Review: The Song of Achilles

It’s June. It’s Pride month. And I am going on a self induced torture which I am calling Reading Marathon Mania where I am going to read as many LGBTQIA+ related books as I could. I am not following any list or recommendations, I am going to read all and any LGBTQIA+ book I come across in this duration. Like a Maniac, yes.

Here is a review for the book which tore my soul apart in the most beautiful way possible.

I  went into this book knowing about the love and legend of Achilles and Patroclus. But this did not stop the rush of emotions overpowering me. If anything, knowing what Fates had planned for them only made the The Song of Achilles even more of a tragedy than it already is.

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My #RMM Rating: 4.5

(Totally worth reading)

The Song of Achilles written by Madeline Miller is a retelling of the famous Greek Epic Iliads by Homer. The book was first published in the year 2011. The author was primarily inspired by Iliad and Odyssey and her book focuses on the relationship between Patroclus, the exiled prince of Opus and Achilles, Prince of Phthia, son of goddess Thetis and Peleus, king of Phthia.

The story is written in First Person from Patroclus’ Point of View. Generally, I am not a huge fan of First Person POV but the writing has done the story justice and people, this is how you write a good first person POV story!

I was actually curious as to how the author would manage to continue telling the story from Patroclus’ POV, knowing that the story continues after he is gone. I had expected that the story would shift to a different POV (probably Achilles’ POV or Third Person) but I was so happy and deeply satisfied with how the story was concluded even though Patroclus was physically absent.
Speaking of which, what I didn’t expect was that the story would be narrated by Patroclus to begin with because in many retelling you have the tale presented from our famous Greek warrior – Achilles’ – POV. So reading about life and thoughts of Patroclus was like a breath of fresh air.

The writing itself stole my heart. I loved how the words and chapters flowed into each other. Madeline Miller’s is one of the best writing styles I have come across. The phrases and dialogues are so … pure, so heart touching (and heart wrenching at times) that I found myself going back to read the whole paragraph again just to bask in the beauty of the writing. By the time I was done reading this book my heart was in pieces and my soul cleansed.

If we talk about the LGBTQIA+ factor (or the Queer Factor as I would like to call it), this story was needed and is important because now and again in the history of literature and visual media the story of Patroclus and Achilles (#Patrochilles) has been twisted and turned and denied of its true nature. In media, Patroclus and Achilles have been everything from friends, very good friends, companions, fellow warriors of Greece, to cousins! Their character has been twisted beyond recognition in search of ‘Heterosexual Explanation’.

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The Song of Achilles does not deny the very homosexual nature of Patrochilles relationship and instead their love has been raised to a level which we mere mortals of 21st century cannot even dream to attain.

Lastly, let’s talk about the characters. It is hard to not to fall in love with the lead characters because obviously you feel for them too deeply and you end up knowing them so well. The characters-Patroclus and Achilles-are strong by themselves because that is how they were made in the Iliads and the other epics/re-telling but Madeline Miller has done a brilliant job in making these immortalized characters more human. They feel more natural and more real and that is what makes you fall in love with them.

Not only the protagonists, but the side characters through out the story are painted out so beautifully that you can easily imagine and empathize with them. You can feel their hate, greed, pain and love. It’s beautiful.

While talking about characters, I cannot not mention Odysseus. Besides Patroclus and Achilles I loved, loved, loved reading about Odysseus. I loved how his character is presented and I loved how sharp, cunning, brilliant and annoying his mind is. No wonder Athena favours him! Maybe it’s just me or maybe the character is portrayed that way, I can’t tell. But what I do know is that I have a strong liking for characters like Odysseus. I like the characters who are witty and absolute assholes and that, is a problem (for others).

So, in conclusion, here are the reasons why you should read this book:

  • Writing Style and the poetic flow.
  • Brilliant execution and characterization.
  • For the story and tragedy.
  • Fanart

and Why you should not read it?

  • Like every Queer story out there, this one too, ends in tragedy.
  • You are going to cry yourself to sleep.

In conclusion, I know years from now (or maybe just weeks) I will come back to this book. Because I am a sadist who loves to torture her poor little heart with beautiful literature and I think you should do the same.

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