Review || The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

Title: The Song of Achilles
Author: Madeline Miller
Publisher:  Bloomsbury Publishing
Published:  September 20th 2011
Format: Hardback (borrowed from library)
Genre: Adult, Historical
Rating: ★★★★★
Find on: Goodreads
Where to buy: Amazon (UK), Book Depository

Greece in the age of Heroes. Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the kingdom of Phthia. Here he is nobody, just another unwanted boy living in the shadow of King Peleus and his golden son, Achilles.

Achilles, 'best of all the Greeks', is everything Patroclus is not — strong, beautiful, the child of a goddess — and by all rights their paths should never cross. Yet one day, Achilles takes the shamed prince under his wing and soon their tentative companionship gives way to a steadfast friendship. As they grow into young men skilled in the arts of war and medicine, their bond blossoms into something far deeper — despite the displeasure of Achilles's mother Thetis, a cruel and deathly pale sea goddess with a hatred of mortals.

Fate is never far from the heels of Achilles. When word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, the men 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. Torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus 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.

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.

Before I started this book I wasn’t sure what to expect of this book. I hadn’t actually read the summary, and all I know about the book was, that it was about Achilles and Patroclus. That was enough for me to pick this book up, to be honest. And I’m so glad I decided to read this, because I absolutely loved it. One thing about this book is, that a lot of people already know the ending. I've been taught the Iliad before, and read it, and parts of it before. However, even with knowing the inevitable ending to this book, I completely adored this book.
“We were like gods at the dawning of the world, & our joy was so bright we could see nothing else but the other.” 
I really liked the way the settings were described. I thought them to be very vivid, and I could clearly see the world in my head. I felt like I was a part of this old Greek world, that I could take a stroll through the corridors of the great homes of the kings. The writing was beautiful and it flowed through the pages, both in the dialogues and the descriptions of places and people.

I’m used to Achilles being a brat, highly annoying, and kind of a jerk. However, in this book we see such a gentle side to him. We see him as a compassionate person, who in the beginning, even though he is aware of his destiny (most of it), doesn’t actually want to kill. This book gives another view on Achilles. He was not only a great warrior, but also a skillful musician, and again, a very compassionate person. 
“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.” 
The love between Achilles and Patroclus was so believable, and I really felt their love thought the entire book. The way their friendship developed, bringing the two closer and closer was absolutely breathtaking. From it started as a simple adoration, and slight jealousy, from Patroclus side, to such a tender relationship. I couldn't get enough, and in the end, my heart was breaking for the two of them.

The thing is, there are so many different stories wrapped into one on this book. Not only is it the story of two boys, and their journey into becoming men. It is also the story of how Achilles came to claim his greatness, it's about the relationship between the humans and the Gods, and so much more. With all of these different stories being put into one book, the pacing was a little slow at times. Because we had to get around so many stories, it took time to get to the 'main' story of the book. However, I didn't actually mind the slowness of the story. It gave time to explore the characters more, which I loved.

The Song of Achilles is truly a beautiful book, and I would wholeheartedly recommend this to anybody. If you haven't yet read this book, you really should.

Have you read The Song of Achilles? What did you think of it? Does it sound like a book you might want to read?

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