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The Song of Achilles Paperback – 12 Apr 2012

546 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Paperbacks (12 April 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1408821982
  • ISBN-13: 978-1408821985
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (546 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,929 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Madeline Miller was born in Boston and grew up in New York City and Philadelphia. She attended Brown University, where she earned her BA and MA in Classics. For the last ten years she has been teaching and tutoring Latin, Greek and Shakespeare to high school students. She also studied in the Dramaturgy department at Yale School of Drama, where she focused on the adaptation of classical texts to modern forms. She currently lives in Cambridge, MA, where she teaches and writes. The Song of Achilles is her first novel. Website: www.madelinemiller.com

Photo credit: Nina Subin


Product Description

Review

A captivating retelling of the Iliad and events leading up to it through the point of view of Patroclus: it's a hard book to put down, and any classicist will be enthralled by her characterisation of the goddess Thetis, which carries the true savagery and chill of antiquity (Donna Tartt The Times Christmas Books)

I loved it (J.K. Rowling)

Mary Renault lives again! A ravishingly vivid and convincing version of one of the most legendary of love stories (Emma Donoghue, author of number one bestseller, Room)

Original, clever, and in a class of its own ... an incredibly compelling and seductive read (Independent on Sunday)

A remarkably fresh take on one of the most familiar narratives in western literature (The Times)

Extraordinary ... Beautifully descriptive and heart-achingly lyrical, this is a love story as sensitive and intuitive as any you will find (Daily Mail)

Sexy, dangerous, mystical (Bettany Hughes)

If I were to give a prize for the best work of fiction I've read this year, this would be the runaway winner. As a first novel, it heralds the arrival of a major new talent (A.N. Wilson, Reader's Digest)

Inventive, passionate, uplifting and different. It will appeal to all ages. It's a book which despite some of the stiffest competition in the modern world is a truly worthy winner (Joanna Trollope, chair of the judges for the Orange Prize for Fiction 2012)

Book Description

A breathtakingly original rendering of the Trojan War

Winner of the Orange Prize for Fiction 2012


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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By thesadieflower on 20 Aug. 2012
Format: Hardcover
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I am a teenage girl who absolutely fell for the poetic prose of Madeline Miller. It had me crying at the end. I must say the first half of the book, when the pair are children, was far more enjoyable than the second for me - it is written so simply but so beautifully, and I found it utterly compelling and gentle. Yes, there is recurring adoration from Patroclus - but that's the point. it wouldn't work otherwise. I would thoroughly recommend this book. wonderful!
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Enjolras on 20 Nov. 2013
Format: Paperback
From beginning to end, The Song of Achilles is gripping and emotive in a way I have never yet experienced from another novel. From Patroclus' flawless and poetic narrative, we see the world - and most importantly, Achilles - in a different way to one presented by other depictions of Troy and the events surrounding it. It is indeed a love story, so I am bemused by the reviews that find it hyper-romanticised; Miller has said that she wanted to write an evocative and intimate tale of the two lovers, not just re-tell the Illiad in modern prose.

This novel is a success on many levels, from its narrative voice and wonderful style of prose to its characterisation of all the characters, minor or major. I found this book to have rich and complex characters despite it being in first person, a feat not to be sneered at. It is fascinating and heartbreaking to see the rise and fall of Achilles through the eyes of his lover, and one that has no doubt brought many a reader to tears, myself included.

It is not necessary to have read the Illiad before reading this book, though vague knowledge of the story of Achilles and Patroclus helps the fantastic lines of foreshadowing hit far more emotional blows. Indeed, '"What has Hector ever done to me?"' must be up there with the most heartwrenching extracts from the novel, such as 'I could recognize him by touch alone, by smell; I would know him blind, by the way his breaths came and his feet struck the earth. I would know him in death, at the end of the world.'

Beautiful, tragic, and sublime, this novel is the first I would recommend to anyone looking for something to read. Madeline Miller, in her debut novel, has managed to capture the gilded world of gods and mortals whilst telling one of the most passionate and loved stories from Greek mythology. This book is more than 'worth' the read: it is a vital must.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Nick Shanagher on 3 Sept. 2012
Format: Paperback
Part of this book is spellbinding and the whole is entertaining and good value. Having read the Iliad in translation a long time ago, I recall Achilles as some sort of spoilt teenager, his heroic exploits tangled in complex sub-plots and poetic complexity. Madeline Miller retells the story from the vantage point of his closest companion Patrocles and imagines the Greeks and Trojans as real people. The characters who are centaurs and Gods are dealt with plainly and the story of one boy's brilliant potential and the tricks of the gods moves forward at a good pace. For me, the pages come alive when Odysseus is centre stage, and the gritty realism of the siege of Troy is engaging. A brilliant holiday read. Recommended to anyone with an interest in Greek myth. PS If you enjoyed watching Troy with Brad Pitt, this is probably not the book for you but it will do you good to read it!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Pelagius on 12 July 2013
Format: Paperback
The Iliad told from Patroculus's point of view - a well-written and easy read. The development of Patroculus's teenage character - his difficult relationship with his father, his exile and resentment, his hero-worship and budding love for Achilles, the hatred of Achilles' mother for him - are very well done. The narrative voice is consistent, though thoroughly modern. The love between Patroculus and Achilles is delicately sketched.

The first half of the book is lovely, with well-observed psychology and a credible feel of ancient mythical times. Then the drama and sense of intimacy changes and slackens in the second half, as we reach the shores of Troy. The problem might be that the focus shifts from Patroculus to Achilles, who has little internal tension. It is still fun to read, but less original, and the battle scenes are somewhat perfunctory. However, some of the other characters are very well drawn, particularly Odysseus, while Patroculus's late and latent attraction to the captive girl Briseis is nicely done.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Wras on 10 Mar. 2015
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This song gives flesh and bone to an old story, Heroes have, glory, honour and love, and we have this book to remember and expand one of the great stories of men, women and gods.
The language is modern but beautifully lyrical used.
Patroclus introduces himself from the union of his parents, and expands the tale farther than human frailty would permit, but he never is anything but real and human, that credit goes to Madeline Miller whose love for this character gives us the pleasure of rediscovering, a world where destiny is inescapable, gods are openly meddlesome in the affairs of men and Centaurs educate young men in the arts of war, medicine, and philosophy.
This book explores openly the love Patroclus had for Achilles and vice versa, no excuses are made but it is delivered in a very tasteful way, because this book is about love not sexual titillation or exploitation, the motivations are of the heart and Eros is always more prevalent than Cupid in all the relationships.
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