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The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

The Song of Achilles (original 2011; edition 2011)

by Madeline Miller (Author)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
4,1232822,012 (4.14)4 / 850
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.
Title:The Song of Achilles
Authors:Madeline Miller (Author)
Info:Bloomsbury Publishing (2011), Edition: 1, 389 pages
Collections:Read but unowned

Work details

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller (2011)

  1. 120
    The Penelopiad: The Myth of Penelope and Odysseus by Margaret Atwood (1morechapter)
  2. 90
    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. 40
    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. 30
    The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker (konallis)
    konallis: A very different view of Achilles, from the point of view of his captured prize, Briseis.
  8. 42
    Grendel by John Gardner (fugitive)
    fugitive: Another brilliantly retold classic by a modern author.
  9. 10
    Alcestis by Katharine Beutner (rarm)
  10. 10
    Circe by Madeline Miller (sturlington)
  11. 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.
  12. 10
    The Secret Chord by Geraldine Brooks (novelcommentary)
    novelcommentary: Similar narrative idea
  13. 00
    The Love Artist by Jane Alison (jbvm)
  14. 335
    Twilight by Stephenie Meyer (TomWaitsTables)
    TomWaitsTables: Because Song of Achilles is Homer's Illiad as a Twilight novel. Sorry.

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English (271)  Dutch (5)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  French (1)  All languages (278)
Showing 1-5 of 271 (next | show all)
Did he know, or only guess at Achilles' destiny? As he lay alone in his rose-coloured cave, had some glimmer of prophecy come to him? Perhaps he simply assumed: a bitterness of habit, of boy after boy trained for music and medicine, and unleashed for murder.

love me a book that starts out pretty nice, pretty impressive, then slams the gas pedal and leaves me for dead

I rarely ever get to say this, but this book was exactly what I'd hoped for. Give me a rich well-researched world, give me romance, give me a heartfelt human element with all the complications and trimmings and conflict that don't fit into a myth. GIVE ME THAT GORGEOUS DELIVERYYYY.

Seriously, though. Style. Heading through the book, I was distantly aware that I should be bored or frustrated. I was a little at first, not gonna lie - this is some pacing that grabs you by the hand and forces you to stare at the flowers for a really long time even though we really should be going now. But jeez, it was just so beautiful that I didn't even care. Gorgeous description that unfurled so easily and avoided cliches or predictability. (I mean, the title is accurate, it'll give it that.) Once I was in a scene, it was so difficult to get back out; everything flowed together so nicely and completely that there never seemed to be a right place to take a breath - for someone who's pretty used to putting down a book in the middle of a sentence, I found it increasingly difficult to even stop reading when a chapter break demanded me to. I was floating along on my scenic route, don't kick me off the boat yet -

Speaking of description. Achilles. Okay. The first while of this book is one big glamorous Vogue photoshoot of Achilles. This boy's feet, I swear, they're wonderful. Once we were edging into the Trojan war I was a little annoyed with how it was stripping Patroclus into a one-man fanclub, but goddamit if I wasn't enamoured by this stupid boy's stupid feet too!

And then everything went downhill and I was remembering details about the war that, when I was first studying the Iliad, I tossed away like 'hah Achilles, another Greek hero ASSHOLE' - but now those details were putting me through immense pain and fury at everyone in this story (except Odysseus, who could hate this good wise uncle). The ridiculous pedestal from the first half of the book made sense, and damn, did he fall a long ways off of it. It's so satisfying to have an idolized character turn into (or reveal themselves as?) a giant goddamned trash fire. Thanks for the emotions I guess - I thought this was the strongest section, bumping it up from 3.5 to 4.5 stars because I was absolutely wrenched in half. I HAVE NEVER FELT SO MUCH FRUSTRATION. BUT I KNEW THE MYTH SO I KNEW IT WOULD ONLY GET WORSE BUT I PAID MY TICKET SO I GUESS I'M RIDING THIS TRAIN STRAIGHT TO HELL THANKS ACHILLES

Partnered with Achilles was the ever-reliable Greek myth lesson of hubris and stubbornness. I'd always accepted it as a fable's type of moral - popped up constantly, predictably, because man is garbage, I guess...? But it was woven so honestly here and given so much stake and detail that although I wanted to put Achilles and literally everyone else in a Get-Along shirt, I also completely understood where he was coming from. Without inventing new stakes or new details, Miller turned this simple (and nearly ridiculous) idea into the vital point around which the novel orbited, and even better, I totally bought it.

Althouuuuugh. Patroclus. He sort of floated aimlessly in the Almighty Beautiful Galaxy of Achilles for a long time, and I mean - same, my dude, but even at the END he got drained into little more than The Love Interest even though it was his POV. Weird, but I guess anything else would have felt weirder? But...you know, look at the title, and this was 90% romance and 10% plot (I don't read romances, is this what they do?!)...don't trust me, maybe I just have something against the quiet mushy types. Like okay he was sure a cool guy with Complexity but he never felt like his own person, and what there was of him was kinda dull. (WAS THAT THE POINT.) Wanted to build him his own pedestal when he saved the girls, though; what a small and stubborn man.

But I say all that while I know that I was crying literally the whole time when he was actually emotionally valuable to the story, and even worse when he died. (Also I'll mention that the absolute cheesiness of his "ghost" narrating the tale afterwards made me bristle but when I recalled the whole funeral rites thing and how serious that was, I just cried more 'FINE YOU EARNED THIS CHEESE!! YOU EARNED IT AND IT MAKES SENSE!') (even if I didn't really get the thing with his son but maybe that was the point because of how Odysseus said no one would remember the son (idk his name anymore, ironic) but whatever)

All in all, the thing floored me and I have never been so in love with descriptions of people dying or seen so many ways to describe the same dang lock of hair. ( )
  Chyvalrys | Aug 5, 2020 |
I'd give it 3.5 stars if I could. Solidly enjoyable. I'll pick up her second novel in the future for sure. ( )
  PhasicDA | Aug 3, 2020 |
What gorgeous writing! It makes a perfect complement to Homer's stories with an imaginative and compassionate exploration of familiar characters. Whether the reader's body of knowledge includes the Trojan War or the story of Achilles and his lifelong companion, Patroclus, this work will surprise and enthrall. Gathering together threads from the Iliad and the Odyssey with details from Arctinus' Aethiopis (and probably other writings from the author's fine background in the classics!), this account weaves them with great restraint into a captivating coming of age adventure that is a genuine work of art. I consider it a wonderful thing when a book can catch the jaded reader off guard with something new and intriguing, and Miller does this in her debut novel. Charming! ( )
  MMKY | Jul 3, 2020 |
I know next to nothing of the ancient Greeks, so I came to The Song of Achilles with no knowledge of how Achilles's story unfolds. From what I've read since finishing the novel, Miller's novelisation is based partly on the Iliad, and partly on conjecture that Achilles was in a romantic relationship with Patroclus, whose narrative comprises the story for the book.

As with Circe, Miller's writing is beautiful, but doesn't get lost in itself. The plot clips along at a good pace, and it's difficult to put the book down as a result. The relationship between Patroclus and Achilles is wonderfully realised, although I came away from the novel disliking Achilles a tad - perhaps because Miller made much of his 'hero's flaw': his obsession with everlasting fame and glory.

Still, this is a gripping novel and I greatly enjoyed it. I think I prefer Circe to The Song of Achilles, but this is still an excellent story that's well worth your time, whether you're familiar with the ancient Greeks or not. ( )
  mooingzelda | Jul 2, 2020 |
The story had me hooked from page one. It drew me in and had me feeling everything that Patroclus felt as he followed Achilles through his destiny. Not to give away any spoilers but by the last chapter I had tears coming down my face, like full blown sobs (my roommates had to come and make sure I was ok). I cannot recommend this book enough. It puts so much emotion behind the stories I remember hearing in history class.

Someone just needs to find me a new heart now cause it's broken. ( )
  leisjenn | Jun 28, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 271 (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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