What’s Their Wish?
The Heinemann Book of African Poetry in English (African Writers Series)

The Song of Achilles: A Novel

The Song of AchillesThe Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My friend and ministerial colleague Tom Emmett spoke to me about this book months ago and promised to lend it to me when other friends of his returned it. I'm glad he did.

This is the familiar story of Achilles and the Trojan War, but told through the eyes of Patroclus, Achilles' lover and companion.

The novel takes the glimpses of their relationship that we get in the Iliad and other places and develops it into a complete romantic relationship, a marriage really, between two brave young heroes.

The story opens with Patroclus' troubled early years before he is exiled to Phthia and encounters the young Achilles. First their friendship and then romance blossom as they are growing up and learning the skills required of young Greek princes.

The other characters -- Chiron, Thetis, Odysseus, Agamemnon, etc. -- are fully developed and engaging. And each of the stories you already know comes alive in new perspective, as narrated by Patroclus.

I was particularly impressed with Thetis, who normally comes across like in the movie Troy as a beloved mother figure. Here she is powerful, sinister, and obsessed. She and Patroclus battle for Achilles' soul.

Since you know the ending, you are already aware that this will be a painfully moving story in its final chapters, and it is that. You'll never be able to encounter Achilles' grief in quite the same way.

A very enjoyable read.

View all my reviews

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