As I was reading «The Song of Achilles» I couldn’t help myself but compare this book to «Circe» also by Madeline Miller. Both of them follow a famous figure from Greek mythology, both a very heavy influenced by Ancient Greece, and both are told in a very beautiful way. While «The Song of Achilles» was a fairly quick read (in comparison to «Circe» which took me over a month), I feel like I will forget it just as quickly.
It might be due to the fact that this was an epic love story, or maybe because none of the characters in this book sparked love or even admiration in me. «Circe», on the other hand, is the book that will stay with me for a long time. I read it in July of last year and I still remember how it made me feel, I still think about it from time to time.
Greece in the age of Heroes. Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the kingdom of Phthia. Here he is nobody, just another unwanted boy living in the shadow of King Peleus and his golden son, Achilles.
Achilles, ‘best of all the Greeks’, is everything Patroclus is not — strong, beautiful, the child of a goddess — and by all rights their paths should never cross. Yet one day, Achilles takes the shamed prince under his wing and soon their tentative companionship gives way to a steadfast friendship. As they grow into young men skilled in the arts of war and medicine, their bond blossoms into something far deeper — despite the displeasure of Achilles’s mother Thetis, a cruel and deathly pale sea goddess with a hatred of mortals.
Fate is never far from the heels of Achilles. When word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, the men of Greece are called upon to lay siege to Troy in her name. Seduced by the promise of a glorious destiny, Achilles joins their cause, Torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus 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.
In «The Song of Achilles» we follow Patroclus, an ordinary young man, born as a prince but exiled from his home when he was still a child. He was taken in by King Peleus, where he met his son Achilles – the perfect, golden son, with god blog in his veins and hero’s future.
When I picked up «The Song of Achilles», I was recovering from a strike of “meh” books and had very high hopes for it. But it didn’t deliver.
The first half of the book was my favorite part. I gobbled it up very quickly and wished for more of Patroclus and Achilles adventures as young boys. But everything innocent must come to an end. The second half of the story was much darker, much bloodier. Sadly, it didn’t captivate me as much as I hoped it would.
The main and most important thing that threw me off was the lack of that “spark” in the most epic love story. I wasn’t convinced of their feelings, it felt very one-sided and emotionally dependent. There were many times I wished they would just let each other go, part ways, and, hopefully, be happier in the future.
Because of this, I couldn’t properly connect to the characters and the story. There were many moments that left me emotional, but not enough to tear up or smile.
Nonetheless, I’m glad that I chose this book for my traveling month. Inspired by Greek mythology, it was a real pleasure to learn more about famous mythological figures, to travel to different Greek islands, and to experience epic victories.
Have you read any of Madeline Miller books? And if you read «Circe» and «The Song of Achilles» which one did you prefer?