Title: Song of Achilles
Author: Madeline Miller
Blurb (taken from Goodreads):
Greece in the age of heroes. Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the court of King Peleus and his perfect son Achilles. Despite their difference, Achilles befriends the shamed prince, and as they grow into young men skilled in the arts of war and medicine, their bond blossoms into something deeper – despite the displeasure of Achilles’ mother Thetis, a cruel sea goddess.
But when word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, Achilles must go to war in distant Troy and fulfill his destiny. Torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus goes with him, little knowing that the years that follow will test everything they hold dear.
I picked up this book after being told, repeatedly (by several, several, several people), that it was the best book they’ve read all year… and that it made them cry. A lot. I’m happy to say that they were right; this book was right up my alley and snuck its way into my favourite reads of 2016.
This is the type of book that you pick up despite knowing how it will end. If you have read past the first quarter of the book and you can’t tell, from the heavy foreshadowing, what will be the fate of Patroclus and Achilles, then I’m sorry for your poor heart. Clearly, this book is a masochistic romantic tragedy, where they build up something beautiful only to tear it all down at the end… and you enjoy every moment of it.
What I love about this book is that the classics become familiar. Some may feel a bit intimidated when they hear Homer, or the Iliad (or even poetry terms such as “dactylic hexameter”, perhaps?), but Madeline Miller presents this story in the form of a wonderfully-crafted novel. The tale becomes accessible to all types of readers, from teenagers to older adults. The writing is very well done and easy to follow. There’s even a glossary of characters at the end of the book, so don’t do like I did and struggle to remember who is who!
It’s also, of course, a coming of age story. It’s about a friendship that blossoms into romance, about young boys who form a strong companionship that will make you rethink your own friendships. It’s also about children losing their innocence as they heads into a war they aren’t sure they will return from. I hope you will root for Patroclus, the protagonist, as much as I have.
I would definitely recommend this book.