Book Review

Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

I am a total sucker for friendship turning into romance, so one set in ancient Greece against the backdrop of gods and goddesses, blood oaths and battles – I was a goner.

Greece in the age of heroes. Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the court of King Peleus and his perfect son Achilles. By all rights their paths should never cross, but Achilles takes the shamed prince as his friend, and as they grow into young men skilled in the arts of war and medicine their bond blossoms into something deeper – despite the displeasure of Achilles’ mother Thetis, a cruel sea goddess. But then word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped. Torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus journeys with Achilles to Troy, little knowing that the years that follow will test everything they hold dear.

Profoundly moving and breathtakingly original, this rendering of the epic Trojan War is a dazzling feat of the imagination, a devastating love story, and an almighty battle between gods and kings, peace and glory, immortal fame and the human heart.

Oh wow, I am losing it!  This book made me feel EVERYTHING, and there’s no way this review will be anything coherent.  I guess I know why The Iliad continues to be read millenia after it was created–no one can create a drama like the Greeks!  The tragedy here is SO STRONG, with characters acting so stupidly human that you want to shake them, but you totally see their point, and then everything falls apart because there are no real “good” guys and “bad” guys, only dumb humans seeking glory, and AHHHH!

Okay, I’ll try again.  Reading The Song of Achilles is like watching Titanic.  I knew what was going to happen, but I couldn’t help but desperately hope things would turn out differently.  Every bit of foreshadowing heightened the horrified anticipation so that when the climax came I was just helplessly awash in emotion.  I mean, I actually thought I was holding it together pretty well, until I read the very last paragraph and surprised myself by bursting into tears.  

Miller takes one of Western history’s greatest stories and plays up the romance angle, milking two sets of drama for all they’re worth.  She doesn’t have to change anything at all for Achilles and Patroclus to believably be in the most epic romance of all time.  I am a total sucker for friendship turning into romance, so one set in ancient Greece against the backdrop of gods and goddesses, blood oaths and battles – I was a goner.

The Song of Achilles was amazing and everyone should read it. I want to read it again as soon as I stop jumping up and down to get rid of all the feels crawling around in my heart.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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