The 2011 novel, Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller is a retelling of the well known Greek iliad of Achilles written from the perspective of his companion and lover, Patroclus. Song of Achilles itself is a stand alone novel. With an Orange Prize in Fiction and a place on the New York Times #1 Best Seller list, Miller’s writing speaks for itself. Miller’s elegant and capturing writing can pull any type of reader in. 

The story starts with the young Greek prince, Patroclus. Though it is not long before Patroclus makes an irreversible mistake and kills a boy from a noble family. With this he is exiled to Phthia. In his time here he grows to befriend Achilles. As they grow their bond only deepens. They go on together to fight in Troy. But, Achilles’ own ego and prophecy for greatness leads him astray. Ultimately, Achilles’ ego and Patroclus’ love for him, lead the two to their own bitter end. 

As someone who has read my own fair share of books I can confidently say that this book has been my favorite of all thusfar. I also find myself to be a rather picky reader but I was sucked into this book from the very first page. Miller’s writing is some of the best I’ve seen. Poetic but yet not incomprehensible. Even the most simple lines have stayed my favorite quotes from the book. Such lines might include, “I feel like I could eat the world raw.”. So simple yet so vast.

Miller draws you into this retold love story with wonderful lines like, “I could recognize him by touch alone, by smell; I would know him blind, by the way his breaths came and his feet struck the earth. I would know him in death, at the end of the world.”. And even if you’re not one for romance the novel has its own fair share of adventure and tribulations. It is hard not to be pulled into this epic.

With this tale we can be left to consider as well; how does greed consume a person? And how does grief do it just as well? Is love stronger than greed? Or is it regret that triumphs? I find that the greatest books leave you with the strongest emotions and questions. And Miller does just this, skillfully, and elegantly. No matter the reader, Miller can effectively pull anyone into this longlived tale with her beautiful writing and storytelling.

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December 10, 2021 5:54 pm

I really like the way you described this book I’ve heard so many great things about this book and it’s definitely on my list. I can’t wait to read it.

Georgia Stockham
Georgia Stockham
December 10, 2021 5:48 pm

I love your description of the novel. I’ve heard great reviews and hope to read the book! Adventure and romance together are my favorite. I like your detailed description of the book. It makes it all the more intriguing.

December 10, 2021 5:45 pm

I love this book! I completely agree Claire. Miller’s writing is poetic yet simplistic and truly sucks the reader into the story. Even though the story of the Trojan War has been told for centuries, she manages to tell it in a way that revitalizes the characters and themes

December 10, 2021 5:42 pm

I also read this book over the summer, and I really liked it. I agree that it had a good mix of adventure and romance, which really helped keep me interested. I really liked how you wrote, “I find that the greatest books leave you with the strongest emotions and questions.” This thought definitely holds true. This book left me with many questions, and one, in addition to yours, is about the idea of fate, and whether fate is actually destined or if we just make it happen because we think it’s supposed to happen. I think that the questions that this book arose made it such a good book. I really enjoyed reading your review.

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