The Song of Achilles // A Beautiful Take on an Old Tale

Author: Madeline Miller

Published: September 20th, 2011 by Bloomsbury Publishing

Pages: 352

Genres: young adult // LGBT // historical fiction > Greek mythology

A beautifully written perspective on the love between Achilles and Patroclus in the old Greek tales. If you know anything about the Iliad or at least seen the movie Troy, you’ll know the story of Achilles. Many people are required to learn about him in high school. But a good friend of his usually seems put off more to the side except for his effect near the end. Well, welcome to a different perception of that strong relationship here in this book! I’m surprised the story from this POV hasn’t been done, so far, what with the beautiful relationship.


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 found the writing to be very elegant as it described the two boys’ journey together. It was a little too slow for me, but that’s probably because of how much I love intense, action-packed books… So I found myself skimming parts that, in my opinion, had no real bearing on the story, anyway. Never skimmed the adorable parts between the boys, though, heh. Too cute. But I don’t think I could re-read it at a later time, unless I just went for the good parts. But she also does well with writing like it should sound in such a long past time.

I love Achilles and Patroclus. The story of 1) them as boys, how they met and grew up together, and 2) their development during the war was exquisite. How they change based on each other and how the war affects them. I will admit, though, that it’s rather difficult to see real chemistry in this book… It’s like insta-love and you can’t see the reason for love, y’know what I mean? You see it more so at the end. And I wish there was a little more romance between them, even with the cute parts…*le sigh*

“We were like gods at the dawning of the world, and our joy was so bright we could see nothing else but the other.”

We see Patroclus’ brief life and events leading up to the meeting between the two boys at the beginning. He has it kind of rough until he finally meets Achilles and is proclaimed his companion! They get along super well and grow together from then on. I really liked meeting Chiron and the time they spent with him. Everyone acted totally normal that a centaur was there! Of course, all the gods were normal concepts, too *shrugs* I liked that they were seen as completely normal, but still portrayed as benevolent, yet vicious and mysterious gods. Let’s not forget arrogant, am I right? Much like the original myths.

As it progresses and we see the wartime; this is where you can see a real change in both boys. Patroclus becomes closer to people, helping them and making friends. He has such a big heart! Achilles acquires both good and undesirable qualities… He becomes stronger, realizes his potential, but he lets his pride get to him.

I kind of wished there was a little more to Troy’s side of things. But it was from Patroclus’ POV, so that would’ve been harder. It may have added something to the story? Maybe not. I don’t know!

Everything leads to the end and THAT was the best part (to me). A well-written epic ending to a classic tale. The beginning was sweet, the middle rough, the end wonderful.

“In the darkness, two shadows, reaching through the hopeless, heavy dusk. Their hands meet, and light spills in a flood like a hundred golden urns pouring out of the sun.”

My rating:

my rating of 3/5




Ta-ta for now!

Did you read this book? What did you think of the boys’ relationship? Anything else? Comment below! (Careful of spoilers, though)

~Photo from Goodreads~


3 thoughts on “The Song of Achilles // A Beautiful Take on an Old Tale”

  1. I’m suddenly seeing this book everywhere! EEEP. I’ve read like 3 reviews of it this week all of a sudden?! ANYWAY REGARDLESS: I REALLY WANT TO TRY IT. The writing seems super nice and I don’t really read much historical fiction retellings so….I do want to have a go eventually. 😀 I’m glad you mostly enjoyed it! Sad about those boring parts though, meh.

    Thanks for stopping by @ Paper Fury!


    1. Funny how that happens!
      I don’t normally read historical retellings either, but I also am a sucker for m/m books and was curious how this author would tell it this time :3
      You might enjoy it more than me; be sure to let the world (and me) know what you think!


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