She may call my love Sophia; but I call my love philosophy. So sang Van Morrison in A Sense of Wonder. She can only hint wondrously at what she sees in him. He can give you specific reasons. So when a woman writes about love in the only way she can - ineffable - a man gets bored quickly. This is a tale of homosexual adolescence - and pretty much nothing more - for the first 100 pages, nearly every one of which refers to the ineffable sense of wonder which Achilles inspires in Patroclus, thanks to wispy hairlines and Adams' apples. Perilously close to chick lit. But then it gets better, as Odysseus arrives and plot replaces a meandering love affair which contains such self indulgent, blunt, visual allusion as to render the relationship trite and sentimental. Yet. Is the sentimentalism intentional? is this book really infused with the belief that life and love can be enjoyed without pain (Harry T Moore's definition in his biography of DH Lawrence)? Yes. But then, from Scyros on, magnificently no. It powers through the Trojan campaign, setting both the scenes and the individual personalities alight with finely described horror and a brilliant evocation of how perplexed Achilles, Agamemnon and everyone else becomes. Life, love and glorious, heroic pain - in equal order. Patroclus, the man least likely to. Brilliant. And the adolescent homosexuality with which the book labours to begin? Indispensable. Because, without it, you would not understand motive, nor feel the heroism, the triumph of the human spirit, the essence of men at their selfless, bestial, best. A book that leaves you feeling for Achilles as Patroclus, Briseis and a common Greek soldier would. But, most of all, a book that leaves you permeated with the spirit of Patroclus, whose love conquers all, even Thetis.