The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

Amazon Synopsis: Greece in the age of Heroes. Patroclus, an awkward young prince, had 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 int 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 had been kidnapped, Achilles must go to war in distant Troy and fulfil 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.

The thing with Achilles is that we all know how it ends. It is one of those legends that your learn about pretty early on in life; be it from basic history in lower school or Brad Pitt fighting half naked on the big screen. Either way the legend of Troy is one people know about even if they don't realise it. Despite this the public continually returns to it with seemingly more excitement each time. This book, my first read of 2015, is no exception.

We follow Patroclus, a dishonoured prince who befriends Achilles at a young age. We are rarely given an insight into the boy who would become the most powerful warrior of his generation so my interest was instantly peaked at this unusual perspective. It goes from around aged six onwards and so we are truly transported through the growth and development not only of Achilles but also his comrades that we may know by name from the original works. 

There is a love story in this book but it is a pure one. It is the classic story of childhood friends that begin to fall in love only to realise the other feels the same, the only real difference being that this is a same sex couple. There is no social commentary with this story though which just makes it perfect. There is no focus on the fact they are men apart from one area and it really focuses more on political rather than social problems. As the book progresses this love story becomes less central and therefore throughout their love just is.

The blood and gore of an action packed Greek tale is not lost in this story either. The violence is not gratuitous nor overwhelming but it makes the reader feel truly like they are at war. The harsh lifestyle of war and ancient idea of honour are both explored throughout. It is the perfect balance of tragedy and success.

This book fuses magic and myth into an intensely captivating love story that was hard to pull away from. The vivid history featured within leads the reader on a journey not only of the famed hero but of those who knew him and loved him. It is a beautiful ode to Greek mythology and the true tragedy within it. It is a visceral  masterpiece that leaves the reader alone with the plethora of emotions once that final page is turned. If you like history, mythology, action or romance I highly recommend that you pick this book up.


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