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Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
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Song of Achilles (original 2011; edition 2012)

by Madeline Miller

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
1,5031334,924 (4.11)3 / 611
Member:aarti
Title:Song of Achilles
Authors:Madeline Miller
Info:Bloomsbury UK (2012), Paperback, 368 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
Tags:Historical Fiction, E-Book, Greece, Ancient History, Mythology, LGBT, 2012, War, Romance

Work details

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller (2011)

  1. 90
    The Penelopiad: The Myth of Penelope and Odysseus by Margaret Atwood (1morechapter)
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    Ransom by David Malouf (jbvm)
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    The Iliad by Homer (alalba)
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    Grendel by John Gardner (fugitive)
    fugitive: Another brilliantly retold classic by a modern author.
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    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.
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    Twilight by Stephenie Meyer (one-horse.library)
    one-horse.library: Because Song of Achilles is Homer's Illiad as a Twilight novel. Sorry.
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Showing 1-5 of 131 (next | show all)
I didn't expect to like The Song of Achilles as much as I did. I didn't expect to like it much at all, it being a well-regarded book about a mythological warrior, whose story was already familiar to me in broad strokes, if not in the details. Not only would there be a lot of battle scenes, but I knew how the story ended. But[Madeline Miller tells the familiar story in a fresh way and her love of Greek mythology shows through.

While Achilles himself remains a bit of a cipher, his companion, Patroclus, is vividly real, and it's from his point of view that the story is told. The world Miller writes about is very different from our own, with centaurs and sea-nymphs, myth-makers and men who prefer to die young and violently, but leaving behind a glittering reputation, than to die old and have lived a life of obscure prosperity. But the fears and emotions, Miller tells the reader, were the same, with people struggling to survive and to know what the right thing to do is.

What results is a compelling, unputdownable story. We know the end before we begin, but so does Achilles himself, lending added weight to the decisions he makes. And Patroclus is a worthy narrator, as he changes from an uncertain, tentative boy into a man willing to take risks and make hard decisions. ( )
3 vote RidgewayGirl | Jan 9, 2015 |
okay, this is gonna be edited cus I'm at the library right now and I'm hungry but here's my quick verdict:

You'd think that I'd be all over this stuff (gratuitous background: former/failed classics student, mildly ashamed reader of trashy slash fanfiction). But I found this novel disappointing, especially since I had read so many gushing reviews. Despite Miller's credentials as a classics instructor at Brown), the book feels curiously fanfiction-y?? Don't get me wrong, the writing is beautiful in its simple, clear way (expect dozens of pretty similes comparing people's voices to the ocean or whatever), but I couldn't shake the feeling that a super-talented 16 year old girl could have written it.

The mythological aspect is pretty cheesy. There could have been a way to incorporate divine intervention into the story without it being so explicit. I think it's better to have men BELIEVING that the gods are meddling (think the sacrifice of Iphigenia in return for favorable winds) rather than to show direct evidence of the existence of the gods, but here, the gods literally walk the earth. I actually prefer the realist touch of interpretations like the Brad Pitt vehicle "Troy" (which doesn't stop it from being a terrible movie. don't watch it.)

also Patroclus is basically like Bella Swann for like 3/4th of the book. Jeez we get it, you have a giant hard-on for Edward Cullen Achilles. Thetis (Achilles's controlling mother) and others express their bewilderment with Achilles choosing the wimpy Patroclus as his companion --I gotta say, I was puzzled too. but by the end, you finally catch a glimpse of what achilles saw in patroclus. patroclus and achilles have exchanged roles: Achilles becomes a whiny little bitch and under duress, Patroclus proves that he is truly the "best of the Myrmidons".

the most moving passage in the book is when patroclus and achilles are enjoying the golden days of their youth and achilles vows that he *will* be happy despite the fact that every epic hero that came before him (Heracles, Jason, etc.) experienced great tragedy. It's a beautiful, heartbreaking moment. we know that the boys can't escape fate, but we can't help but hope that maybe, this time, something will change.

I'm not really sure that "Song of Achilles" deserved to win 2012's Orange Prize (excuse me, the Women's Prize. Who came up with that name change again?) And if you really want to read about eros between young male heroes, I'd suggest trying Mary Renault instead. But if you still want to see what all the fuss is about, "Song of Achilles" is a quick and easy read. (I read it over the course of two nights during a summer derecho, electricity out, in my sweltering living room with a flashlight).

oh and finally, I can't finish this review without saying... achilles: top in the streets, bottom in the sheets Y/Y?!! ( )
  megantron | Jan 2, 2015 |
Lovely book and fun entertaining read. Only unfortunate matter is that all the characters visually resemble the actors from the troy movie including brad Pitt as Achilles. ( )
  lincolnpan | Dec 31, 2014 |
A cleverly written story of the Iliad (at least the Achilles' part of the Iliad) from the perspective of Patroclus, Achilles' closest friend. Wish I'd read The Iliad more recently to know how similar or divergent this book is, there are definitely liberties taken, but I enjoyed reading it. The relationships are realistically developed, and the interactions between the Gods and the humans are fascinating. There's a great synopsis of characters at the end, which would have been helpful to use throughout - has more of the back story than this is outside of the scope of this book. I'd love to read a similar reselling of The Odyssey next... ( )
  asawyer | Dec 31, 2014 |
i started out not liking it. War books aren't really my thing, neither is Greek mythology, but I knew a little bit about it from college, and it was our book club read, so I gave it a shot.
I love m/m novels, so that was a bonus.

Took me a while to get into it, but overall I thought it was a nice story! A nice re-telling of a part of mythology that doesn't always get touched on. ( )
  ariel.kirst | Nov 14, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 131 (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 (3 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Madeline Millerprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Douglas, FrazerNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Saltzman, AllisonCover designersecondary 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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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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