Book Review: The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

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Greece in the age of heroes. Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the kingdom of Phthia to be raised in the shadow of King Peleus and his golden son, Achilles. “The best of all the Greeks”—strong, beautiful, and the child of a goddess—Achilles is everything the shamed Patroclus is not. Yet despite their differences, the boys become steadfast companions. Their bond deepens as they grow into young men and become skilled in the arts of war and medicine—much to the displeasure and the fury of Achilles’ mother, Thetis, a cruel sea goddess with a hatred of mortals.
When word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, the men of Greece, bound by blood and oath, must 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 the Fates will test them both as never before and demand a terrible sacrifice.

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I absolutely have no rational reason for not having read this book till now. It’s been on my TBR for more than an year, I own the book in three different formats and I knew I would love it. So, I really don’t know what was stopping me, except maybe that I didn’t want my heart to be broken. And I also recently watched the TV show Troy on Netflix, so I decided to read the book finally while some of the characters names were still fresh in my mind.

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I am one of those readers who likes my books to be written in a simple way, poetic language and purple prose doesn’t really work for me and I have DNFd quite a few books for being written that way. However, this book was a pleasant surprise. The author’s writing is the definition of poetic but I fell in love with the beauty of it. The development of the relationship between Patroclus and Achilles, the tenderness and unconditional nature of their friendship and love is just so all encompassing that I felt every single emotion that they felt. While the first half deals with this progression, the second half was about the Trojan War. However, the author manages to finely balance this and provides enough action to keep us on the edge of our seats but the relationship is always at the forefront.

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I frankly have no words to describe the characters. Patroclus is such a good person and after having been exiled by his father, his whole life literally revolves around Achilles. He does everything he can to ensure Achilles gets the honor and fame that he wants, whatever the consequences might be for himself and his love. I loved him right from the get go and seeing Achilles from his perspective, it’s difficult not to fall in love with him too. However, we also see the change in Achilles, how he can’t really escape his fate and how much role his own hubris plays in his downfall, but through all of it, Patroclus’s love for him never wavers and that kind of love is only possible in myths.

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I am sorry everyone, I have no clue what I am writing here. I think I just don’t have words to review how much I loved this book. This book is an embodiment of knowing what the ending is but still reading the book because the journey is magical. I cried and cried towards the end and had to take a break from reading for a couple of days because I couldn’t get it out of my head. If you enjoy mythology or a great love story, then I highly recommend this one. It might be a Greek tragedy, but I promise you, the experience is worth it.

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I did not mind anymore that I lost when we raced and I lost when we swam out to the rocks and I lost when we tossed spears or skipped stones. For who can be ashamed to lose to such beauty? It was enough to watch him win, to see the soles of his feet flashing as they kicked up sand, or the rise and fall of his shoulders as he pulled through the salt. It was enough.

His eyes were unwavering, green flecked with gold. A surety rose in me, lodged in my throat. I will never leave him. It will be this, always, for as long as he will let me.

If I had had words to speak such a thing, I would have. But there were none that seemed big enough for it, to hold that swelling truth. As if he had heard me, he reached for my hand. I did not need to look; his fingers were etched into my memory, slender and petal-veined, strong and quick and never wrong.

We were like gods at the dawning of the world, and our joy was so bright we could see nothing else but the other.

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.

I conjure the boy I knew. Achilles, grinning as the figs blur in his hands. His green eyes laughing into mine. Catch, he says. Achilles, outlined against the sky, hanging from a branch over the river. The thick warmth of his sleepy breath against my ear. If you have to go, I will go with you. My fears forgotten in the golden harbor of his arms.

IN THE DARKNESS, two shadows, reaching through the hopeless, heavy dusk. Their hands meet, and light spills in a flood like a hundred golden urns pouring out of the sun.

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12 thoughts on “Book Review: The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

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  1. I am right there with you, Sahi, this book was absolutely beautiful and heartbreaking but so endearing..I’ll admit I wasn’t really familiar with he story of Achilles/Troy before I read the book and I don’t really like reading too much of a flowery writing but this book – the writing, the story, the characters and bonds – it just all gripped me from the beginning and I couldn’t stop reading even when my heart was being shattered..🙈 I loved it!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I don’t usually read fantasy but I have been seeing this one a lot of times everywhere. I love Greek mythology though. Maybe I should give this a try?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I loved the review even if you said you have no idea what you’re writing about. I recently had the beautiful book Circe delivered to me and intend to read that this month, along with some interesting romances I guess. So I’m sure The song of Achilles will be on my TBR very soon!😊

    Liked by 1 person

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