Oh man, my heart.
The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller is a retelling of the Illiad, focusing on the relationship between Achilles and Patroclus. As a matter of fact, the tale is told from Patroclus’ perspective. We follow the pair as they grow up together and bond, knowing only hints of what the fates have in store for them.
This is the second retelling I have read by this author. If you read my Circe review, you will know that I adored that book. So my expectations were high for this one. So did meet those lofty expectations? Short answer, yes. Long answer, well keep reading.
Also, before we continue, yes I know I read them in the wrong order. Honestly, it didn’t make too much of a difference since I already knew the general plot of both the Illiad and the Odessy before reading either book.
Just like in Circe, Miller nails the personalities of our heroes. Achilles being the bolder and more headstrong of the two but still allowing a select few, namely Patroclus, to see his more vulnerable parts. Patroclus on the other hand seems to be a bit more reserved but will fight for what he believes in, or rather who he believes in.
I have mentioned in the past that I don’t care for romance in general and it tends to be my least favourite part of a story. Not here though. Their relationship is a slow burn, which I normally hate, but it works here. Since we get to see not only their relationship grow but them as well. From a boyhood crush to being inseparable. They truly are soul mates.
This story is beautifully written. Especially in the latter half of the book, when this foreboding dread keeps popping up. It is always dramatic, with reveals and conflict everywhere. From romantic moments to bloody battles, The Song of Achilles is never a dull reading experience.
That ending, oh my poor heart couldn’t handle it. I was fighting back tears. In fairness, most reviews of the book did warn me that the ending will set off the waterworks. I thought I would be fine since I knew the original story, but that didn’t help one bit.
The reviews are correct, the ending will rip your heart into a million pieces but The Song of Achilles is so worth it.
Having read both The Song of Achilles and Circe I can’t in good faith say which one I prefer, I love them both. They are both perfect for folk who have read the classic and those who haven’t. She tells you everything you need to know in a very organic way.
The Song of Achilles is passionate, tragic and at times brutal. A breathtaking read that I highly recommend. Just, be sure to have some tissues at hand when you are getting close to the end, you can thank me later.