Achilles. A hero of old. Known for his invincibility save for his heel. But Patroclus? Who’s that? A lesser known figure, Patroclus was someone close to Achilles who made the ultimate sacrifice in the famous legend of the Trojan War. Written from the perspective of Patroclus by Madeline Miller, The Song of Achilles follows the story of the Trojan War and paints it in a new light. No longer an epic war of glory and riches, The Song of Achilles sings the tale of the Trojan War with the sorrowful tune of broken friendships and the devastation of death.
Patroclus is your typical underdog. Though he was a prince, his father never cared for him, his mother was shunned, and he felt pretty much worthless his entire life. Until he met Achilles, son of King Peleus. Achilles is everything Patroclus is not – fair, athletic, talented at music and more. But against all odds, they become inseparable companions – even more than just that. The true identity of Patroclus is unclear. Some versions say he was Achilles’ best friend, others say he was a relative. In this version, however, he is neither. He’s a lover.
Throughout, the author heavily hints at the romantic feelings between the two and the deep bonds they share. Which brings me to warn the readers: there are scenes in this book that are a bit more mature, so I would only recommend it for people ages 15 and up. But it’s still an awesome book, so don’t let this put you off!
As someone who is super interested in Greek mythology, especially the Trojan War (it’s my favourite story), I found this book to be extremely captivating. I’ve always been torn between the Trojans and the Greeks but this book plucked my heart strings in favour of the Greeks. After reviewing multiple sources – books, movies, articles, websites – I found that it depends on which version you look at. Sometimes it’s the gods’ fault, when the judgment of Paris is involved. Other times, it’s the Greeks’ fault, when Paris is portrayed as a saviour, rescuing a willing Helen from a miserable marriage that she did not want. Then, sometimes it can also be the Trojans’ fault, if Paris really did abduct Helen.
Another aspect I really like was the depth at which it covered the story. It’s one thing to know a brief summary of what happened, it’s another to understand its branches – origins, motives, etc. Miller gives the characters of The Song of Achilles voices, emotions, and makes them come to life. The tragic ending of the Trojan War was previously dulled for me by the lack of detail but when I grew attached to the characters, the tragedy hit me like a hammer. Suddenly, the reader sees the story through a kaleidoscope – bright and beautiful.
Join Patroclus and Achilles on a breathtaking, heartbreaking adventure you won’t forget.