The Song of Achilles by the American novelist Madeline Miller is definitely one of those books that leave the reader with eyes full of tears and the feeling of heartbreak lingering for weeks. The story depicts the Greek hero Achilles from the exiled prince Patroclus’s point of view. The story goes from how Patroclus goes from being the exiled prince to Achilles’s beloved. It shows their journey from being carefree boys to be the most important aspect of one of the greatest wars in Greek history – The Trojan War.
Here are 5 reasons that this should be on top of your reading list this summer.
While many versions of the Trojan War represent Patroclus and Achilles as friends or cousins or just comrades, Miller portrays them as lovers. She shows their journey to figure out their sexuality from Patroclus’s point of view. The boys just manage to melt everyone’s heart.
2. Character Growth
Patroclus was a prince who committed a crime and was exiled. As we read his journey, we get to know how much he grows as a person. He leaves bitterness behind and becomes friends with the prince of the kingdom where he was exiled to. We see Achilles befriend this exiled boy and make him his comrade. We see the boys grow through the years leading up to the war. The writing makes us feel like we are back in that time, which is beautiful. We also witness how the Goddess Thetis changes by the end because of her hate. She comes to realize her mistake and eventually tries to better herself for her son. Even though it just might be a little too late Thetis, we do not forgive you.
3. The Character Contrast
Right up from the beginning, we can see how different both Achilles and Patroclus were. In the beginning, Achilles is shown as this friendly prince who is destined for great things. He was the Aristos Achaion after all. And then Patroclus was frowned upon because he was exiled. No one saw him. No one recognized him as the prince anymore. But Achilles, everyone knew him. He was born to change history. But then during the war, we see his arrogance, His stubbornness which eventually cost him his beloved.
But Patroclus was never like that. He didn’t like fighting. He chose to be a medic for the war. But when he knew he had to do something to protect his people, we see him take a stand against Achilles. Patroclus goes to war. He just proves that just because people choose to not fight doesn’t be they can’t fight. We see Achilles call Patroclus as Philtatos– the best of men, while talking to Hector’s father, and that moment is all about how strong Patroclus was.
4. The Ending
Every Greek Mythology reader knows or at least has an idea about how the Trojan War ends. We have heard about Achilles’s heel somewhere or the other. At the beginning of the book, we know that Achilles’s name would go down in history. Aristos Achaion– Best of Greeks. Eventually, we get to know the prophecy, and at this point, the reader is sure how it will end. But that does not stop the book from breaking the reader’s heart.
5. The Writing
The storyline and the characters were absolutely heart-touching, but none of that would be possible if not for Miller’s amazing writing. She wrote the ancient war from a new point of view with such beauty. She bought this entire story to life with her words. Her other well-known work- Circe also had her flare of writing in it. We can feel the emotions of the characters while reading and that’s a quality of a great book.
That’s it! Those are the 5 reason why this amazing book should be read by you immediately. What are you waiting for?
Check out my instagram post about this book here.
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