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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
2,7942083,040 (4.1)3 / 748
  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. 328
    Twilight by Stephenie Meyer (TomWaitsTables)
    TomWaitsTables: Because Song of Achilles is Homer's Illiad as a Twilight novel. Sorry.

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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 ★★★. ( )
  InnahLovesYou | Nov 16, 2018 |
I liked this a lot. Very touchingly depicted story of love and loss with a familiar mythological overlay. I really enjoyed the narrative device and the interactions of the characters with gods - especially Thetis. If you want a beautiful boy loving a beautiful boy type story, this is a high recommend. ( )
  emeraldreverie | Nov 15, 2018 |
This modern retelling of The Iliad is exactly what a non-Greek classics reader (like me) can appreciate. While I have never read – or cannot recall reading – The Iliad, I have retained enough knowledge of the gods and the story from a junior level mythology course I took back in Uni many, many moons ago, a course I barely scraped through as the subject matter failed to appeal to me. Thankfully, Miller has a gift for presenting Greek mythology in a way that I found captivating to read. Telling the story from Petraclus’ POV, and focusing more on his relationship with Achilles (and keeping the petty antics of the gods more in the background) helped to focus my attention. Yes, the story still has its share of war (hard to write out the 10 year siege of Troy!), death, violent bloodshed, lust and betrayal – can’t really tell a Greek mythology story without those elements being present – it is the focus as a love story that tempers all the “stuff” that I find so annoying about the myths.

While the story has not enticed me to want to read more Greek (or Roman) mythology, I look forward to reading more stories penned by Miller. ( )
  lkernagh | Sep 18, 2018 |
This was more romance novel than a retelling of the story of Achilles and the Trojan War. There was just so much of Patroclus mooning over Achilles that I could take. The writing was fine, but I was bored by a lot of it and really preferred the author's "Circe". ( )
  fhudnell | Aug 31, 2018 |
The Trojan War gets a fresh retelling through the voice of one of Homer's secondary characters, Patroclus. The book explores and expands on his relationship with Achilles from their meeting as young teenagers through the end of the war.

The story is a bit predictable due to being an adaptation of course, but the author's additions and twists aren't that hard to see coming either. Still, Patroclus makes for an engaging narrator, and Odysseus always charms during his short supporting scenes. I'll probable check out [book:Circe|35959740] just to see if there are more Odysseus bits.

The character glossary at the back was surprisingly fun, if only to see how many of the characters from The Iliad got their own spin-off stories starting even in ancient times. Branding, franchises and merchandising have been around forever. ( )
  villemezbrown | Aug 24, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 201 (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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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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