The Song of Achilles - Madeline Miller

February 14, 2019

4 / 5 Stars

 

Richly imagined and obviously well researched. A great read.

Oh I was so excited when I found this book in a charity shop! I'd loved Circe and couldn't wait to read this one. Until I opened it up and realised I'd actually read it before (that's when you know you're reading too many books...)

Anyway, that aside, it was enjoyable a second time around and it's a definite must-read for those who love Greek mythology.

 

 Although it's Achilles who gets the title, the book actually focuses on Patroclus, a rather weedy prince who is exiled after accidentally killing someone. He meets Achilles, they go off into the wild to be educated by Chiron (a centaur) and their romantic relationship begins. But Achilles has a prophecy hanging over his head, and his water-nymph mother is determined to see him achieve his potential...

As with Circe, this book is a fine example of what can happen when an author takes a much-loved myth and explores it deeply. These are the characters we grew up with in school; Achilles, Odysseus, Paris, Chiron... but here they are lifted out of the textbooks and given richness and character. The author also manages to make it all seem believable, even though we're talking gods and half-horse men here. That's a tricky thing to pull off!

I think Achilles' character development was probably the best aspect of this book; from sunny-haired boy who has never failed, to a grown man that makes the mistake of his life. His terrifying goddess mother is another great character...though I must confess, I wanted more of her. 

My only criticism is that the last third of the book dragged slightly. It was the siege scene (outside Troy) and I felt it was slightly lacklustre compared with the rest of the book. However, I really liked the end. Lovely stuff.

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