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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
2,9812192,817 (4.11)3 / 768
  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 (213)  Dutch (4)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  French (1)  All languages (219)
Showing 1-5 of 213 (next | show all)
This book.... this booooooook!! I love you, Book, I love you, I love you! I.LOVE.YOU!

This is a literary masterpiece. This is a beauty. This book had made me cry just because it had to end. My God, this book!

Phew! With that out of the system and sanity creeping back to me, I can now actually write a half decent review.
The book is written from the point of view of Patroclus - CLEVER! - and depicts his life growing up befriending Achiles, growing together from children to young men and to the legends they will become. I get shivers only from thinking about the growing up passages from the book!

We all know about Homer's Illiad, we've seen Troy, we read about the Fall of Troy and about the Trojan Horse, but believe me, I am a big fan of literature inspired by Greek history/mythology, but I have not read anything like this before. I laughed and suffered with the characters, I embraced the fantasy vibe of the story, the writing was B-E-A-U-T-I-F-U-L.
If you only read one book in your life about the romance between two men - then this is the book - I haven't found one better than this one. [Later edit after 2 years: I have found it, it was The Last of the Wine by Mary Renault]

This is a coming of age story about embracing your nature, your inner strength and living your destiny. It's a book where characters stare in the eyes of Life and howl: Look at me! I am not afraid to live as I want to live.
5 stars are too few to rate this book.
Thank you Madeline Miller!

I wish Men in Black were real so they can come and wipe away my memory so I can read the book all over again as if for the first time.
MIB, NSA, FBI anyone there that can help a girl out?

( )
  XiaXiaLake | Jan 16, 2019 |
This novel is a re-interpretation of Iliad, which is focused not on the Trojan war, but on relationships between Patroclus and Achilles, as told by Patroclus. Very well written but not exactly my kind of book.

This is a romantic homosexual story. There is not a lot of openly erotic content, the novel cares about feelings, not their external manifestation. The story closely follows the original in places, where two intersect, even if omitting some stuff (e.g. details about Peleus, the father of Achilles, which can be glimpsed for example on wiki could have added to the story).
( )
  Oleksandr_Zholud | Jan 9, 2019 |
The Song of Achilles is essentially the great Homeric epic of The Illiad in prose form. Actually, it's even quite a bit more than that, since it follows the life of Achilles and his consort Patroclus from long before the Trojan war starts.

The exiled prince Patroclus serves as the narrator. He is brought to the minor island kingdom of Phthia, whose king, in an attempt to increase his fame and importance, rapes the goddess Thetis who then later gives birth to the semi-deity prince Achilles. The two boys grow up together and become best friends and lovers.

Once they've (barely) grown up, Achilles, whose combat skill is already legendary before ever entering a battle, is called upon to lead the Greek army in the siege of Troy. Patroclus goes with him and from here on out it's more or less the Illiad. You know, the duo and the kings Agamemnon, Odysseus, Menelaus and the hero Ajax on the Greek side, with the pantheon support of Athena and Hera, and king Priam and princes Hector and Paris on the other side, supported by Apollo and Artemis.

Although the novel gets into all that action, at least until the death of Achilles (that shouldn't really be a spoiler, right?), the focus is more on the relationship between Achilles and Patroclus. Their friendship and love in face of opposition is the most explored theme of The Song, maybe sometimes even to its detriment. Patroclus, especially, comes across a bit too much as a pussy, perhaps in the attempt to magnify the difference between him and Achilles and therefore highlight the improbability of their relationship.

It's skillfully written, the right mixture of mythology, character portrayals, divine and court intrigue. The action I found a bit lackluster, though - more colorful battle scenes could've brought this important part to life. Instead, it's more in the vein of "Achilles threw his spear and a man fell".

One thing I also find rather disappointing is the lack of description of Odysseus' Trojan horse trick and the sacking of Troy. They're mentioned, of course, but not portrayed. As I said, the story focuses on the lives of Achilles and Patroclus.

Still, a neat prose-form Illiad that gets bonus points for not being excessive in length.

( )
  matija2019 | Jan 8, 2019 |
Rather a Hollywood version of Greek history ( )
  kakadoo202 | Dec 31, 2018 |
Utterly terrific novel, rewarding both emotionally and intellectually. ( )
  john.cooper | Dec 30, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 213 (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

Is a retelling of

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To my mother Madeline, and Nathaniel
First words
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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Book description
Haiku summary
Short introduction

To the classic Iliad

With misplaced passion.


No descriptions found.

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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