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The Song of Achilles (2011)

by Madeline Miller

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
4,9963241,600 (4.15)4 / 875
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.
  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. 40
    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.
  7. 30
    Ransom by David Malouf (jbvm)
  8. 20
    Circe by Madeline Miller (sturlington)
  9. 42
    Grendel by John Gardner (fugitive)
    fugitive: Another brilliantly retold classic by a modern author.
  10. 10
    Alcestis by Katharine Beutner (rarm)
  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. 336
    Twilight by Stephenie Meyer (TomWaitsTables)
    TomWaitsTables: Because Song of Achilles is Homer's Illiad as a Twilight novel. Sorry.

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English (315)  Dutch (6)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  French (1)  All languages (323)
Showing 1-5 of 315 (next | show all)
Starts out rather great, and stays good as long as it's a love story between Achilles and Patroclus, but it's only downhilll as soon as the Trojan war starts, since the author has absolutely no ability to describe battle scenes or war in general, apart from clichés. ( )
  summerloud | May 9, 2021 |
I honestly didn't know what to expect with this novel. I had just passively listened to a podcast about the Trojan War and remembered very little about Achilles. My first surprise was the narrator. I expected a 3rd or 1st person telling. Well, it was first person, but it was from Patroclus's point of view. I was then trying to remember if he was mentioned in that before mentioned podcast. Therefore, I was intrigued and surprised from the beginning of the novel.

Patroclus begins the story in childhood. As a child who doesn't fit in, Patroclus one day finds himself accidentally killing a boy and then subsequently disowned and sent to King Peleus. Achilles, the perfect son of Peleus, possesses confidence that Patroclus can't even imagine. Achilles doesn't second guess himself; he makes a decision and lives out his life without worry of judgement. He's never had a close friend although he's had many acquaintances, but he takes notice of Patroclus. They become almost instant friends to Patroclus's surprise.

As time passes, Achilles and Patroclus reveal secrets to each other and surprise people by their loyalty to one another. Achilles' mother fails to find this friendship worthy of her son and would rather they part. When separated for training, Patroclus runs until he finds Achilles who expected Patroclus to find him. They train together. Patroclus has no desire to fight after the death of the young boy but does desire to learn healing. Achilles is a natural fighter--the best ever. Through these late teenage years, they both discover their friendship extends to one of a loving relationship. They accept and understand each other, rarely losing their temper with the other.

Helen is taken and those who sought her hand in marriage are required to help get her back. Patroclus was one such suitor. He's kind of forgotten, but they need Achilles to win the war. A prophecy claims to know when Achilles will die, so he determines to avoid the preceding event to elongate his life. The ten years show Achilles to be as great a fighter as there's ever been, but eventually the war will end. As with all mythology, the ending can't be happy. Overall, I enjoyed watching their relationship grow as they became pawns in a war that really didn't have emotional appeal to them. Achilles enjoyed using his talents and Patroclus enjoyed healing, but they would have happily chosen different paths. Fate intervened. Imagine that in mythology! ( )
  acargile | May 3, 2021 |
I was hoping for historical fiction. This is more homosexual erotica and that's not my thing. ( )
  KittyCunningham | Apr 26, 2021 |
woah. NOT what I was expecting.
  Abiquail | Apr 24, 2021 |
WARNING!! Quotes, Quotes and more Quotes!! I blame it all on this damn! Quotable book.

I am made of memories Infinity stars

This book is the Master of Masterpieces!

This book is what Lyrical writing is all about!

This book has the words that crawl into your veins, they run through your blood; the words plant themselves into your soul, the words consume you. I found myself reading and re-reading the words, because each words has a meaning that has a meaning, you have to let the words flow into you or else they will pass and you will miss out.

Divine blood flows differently in each god-born child. Orpheus’ voice made the trees weep, Heracles could kill a man by clapping him on the back. Achilles’ miracle was his speed. His spear, as he began the first pass, moved faster than my eye could follow. It whirled, flashing forward, reversed, then flashed behind. The shaft seemed to flow in his hands, the dark gray point flickered like a snake’s tongue. His feet beat the ground like a dancer, never still.

GAAAAAAAAHH!! Deep into my soul.

This was me going into this book.

I know the story. Nope! I didn’t know anything at all.

The story of Achillies and Patroclus, is one of those that has been told so many times, that you think you know.. but! really you don’t! until you have experienced it through Patroclus eyes, with the help of Madeline’s magical enchantment.

Patroclus! Patroclus is the MAN! He is the hero in my eyes. He shaped Achilles. From birth, Patroclus is underestimated and looked down upon by his father and everyone else, they see him as weak. Honestly, from the moment he was introduced, I saw a wise child, who grew up into a wise man. Without Patroclus there would be no Achillies. I fell in love with him from the word go.

This feeling was different. I found myself grinning until my cheeks hurt, my scalp prickling till I thought it might lift off my head. My tongue ran away from me, giddy with freedom. This and this and this, I said to him. I did not have to fear that I spoke too much. I did not have to worry that I was too slender or too slow. This and this and this! I taught him how to skip stones, and he taught me how to carve wood. I could feel every nerve in my body, every brush of air against my skin. He played my mother’s lyre, and I watched. When it was my turn to play, my fingers tangled in the strings and the teacher despaired of me. I did not care. “Play again,” I told him. And he played until I could barely see his fingers in the dark.

Achillies, half God – half mortal, Greek hero, a warrior, his fame is foretold by the Gods before his time. I loved Achillies too from the moment he was introduced. He is the only one who doesn’t look down on Patroclus, His love for him shows through his every action, from the time they introduce themselves to each other.

“Patroclus.” Achilles did not slur my name, as people often did, running it together as if in a hurry to be rid of it. Instead, he rang each syllable: Pa-tro-clus. Around us dinner was ending, the servants clearing the plates. I looked up, and the boys quieted, watching with interest. He did not usually address us by name.

The biggest problem with Achilles is his pride. Now i understand why Pride is one of the deadly sins. Pride is death.

The first encounter between Achillies and Patroclus, is when they are five. Patroclus sees Achillies in the palace, when is his father’s turn to host the game games.

Hair lit like honey in the sun, and within it, glints of gold—the circlet of a prince.
His hair is long and tied back with leather; it burns against the dark, bare skin of his back. His face, when he turns, is serious as a man’s.
When the priest strikes the ground, he slips past the thickened bodies of the older boys. He moves easily, his heels flashing pink as licking tongues. He wins.
“That is what a son should be.”
My hands feel empty without the garland. I watch King Peleus embrace his son. I see the boy toss the garland in the air and catch it again. He is laughing, and his face is bright with victory.

And yeah! Patroclus father is a DICK!

The others characters are so well written and the characterization is magnificent. My favorite is Odysseus.

Thetis is a very stranger, cray, cray mother. I wanted to strangle her for being the way she was, but I know the crazy woman loved Achilles in her own twisted way. And because we only get to see her through Patroclus eyes, we don’t get to see her the way her son sees her. I mean, Achilles went to visit her daily.

Achilles and Patroclus’s love story was wonderful to experience. It was epic, Heartbreaking and everything in between. The moments between them were tender, loving, with some amazing conversations.

I shift, an infinitesimal movement, towards him. It is like the leap from a waterfall. I do not know, until then, what I am going to do. I lean forward and our lips land clumsily on each other. They are like the fat bodies of bees, soft and round and giddy with pollen. I can taste his mouth—hot and sweet with honey from dessert. My stomach trembles, and a warm drop of pleasure spreads beneath my skin. More.

If you are looking for a Masterpiece, I will whole heartedly recommend this book. If you are looking for on page sex scenes, blow jobs and all the things that happen in your typical mm romance novels, then leave this book alone, you will be disappointed.

Huuuuuge…Thank you to my support group of Jan, Xia, and Moony! for letting me rant and sob until 3 am in the morning, while reading this book. I love you!!!! ( )
  Shile.J | Apr 19, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 315 (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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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
Haiku summary
Short introduction

To the classic Iliad

With misplaced passion.


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