A Review of the novel “The Song of Achilles” by Madeline Miller

Written by Lio Rowan (Features Writer)

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller is a romantic fantasy book set during the greek heroic age. We follow as the great demigod Achilles and the outcast Patroclus fall in love. After the former prince Patroclus is banished from his kingdom, he is sent to Achilles’ father’s kingdom. Where he is trained to be a part of their army. However, plans change when sparks fly between them too. What starts as a friendship. Blossoms into a love stronger than anything. They leave to be trained by the famous centaur Chiron. He taught them both important skills for young men to learn, a right of passage for young men and gods. Achilles is trained in the art of battle. Patroclus taught the delicate sensitivity of medicine. Together, secluded in the woods they come of age and fall in love. Trouble arises, however,  when Achille’s mother, a terrifying sea nymph, disapproves of their relationship. She kidnaps her son and takes him to a poor kingdom far away. He’s set to marry the princess there. Only for Patroclus to find him and save him.

The song of Achilles is a beautiful book about love, war, and loss. Patroclus knows his lover will die in battle, it’s been written in the stars by fate. He follows his man into battle and watches him die a hero. It’s devastating and beautiful. Miller’s writing style is flowery and poetic, capturing the innocent love of the two men as they fight to stay together, even though fated death.

Achilles is told he will die during the Trojan War. As a result, he becomes  obsessed with what he’ll leave behind. In Greek society, honor is social status, military rank, fame, and reputation. Achilles’ honor is this book’s main theme. The Fates see the future and know it’s written in the stars how the war will make him famous, so he believes that he’s entitled to honor, confusing it with pride and violence. In addition, the Greeks believe that war is honorable and that this honor will define them in the future. But the author shows her readers that the dishonorable tactics Achilles and the rest of the Greek army use shows that there is no real honor in war. To put it simply, the“honor” that the Greek warriors in the novel pursue is dishonorable.

However, their love is not, and Miller does an excellent job of capturing these two boys’ passion. They struggle, and fight, and fail. Only to be separated in death, a tragic ending. Such a book deserves the Orange prize that it won. Not only that, but Miller received recognition from the American Library Association as a Stonewall Honor Book for its representation of LGBTQ characters. She moved mountains for the community, offering up this gorgeous book with two lovers who broke laws to be together. There are so many other LGBT couples. The fight for equality is long and hard. But it’s media like this that helps propel forward this movement. 

The song of Achilles is an amazing book, I give it an 11/10. I can’t find a single thing to critique.  The entire book is like a poem,  soft and impactful. Miller uses words to create art in her book. And it has touched the hearts of so many people. People dedicate blogs and social media accounts to The Song of Achilles because it inspired teenagers to love freely and had a lot of really well-written love scenes that were jaw-droppingly well composed. Such an excellent book deserves this shining review, and so much more. 

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