The Song of Achilles, Madeline Miller (2012)
Themes: Historical Fiction, Fantasy, LGBT, Fiction, Romance
Yet another unpopular bookish opinion from Beth, the person that brought you a dislike of Warcross, The Mortal Instruments and Turtles All The Way Down. Not that I felt a strong dislike to this book as I did the others I just listed, but it did not live up to expectations in any way. I was expecting a heart wrenching book of sadness, heroics and exploration, but I got a book that had interesting characters, but just didn’t get my heart involved.
This is a retelling of the Iliad, we’re introduced to Patroclus whose our lead is also the narrator. I mixed between reading the paperback and listening to the audiobook of this and I really enjoyed the narrative from Patroclus’ perspective. It was an interesting insight and allowed us to see things from a different perspective to who we’d assume would be the main character, Achilles.
Achilles and Patroclus have a strong bond throughout this book and that is the pilar that the plot revolves around. Their love for each other guides their decisions, their loyalties and their actions. The book begins when Patroclus is young and goes up until his adult years. When he meets Achilles and the two are instantly friends, from here they are trained by Chiron and sent off to fight together. If you’re a Percy Jackson fan then you’ll love the mention of Chiron in this book, it feels like coming home to a familiar face. The boys become men and we see the narrative slow down, from accelerating through their lives.
The main part of this book is about the Trojan War, the battle to reclaim Helen from her captors. Achilles plays a very important role in this battle, he is looked up to by the armies and is respected, he has a status to uphold. Our narrator however does not have this power, he only has his relationship with Achilles, this is the perspective we see Achilles’ accomplishments from. Like I’ve said, I like this perspective, Patroclus is kind and a friend to the reader, he is not like most of the men here.
Up until this point the book was moving at a very fast pace, we were covering years in the space of chapters, and I think this is what hindered my enjoyment. I thought because of this pace we were leading towards a big moment, a dramatic middle or finish perhaps, but I felt like this book never changed it’s level of action. Sure there were battles etc, but it all felt of the same tone, it didn’t excite me or capture my emotions. Basically whilst this book was well written, interesting and taught me things, to me, it was kind of boring.