The Song of Achilles is a retelling of Homer’s “Iliad” which portrays the epic battle between the ancient Kingdom of Troy and Sparta. Madeline Miller, the author of this novel, creatively explores one of the most important events in Greek mythology from the perspective of an often forgettable, but equally vital, player of Achilles’ glory: Patroclus.
The story begins with Prince Patroclus who, at the age of ten, was exiled to Phthia from his kingdom for accidentally murdering a boy. Upon arriving at King Peleus’ palace, Patroclus meets Achilles, who was known as beautiful and for being the “best of all the Greeks.” They had quickly become inseparable and developed an unbreakable friendship. However, when word got out that Queen Helen of Sparta has been abducted, Achilles was persuaded to join the war with the promises of fame and glory. Torn between love and fear for his dear friend, Patroclus followed while trying to prevent the impending doomed of Achilles’ destiny.
Miller has successfully revived this beautiful masterpiece of the Trojan War by her descriptive, poetic writing and fantastic story structure. Miller’s writing is lyrical and simultaneously brings the story to life by using sharp and vivid details that puncture the emotions of her readers. Here’s a glimpse of Miller’s captivating writing:
“He watches me. It seems that he is waiting. I shift, an infinitesimal movement, towards him. It is like the leap from a waterfall. I do not know, until then, what I am going to do. I lean forward and our lips land clumsily on each other. They are like the fat bodies of bees, soft and round and giddy with pollen. I can taste his mouth-hot and sweet with honey from dessert. My stomach trembles, and a warm drop of pleasure spreads beneath my skin. More.”
There’s nothing more enjoyable than reading an enthralling and excellently written story that touches the soul.
Miller strategically structures the story from the viewpoint of Achilles’ one true love to create satisfying suspense. By using Patroclus to narrate the story of Achilles, Miller creates an overwrought emotional build-up that causes her readers to believe in a different outcome other than the one told by the original. This method is highly successful because her readers are more focused on the passionate relationship between Achilles and Patroclus instead of how the story ends.
Overall, this book is fantastic and I highly recommend it to anyone who is looking for a beautiful love story with a little sprinkle of medieval action.
Be sure to share your thoughts on this book below if you’ve already read it. And if you haven’t, let me know if you’ll make this your next read!