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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars absolutely beautiful, poetic prose
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...
Published on 20 Aug. 2012 by thesadieflower

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, rapid holiday read
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...
Published 22 months ago by Pelagius


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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars absolutely beautiful, poetic prose, 20 Aug. 2012
This review is from: The Song of Achilles (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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Accessible and entertaining retelling of an epic story, 3 Sept. 2012
This review is from: The Song of Achilles (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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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars beautiful, heartwrenching, exquisite novel, 20 Nov. 2013
This review is from: The Song of Achilles (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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, rapid holiday read, 12 July 2013
This review is from: The Song of Achilles (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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "A beautiful story is expanded and made real.", 10 Mar. 2015
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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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149 of 166 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well written, but..., 2 Oct. 2011
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Sid Nuncius (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Song of Achilles (Hardcover)
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This book is very well-written and very involving in places but I did have my reservations about it. Patroclus's narrative voice is believable and gives a convincing account of his childhood misfortunes, the events which lead up to the Trojan War and the War itself. I like the depictions of characters like Odysseus and Agamemnon very much, place and mood are very well evoked, and there are some exciting and very interesting episodes.

Madeline Miller is very keen to portray the relationship between Patroclus and Achilles as one of deep, enduring love, both spiritual and sexual. Whether or not this is justified by the source texts is arguable, but it is a noble aim. However, what we actually get is long, long periods where Patroclus moons around after Achilles like a love-sick puppy, to the point that I felt that the author herself was the one in love with Achilles and wasn't going to miss an opportunity to write a beautifully constructed sentence about his muscles, his hair, the curve of his chin or the soles of his feet (which seem to hold an endless fascination for her) and so on, which I eventually found almost unendurably tedious in places.

There were sufficient good things about this book to make a three-star rating seem very churlish, but it's only just four stars for me. Many other reviewers here have obviously enjoyed it very much, but I can only give it a qualified recommendation.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Surprise Hit, 2 Nov. 2014
I am sure I am not alone in being surprised by this novel. I did not expect it to be one I’d enjoy. I love films about Ancient Greece and Rome but I’m not insane about literature. I have read some of the Classics, The Iliad and The Odyssey but it’s never been my thing. I’d never choose a novel because it was focused on this period, it’s a little early for me. Chaucer is about as far back as I go out of choice, or perhaps to The Divine Comedy but nothing further than that. I expected The Song of Achilles to be a challenge but in the same breath I didn’t, as a what was the Orange Prize for Fiction winner, I assumed it must have some mainstream appeal. I wasn’t wrong.

Patroclus is a sensational narrator. I really enjoyed getting to know his voice and with my limited knowledge of Ancient Greek literature and legend, I only had a vague idea of who he was. I loved getting to know him and seeing his character grow throughout the novel. I loved his relationship with Briseis and even his scenes with Thetis. Miller’s control of Patroclus’ voice really is impossible not to enjoy, I got further and further drawn into his story and of course, his descriptions of Achilles make him sound every bit the hero, the perfect partner and beauty. I also love the way Miller doesn’t allow infallibility in her characters, even through his love for Achilles, Patroclus is able to see his weaknesses and through describing these their story feels even more real.

The pace of the plot is perfect. The characters travel across and around the Greek Empire and following them is nothing but a joy. The sense of tragedy is ever present, it’s inevitably coming but it’s impossible not to read on and see how things unfold. Miller’s playfulness with a well-known ancient tale is wonderful and though much of the story stays true to the myth I really loved reading Miller’s retelling. Impressive, especially as I wasn’t expecting much.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply epic..., 27 Jun. 2014
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This review is from: The Song of Achilles (Paperback)
Contrary to some other reviews, I actually believe the simplistic style of prose to be this novel's greatest strength. Very elegantly and sparingly written, the author nonetheless brings to life the dusty characters of the Iliad and reawakens them fantastically. "The Song of Achilles" serves as a comprehensive and imaginative retelling of the entirety of the life of Achilles and the span of the Trojan War, as opposed to the ten years covered within the actual Homeric epic. Whilst Miller follows the basic principles and plot of the Iliad, she explores more deeply the character of key individuals, notably Odysseus, Briseis, Thetis, and of course Achilles, through the eyes of Patroclus. Her research of the Greek epic and the relationships within it side heavily with Plato's explanation of both but she provides a fresh and convincing outlook on the debated relationship between Achilles and Patroclus. Overall, this was a thoroughly enjoyable read, sensitive in parts and beautifully written throughout.
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96 of 109 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A New Star, 23 Sept. 2011
By 
Hiraethus o Gymru (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Song of Achilles (Hardcover)
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The Song of Achilles is the first novel (hopefully of many more) by a very talented author, Madeleine Miller. Anyone who has read The King Must Die and The Bull From The Sea by the legendary Mary Renault will lock in immediately to the style of this narrative. Achilles is brought to life from his childhood to his exploits at Troy, but this version of his life is told from the view of Patroclus, his friend, companion and lover. The love aspect of the relationship is handled sensitively and in a manner that will not offend the most sensitive of readers and the action scenes and characters of the heroes, both Greek and Trojan, are well addressed. Once started, I found it difficult to put this book down, and was reluctant to close it at the end. A very different approach to Homer's immortal story has hopefully launched a new literary star into ascendancy and I look forward to more of this lady's work in the near future.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great debut novel, 2 Sept. 2012
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lilysmum "lilysmum65" (uk) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Song of Achilles (Paperback)
I read this book because I saw it had won the Orange Prize and because I remember studying the Iliad and the Aeniad at university. I was intrigued by the blurb which hinted at the love story of Achilles and Patroclus, who is a fairly minor character in the original poem.

Patroclus is a bit of a weak and weedy youth who makes a serious error when he pushes a boy who is trying to take his dice off him. The attacker falls and cracks his head on a rock and dies. Patroclus is horrified; he did not intend for him to die. He is sent away as a foster child and this is where he meets Achilles. The love story begins in a very subtle way and it is very well written. Patroclus is spell bound by Achilles and though Miller's writing style is spare and simple, it is also very powerful. Language is used sparingly and beautifully.

I was engrossed in the story of Patroclus' love for Achilles and my attention did wander a little when the battles began in the second half of the novel. Though the battle scenes are equally well written, they just didn't hold my interest in the same way as the start of the novel. Without giving away the ending, I was a little disappointed by how Miller dealt with the last few pages of the story.

In a similar way to Wolf Hall, this is a book that makes a very old story sound fresh and new. It's a love story and an adventure story told in a vibrant way.
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The Song of Achilles
The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller (Paperback - 12 April 2012)
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