The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller | The art of loving a book while absolutely hating the title character

the-song-of-achilles

Well here’s one I didn’t think I’d ever get round to reading until suddenly everybody started raving about it again and my interest was newly peaked.

I hardly knew what this was about going into it, so I didn’t really have any expectations. I was very intrigued to see how it went.

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Let’s dive into The Song of Achilles!

the-song-of-achilles

Title: The Song of Achilles

Author: Madeline Miller

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Series Status: Standalone

Genre: LGBT, Retelling

Number of Pages:  352

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(Found on Goodreads)

Greece in the age of heroes. Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the court of King Peleus and his perfect son Achilles. Despite their differences, Achilles befriends the shamed prince, and as they grow into young men skilled in the arts of war and medicine, their bond blossoms into something deeper – despite the displeasure of Achilles’s mother Thetis, a cruel sea goddess. But when word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, Achilles must go to war in distant Troy and fulfill his destiny. Torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus goes with him, little knowing that the years that follow will test everything they hold dear.

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This was a very strange experience for me.

Usually, if I don’t like the main character, I won’t like the book.

But I hated Achilles. Arrogance is a pet peeve of mine, and Achilles was the definition of it. And yet, I ended up really enjoying this book. Mainly – probably, definitely – because we were reading from Patroclus’ point of view.

It was so much easier to enjoy a book full of arrogance and titles, when read through the eyes of this humble guy. He saw the flaws in everything – even in Achilles – and so it was made bearable. There wasn’t a stream of ranting going on in my head, frustration kicking in and all, simply because it’s already acknowledged. And all I have to say to that is: fair play. This is the only book that hasn’t made me roll my eyes and hiss in the presence of arrogance. Which you guys, if you know me, will know is a monumental achievement.

I do have to say (and I’ve seen many reviews saying this) that I WISH I’d read up on the original story before. I knew it was a retelling. And yet, the thought “oh, maybe you should research the original thing first so you can see which parts are adapted” somehow completely escaped my mind. I knew vaguely of the whole “Achilles’ heel” situation – only to find out after (when I actually did some research) that the story has different versions, this book being the Iliad version – i.e. No heel situation. Looking back on it now and reading quickly over the original, I know I would have loved seeing the comparisons. It’s actually quite a close retelling, and so I would recommend researching first. Unless you don’t want spoilers…then don’t do that.

I will mention that there has been a bit of controversy over this book regarding harmful content. Some members of the LGBTQ+ community claimed to have been hurt by the overall outcome of the novel, while others in the community said otherwise. While not being part of that community, I can see and understand both sides, and just wanted to quickly mention it in case anybody wants/needs to consider this book further before reading it.

This is definitely a poignant story. It’s both heartbreaking and wonderful in the way it can make you feel so many emotions. I was amazed at how I could sense time passing, in so few pages. It was written poetically, and had a very accepting feel to it in my opinion. It’s hard to explain. It was very much a case of “this is what happened”, and everyone just getting on with it.

I really enjoyed this book. Though my hatred for Achilles was strong and my lack of knowledge beforehand frustrating (and entirely my fault), it didn’t stop me picking up this book eagerly every day. I can definitely see why so many people love it.

Rated 4/5 stars

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Amazon

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Share your thoughts!

Have you read this book? What did you think?

If you haven’t, is it on your TBR?

Are there any books you would recommend similar to this book?

Let me know in the comments!

Until next time…

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14 thoughts on “The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller | The art of loving a book while absolutely hating the title character

  1. I have this book on my shelf and it keeps staring back at me, but I’ve heard that the ending is really heartbreaking. I know a bit about the original story and a couple of variants, but I think I’ll do a bit more research to see how it compares. Thanks for reminding me to do that! It’s hard dealing with arrogant characters. I’m glad Patroclus acts as some sort of filter to that haha. Looking forward to reading this one! Great review 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. **comment contains spoilers**

    I loved Patroclus! He totally made this book.

    I personally was ok with the outcome because it’s a re-telling of the original, but I think so many people are just sick to death of the bury your gays trope, that many did find it harmful.

    I didn’t like the way women were treated in this book – I think for a winner of a women’s prize for fiction, the females got a raw deal here. They were all either raped, murdered, or married off against their will – or some sort of combination of the three. And it’s like: really??? Did you have to?!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah the main argument for it was that it was a really close retelling of the original, but I can see why some people would find it harmful. You’re definitely right about the women. Though it’s likely to have happened, it didn’t really need to be included :/

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think if they’d just included more queer and women characters who DIDN’T have such horrible things happen to them, it would’ve balanced it out a little more.

        Liked by 1 person

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