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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
3,8922662,149 (4.13)4 / 847
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 byabbas0786, RajLT, Serrana, snogglethorpe, private library, AmrAlSayed0, sergop, jose0122
  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. 42
    Grendel by John Gardner (fugitive)
    fugitive: Another brilliantly retold classic by a modern author.
  8. 20
    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.
  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. 334
    Twilight by Stephenie Meyer (TomWaitsTables)
    TomWaitsTables: Because Song of Achilles is Homer's Illiad as a Twilight novel. Sorry.

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English (256)  Dutch (5)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  French (1)  All languages (263)
Showing 1-5 of 256 (next | show all)
Having grown up on Rick Riordans's books, Song of Achilles was a welcome reminder of the fascinating stories within Greek Mythology and how closely it parallels the modern world.

From its ideas of love and war to the impact of pride and courage this book had everything required to push you down the rabbit hole that is Greek Mythology.

Happy Reading! ( )
  abbas0786 | May 28, 2020 |
In 2018, I read Madeline Miller’s Circe which I really enjoyed, so I thought I’d read her debut novel for which she won the Orange Prize for Fiction. The Song of Achilles is not as good as Circe, but it is still a good read.

The book tells the Achilles’ story from the point of view of Patroclus, Achilles’ friend and companion. Patroclus begins narrating with his childhood. Because of an accidental death, Patroclus is exiled to the court of King Peleus where he meets the king’s son Achilles. The two become friends and, eventually, lovers. Because of Achilles’ fighting skills, he is coerced into taking part in the Trojan War and, of course, Patroclus accompanies him.

Any readers with knowledge of Greek mythology will know how the story ends. Dramatic irony is used throughout; for instance, Achilles several times mentions that he has no interest in fighting Hector because “’He’s done nothing to me.’” The reader also knows that Odysseus’ assurance that the war will be short and a victory easy is unfounded.

Patroclus is a dynamic character. At the beginning he is weak and shy; because he is rejected by so many people, he is desperate for love. His relationship with Achilles gives him self-confidence and gradually we see a principled young man with compassion for others. His love for Achilles matures as well. At first Patroclus is a love-starved boy who is obsessed with Achilles; he sees only his beauty and virtues and follows him like a lost puppy. Later he acknowledges Achilles’ flaws; he says, “’The word I use [for Achilles’ pride] is hubris. Our word for arrogance that scrapes the stars, for violence and towering rage.” Nonetheless, his love does not diminish.

Because we see Achilles from Patroclus’ perspective, we see traits other than those most commonly emphasized in the greatest of the Greek warriors. Patroclus seems to be able to bring out gentleness in Achilles, though it becomes obvious that he has inherited his mother’s coldness and is capable of loving only one person. What is not sufficiently explained is the reason why Achilles chooses to befriend Patroclus. When Peleus asks his son why he has chosen Patroclus as a companion (after choosing no other despite parental urging), Achilles answers, “’He is surprising.’”

Other characters from mythology also make appearances. Some like Thetis, Odysseus, and Agamemnon are not portrayed in a positive light. Other less-known figures like Chiron and Briseis and Patroclus emerge as the real heroes worthy of admiration.

Knowledge of Greek mythology is not essential for a reader to enjoy this book. Those who are familiar with Achilles’ story will probably focus on the character development and dramatic irony whereas those lacking the background will surely be intrigued by the plot with its several twists.

Note: Please check out my reader's blog (https://schatjesshelves.blogspot.com/) and follow me on Twitter (@DCYakabuski). ( )
  Schatje | May 21, 2020 |
A beautifully written retelling of Homer’s Iliad through the eyes of the beloved companion of Achilles , Patroclus. I recommend though you first obtain a copy of Homer’s famous poem and embark on that great journey.And after you are done with the Iliad join Odysseus and his men as they set sail for home in Homer’s thrilling ‘Odyssey ‘. ( )
  NAgis | May 6, 2020 |
3.5 ( )
  katabaza | May 5, 2020 |
The Song of Achilles artfully reimagines the backstory of the relationship between Achilles and his friend Patroclus. In Homer's The Illiad, Achilles morns the death of Patroclus to a degree that questions whether there was something more than friendship between the two. Narrated by Patroclus, The Song of Achilles tells the story of how he and Achilles were raised together as young boys, trained by the centaur Chiron and recruited by Odysseus to fight in the Trojan. Over time their friendship becomes intimate despite Achilles having fathered a child with Deidamia, daughter of the King of Scyros.

Patroclus, more interested in the healing arts than in fighting, accompanies Achilles to war. Briseis, a slave captured during the sack of Troy, is given to Achilles as a war prize. Patroclus befriends Briseis and teaches her about healing medicines which he learned from Chiron. When King Agamemnon is forced to return Chryseis to her father, he demands that Achilles give him Briseis. Achilles does so reluctantly but stubbornly announces that in return he will no longer fight in the war. Patroclus, not able to stand the death and destruction of the Greek army inflicted by the Trojans, goes to battle armed in Achilles armor. When Hector kills Patroclus, Achilles avenges Patroclus' death by killing Hector.

Achilles' son, Neoptolemus, arrives on the battle scene after the death of his father and Patroclus. He erects a tomb for Achilles but will not allow the ashes of Patroclus to be buried with the ashes of his father. Ultimately Thetis, who up until now has acted hatefully towards Patroclus, allows his spirit to journey to the underworld to be reunited with Achilles. ( )
  KatherineGregg | Apr 25, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 256 (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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