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Ecco, 2012, 384 pages

Madeline Miller re-tells the myth of Achilles, the greatest fighter the Ancients Greeks have ever seen. In The Song of Achilles, Patroclus, Achilles’ long-time companion, narrates the story from when the two friends meet until their deaths.

Patroclus is a noble prince who is suddenly exiled after pushing a boy on rocks and accidentally killing him. He goes to the house of Achilles’ father where he meets young Achilles. Patroclus cannot take his eyes off of Achilles. As the son of the sea goddess Thetis and the legendary king Peleus, Achilles is strong, beautiful, deliberate in his movements and expressions, everything opposite to what Patroclus is. Regardless of their differences, the two boys strike up a friendship and form a bond that lasts for more than twenty years.

When Helen of Sparta is kidnapped by Paris Prince of Troy, all the heroes of Greece are called upon to lay siege to Troy in her name. Achilles’ mother prophesizes that Achilles will gain great glory if he goes to war for Agamemnon, but he will die there. He does not want to kill and fight. He knows once he does, his life will no longer be his.

But Achilles love his reputation and the thought of having eternal glory is too tantalizing. He goes to war, and his faithful companion (and lover) Patroclus follows him as they cannot live without each other.

The Song of Achilles is about great ancient Greek myth, but it’s also a powerful love story. Achilles and Patroclus will not be separated, even in death.

Had she really thought I would not know him? I could recognize him by touch alone, by smell; I would know him blind, by the way his breaths came and his feet struck the earth. I would know him in death, at the end of the world?

Prophecy tells that Achilles must fight Hector, but he doesn’t until the day that Hector kills Patroclus. Achilles is livid and avenges Patroclus’ untimely death. Achilles wins and kills Hector, but he doesn’t live for long. Patroclus and Achilles are buried together and their souls enter the underworld to live forever as one.

This was one of the best books I have read all year and definitely one of my favourites book of all time. I was instantly captivated. The love story between Patroclus and Achilles is so great and powerful that I died a little inside when Patroclus dies and Achilles is left to mourn him. Miller herself is an academic in ancient Greece and her expertise shows. The writing was superb and the story was perfect. It was like I was on the beaches of Troy, taking in the hot sun and the impossible blue ocean, watching a massive army lay siege for ten years.

The Song of Achilles is the first book from Madeline Miller and I’m absolutely looking forward to more writing from her in the future.


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Book 49 out of 60