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)
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.
I would recommend this however this love story is not for everyone because of who it is about.
Oh I don't know, this stands alone for me right now. No comparisons needed.
His voice, rather his voices, of these characters was done so well! When I read a book I can "hear" the different voices in my head and Frazer Douglas may have outdid how I would've heard them! He was brilliant, his narration made the story come alive! The images were painted in brilliant color which made it real and full and rich! The
narration was a perfect match of story and voice brought together. When this happens it is near impossible to stop listening until its over!
That's an interesting question... I think I would like to have dinner with the entire cast of characters!
This story is a little bit of ancient Greek myth history mixed with a romance that transcends time and place. It all comes together beautifully and is painted in living colors by an incredible rich and full narration!
This is not a simple retelling of he Iliad, but an original contribution to the homeric poem. Miller's Song makes Achilles a lot more sympathetic than in the original poem and brings Patroclus to the foreground. The language is terse and beautiful, the metaphors appropriate to the setting, and the characterizations vivid and realistic. Although the author makes substantial contributions to the story of the war at Troy, adding a prequel and a touching, satisfying finale, the original material is handled with such care and reverence that it reads like a love letter to Homer. Absolutely beautiful.
Definitely near the top! I love grown up fairy tales, and this fit the bill. I was familiar with the mythology of Achilles, and to have an author so beautifully write a story around it was a real treat. I don't know if I would have enjoyed reading it as much as I did listening. Mr. Douglas has to be the best "reading actor" I've ever heard. The relationships between Achilles and the people around him are perfectly understood; was it the writing or the reading? Definitely had to be both.
It was a mix between a very good historical fiction novel and a fantasy novel; Gregory Macguire comes to mind, with his portrayal of Oz. I've never read a book just like this.
Oh my gosh! His timing is phenomenal, his character changes weren't over the top, but just subtle enough that the difference was engaging. My favorite character reading was that of Achilles. He somehow had "otherworld" in his voice.
Achilles goddess mother. Spooky, touching, powerful.
The love scenes were subtle and moving.
Great story well told and well read. I struggled with The Iliad and The Odyssey when I read them at university. This modern take on the story of Achilles provided a way into the story that worked for me.
The point at which narrator began to speak after his death. I had wondered how the author would pull that off. She did it well!
This is simply one of the very best Audible books I've yet listened to. Miller's prose and Douglas's narration are unsurpassed. I've read several books based on Homer's works, but this is the only one I can think of that I'd recommend to everyone and anyone. Yes, the details of the intimacy between the two men made me feel a little uncomfortable, but that tells you more about me than it does about the book. (All you macho guys that are afraid others will think you're gay because you listened to this book just pretend that you fast forwarded passed 'those' parts). The details of the violence of the battles made me feel even more uncomfortable, but I survived them as well. Knowing all but the details of how it was to end did not spoil a single minute. The story was moving, believable, and made me wish for more. I give this five stars only because I cannot give it six. A must listen. An absolute must.
Very near the top. Loved the story line.
Comparing to Phillipa Gregory's type of presentation. Love the character personalities and the believability of them as individuals. Song of Achillies is a very well presented mythological story and if you are a myth buff, this is perfect for a listen.
His voice characterizations are very honest and distinctive. Easy to fall into each one of them with his narration.
I felt the entire presentation combined with the story line was great.
Buy the book. You won't be sorry. I will probably listen a second time.
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