My Review | The Song of Achilles

Photo shows the book cover Bof The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller - Photo by Peri McKinnis - Peri Reads -

Greece in the age of heroes. Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the kingdom of Phthia to be raised in the shadow of King Peleus and his golden son, Achilles. “The best of all the Greeks”—strong, beautiful, and the child of a goddess—Achilles is everything the shamed Patroclus is not. Yet despite their differences, the boys become steadfast companions. Their bond deepens as they grow into young men and become skilled in the arts of war and medicine—much to the displeasure and the fury of Achilles’ mother, Thetis, a cruel sea goddess with a hatred of mortals.

When word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, the men of Greece, bound by blood and oath, must 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 Fates will test them both as never before and demand a terrible sacrifice.

I won’t lie I had already read this masterpiece of a book in high-school. There were loads of tears shed obviously. It’s a beautiful retelling of the budding “friendship” between Achilles and Patroclus, an unlikely pair from different backgrounds. Recounting the story of the Iliad, Achilles has to go fight in the Trojan War or be forever forgotten in history. Patroclus, bound by an old promise and a new love, goes with him. Madeline Miller modernizes an old Greek tragedy and brings it to life with a fresh look, creating a heartbreaking love story between two tragic characters having to fulfill a destiny that might be their downfall. 

“He is half of my soul, as the poets say.”

The story is through the eyes of our main character Patroclus, an awkward shy prince who is nothing but a disappoint through his father’s eyes. Soon his life changes when he is forced to be exiled and lives under the wing of King Peleus, father of future hero, Achilles. Though they seem to be complete opposites the two form an unlikely friendship. Patroclus cares so deeply that he would travel anywhere if it meant he got to be Achilles. This is put to the test when years later Achilles, formally named the Aristos Achaion, must fight in the war and die young or live a long life of obscurity. In a time where the only thing to be remembered for is your bravery and valor, Achilles must go. The pair set out to Troy to retrieve the kidnapped Helen and restore order between the Greeks and the Trojans. Lots of trials and tribulations between the two as they are tested everyday by not only the war but with the Gods themselves. A truly wonderful retelling that didn’t hold back, Miller brings life to the tragic story, meshing it moments of tenderness and triumph. Of course when I said earlier that this is a classic tragic tale it still holds. As every Greek tragedy ends in the same way: very tragically. 

Book Review of The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller - Photo by Peri McKinnis - Peri Reads -

I will warn you if you’re not entirely into slow burn type of stories then this might not be for you. Miller makes sure to add as much information as she can from us getting to know Patroclus’s backstory, to us getting to know every character, and the impending war. That’s a lot. For me I enjoyed the way Miller was able to embed each little detail in a way that’s not overwhelming. But it’s not to say there isn’t a lot of information to go around. Many years pass before anything crazy happens but that’s when we’re able to watch Achilles and Patroclus’s relationship start to bloom. The two want to stay together for as long as possible, at the expense of everyone around them. Which causes a lot of animosity that slowly builds up as the war goes on. I was honestly thoroughly entertained with all the drama that Achilles and Patroculus brought with them. And I was pained with their hurt, like maybe a little too pained. All and all there may be a lot of reading you’ll have to do but it is most def worth it.

“We were like gods at the dawning of the world, & our joy was so bright we could see nothing else but the other.”

While I don’t want to spoil too much for you I do just want to give out a warning that you might cry. Or you might not. This book was not everyones cup of tea but it was certainly mine. A fantastical tale of childhood adventure mixed in with the awful reality of war just makes reading every chapter both gut wrenching and downright breathtaking. I was so impressed with the information that Miller poured out for us, not leaving anything out, even for those who may not have heard of the tale beforehand. Anybody can read it and I highly recommend, especially if you don’t mind having your feelings hurt. 






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Hey! I’m Peri McKinnis

Peri McKinnis of Peri Reads

I’m a creative, I’m a dreamer, and I’m an Aries. I’ll read any book with enough convincing, I enjoy weird movies, and I’m a caffeine fiend. From the day that I brought my first book catalog home from school I knew that books were going to have a special place in my heart. Now I want to spread that love here, to talk about the books that made us cry, fall in love, and scorn because we couldn’t finish them.