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Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Review: THE SONG OF ACHILLES by Madeline Miller

Title: The Song of Achilles
Author: Madeline Miller
Publisher: Ecco
Publication Date: August 28, 2012
Achilles, "the best of all the Greeks," son of the cruel sea goddess Thetis and the legendary king Peleus, is strong, swift, and beautiful—irresistible to all who meet him. Patroclus is an awkward young prince, exiled from his homeland after an act of shocking violence. Brought together by chance, they forge an inseparable bond, despite risking the gods' wrath.

They are trained by the centaur Chiron in the arts of war and medicine, but when word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, all the heroes of Greece are called upon to lay siege to Troy in her name. Seduced by the promise of a glorious destiny, Achilles joins their cause, and torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus follows. Little do they know that the cruel Fates will test them both as never before and demand a terrible sacrifice.
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"I will never leave him. It will be this, always, for as long as he will let me."

I have never read Homer's Iliad or The Odyssey, but not because I didn't want to. It's been on my to-be-read list for eons now. Any Greek mythology knowledge I have comes from movies like '300', 'Percy Jackson' and 'Hercules' (*sings* Who put the 'Glad' in 'Gladiator'? Herc-u-les!). Basically, I know very little! And despite having an interest in mythology and historical fiction, I've read very few of the genre. This book was recommended to me by my trusty Fizzle Reads book pushers, and I'm kicking myself for not diving right in. The Song of Achilles was both lyrical and enchanting—I couldn't turn the pages fast enough.

Going into The Song of Achilles I knew one thing: Achilles would probably die. Is that a spoiler? I'm not too sure, but I'm blocking that out anyway. For me, the biggest mystery was Patroclus. Who is this dude and what part does he play in Achilles' story? Little did I know that I'd feel so much for him. He truly was the greatest character in the novel for me. Patroclus' narrative was honest and captivating, as if I were reading his own personal journals rather than a 'novel'. Since the beginning, he didn't think much of himself and seemed to not really know who he was. It wasn't until he befriends Achilles that his character started changing, and it was the early moments when the two are together that were my favorite.

I really enjoyed Patroclus' and Achilles' dynamic. They almost balanced each other out and kept the other grounded up until a certain point. Their relationship developed very naturally. And despite Achilles treating Patroclus as his equal, it was obvious that Patroclus continually placed Achilles on an extremely high pedestal. There's a pivotal scene where Patroclus plays a large role in scaring off the Trojans, and it was written so. freaking. well! In my opinion, the feeling that his narrative gave during this scene was a complete 180 from his usual character. All because of a name, a title, a suit of armor... It could just be me but W-H-O-A. I was completely hooked (not that I wasn't throughout the novel, but THAT scene). Everything that followed was full speed ahead. I almost got dizzy. I won't say much more for fear of spoiling the goods, but I HIGHLY recommend this book. There's a reason for The Song of Achilles winning an Orange Prize for Fiction, people! I can't wait to see what Madeline Miller has up her sleeve for her next book, Circe.

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