The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller: Book Review

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Synopsis:

“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 differences, 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’s 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.”

Review:

Despite how highly anticipated this book was for me and how excited I was, I was actually very nervous to read it. That is because I know absolutely nothing about about Greek Mythology, the extent of my knowledge comes from the Disney film, Hercules! So I was worried that everything would go over my head and I wouldn’t understand the plot or the characters. And not going to lie, I did find certain parts of this book quite confusing and I had to reread some parts just to make sure that I understood everything. But I think that comes from the fact that there are so many characters, with such similar names, that are all so hard to pronounce. So, I ended up giving the characters a new name or just making up the pronunciations. However, this is the only trouble I had with this book!

Firstly, it can’t go unmentioned that the writing in this book is truly beautiful. I think objectively speaking, it is the writing and the authors amazing storytelling that makes this book so phenomenal, which is why this book has become a firm favourite for everyone who has read it. Part of this storytelling is the characterisation. With a book titled The Song of Achilles, you know that it is going to be a retelling of the greek myth of Achilles who it presumably going to be the main character. Personally, however, I found Patroclus to be the real star of the show! First of all, he is our narrator so we see everything from his point of view which really gives us a detailed insight to his character. The author uses a lot of shadowing/foreshadowing which means we understand him a lot more than Achilles. He is portrayed as brave, courageous and sweet in a subtle way. He has now become my favourite fictional character ever, and I want him to be my best friend!

Continuing with characterisation, I think it is amazing how Madeline Miller is able to portray Thetis, who is Achilles’ mother, as such a terrifying and cruel character. Everytime she appears in the book, it is described as a chilling sensation where everything goes cold and dull and it honestly gave me chills everytime. That is just testament to this authors talents that she is able to evoke that kind of feeling from a reader about a side character!

And of course, we can’t forget about the relationship between Achilles and Patroclus! This has become one of my favourite relationships portrayed in a book due to its beautiful and heartbreaking qualities. We see right from the start of their relationship, how loyal and faithful they are to each other. Despite the tests and trials they go through they remain committed to each other and promise that they will be with each other and follow them no matter where, why or what. Although, on the surface this type of relationship may seem perfect, the author does an amazing job at subtly showing us how this type of relationship can become toxic. It is clear that towards the end of the book, as it reaches towards its climax that both are main characters are blinded by their love for each other. The relationship between Achilles and Patroclus, both shatters by heart into a million pieces and put it back together leaving me with a very warming anf touching feeling.

I have been debating whether I should keep giving star ratings for any book I read and review, just because they are so subjective and differ hugely from person to person, however, I do find that they give you a good indication to how I feel about a book. With that being said, I was going back and forth between giving this book a four stars or a five stars. I was initially leaning more towards a four stars as I didn’t get that concrete and conclusive thought that this book NEEDS to be a five star and I thought I would definitely know if it deserved the higher rating. But over the past few days, while I have had time to reflect on this book, I have not been able to find any flaw in the book and I find my mind drifting of to Achilles and Patroclus’ relationship while I am trying to do my everyday tasks. So, with that all being said, I have decided that for me personally, this book is a five star read! Which means, this is my first five star book of 2021!

If you have read The Song of Achilles, please let me know your thoughts on it! And if you haven’t read it yet, I urge you to pick it up very soon because you wont regret it!!

Ro x

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