Song of Achilles Book Review: A Modern Take on Ancient Love

Song of Achilles Book Review

Table of Contents

The Song of Achilles is a historical fiction, romance, written by Madeline Miller and later published in 2011. This book is a twist on Greek mythology set around the era of the Trojan war  but written in a way where no prior knowledge of ancient Greece or the war is needed.

This book is a total of 352 pages of pure love and friendship with beautiful tellings of its growth as far as an heartbreaking end. 

the song of achilles cover

Decoding the Plot: An Epic Tale of Love and War

This story follows tow young boys in ancient Greece, where Patroclus, a young prince, is exiled to the court of King Peleus in order to be trained and schooled into a young man in which society will forgive him for taking the life of another. 

Patroclus has a hard time settling into the stern rules and routines of the court until by some strange turn of events King Peleus’ young son, Prince Achilles, decides to befriend Patroclus, making him the envy among the other exiles.

Over time the pair’s friendship blossoms into such a strong bond absolutely nothing can come between them, not even a warning to Patroclus from Achilles mother, sea goddess Thetis. 

Everything seems to be going well for the pair, they grow and learn together in perfect harmony, until their thirteenth year when Achilles is instructed by his father to leave the palace and train on Mount Pelion with Chiron.

Chiron is a centaur known amongst the Greeks for being an exceptional mentor to his heroes that come to him. Patroclus takes the risk of leaving the palace to find Achilles, to accompany him on his training, much to Thetis’ dismay: he succeeded. 

After years in training as well as years of progress within their relationship, progressing into much more than friends, Achilles is summoned home, little known to the boys, they are to discuss their potential participation in upcoming war and for Achilles to fulfill the prophecy. 

Will the boys be able to decipher what is more important: Love or life?

the song of achilles blurb

Unpacking Madeline Miller’s Narrative Artistry

Madeline Miller has a unique but beautiful way of writing and forming new stories based on ones that have already been told and loved for generations, her way of creating characters and developing scenes is second to none.

This book in particular, has a lot of influence from Greek mythology. It is told and explained so well that having prior knowledge about ancient Greece and the stories of that time is not necessary, making this story appeal more to a wider audience.

The depiction of the romance is so subtle you almost miss the little details, this is more of a slow burn book but not boring, still impactful and interesting throughout. 

Pros and Cons of the Song of Achilles

The  pros of this book are without a doubt the attention to detail and the incredible story building. It was such an easy book to read, everything was explained so well it almost didn’t feel like Greek mythology. The growth and progression between Achilles and Patroclus was amazing, their whole relationship from start to finish was so pure and sweet amidst a tragic and heartbreaking end.

I personally felt as though the pacing of this book was perfect but, I feel like some people may find it a bit slower and less gripping, which would be my only con. 

Final Verdict: An Unforgettable Retelling of a Timeless Story

Overall I gave this book five stars, it was heartwarming and sweet, it had a build up to a conflict in the end which really rounded off the book perfectly. The story was really well written and everything felt new and exciting, a really good rendition of an already well loved story.

I personally think this has been one of the best reads of 2023, it was a beautiful story written and depicted perfectly. 

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