Amy Reads Books

Song of Achilles

The Song of Achilles - Madeline Miller Madeline Miller's retelling of the myth of the siege of Troy won this year's Orange Prize for Fiction, and after my Mum read and enjoyed it, I decided to read Song of Achilles on holiday-and I really enjoyed it.According to Miller's bio, she has experience of updating ancient myths for new readers, and that certainly shows throughout her work, which had pretty much zero 'first novel' problems. The writing style was really effective and lyrical, and whilst she was helped by the fact that Troy is one of the best stories in existence, her adjustments to the plot were really interesting. The novel is narrated from the perspective of Patroclus, a young prince banished from his home after he accidentally kills another boy. He becomes a ward of Peleus, Achilles' father, and soon becomes Achilles close companion. Patroclus is a pretty likeable character, and it was interesting to see his development from a nervous young boy to a man with his own ideas, beliefs and strengths. His narrative also paints other characters in a really interesting light, especially Achilles, who as the novel progresses goes from someone that Patroclus views as flawless, to being someone that is less than likeable. Although the story focuses on their developing relationship, Miller also introduces some other really interesting characters, I especially liked Chiron the centaur with whom the boys lived before going to war and who trained them, and Briseis a girl captured by the Grecians on one of their raids. Odysseus as a side character was also really fun, especially if you have knowledge of what happens after The Iliad.A few reviews have complained that the romance between Patroclus and Achilles, which develops as the boys age, is overly mushy and unrealistic for boys of their age. I do not think this is the case; the lyrical prose to me was a nod to the style of the Greek myths and I also will admit that I found their relationship to be rather lovely. It also certainly takes a back seat during the climax of the novel, because Troy happens which means that both Achilles and Patroclus have other things to think about.I recommend The Song of Achilles to people who enjoy action-filled novels with romance nicely interwoven; and I certainly do not think it would be inappropriate for people who enjoy Young Adult novels. Miller has a real talent, and I hope that there will be more books to come!