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The Song of Achilles

Average Rating 4
( 101 )
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

28 out of 29 people found this review helpful.

This was a wonderful book.. It was impossible to put down. Homer

This was a wonderful book.. It was impossible to put down.
Homer's epic is vividly retold, full of drama, gods and men, triumph and in the
end pity and tragedy.
For anyone interested in the Classics this is essential reading.
It is one of the finest novels I have ev...
This was a wonderful book.. It was impossible to put down.
Homer's epic is vividly retold, full of drama, gods and men, triumph and in the
end pity and tragedy.
For anyone interested in the Classics this is essential reading.
It is one of the finest novels I have ever read.

posted by dearreaderCT on March 14, 2012

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Most Helpful Critical Review

6 out of 35 people found this review helpful.

Average

Although I enjoy Greek mythology I was surprised by the homosexual content and would have been better without some of those details. I would not recommend this for children under the age of 16.

posted by pixiedoodle on June 23, 2012

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  • Posted November 20, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    The first thing I noticed about this book is how rich in emotion

    The first thing I noticed about this book is how rich in emotion it is. More than a story about two warriors who fall in the Trojan War, it is about two boys finding their identity in a time of conflict, heroes, and legends in the making. It is the story about the young man who understood and loved Achilles more than any other mortal of his time. His memories of his childhood days growing up with Achilles reminds us that there is more to the hero than the one who was the greatest warrior of his generation.

    Patroclus does not have a warrior's built, but he knows how to treasure life. Within lies a tender soul that yearns for recognition and love. Despite any qualms he may have, he follows Achilles unconditionally because Achilles is the first to truly acknowledge and accept him for who he is and without judgment. The two of them are soul mates. And each moment of happiness that they find together is all the more precious because we know from Greek mythology that there is going to be a tragedy at Troy, and Achilles and Patroclus's time on Earth is short-lived.

    Though narrated by Patroclus, The Song of Achilles is the poignant story of two Greek warriors, as narrated from their childhood days to their fall in the Trojan War. It is about how the events of their era shaped their lives and resulted in the legends that we remember today; it is about the people behind the legends. I recommend this story to those looking for a story with deep roots in Greek Mythology, emotion-rich books, and a tale of friendship and love.

    This book is going on my Keeper shelf.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 17, 2012

    Wow

    This is one of my favorite books. If you liked the character Patroclus or Achilles while reading the Iliad, this definitely a book for you. It's beautifully written. I usually take at least a week to finish any book, but this one took me three days- I just couldn't put it down for the life of me. I always say if a book doesn't make you cry, it isn't worth it. This one was definitely worth it.
    It's enjoyable, quick paced, and an interesting interpretations o the events of the Iliad

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 9, 2012

    Let's start off with the simple fact that I really enjoyed this

    Let's start off with the simple fact that I really enjoyed this book, and to be frank I'm not big on reading. Sure there are flaws, some have criticized that Patroclus narrates with the same language when hes 10 as he does when he's 28 (but seriously guys, what did you expect? For her to write half a dozen chapters the way a 10-12 year old really talks?). It's definitely an easy read (I read it in a day) but it has many different angles and events that keeps the reader on its toes and has great balance. Having Patroclus narrate their lives and relationship from childhood till their deaths definitely made me form an emotional attachment to this couple that I never thought I would for a story based on The Iliad. I found myself rooting for them, in vain of course, even though I knew how the story would end. Sad as the ending is, Miller completes the story leaving the reader somewhat happy, knowing the couple gets to spend eternity together. It has beautiful descriptions of their love, but don't worry, it's not overly sappy. In fact, I can only think of two parts of the book that are, uhhh, descriptive (but not graphic and it she keeps it rather short). Other than that, Miller leaves it to simple implications of them laying in bed together, touching each others faces, or just a kiss, etc. This book gives us a view of their physical/emotional love that is surprising and pleasing, without ever losing site of the setting and its violence and politics. I've already recommended this book to friends and feel that I definitely got my time and money's worth out of it!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 13, 2012

    Stunning

    This story of Achilles from Patroclus's view is precious, heartwrenching, and beautiful. It is a return to the epic, The Iliad, but as Odysseus cleverly tells the great Achilles' son, that which we call heroic in one age may not be valued in another. Thus is Patroclus the real hero--for his devotion, his kindness, his sense of right.

    It was a fabulous read, and even at the very end where so many writers fall short, here it is complete and satisfies the reader's sense of story.

    Knowing the Iliad creates a nice foreshadowing effect, but it is not necessary. It is a love story in its purist form developed even amid the ravages of a ten-year war. This is the best read I've had this summer.

    (The enhanced version is worth it, having background on the characters, the gods, and interviews with the author. The audo clips did not add to the story, though, because they were excerpts from the coming chapter but placed at the very beginning. Don't bother with them.)

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 23, 2012

    Great for history buffs

    Great book,loved the way the characters developed as well as the story. Even though you know the end it was very well done. Hope she continues to write.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 17, 2012

    Is this a good book for a young teen?

    I hear this is a great book but is it for young teens????????

    1 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 5, 2012

    How can I tell? I can't read it.

    Evidently "enhanced" means that it won't open on a first edition Nook. I will say that B&N was cheerful and prompt about a refund. But what kind of technology strategy are they trying to work here?

    1 out of 15 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 8, 2012

    1 out of 20 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 8, 2014

    Jk

    I dont know any thing about this book

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 6, 2014

    Not for everyone.

    From what I have read this a very well written variation of the life of Achilles and Patroclus. However if you are not comfortable with descriptive homosexuality I would definitely recommend that you do NOT purchase this book. It is definitely more a love story between the two as they grow into manhood and find their way to their inevitable and famous deaths, than anything else.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 2, 2014

    Achilles & Patroclus as gay lovers?

    It does not work. The writing is jarringly wrong. It comes across as slimey which is not what the writer intended. I hated it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 29, 2014

    You can try to rewrite the original tales but just doesnt work

    There were few happy endings in the greek plays because they were meant to be tragic e g you couldnt win against the gods. Does anyone notice that helen and her husband did after all that slaughter?

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 6, 2014

    Good book but.....

    This is a well written book but not Miller is no Renault. Writing in first person, as Patroclus, was a master stroke but the femenine POV was to evident. Being homosexual, especially in Ancient Greece, does not make you femenine. She makes Patroclus, IMHO, look like a wilting violet.
    The mythology is outstanding. She really researched her book and even made me research some items that were blurry in my mind. I read the book with delight but never got into the " I can't put this book down " stage that great books evoke in me. That's why I gave three stars to this otherwise enjoyable book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 4, 2014

    Excellent read

    Compelling, engrossing page turner. Very much enjoyed this well written version of the tale.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 21, 2014

    I would like to mostly point out some things against those who d

    I would like to mostly point out some things against those who did not like this book. I have met Ms Miller in person and listened to her lecture. A lot of mythology is not set in stone. There are many versions of the Odyssey. Miller wanted to go into the deeper understanding of Achilles and Patroclus. Many of the mythologies and history that we know point out that men had open relations with other men, Achilles and Patroclus not disclosed from this. If you are against homosexual relations, please put aside when reading this book. It is Miller's first book and she was exploring some of the elements of history and mythology of homosexuality in her book.
    As well, this book is definitely not all about homosexuality. It is exploring the character of Patroclus. He is always in the foreground of mythology and has no definite story other than the fact his death caused Achilles to go into rage. What reasons were for this action? Well you will have to read the book to see! This is not  set in stone storyline. As all mythology goes, there are different stories to everything. Miller spent a total of 10 years on the book not including all of the studies in mythology she did in college. 
    Though the book may not be appropriate for readers under 16, I thick the audience is more directed at adults. The book gives a very good insight on Patroclus's view on Achilles and his own life. I appreciated the different point of view and the book is carefully crafted in wording and mythology. In one page you could get 10 references to greek mythology. 

    I highly recommend for adults, and with parental consent, would recommend students of 16 through 18 to read as well. This book was one of the best first author books I have read and look forward to her two next books Miller is working on.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 23, 2014

    Off key as the author is tone deaf and doesnt

    Seem able to relate to the great drama of the triojans despite him sulking in his tent as you know helen went home and lived hapoy ever after and ulysses son married helen's daughter before he managed to get home the heros already dust ion the windy plains

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 1, 2014

    Fantastic read

    Well written, fast paced and read like poetry.

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  • Posted June 3, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller Just like Bagoas tells

    The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

    Just like Bagoas tells Alexander's story in The Persian Boy, here we have Patroclus telling Achilles story from the first person point of view.

    Patroclus is the son of King Menoitius who is exiled as a youngster for accidentally killing the son of a nobleman. He ends up in Phthia where King Peleus rules.

    Achilles is Peleus' son with the goddess Thetis - a sea-nymph. Achilles has an instant crush on Patroclus and chooses him as his Therapon - brother in arms to a prince by blood oaths and love. They are trained by Chiron the only good centaur. Their relationship turns sexual to the dismay of Thetis.

    In the meantime, Paris, son of Priam, king of Troy, kidnaps Helen wife of the king of Sparta, Menelaus. Menelaus' brother, Agamemnon, leads a Greek army against Troy to safely return Helen to Greece. He calls upon Peleus to join him. Achilles' prophecy is that he will live to be the most famous man ever, but he will die young - chosen by Achilles.

    Thetis sends his son, Achilles to Scyros disguised as a woman to avoid going to the Trojan war. There he marries Deidameia, daughter of King Lycomedes and begets a son, Pyrrhus. Patroclus searches for Achilles and finds him in Scyros, but so do the Greek army, led by Odysseus and Menelaus. Thus Achilles sails for Troy with the warning that if he kills Hector, Paris' brother, he will die.

    The war in Troy lasts over 10 years. Unfortunately, Agamemnon insults Achilles. Achilles refuses to fight for Greece anymore. As predicted by Achilles, the war turns in favor of Troy. To prevent the imminent defeat, Patroclus dresses as Achilles and sends the Trojan army in retreat. Unfortunately, his helmet falls in battle and Hector kills Patroclus. This infuriates Achilles who in turn kills Hector. To fulfill the prophecy, Paris kills Achilles with a bow through his heart.

    Pyrrhus joins the battle at this point, for it was foretold that Troy would not fall until he did so. It is Pyrrhus who, after entering Troy in the "famous horse," kills King Priam of Troy and leads the ransack of the city. It is also Pyrrhus who builds a monument to commemorate his father, but denies Patroclus a burial. Patroclus must roam the earth until Thetis pities him.

    The writer used classical texts by Ovid, Virgil, Sophocles, Apollodorus, Euripides and Aeschylus to help with the plot, as well as accounts of Achilles' childhood friendship with Patroclus and his martial training. Miller also uses quotes from Homer in the text. It has Achilles as a mere mortal - the part where he was dipped in the River Styx is omitted - therefore the arrow that killed him did not hit his tendon, but rather his heart.

    On her inspiration for the novel, Miller explains that she stole it from Plato: "The idea that Patroclus and Achilles were lovers is quite old. Many Greco-Roman authors read their relationship as a romantic one—it was a common and accepted interpretation in the ancient world. We even have a fragment from a lost tragedy of Aeschylus, where Achilles speaks of his and Patroclus' 'frequent kisses.'" Miller explains that it took her ten years to write the book. After writing for five years, she threw the manuscript away and started fresh. She wanted to get Patroclus "right."

    Her narrative and theme is so much like Mary Renault that the comparison is inevitable. A wonderful read....

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 22, 2014

    So bittersweet...

    It is a different reading a book where you know all of the characters and their fates from the start. Every turn of the page just filled me with dread. But I kept on because it was also fascinating to see how hard they fought to get around their fates, and stretch their time together....but the harder they worked the more it sealed their fate. I think this is why I took a break in the middle of reading for a couple days...some days I want a happy ending and some snuggles and puppies, and I knew this book would not give it to me. It would break my heart. So I had to take a couple days to prepare. I am too soft-hearted for all this tragedy.

    It did break my heart, but I enjoyed every minute of it. It is undeniably Patroclus's story, a story about love and acceptance, and pride, and most of all never losing who you are despite the influences that conspired to change you. Achilles wanted to be someone else. He WAS someone else than who others wanted him to be. His mother wanted him to have glory and fame above all else. And not for him, but for her and her pride. The Kings of Greece wanted him as their hero and tool....but Achilles was underneath it all a gentle person, who loved music and loved to sing. That was his true self and that was who Patroclus always saw. There is a point in the book when Patroclus is asked what it is about him that Achilles loves. He was not handsome, or very smart, nor could he fight, or was of any consequence that anyone could see. What was it? He said he did not know. To me it was simple...Achilles loved him and treasured him because he was the only one that saw him for who he was, and was the one that reminded him of that daily. He did not demand that Achilles be someone he was not. He did not want anything from Achilles, but his love. But even in that, he made no demands. He allowed Achilles to maintain his sense of self even through all the outside influence. As long as Patroclus was there and saw him, understood him, and loved him....Achilles would always be the person he saw as his true self. Not the hero or killer...but that gentle boy that loved music. Yes, he lost contact with that boy near the end and failed to live up to all of Patroclus's expectations of him, he was selfish and jealous,and cruel and above all prideful....but again....due to the love he was able to share with Patroclus...he was able to find that boy he once was again. What a sad and tragic figure he was in this book. He tried so hard. I was rooting for him, even if I knew how it would end up. Achilles mother was wrong just as he said; it was not Patroclus that was the unworthy one.

    I liked that this was told in Patroclus's point of view...because without him...Achilles would only be seen through his legend...the cold killer....the warrior ...the hero....but like the relationship in the book....through Patroclus...we see him with kinder eyes and through love. That would make Patroclus happy, because it was all he ever wanted right up until the end. For Achilles to be seen as more than his legend, and more than his ability to kill. And isn't that what's love about? Seeing and bringing out the best of each other. Even if we fall short some times, we should never lose site of what it is made u love this person in the first place. Ah, getting sappy. But I loved this book, and I am happy that in the end they got some peace. Those last scenes almost made me cry. Together in life. Together in death finally, what more could anyone ask for

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 12, 2014

    The prose is beautiful-- the perfect mixture of Fitzgerald-esque

    The prose is beautiful-- the perfect mixture of Fitzgerald-esque mellifluousness and Hemingway-esque clean bluntness. I loved the way things were developed and the beautiful subtlety of it all. Achilles and Patroclus are brought to life so vividly and beautifully. I sincerely hope Miller writes more books.

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