Title: The Song of Achilles
Author: Madeline Miller
Originally Published: 2012
Format I Read: Ebook (Kindle)
Shockingly (at least in hindsight), I was not really looking forward to reading this book. But it was on the Tournament of Books list, so I dutifully downloaded it to my Kindle. Then, at some point, I was bored somewhere and fired it up. And I got sucked right in.
Plot synopsis light: This is a retelling of The Iliad.
Plot synopsis: This is the story of Achilles told from the perspective of his friend Petroclus. Petroclus was born a Greek prince but was exiled after an unfortunate accident. He is sent to the kingdom of Achilles’s father, where he becomes Achilles’s closest friend.
I just loved this book. The writing is what struck me the most. It is clear and yet lyrical and beautiful. This does not feel like Greek at all – ancient or otherwise. And yet, the world of ancient Greece is brought to life on the page. The gods and goddesses and heros and the Trojan War. It’s all there. Readable and whatnot. But Miller manages to include the grandiose and bring it to a personal and human level. I loved this passage about Petroclus finding acceptance with Achilles:
This feeling was different. I found myself grinning until my cheeks hurt, my scalp prickling till I thought it might lift off my head. My tongue ran away from me, giddy with freedom. This and this and this, I said to him. I did not have to fear that I spoke too much. I did not have to worry that I was too slender or too slow. This and this and this! I taught him how to skip stones, and he taught me how to carve wood. I could feel every nerve in my body, every brush of air against my skin. (47)
The characters too, make this book what it is. I loved both Petroclus and Achilles. They both grow and mature in interesting and realistic ways. The ending was a little rushed to me, but there are reasons for that. (Which you probably already know if you know how the story of Achilles ends.)
In any case, I was delighted. And, like any good book tends to do, The Song of Achilles managed to add several books to my TBR list, not the least of which is The Iliad. Who’s up for a readalong!?
The Song of Achilles, by Madeline Miller