You may remember reading about Achilles in The Iliad in high school. And you may have heard the theory that Achilles and his close friend Patroclus were actually romantically involved. More than friends. Well, Madeline Miller took that theory and ran with it. This is the Age of Heroes in ancient Greece when legends are born.
Patroclus is banished from his father’s court to that of King Peleus and his son Achilles. Patroclus and Achilles grow up together as friends. Their friendship later blossoms into something more. But soon afterward, the Trojan War begins and Achilles and Patroclus travel to Troy to fight. Their relationship faces numerous tests, as the Trojan War seems to go on without end.
If you’re looking for a quick recommendation, yes, I would definitely recommend this book!
An epic re-telling of a story you may have thought boring in high school. Madeline Miller takes The Iliad and breathes new life into it. The characters of an epic poem composed thousands of years ago come to life. History is present. I’m already a nerd for ancient Greece, so this was automatically right up my alley, but this is one of my favorite historical fiction novels. I already know the story, but Miller knows how to make it personal.
Sure, I read The Iliad and The Odyssey, but I didn’t really think about the horrors of war, the losses endured by so many during the time, or what it would have been like to live in a more “magical” time. A time when people genuinely believed in nymphs, satyrs, Zeus, and Athena. In this book, Miller creates a world where these mythological beings are real. Miller portrays Achilles’ mother, Thetis, a sea goddess, as not just a cruel and intimidating woman, as she very well could have been, but a true ruler of the waters. With a terrifying presence and a piercing stare.
It takes an amazing talent to write about characters who have been dead for thousands of years, but Miller has done it. I realize the main focus of the story is the relationship between Achilles and Patroclus, and I did enjoy that part, but my favorite aspect about this book is how Miller takes one of my favorite stories in my English class and shows her readers how the characters aren’t just in the story of The Iliad.
They were real. They existed at some point. And sure, they’ve been placed on pedestals of heroism over time, but, at one point, they were average people. They just wanted to go home, see their families again, be with their significant others. But The Iliad doesn’t show that aspect of the characters. They are heroes, and the focus is on their acts of heroism, while Miller focuses on the humanness of the characters in The Iliad.
Overall, I would recommend this to a busy mom. Especially one who loves historical fiction and enjoyed reading The Iliad and The Odyssey in high school English classes. If you love a good re-telling of a story you found even somewhat entertaining in high school, then you’ll love this one!
Five out of five stars
If you enjoyed my review of The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller, you might also like Circe by Madeline Miller. Check out my review!
If you’re interested in purchasing The Song of Achilles, here are some quick links to buy the book on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. And, if you’re interested to see what others think, here’s the link to the book on Goodreads.