“The Song of Achilles” by Madeline Miller
It has taken me so long to write this review because my words could never capture the full range of emotions I felt when I read this novel: discovery, love, hope, joy, terror, loss…
I picked this book up because I was looking for a LGBTQ read and I saw it in Goodreads. I knew the story of Achilles, I’d read the Iliad, and I knew how it ended for the Greek hero, but I picked it up anyway. I love Ancient Greece and though I don’t usually like tragedies, I figured the blow would be lessened because I knew the story beforehand.
I wasn’t prepared.
The beautiful romance shocked me most of all. I had no idea. I was sucked into Patroclus’s point of view and it felt like I was falling in love for the first time. Miller’s diction is poetic and pleasing to the senses; every sentence stirred deep feelings of love and desire in me. Something to note: this novel is more romantic than sexual, as in there isn’t any explicit sex. There sex, but it isn’t the “cock and ass” kind. It’s terribly wonderful and moving.
Even though this novel follows the historical accounts of Achilles accurately, Miller made the world magical, so Achilles is the son of a goddess, and is imbued with supernatural speed and grace. Seeing him from Patroclus’s eyes is breathtaking. He is every bit the hero, but at the same time troubled. If he doesn’t go to Troy, his godhead will wither and he will lose his grace. He chooses war and a hero’s life over the agony of humanity, as he sees it. Not even Patroclus, his philtatos, can stop his decision. I felt for Patroclus’s frustration and loss over this.
They seek to steal time from the Fates, but I wasn’t prepared for the misery. I knew but I didn’t know.
I recommend this novel for the wonder and romance and historical fiction, but be prepared. It’s devastating in its splendor.