The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
No, I’m really not okay. This book made me feel like my heart was being wrenched out of my body by a pair of red-hot pliers. The writing was beautiful, the story was beautiful, the relationship was amazingly handled and so, so well written…
I know very little about Greek mythology. What I do know comes solely from Percy Jackson/Heroes of Olympus, and a little general knowledge here and there. This makes me want to rethink everything I’m doing. Why am I not doing classics? Why am I not doing ancient history? Why did it take me so long to see how amazing this period of history is? Then again, it might just be the amazing but heartbreaking gay love story talking.
This book is told from the point of view of Patroclus (whose name is either pronounced Patro-cleeus or Patro-clus, I’m not sure), who was a companion to Achilles in Homer’s Iliad. I actually picked this book up a day after we started looking at Greek culture in my Archaeology class, so this was a great help in teaching me how to spell Agamemnon – thank you Madeline Miller!
If you’ve read the Iliad/The Odyssey then you’ll probably know the entire plotline of this story already, but I was fortunate in not knowing the outcome of this story at all, which made it 1000% times more upsetting to read. It’s also made me actually want to read The Iliad at some point, either this year or the next, and continue my classical mythology adventure!
I know that the main difference between this book and the original Greek tales is that in this retelling, Patroclus and Achilles are outwardly in a relationship. It’s never actually stated in Homer’s Iliad, but it’s strongly implied, from what I’ve heard from other people. Going into this story without having read any classical literature made this relationship even better for me than I suppose it would be for classics students, or anyone well versed in classical literature. It was just so new, so sparkly, so shiny, and so. Damn. Heartbreaking.
This was a clear 5 stars for me. How could it not be? I need my own copy, right now, ASAP.
N.B.: Go check out menoitides.tumblr.com who has a blog dedicated to Patroclus/Achilles fanart and general cute stuff. Please, please go follow them. They are truly amazing, and I’m slightly in awe of their skill.