Very rarely does a book capture my attention enough to make it in to the regular re-read rotation. “The Song of Achilles,” by Madeline Miller, has made the cut.
Madeline Miller’s background in Latin and Ancient Greek has left her in good stead to tackle the subject of this novel, the heroes originally captured in Homer’s epic poem, The Iliad.
Patroclus has never been the ideal son to his father. While not sickly, he is a prince that does not embody the ideals that are so lauded among the royalty of ancient Greece. So, when he makes a mistake so bad as to demand retribution from a rival family, he is exiled to the lands of King Peleus and his perfect son, Achilles.
Despite the differences between Patroclus and Achilles, they form a beautiful friendship that only develops into something deeper as they mature into young men.
Then war erupts between Greece and the kingdom of Troy and Achilles is sent to fulfil the destiny that has seemed to surround him from boyhood. Patroclus follows, torn between love and fear for Achilles, not knowing that the brutal trials of the years ahead will challenge them both to breaking point.
Miller’s account of Patroclus’ life and the battle of Troy is beautifully written, full of phrases that walk the line of beauty and brutality, capturing the world of Ancient Greece perfectly. I often find myself amazed, pausing over one line or another that so beautifully captures a piece of the action, it seems wrong that it describes something so deadly or so serious.
This is a read that holds a dear place on my bookshelf, and one that I am not afraid to admit has been bought in several editions. For any reader who treasures the stories of the ancient world or even someone who is just setting foot on the sandy beaches of Troy for the first time, this is a must read.