A historical fiction story that chronicles the life of Achilles from the eyes of Patroclus
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The Song of Achilles
Published August 20, 2011 by Bloomsbury Publishing
Data from Goodreads
Summary (Goodreads): 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. By all rights their paths should never cross, but Achilles takes the shamed prince as his friend, 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 then word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped. Torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus journeys with Achilles to Troy, little knowing that the years that follow will test everything they hold dear.
To say I loved this book would not do it justice. It was absolutely amazing and months after reading it, I am still in awe of the author’s ability to create this vivid and fantastic story. I went into this book completely blind; apart from vaguely knowing that Achilles was a Greek hero who fought in Troy, I knew nothing about this Greek legend. This story was so different than anything I have previously read and the direction of the story was not what I was expecting at all – and I mean this in the best way possible!
The Pros: What worked for me
- One of the first things that drew me to this book was the writing style. Told from the perspective of Patroclus, the prose is lyrical and rich in its detail. Every single scene, every single character, every interaction was fleshed out beautifully, giving it a realistic feel that the reader could really believe in. The author manages to accomplish this while still maintaining the simplicity of the language, making it easy to just keep reading.
- I also thought the author went about telling this story in a very intelligent way. Rather than focusing on the actual fighting that usually is the central point of the Iliad, the author chose to explore the relationship between Patroclus and Achilles, and by doing so, she revealed a side to Achilles that I don’t think many people will have seen or read before. Instead of being this strong, untouchable demigod, Achilles has been rendered as a simple man, capable of love and humor. Achilles is given a personality that readers can connect with, (Click to reveal spoiler) which makes us understand why people were so enamored by him, why Patroclus loved him as much as he did.And while Achilles is definitely the star of the show, Patroclus’ character is in no way diminished by him. In fact, it is easy to see how this is the story of Patroclus, as we get to read about a character that is usually kept in the sidelines.
- The ending of this novel had me in tears, which is really a testament to how strongly the author made me connect with the characters. (Click to reveal spoiler) The love (because really, this is a love story over all else) between Patroclus and Achilles is timeless and strong and enduring; it is everything you dream of when you think of love. I was rooting for them from the start and seeing their love bloom and endure was absolutely beautiful. I was moved by their emotions and the lengths they would go for each other, and there was never a moment where I didn’t believe in their love for each other, even though they never declared their love for each other in the story.
At the end of the day, this was a masterful rendition of the story of Achilles, and one that I would encourage everyone to read. At the heart of it, this is a love story and it is a beautifully tragic one, which will definitely make you emotional. I am so glad that I picked this book up, and I cannot wait to read more from this author. It should come as no surprise, then, that I’m giving this a 5/5 stars!
Happy reading ~