The Song of Achilles is the perfect book for those who have an interest in Greek mythology, the Trojan War and everything to do with this period, as well as just an interest in romance. I read this book having just studied The Iliad at school, so the characters that are in the book like Achilles, Patroclus, Thetis and all the other Gods, Goddesses and heroes that feature were all familiar to me. Madeline Miller, who wrote The Song of Achilles, is well versed in the culture surrounding the Iliad and the mythology as she read the poem at a young age and teaches the language of the Ancients, Latin and Greek. The book is very well researched, with subtle hints and comments about the characters’ lives and experiences mentioned throughout, making it an educational and interesting read. I therefore found the book very cleverly written, gripping and easy to get into.
The book is told from the perspective of Patroclus, a boy who from a young age was exiled from his own kingdom and was taken in by Achilles’ father, he is also a minor but yet very important character in the Iliad. The book follows the story of him and Achilles growing up through childhood and into adulthood together, all the while growing closer and closer together and eventually falling in love. The author Madeline Miller takes one of the many views that Achilles and Patroclus were lovers rather than just close friends, or cousins as they are portrayed in the film Troy. The theory that Achilles and Patroclus were lovers is a popularly shared view by scholars and fans of the Iliad, both old and new. Miller writes the book and explains the events leading up to and including the Trojan War through the voice of Patroclus. This allows us to understand and share all the key events such as the arrival at Troy through his mind’s eye and helps us to understand the effect of a war in this period. I would thoroughly recommend this book to all. Having lent my copy to a few of my friends, who all loved it, I know this is a great book to get into.