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The Song of Achilles

by Madeline MILLER

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
8,548423835 (4.2)5 / 946
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.
Recently added bycindyst2000, to_wit, Arena800, nielja, private library, Peyon, Romerillo, KWO996, KarenAH
  1. 150
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  3. 100
    The Iliad by Homer (alalba)
  4. 60
    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.
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    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)
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    fugitive: Another brilliantly retold classic by a modern author.
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    knhaydon: Modern retelling of a classical myth, narrated by a character with a less central part in the original source text(s).
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  12. 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.
  13. 10
    The Secret Chord by Geraldine Brooks (novelcommentary)
    novelcommentary: Similar narrative idea
  14. 00
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    quartzite: Set in Bronze Age Greece about descendants of Hercules seeking to reclaim their patrimony.
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  16. 344
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    TomWaitsTables: Because Song of Achilles is Homer's Illiad as a Twilight novel. Sorry.
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» See also 946 mentions

English (401)  Dutch (6)  Italian (3)  French (3)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (415)
Showing 1-5 of 401 (next | show all)
I have loved Greek Mythology since I was first introduced to it in middle school English. As my favorite contemporary work was The Iliad, this was a book that I absolutely had to read.

Firstly, the writing is beautiful. Miller's prose - which in the last few chapters flirts with the poetic - incited a great deal of emotion in me. The book is easy to read yet poignant, limited in its viewpoint, and yet somehow also wide in scope. Secondly, the relationship between Patroclus and Achilles is treated tenderly and gently. Neither vulgar nor ashamed, it stands as real love should between the two characters. As an asexual who does not really like reading drawn out sex scenes, I think that this book handled things very well. Thirdly, its treatment of the original story is respectful - everything that is supposed to happen happens, instead of running off on some completely different story, as I have seen done before. This is a retelling of the Iliad - nothing more, nothing less.

There are only a very few things that bothered me about this book. Firstly, I would have liked to know exactly what it was that kept Achilles so obsessed with his sulking. Yes, we know he's concerned about his honor after death, but it goes so far that at certain points Patroclus claims not to recognize him. It seems that something bigger must have taken place here that the reader is not privy to, and I would have liked to see that explained. Also, I would have liked to see more of his training with Chiron, to really build out the sort of person Achilles was before we are thrust into the Trojan war with him.

All in all, this was an excellent book, and I would recommend it to anyone who has enjoyed the Iliad, or who has enjoyed other retellings of ancient history. ( )
  Anniik | Nov 26, 2022 |
Holy cow... I don't have words for this book. I was not expecting how lyrical and beautiful it was. Madeline Miller is amazingly talented and I tank her for bringing this story to us and giving it new life. I am utterly amazed by the way this book was crafted. Just the way that simple words were made to sound as if they were the best words you could ever hear was incredible. I liked how it was basically only told from Patroclus's perspective, even though I thought I wouldn't like that, it made the whole thing even more beautiful. I love Greek mythology and this is now one on my favorite stories. I have always known about Achilles and the Achilles Heal phenomenon, but I never knew how complicated an intricate his story and Patroclus's story was. The only reason this isn't five stars is because of how long the battle-like sequences were and how Achilles and Patroclus sort of became lost to each other in a way. Besides that this book was absolutely worth my full attention and love, and you should give it the same treatment. Anyway, I simply cannot fit all the things that I found beautiful about this book into this review, so you'll just have to take my word for it and read this amazing piece of fiction. I will deffinately be reading more from Madeline Miller in the future! ( )
  EvelynNygren | Nov 17, 2022 |
Despite all of the high praises this book received, I was worried that it wouldn't live up to my expectations. I worried in vain. This novel is beautifully written and compelling. It maintains the integrity of Homer's original work while simultaneously crafting a unique point of view and narrative. It's poetic, emotional, and made me cry a total of three times within the last 50 pages. ( )
  carlycolonna | Nov 15, 2022 |
Achilles, "the best of all the Greeks," son of the cruel sea goddess Thetis and the legendary king Peleus, is strong, swift, and beautiful, irresistible to all who meet him. Patroclus is an awkward young prince, exiled from his homeland after an act of shocking violence. Brought together by chance, they forge an inseparable bond, despite risking the gods' wrath.

They are trained by the centaur Chiron in the arts of war and medicine, but when word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, all the heroes of Greece are called upon to lay siege to Troy in her name. Seduced by the promise of a glorious destiny, Achilles joins their cause, and torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus follows. Little do they know that the cruel Fates will test them both as never before and demand a terrible sacrifice.
  rachelprice14 | Nov 14, 2022 |
In Madeline Miller’s debut, she retells the story of Achilles from Greek mythology, focused on the relationship between Achilles and Patroclus. The author explores why Achilles may have acted as he did in Homer’s Iliad. He portrays Achilles and Patroclus’ boyhood friendship as it blossoms into a romantic partnership. The story is narrated by Patroclus (an interesting choice if one is familiar with the original tale), who is exiled as a child and sheltered by Achilles’ father. It follows their coming of age, mentoring by the centaur Chiron, and eventual involvement in the Trojan War. Themes include the nature of heroism, the value of integrity in a violent world, the dangers of hubris, and many facets of love.

The writing is easy to follow and contains beautiful descriptions of nature. The book is filled with colorful characters, such as Achilles’ goddess-mother Thetis, Odysseus, Agamemnon, and Hector. Those looking for Achilles’ infamous “heel” and the Trojan Horse will be disappointed as neither makes an appearance for reasons explained in the author’s notes after the conclusion. There is also a helpful list of Greek gods and mortals. Familiarity with The Iliad is beneficial, but not absolutely required to enjoy this story.

I found this book entertaining and enlightening. The author’s style conveys the ancient Greek legends in a way a contemporary audience can appreciate. Recommended to those interested in fables, myths, and retellings of classics. ( )
  Castlelass | Oct 30, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 401 (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 (43 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
MILLER, Madelineprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
AUCHÉ, ChristineTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Curtoni, MatteoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Douglas, FrazerNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Parolini, MauraTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Saltzman, AllisonCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Thorpe, DavidNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Windgassen, MichaelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Dedication
To my mother Madeline, and Nathaniel
First words
My father was a king and the son of kings.
Quotations
I could recognize him by touch alone, by smell; I would know him blind, by the way his breaths came and his feet struck the earth.  I would know him in death, at the end of the world.
We were like gods at the dawning of the world, and our joy was so bright we could see nothing else but the other.
"That is — your friend?"

"Philtatos," Achilles replied, sharply. Most beloved.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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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.

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Book description
Achilles, "the best of all the Greeks," son of the cruel sea goddess Thetis and the legendary king Peleus, is strong, swift, and beautiful, irresistible to all who meet him. Patroclus is an awkward young prince, exiled from his homeland after an act of shocking violence. Brought together by chance, they forge an inseparable bond, despite risking the gods' wrath.

They are trained by the centaur Chiron in the arts of war and medicine, but when word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, all the heroes of Greece are called upon to lay siege to Troy in her name. Seduced by the promise of a glorious destiny, Achilles joins their cause, and torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus follows. Little do they know that the cruel Fates will test them both as never before and demand a terrible sacrifice.
Haiku summary
Short introduction

To the classic Iliad

With misplaced passion.

(legallypuzzled)

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