and moving her take on the tale is — how she has managed to bring Achilles and his companion Patroclus to life in our time without removing them from their own.
added by Shortride | editUSA Today, Robert Bianco (Mar 12, 2012)
But in the case of Miller, who earned undergraduate and graduate degrees in classics at Brown, the epic reach exceeds her technical grasp. The result is a book that has the head of a young adult novel, the body of the “Iliad” and the hindquarters of Barbara Cartland.

» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Miller, Madelineprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Douglas, FrazerNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Saltzman, AllisonCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Thorpe, DavidNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Windgassen, MichaelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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To my mother Madeline, and Nathaniel
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My father was a king and the son of kings.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Haiku summary
Short introduction

To the classic Iliad

With misplaced passion.


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Patroclus, an awkward young prince, 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. Set during the Trojan War.… (more)

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