The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

Jean-Louis’ Fiction Pick

(Ecco, 2012)

Whether you have read Homer’s Iliad or not, you will likely be familiar with the character of Achilles. He is the greatest of all the Greek warriors fighting in the siege of Troy. But this novel is only tangentially about the war to take back the stolen beauty — Helen of Troy. Madeline Miller’s debut novel takes us into the story in a unique way in that her focus is the character of Patroclus who is Achilles best friend and his companion.

Her re-telling of the story is fresh, vibrant, and compelling. The relationship between Achilles and Patroclus is real and engaging. The gods also make their appearance and the ferocity of Achilles’ mother is palpable and believable. If you don’t already know the story this is a great introduction which may just drive you to read Homer’s work, set just about 2800 years ago. Oddly enough, the family and relationship dynamics are surprisingly modern.

Having read the Percy Jackson series and its wonderful introduction to the myths, my teenage daughter scooped The Song of Achilles out of my hands and is now reading another take on the Greek and Trojan warriors–their loves and their travails.

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