The Song of Achilles is Madeline Miller’s sweeping and romantic Trojan war epic recounted through the eyes of enigmatic Patroclus, Achilles’s beloved companion. Miller begins her tale with Patroclus’s origins as the despised prince of a simple-minded mother whose father banishes him in disgrace after the accidental death of a childhood playmate. Unused to affection, Patroclus expects more of the same in the Kingdom of Pthia, but his life unexpectedly changes as he comes to the attention of Achilles, the golden half-god of goddess Thetis and Pthian King, Peleus. Their friendship gets its start when Achilles covers for a truant Patroclus, and though they are very different, their affection for one another grows. Thetis, who is conspiring to make her son a full god, even though war and death follow the pursuit of her goal, frowns upon their relationship. However, nothing but tragedy will separate the pair.
Miller’s tale is a marvel- easily illumining the lives and practices of the ancient Greeks and how they view family, duty, their kings and their gods. Her writing is beautiful and she constructs a careful record that operates within the accepted canon of the Trojan war, but deeply personifies its heroes and villains. I listened to the audio version of the book and the narration is a feat, with its laser focus on this timeless love story. I was riveted as it pushed forward to its sad and inevitable conclusion. Highly Recommended.