“Will you come with me?” he asked.
The never-ending ache of love and sorrow. Perhaps in some other life I could have refused, could have torn my hair and screamed, and made him face his choice alone. But not in this one. He would sail to Troy and I would follow, even into death. “Yes,” I whipsered. “Yes.”
The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller is a work of genius! I read this book two weeks ago and every time I think about it my breath is taken away! Recommended to me by Farah from Broken Penguins last year at the Ontario Blogger Meet Up, my only regret is that I didn’t pick up this book sooner! Smart, touching, and beautiful, this is definitely one of my favourite reads of 2013!
The synopsis of Miller’s book may seem immediately familiar. As in the Iliad, The Song of Achilles traces Achilles’s journey to become one of the world’s most famous heroes during the war against the Trojans. Inspired by the Iliad, Miller decided to focus her particular story on the strong friendship between Achilles and Patroclus, a friendship that many scholars have often suspected might have been more romantic in nature than meets the eye. Narrated from Patroclus’s point of view, readers follow the two friends through their boyhood and finally to the battlefield of Troy.
One of my favourite things about The Song of Achilles is its close parallel to the original story of the Iliad. Despite having read the Iliad myself many years ago, I had forgotten a lot of the plot points along the way, so reading Miller’s book was like a refresher. I can’t even count how many times I found myself saying “Oh ya!! I forgot about that! So cool!!” while I was reading. Even knowing how the whole story would end, I still clung desperately to the book, hoping that Miller would have the tragedy end differently. Although reading a book that you already know the ending of may seem pointless, it is the journey towards the end that makes this book so special.
Miller’s decision to narrate the story from Patroclus’s view was also a stroke of brilliance. While many readers may be fairly familiar with Achilles’s not so humble beginnings, for many, Patroclus remains a bit of a mystery. In The Song of Achilles, however, readers discover the secrets of Patroclus’s past, and gain a fresh perspective on the major events in the story. As the narrator, Patroclus is no longer just the friend or lover of Achilles, but is transformed into the true hero of the tale.
So what are you waiting for? Go and read The Song of Achilles now! And don’t you dare try to Google the Iliad or Patroclus before you do! Let yourself have those “Oh ya!” moments, because they are fantastic! This is one of the best Iliad adaptations that I have ever encountered (yes….even better than Brad Pitt in Troy…which was actually not a very accurate retelling at all!). Stunning and imaginative, The Song of Achilles will take your breath away!