Review: The Song of Achilles

The Song of Achilles
The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Book #33 for 2015

Many people I admire are into Greek mythology in a big way, but I’d never understood the appeal. With the resurgence of comic book culture in recent years, I’ve noticed that I feel the same way about most superheros, and I think it may be because there are so damn many continuity issues. I just don’t have the patience to keep track of all the re-boots and re-imaginings and origin updates. It is probably much the same issue that has long kept me from enjoying any classical mythology, be it Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Christian, Norse, Jedi, etc. And that is why starting this book was daunting for me.

Fortunately for me, though, Miller made this story of godling Achilles — through the eyes of his companion Patroclus — very human and accessible. This book even has me wanting to read The Iliad now! Miller also provided a handy-dandy glossary and lots of interesting commentary on why she made some of the choices she did in adapting the story for Patroclus’s point of view. I even did some online research on my own, wondering where exactly Troy was, and found an interesting theory that puts Troy in a much different location from Schliemann’s proposed spot. Dangit, I think I’m hooked.

Once I got a good handle on who was who, I found this story compelling, touching, and beautifully told. Miller’s prose is glorious, and even knowing in advance how the tale ends (I didn’t completely ignore what I was taught in school), I was heartbroken because she had brought these ancient characters to life. I would recommend this to just about anybody, but especially to somebody who struggles to “get” Greek mythology.

View all my reviews

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