The legend begins...
Greece in the age of heroes. Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the kingdom of Phthia to be raised in the shadow of King Peleus and his golden son, Achilles. “The best of all the Greeks”—strong, beautiful, and the child of a goddess—Achilles is everything the shamed Patroclus is not. Yet despite their differences, the boys become steadfast companions. Their bond deepens as they grow into young men and become skilled in the arts of war and medicine—much to the displeasure and the fury of Achilles’ mother, Thetis, a cruel sea goddess with a hatred of mortals.
When word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, the men of Greece, bound by blood and oath, must lay siege to Troy in her name. Seduced by the promise of a glorious destiny, Achilles joins their cause, and torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus follows. Little do they know that the Fates will test them both as never before and demand a terrible sacrifice.
Built on the groundwork of the Iliad, Madeline Miller’s page-turning, profoundly moving, and blisteringly paced retelling of the epic Trojan War marks the launch of a dazzling career.
©2012 Madeline Miller (P)2012 HarperCollinsPublishers
“[Miller] makes a persuasive argument for the timeliness of her subject. …Miller’s winning debut focuses on Patroclus, a young prince living in Achilles’ golden shadow. Miller also gives voice to many of the women who were also consigned to the shadows.” (Publishers Weekly, Spring 2012 Preview, Top 10 Literary Fiction)
“You don’t need to be familiar with Homer’s The Iliad (or Brad Pitt’s Troy, for that matter) to find Madeline Miller’s The Song of Achilles spellbinding....her explorations of ego, grief, and love’s many permutations are both familiar and new....[A] timeless love story.” (O magazine)
“A psychologically astute Iliad prelude featuring the heady, star-crossed adolescence of future heroes Patroclus and Achilles.” (Vogue)
This is a beautiful retelling of the story of Achilles, from the point of view of Patroclus. Admittedly, it has been years since I read the Iliad, but the story seems pretty faithful to its original sources, and it manages to incorporate the complexity of the Trojan War and all the various players and their motivations without overwhelming the central story, that of Patroclus and Achilles. It is a love story, a tragic love story because from the start, we know how it ends, and that knowledge made it quite difficult to get through in parts, which speaks to the excellence of the storytelling and the audiobook narrator. Highly recommended.
Nothing can better the Illiad but this book is a must for those who love the story of Achilles and Troy
Achilles. He is the original superhero character and one that has survived the test of time for thousands of years.
Excellent narration. The voices that he chooses for each character are fantastic and consistent throughout the book
I was uncomfortable with one particular scene of a homosexual nature! Thankfully it did not escalate further later on in the story.
A great story retold from a fresh perspective
This was a thoroughly enjoyable read. I couldn't choose another book for days afterwards. Nothing seemed as good as this book.
Cried like a baby over a death that happened something like 3000 years ago. Miller managed to make this story and its characters come to life. The narrator is excellent, although his "female" voice is not great (as none of them seem to be).
this book has to be one of the top 5 that I have listened to
I loved Petrocles--his love and devotion for Achilles was so tender and beautiful.
Mr Douglas is one of my favorite readers--I would like to see more of him. He infuses the characters with emotion that is palpable and his voice distinctions between characters are consistent and appropriate.
engaging,enjoyable, and dramatic
I really enjoyed how the author gave a bit of a different take on classical story of Achilles from the view of Patroculus. I thought it was interesting to see how she developed and accepted the classical "facts" and put them into the framework of the story. She made me break out my Illiad to refresh myself.
The variation in tone helped me keep the characters more apart than I expected in a Greek myth.
Patroculus - as the central character, I thought they developed him well.
I could listen to this book over and over again. The language is beautiful and the narration is excellent.
Patrocles because of his humanity.
He just fit the story perfectly. I felt like he so clearly represented Patrocles and in showing us who Patrocles is as a character we better understood Achilles.
Yes and no. I kept dreading what I knew was coming. The suspense of knowing that Achilles will die and not knowing what would happen to Patrocles was difficult especially since within the story they knew too and made steps towards and away from death.
As a student I really enjoyed the "Iliad" and the character of Achilles so I wanted to like this book. I had several issues with it however:
1. The author turned Patroclus into a near-total loser. In the Iliad, he and Achilles had the same skill set, but Achilles was just far better due to his being half-immortal. The portrayal of Patroclus as an awkward rather dorky guy was disappointing.
2. The Iliad did not portray the two as having an intimate relationship, and in fact Achilles was pretty into Briseis (and i believe Patroclus was also described as having a female partner at one point). However, for the sake of the story I can understand the artistic license here.
3. The scorn the other Achaeans showed to the pair's relationship, seems more of a modern take. In Ancient Greece, however, I was always led to believe that such relationships were not only tolerated, but common.
On the whole, I could see what the author was trying to do, and she did so pretty well, I just wish I could like the story more.
Actually, the ending was pretty moving and well done.
"The Song of Achilles" is a retelling of the Illiad from the POV of Patroclus, Achille's cup-bearer and lover. I was a bit puzzled by the negative attitudes portrayed in the book toward homosexuality; I believe the ancient Greeks thought homosexuality to be a finer, nobler love, while heterosexuality was mainly for procreation: "Just close your eyes and think of Greece!"
There are some truly moving moments in the book. The sacrifice of Iphigenia was both horrific and surprising, which was surprising in itself because I know the story. In general, the author did a fine job of bringing the story to life, portraying the old heroes as ordinary men with ordinary faults and foibles. The narration was well-suited to the story.
The author does not try to explain away the interference of the gods with some sort of modern reinterpretation. The gods appear and disappear, wreaking havoc as per usual. The description of Thetis, Achilles' mother, is nicely chilling.
At times, the epic approach to the writing became a bit wearisome, but in general, the book was engaging and held my interest to the end. The author uses an obvious plot device at the end to allow Patroclus to continue to narrate the story after his death in battle, but that was forgivable. What do you do when your protagonists kaks it before the end of the story?
i like to read. i like to listen.
Yes to both. I think Madeline Miller has a really good way with words, I think that perhaps the subject/content of this story is what brought it down for me?
I'm torn because it was written beautifully..the way Madeline Miller uses words and phrases was really memorable. The way she described young love was on point.
Frazer Douglas was a great narrator.
Definitely not. I think this book was too much already....I don't need any more.
I found this tough to get through. It seemed long, and I don't want to feel like I am laboring through a book.
The first half of this book really captivated me, I enjoyed the introduction to these young lovers, and their struggles in ancient times.
Once we got to the "war" portion, the second half, that's where I found this to become tiresome. I'm not sure if the beautiful writing was hindered by the inevitable outcome of this predetermined story...if Miller had a better and easier time writing the made up portions, rather than the parts we all already know?
Perhaps it would have been better to read this physical book instead of listening to the audio because its easier to rush through portions that seemed to lag?
I couldn't say I would recommend this audiobook.
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