THE SONG OF ACHILLES
Written by Madeline Miller
Published by Harper Collins, March 6, 2012
My star rating: 4 stars
Greece in the age of heroes. Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the court of King Peleus and his perfect son Achilles. Despite their difference, Achilles befriends the shamed prince, and as they grow into young men skilled in the arts of war and medicine, their bond blossoms into something deeper – despite the displeasure of Achilles’ mother Thetis, a cruel sea goddess.
But when word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, Achilles must go to war in distant Troy and fulfill his destiny. Torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus goes with him, little knowing that the years that follow will test everything they hold dear. Find it on Goodreads
I picked this one up (finally) upon the urging of my fellow book bloggers. This book has come up on so many favourites lists, and I was informed that I absolutely MUST read it! I didn’t know what to expect going in. But I knew that it was about ancient Greece, royalty, gods and war. I kind of assumed that this would be an action book all about war and anger. SO not the case! What ended up happening was a beautifully told book about boys becoming men, relationships, balance between conscience and obligation, and dealing with gods vs mortality.
Magical realism is a tricky thing for me. It either works or it doesn’t, and I can’t really explain why. There were more magical realism elements than I expected. We have Achilles who is born from a mortal man and a goddess. We also have a centaur who trains both Achilles and Patroclus. The way that it was written was SO flawless and beautiful! There was such a connection between the mortal world and the world of gods. The relationship between the two created this larger than life connection and how the gods can cause influence with men. It’s strange for me to say, but the magical/fantasy elements ended up being my favourite thing!
Her writing was absolutely flawless and stunning. The story she weaved and filled with atmosphere and emotion was breathtaking at times. It was so easy to read this and feel transported to the time and place, as well as into the hearts of these characters. This book covers such a large period of time, which can also be tricky. We follow Achilles and Patroclus from the time they are young boys through to their late 20’s. It was such a joy to watch them change and grow. Due to their close relationship, their character development was one in the same as they grew together. The author showed how people can sometimes grow together or apart, and how they can share and hide things depending on the situation. Always with the other one’s feelings in the back of their mind.
The biggest thing that I enjoyed was the balance in their lives. Both boys were born as princes. One is still held in high esteem while the other is in exile. They needed to learn when to push and pull in their friendship. The balance between their obligations with their name sake and what they felt in their hearts. The fine line between what their family wanted for them and what they wanted for themselves. And even in war, when they knew what they think should be done opposed to what the leaders felt needed to be done. It was all an intricate dance that propelled the story into something amazing!
The romance was wonderful and hits you right in the heart. It felt so sweet and caring while also being forbidden. It’s not a very descriptive romance. Just a slow burning and deeply emotional relationship. It was so wonderful!!
I did feel like something was missing though – yet I can’t for the life of me put my finger on it. Maybe it’s because I went into it thinking that it would be a war book and it ended up being more emotional? Maybe it had to do with the large span of time and the ever growing cast of characters? I don’t know. I enjoyed this book thoroughly, but something felt a little off.
In the end I enjoyed this book immensely! The writing hooked me almost from the beginning and I plan to pick up more from her in the future!!
Until next time, happy reading!