The Song of Achilles
Title: The Song of Achilles
Author: Madeline Miller
Publish: 28th August 2012
Genre: Romance, Historical, Fiction, LGBT
Start Date:15th June 2022
Finish Date: 18th June 2022
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. Bought together by chance, they forge an inseperable 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 cruel Fates will test them both as never before and demand a terrible sacrifice.
This book was so beautifully written, Madeline Miller definitely has a way with words. I adore the way the book has been written; poetical with lots of mythological facts with so much detail that is succeeded to make this a more than just intriguing journey.
What I adored the most was how she portrayed Achilles' and Patroclus' relationship throughout the book. Even though she never went into explicit detail, she never actually let them say they loved each other. It was still palpable in every single moment they shared. Those moments were so precious I honestly could not get enough of them and all I wished for was for them to be happy.
Patroclus was truly an embodiment of Achilles' life and actions and the people around them were idiots not to see their strong connection. Patroclus was everything good about Achilles, he brought the best out in him. Patroclus taught Achilles compassion and love, he was an anchor and someone Achilles could come home to, someone to speak to and someone to confide in. Once Patroclus was gone, the relentless godly part of Achilles showed through and the rest of it is history.
The attraction between Patroclus and Achilles was not something that was rushed and squandered. It was slowly built up and delivered eloquently. They were friends since childhood, and Patroclus was enamoured by Achilles after one glance. Patroclus did not want to be parted from him. They grew up together, fought together, they learnt together and they developed together. They become reliant on each other which led to them being inseperable. The sexual side of their relationship matured as they did, it was the most natural thing in the world.
I am truly overjoyed that Madeline Miller did not deviate from the suggestions of homosexuality that were present in Homer's writing. This book would have failed dramatically had she done so. The romance plot one of the truest and believable I have read, it was real and it was strong. In my opinion Madeline Miller did what the movie producers of Troy were too cowardly to do. She stayed true to the homosexuality of Homer's Iliad rather than writing a censored version which would stink of Homophobia.
Madeline added to the story of Homer's Iliad by adding a back story for Patroclus. The backstory makes sense, she traces the friendship and eventual romance between Achilles and Patroclus that casts a new light on the human side of the Trojan War. This story may be driven by Romance but it is not defined by it; there is also a story of growth and the story of the warrior who is out to prove his strength and honour in a world driven by war.
Patroclus, he was the best. He was wonderful and beautiful in his own way, I adored how faithful he was. He was one of the kindest and sweetest person I have read about and I was overjoyed to see that Achilles thought that too. Achilles realised that Patroclus is special and encouraged him to speak his mind. The way Madeline wrote the story it felt like Patroclus was Achilles' conscience, intervening whenever his divine heritage showed. Without Patroclus Achilles path would have been a completely different story, it would have been dark and bloody. But, with Patroclus by his side he became this glorious figure we all know about. Patroclus was more than a friend; he was a companion, a teacher, a conscience, a lover, a reminder and Achilles' past, present and his future.
The way Madeline Miller portrays Achilles to have his unattractive qualities; a brat, a bully, a big-headed jerk who knows he is the star player on the team. But she also shows that Achilles in only human, he is capable of love, he is deeply conflicted, he has a sense of humour and a gentle side. We see him through Patroclus's eyes, growing from a privileged child to a sensitive teen to a young man unable to balance his personal feelings with the expectation of his entire country.
By the end of the book I have been dragged through a rollercoaster of emotions from joy from their little moments together, to despair when the inevitable finally happened. The final sentence was like a dagger to my heart.