Author: Madeline Miller
Published: 2012, Ecco/Harper Collins Publisher
Accolades: 2012 Orange Prize
In this seemingly flawless account of the myth of Achilles Madeline Miller has given us a new viewpoint of the Trojan War and it's hero Achilles as seen through the eyes of Achilles' companion and lover, Patroclus.
I love Greek mythology, and found The Song of Achilles to be a fascinating retelling of Homer's The Iliad. I was really surprised that I could not put this book down and had to finish it in one day - especially since I knew how it would end. I think what makes this story so good is that it is a well-written love story that captivates with it's depth and honesty. This is Patroclus' song for Achilles - the love of his young life.
Miller mixes the love story with rich visual details of a Greece where gods and men interact with each other and shows us a time when honor and glory meant more than life. If I have a problem with this book, it is a small one. Patroclus comes off as rather wimpy. In classic Greek myth Patroclus was a brave and powerful warrior in his own right. Miller didn't have to make Patroclus weak to make Achilles appear strong. Achilles was half-god - no one was stronger.
That is my analytical self speaking. What's most important is that I thoroughly enjoyed this lyrical and magical book about a love that transcends time and is worthy of the gods.
Jacques-Louis David, Patroclus, 1780