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The Song of Achilles

Miller, Madeline

(Book - 2012)
Average Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
The Song of Achilles
Patroclus, an awkward young prince, follows Achilles into war, little knowing that the years that follow will test everything they have learned, everything they hold dear. And that, before he is ready, he will be forced to surrender his friend to the hands of Fate. Set during the Trojan War.
Publisher: New York : Ecco, c2012
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 0062060619
Branch Call Number: FICTION
Characteristics: 378 p. ; 24 cm


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Dec 04, 2014
  • booboo2014 rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Miller's debut is both epic and sweeping, yet intimate and poignant. It has something for everyone: historical fiction fans will appreciate the research Miller put into this book; romance fans will appreciate the love story arc; fantasy fans will enjoy the magical and mythological references. I loved this book; I experienced so many different emotions. I am definitely looking forward to more from Miller.

Aug 20, 2014
  • tazfn180 rated this: 1 stars out of 5.

I was actually unable to get through even half of this book, and that is REALLY saying something. The impression I got from what I did read, is this seems to be a mythological version of Brokeback Mountain. That's perfectly fine if that's what you are expecting and in the mood for. I was looking for something more... mythological.

a quick review which I might revisit someday:
This is a charming story; a little bit deep, a little bit shallow. As some other commenters note, this is a modern (gay) love story plunked down whole cloth in a time period that had an entirely different conception of all things (early Greece may be the initiating seed for the development of ‘our’ western culture, but it is in no way its model - that would more be imperial Rome)- for an understanding of an inter/intrapersonal relational aspect, as well as an overall better developed sense of this particular culture, I would have wished a little, no a lot, more than contemporary literature as research, also deeper thought about what it is/was. There are several things good about the story; a simple clear style, an author, who, among other things might mature very well, especially if she gets a mature, well educated and thoughtfully responsive readership (we live in an age when everything gets a prize for something and consequently little is worth much. Think about it. Change the channel, right? anyway, that was a vicious aside ...)
It is true, Mary Renault, among others, wrote similarly, and I think this author found a lot to ‘borrow’ - but at least she chose well. The ending; under-developed and a little too tear-jerky - try ‘Ancient Evenings’ for a severely extended version of the half-life before death, but I digress. Not as good as, but a good companion piece to ‘The Lost Books of The Odyssey’, and probably several others I have not read. the greatest flaw: contemporary understanding overlaid upon an historical sensibility, which is itself what we need to try to understand, rather than gloss over. A quick, easy and satisfying enough, read. Hopefully it might make the reader curious rather than think she has experienced much more than the wistfully heartfelt; that is a platform to depart from, not to arrive at, and that would be the worst failing, but hey! for a first book? terrific!!

Apr 30, 2014
  • uncommonreader rated this: 2 stars out of 5.

This fictionalized and modernized narrative of Achilles is very readable but serves only to trivialize the Greek myth. It was certainly not worthy of the 2012 Orange Prize ahead of Esi Edugyan, Anne Enright and Georgina Harding.

Miller retells the story of the Iliad from the perspective of Patroclus, Achilles' bosom friend. She captures both the huge mythic scope of Achilles and his godlike gift and the feeling of Greece and Troy, the wind blowing over the ocean, the smell of olive groves, the love between two teenage boys.

Feb 15, 2014
  • petehoover98118 rated this: 0.5 stars out of 5.

When a straight woman has the overweening conceit to attempt to write a book from the viewpoint of a gay man in a relationship she invariably fails because men are not women. And in Madeline Miller's book, Patroclus is a woman with different equipment. The book's insulting unreality was hard to put up with, and by the time that we got to the sacrifice of Iphegenia I had had enough of her assuming she could speak for people she clearly knows nothing about. Skip this book.

Jan 13, 2014
  • artemishi rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

The Song of Achilles is a poetic, moving, deeply human story set in Greece during the Trojan War. The narrator, Patroclus, is a compassionate storyteller, and an relatable character in many ways. Through his eyes, ancient Greece comes alive, complete with heroes and gods, all flawed and intricate.

As a fan of Greek mythology, I really enjoyed this book. It's hard to classify it into a single genre: it's a coming-of-age story, it's a romance (very sensual and erotic, I might add), it's a story of warfare, it's a story of making family...I think, mostly, it's a story of human nature and humanity.

Miller does an excellent job of sweeping the reader up in the story so that you believe everything the narrator tells you- yes, the gods exist and they are flawed and cruel; yes the heroes exist and they are motivated like normal men; yes, the sons of gods exist and they are not quite human. As detailed as Patroclus' narrative was, I felt like I was with him every step of the way (and so, I cried).

Even if you aren't a fan of Greek mythology, if you like fantasy and stories about the element of humanity (and things that unite us all), I think you'll like it. If you like the human aspects of war, love, adventure, community, etc. I think you'll like it. If you like ancient history, I think you'll like it. And if you like romance, the epic kind, I think you'll like it.

Nov 16, 2013
  • Estha rated this: 2 stars out of 5.

The telling of the great legend kept me reading but...the novel reads like youth fiction, and the the "love language" is so sappy and overdone. Orange prize winner, really??

Aug 28, 2013
  • forbesrachel rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

A brilliantly devised look at the life of Achilles through the eyes of Patroclus. Both characters are given great depth in this way; always their relationship was mentioned, but never expanded on, but by doing this Miller has made them more alive than ever before. Things like the motives of the characters are set well in advance, so there is never surprise over the reason for their actions. Some changes were made to the original tale to accommodate all this, like the fact that Patroclus learned from Chiron when he never did. The author also subtly foreshadows certain events, like how no one has taken something from Achilles, but he thinks he would be mad (the taking of Briseus is what leads to his downfall). Even better is how much is added to Patroclus himself, for he was only ever a secondary character. All of this makes this a must read for those wishing for more than the Iliad provided.

This book is now among my favorites! It certainly wasn't what I was expecting when I first saw the cover. I can't believe it was her first novel she writes with such experience. I was hooked from the first page all the way to the last. It's a great story filled with love, loss, sacrifice, war, everything. I am tempted to read it again.

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algerich thinks this title is suitable for between the ages of 69 and 96

Apr 24, 2013
  • wonderlands rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

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Aug 22, 2012
  • becker rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

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Aug 23, 2012
  • becker rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

"She used to be known as the most beautiful woman in our kingdoms. Now they say she's the most beautiful woman in the world.....A thousand ships have sailed for her"


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