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The Song of Achilles
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The Song of Achilles

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4.08 of 5 stars 4.08  ·  rating details  ·  20,882 ratings  ·  3,298 reviews
Greece in the age of Heroes. Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the kingdom of Phthia. Here he is nobody, just another unwanted boy living in the shadow of King Peleus and his golden son, Achilles.

Achilles, 'best of all the Greeks', is everything Patroclus is not — strong, beautiful, the child of a goddess — and by all rights their paths should never cr
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Hardcover, 384 pages
Published September 20th 2011 by Bloomsbury Publishing
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Rick Riordan
A new take on the Iliad, written by a high school classics teacher -- how could I not read this? The Song of Achilles retells the story of Greece's greatest hero from the point of view of his best friend Patroclus. The big twist: Madeline Miller casts the story as a romance between Achilles and Patroclus. While staying true to Greek legends and the works of Homer, Miller creatively and convincingly fills in the blanks, giving Patroclus a back story that makes perfect sense, and tracing the frie ...more
Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways
This review can now be seen at Expendable Mudge Muses Aloud!

And how wonderful it is.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.
Whitaker
*This review is dedicated to Kelly without whose question I would not have thought so hard about why I loved this book.


Miller has called this book “The Song of Achilles”. The title could refer to a song sung by Achilles. It could also refer to a song sung about Achilles. This double meaning is significant as the book retells the story of the Illiad but with a very different focus. The title is significant too because it deliberately recalls the start of the Illiad: “Sing, goddess, of the wrath
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Judith Starkston
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Will Byrnes
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Newengland
I'm conflicted here, and 3-stars is my go-to rating when faced with conflict. How ironic, then, that this would be a book about one of the greatest conflicts of all time: Greece v. Troy. Too bad it only sort of is, though. About Troy, I mean. What this book really is about is a relationship: Achilles and Patroclus'. Playing that card means that the characterization had better be all aces.

Jacks, it turns out.

I could have easily 4-starred the book for its writing. Miller has a way with the word a
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Tatiana
May 17, 2012 Tatiana marked it as abandoned  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical
Up to page 55, The Song of Achilles is nothing but a romance between Achilles and Patroclus. There is nothing wrong with that, except this romance is a mopy and gushy wide-eyed affair. I have a hard time believing that a 10-year old boy would wax so poetically about his beloved's appearance, down to his feet:

"In the huge hall, his beauty shone like a flame, vital and bright, drawing my eye against my will. His mouth was a plump bow, his nose an aristocratic arrow." (p. 26)

"His dusty feet scuffed
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Lin
I read this book in two days, and kept pinning the remaining pages together to see how much I had left. It was the sort of book that I kept wanting to go through slower, wanting it to last longer. I'm not entirely sure what it was about this book that got me so involved, but I guess I'm just a sucker for this crap.Maybe it was the Iliad story itself, maybe it was the slow-built romance and friendship between the two leads, maybe it was the lovely poetic prose and the striking description. As lov ...more
Wigs
Okay so I'll make this brief because I don't need to belabor how much praise I have for this book.

I think that personally for me this will be the best book I read this year and it's only February! But I already know. Mainly because of this: this is the first book in my life that has moved me to tears, and lots of them. I spent the last three chapters with tears streaming down my face and I was enjoying every agonizing second of it.

I knew from opening it I would love it, based on the beautiful w
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Megan
Jul 02, 2012 Megan rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: mythology buffs, people who read too much slash fanfiction, mary renault fans
okay, this is gonna be edited cus I'm at the library right now and I'm hungry but here's my quick verdict:

You'd think that I'd be all over this stuff (gratuitous background: former/failed classics student, mildly ashamed reader of trashy slash fanfiction). But I found this novel disappointing, especially since I had read so many gushing reviews. Despite Miller's credentials as a classics instructor at Brown), the book feels curiously fanfiction-y?? Don't get me wrong, the writing is beautiful in
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Thomas
We despise spoilers. We avoid them at all costs, cover them with spoiler tags, and castigate those who share them. But a great book is one that we can appreciate even when we already know the ending. That's how it was with The Song of Achilles: I knew the fates of the characters beforehand, but no matter how much I tried to brace myself, the last few chapters still broke my heart in the best possible way.

What had Deidameia thought would happen, I wondered, when she had her women dance for me? Ha
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Karla
This has been one of the most difficult reviews to write in a long time. It's been awhile since I've read a book that had stuff I really liked and stuff that left me feeling really "meh."

There's no real need to give a summary of the plot because it's basically: "Achilles and Patroclus meet, gradually fall in teenaged love, and the events of the Iliad that we all know about happen."

Which is one of the reasons why, when I finished Miller's book, I was left with a feeling of "Eh." The story is not
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Diana
I’m done with my exams, so I can finally write a review for this book…


I’ve been fascinated by Greek mythology since primary school and the Trojan War was my favourite part of it, so the book made me feel a little bit nostalgic. And after reading it I was more than a little bit depressed, which was weird considering the fact that I knew how it was going to end.

This novel focuses on Patroclus (who is the narrator) and Achilles and their relationship, which grows stronger while they grow up. Madel
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René
Well, it's about Achilles, and of course Achilles’ story has already been told quite a few times. So it begs the question: why another version of Achilles’ legend? Why not just read the Odyssey, or skim wikipedia while watching Troy?

This novel’s answer, in my opinion, is that Achilles deserved to be portrayed by he that had loved him most, he who knew the hero and the son of a goddess but who also shared his most intimate moments.

And of course, by ‘intimate’, I mean gay sex.

So it's unabashedly l
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K
Aug 26, 2012 K rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K by: Orange Prize and high goodreads rating
I am going to disagree with the Orange Prize committee. I am going to disagree with thousands of goodreads reviewers. This book is crap.

Okay, all you trolls. Go ahead and tell me what a philistine I am, how ignorant I am of Greek literature and mythology, and how my failure to appreciate this book reflects my limitations rather than those of the book. You don't really need to bother defending this book, because the masses seem to agree with you.

But if you ask me, this was a Harlequin. Boring Pa
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Gail Carriger
Correctly hailed as the scion of Mary Renault, this is a retelling of The Iliad told in first person from Patroclus's perspective. As I have always found Achilles's foil the most interesting character in The Iliad, I loved the idea behind this book. I wish we had a little more insight into why Achilles loves him so devotedly, but their relationship is believable and quite sweet. There is a great twist as to how Miller manages to finish the story of the war even after the inevitable. If you have ...more
Pamela ☼what?!? you want more gruel☼ Tee
At Uni I studied the Iliad --a bit. It's a wonderful classic tale that has been examined and reexamined under multiple lenses and from multiple perspectives. And I was really looking forward to Ms. Miller's rendition, particularly as she has a master's in Latin and Ancient Greek, and because the School Library Journal described the book in such glowing terms. However, as it turned out, I was disappointed.

The book starts out wonderfully. I was immediately engaged as the 'voice' of the book, Patro
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Jennifer
In Homer's Iliad, Achilles is a loose cannon who avenges the death of Patroclus by desecrating Hector's body. In her first novel, classics teacher Miller delivers Patroclus's side of the story. Achilles's BFF tells us how his sad, friendless childhood changed completely when the half-god prince took him under his wing. Patroclus's views don't contradict tradition; they are an intimate look at Achilles that brings out the hero's best qualities. This view is an example of how Miller pays tribute t ...more
Francisco
If the only thing that this book does is send you to the bookshelves to find that old copy of the Iliad, that would still be quite an accomplishment. But this novel, faithful in many ways to the characters (human and otherwise) and events of the Iliad stands on its own merit as a powerful love story. Yes, there's plenty of wonderfully depicted fight scenes (Achilles, the best warrior of all the Greeks is a killing machine), but these war scenes, the whole ten plus year siege of Troy, are seconda ...more
Shovelmonkey1
Apr 18, 2013 Shovelmonkey1 rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: the classicists
Recommended to Shovelmonkey1 by: prize nomination
Boo-hiss! I hear you cry. For I have only given this book three shiny gold stars when others might argue that even pulling the Pleiades from the heavens and inserting them in digital format at the top of the page would not do this book justice.

Yes, it is a lovely story and yes it is one of the oldest love stories ever told (or never told, for Greek myth leaves a little to be desired on the clarification front) but for me the real hero of the story was Odysseus.

The Song of Achilles is a paen, no
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Amira Mahmoud
في اعتقادي من الظلم الحكم على هذا العمل ككل
النصف الأول من الرواية ممل ، مقزز ، خالي من الأحداث
هو فقط يدور حول باتروكلوس ووصفه لأخيل وحياتهما معاً والعلاقة الشاذة التي كانت تجمعهما
النصف الثاني من الرواية ، ملحمة تاريخية
عن حرب طروادة التي قامت من أجل استرداد أجمل امرأة في العالم ، وسلب طروادة وكنوزها
ودور أخيل كأفضل اليونانيين في هذه الحرب
هذا الأخيل النصف آلهة ، النصف بشري ،، الذي سيحقق النصر على الطرواديين
وباقي قصته وما تشملها من مجد وانتقامه من هيكتور لرفيقه باتروكلوس
ومن ثم استلام ابنه البعيد
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Elfscribe
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
DayDreamer
The thing is, it is in Patroclus' point of view. And from a certain moment on, he shouldn't have a direct view. Because of circumstances I'm sure most are aware of. Also the voice goes from past to present tense back and forth (in the last third I remember it well, because it is recent).

Also, it seems uneven - fast pacing in the last pages, dragging in the middle. But perhaps my judgemant is even more subjective than usual because it took me so long to read it.

I want to give this book one star.
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Cher
4.5 stars - Incredible. I really loved it.

And a new favorite has been found! Simply put, this is a beautifully written story of love and loyalty set amongst the vengeance and wrath of the gods. Though less than 400 pages, this read like a much longer epic novel with action, adventure, a touching romance, mythological creatures (including a spine-chilling mother), and displays of humanity covering the whole spectrum of good and evil. Absolutely loved it and will likely re-read it in the future (
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David
There's a sensitive, raunchy Judy Blume inside "The Song of Achilles"; two American teenagers finding love in the mid-90s. One's a homeless guy who comes to stay with a kindly, wealthy single dad. He finds himself sharing a room with the sporty, athletic son and ... hold on, is this turning into a gay "The O.C."? ... anyway, one thing leads to another ... (but only after their sixteenth birthdays, of course) ... and then it's mutual masturbation a-go-go. The bad news is that absent Mom (sic) is ...more
Patrick
One interesting thing about the shortlist for the Orange Prize is that (unlike the other big British literary prize, the Booker) it isn’t only open to literary fiction; in fact, the rules specifically state that ‘we encourage publishers to submit books from all genres’, the only other specific criteria being the date of publication and the gender of the author. (It must also be the best ladybook of the year, of course, but you probably knew that part already.)

But what’s odd about this is that de
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Elaine
As Randy Jackson would say, "it was just all right for me, man." The problem with this novel is that its narrator, Patroclos, doesn't develop any personality traits until about page 250, and similarly, all of the "action" is consolidated in the book's last third.

Before page 250 or so, Patroclos never says anything but "I'm sorry" and "I don't know." Really. No matter who's talking to him, goddesses, kings, his lover, his lover's wife, you name it - "I'm sorry", "I don't know.". You'll spend much
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TheBookSmugglers
Review originally posted on The Book Smugglers

I cannot begin to express how happy I am to have read this book before the end of the year and just in time to add it to my top 10 of 2011: a veritable Smugglivus miracle! The Song of Achilles is so good, it is one of those books that makes me want to be a better reviewer so that I can do it justice, so that more people can read it. This is my attempt to sing its praises.

In Greek Mythology, Achilles is one of the greatest heroes of the Trojan War and
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April
First of all I'm amazed at how much life Miller has managed to breathe into this story. Truthfully I expected it to be a little dull but I'm glad to say The Song of Achilles has completely surpassed my expectations.

How I hate it when you grow emotionally attached to fictional characters! Seeing as though Patroclus is a relatively minor character in mythology and is known primarily for his relationship with Achilles alone, it was wonderful to have him being given a voice in this story. He was ge
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Madeline Miller was born in Boston and grew up in New York City and Philadelphia. She attended Brown University, where she earned her BA and MA in Classics. For the last ten years she has been teaching and tutoring Latin, Greek and Shakespeare to high school students. She has also studied at the University of Chicago’s Committee on Social Thought, and in the Dramaturgy department at Yale School of ...more
More about Madeline Miller...
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“Name one hero who was happy."
I considered. Heracles went mad and killed his family; Theseus lost his bride and father; Jason's children and new wife were murdered by his old; Bellerophon killed the Chimera but was crippled by the fall from Pegasus' back.
"You can't." He was sitting up now, leaning forward.
"I can't."
"I know. They never let you be famous AND happy." He lifted an eyebrow. "I'll tell you a secret."
"Tell me." I loved it when he was like this.
"I'm going to be the first." He took my palm and held it to his. "Swear it."
"Why me?"
"Because you're the reason. Swear it."
"I swear it," I said, lost in the high color of his cheeks, the flame in his eyes.
"I swear it," he echoed.
We sat like that a moment, hands touching. He grinned.
"I feel like I could eat the world raw.”
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“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.” 266 likes
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