Kerry's Reviews > The Song of Achilles

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
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Mar 13, 2012

it was amazing
bookshelves: historical-fiction
Read on March 13, 2012

I'm going to try hard not to go all fangirl-OMG-awesome here. But I really do love this book, a new imagining of the love story of Achilles and his companion, Patroclus. To begin with, Miller's prose is astonishing - clean, sharp, and luminous. What can you say about "He was spring, golden and bright. Envious Death would drink his blood, and grow young again."? Or "The word I use is hubris. Our word for arrogance that scrapes the stars, for violence and towering rage as ugly as the gods." Makes me swoon. Truly, it does!

The story itself is wonderfully paced and Miller does a lovely job of leading us to understand how the characters of these two young men are shaped by everything from their relationships with their fathers to their education by Chiron to the prophecy that dooms Achilles. I was particularly impressed at how she allowed Patroclus to evolve from "adoring lesser being" to an independent individual with his own moral code, who could act even in ways that would displease the person most dear to him on earth. Of course, the ending is a heart-breaker.

Miller is a trained classics scholar, so you know she's got all the mythology down pat. And she tells the story in such a way that those of us who last read The Illiad 30 years ago don't have to rack our brains trying to remember it all. Oh - and don't freak out trying to understand how a guy (Patroclus) who you already know is going to die before the book is over is telling the story in the first person. It really does make sense, and is actually a powerful device in the end.
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Reading Progress

03/13/2012 "Loving this book so far! A great imagining of Achilles and Patroclus told in beautiful language and wonderful imagery. My only gripe is that I am terribly distracted by the fact that Patroclus is telling the story, and he is going to die at some point (Agammemnon just took Chryseis captive). How is that going to work out???"
08/08/2016 marked as: read

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