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The Song of Achilles Paperback – 12 Apr 2012
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Greece in the age of heroes. Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the court of King Peleus and his perfect son Achilles. Despite their differences, Achilles befriends the shamed prince, and as they grow into young men skilled in the arts of war and medicine, their bond blossoms into something deeper - despite the displeasure of Achilles's mother Thetis, a cruel sea goddess. But when word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, Achilles must go to war in distant Troy and fulfill his destiny. Torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus goes with him, little knowing that the years that follow will test everything they hold dear. An entertaining retelling of an epic story, perfect for those that enjoyed Troy. This paperback book has 352 pages and measures: 19.7 x 12.7 x 2.8cm.
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Achilles, half god, son of the terrifying sea goddess Thetis, is the flame haired shining star here, of course, with his close friend and supporter Patroclus. Thetis demands Achilles company in the underworld, he spends much time with her, in and beneath the sea, being trained, cajoled and warned. Prophesies cannot be sidestepped by mortals – or can they? Patroclus tries his best to avert the edict. His bravery in the end is astounding and effective.
Madeline Miller is a kind of Hilary Mantel ‘lite’. Another Mary Renault. She puts the reader right there, in the palace, in the crystal cave with Chiron, dancing in the court of Skyros, camping outside the walls of Troy. In fact this book could be young adult so coy are the sweet descriptions of the growing, unshakeable love between two boys. How young they were.
The relationship between Achilles and Patroclus was heart warming, if over emphasised, beginning with the Greek ‘boarding school for warriors’ at Achilles’ father’s place. The accident which sent Patroclus there was so easy to imagine, and so terrible in consequence for his family life. The sweet feelings he later discovered towards Briseis, the instinct that sought her survival, the healing work done by her with Patroclus in the medical tent, using the knowledge that Chiron gave him in the mountains, are all beautiful stories.
Altogether it was a pleasure to be reminded of the old myths, an exciting read in places and rewarding in others. I especially loved Chiron. What a marvellous tale this is, despite the writer ignoring popular belief in the most famous Trojan and Achilles legend - I was waiting for the Trojan horse, which never arrived, although was foretold, and I was disappointed that Achilles was shot by a spear between his shoulder blades, not through his only weak point, his heel. Shame!
There are plenty of her books available on Amazon.
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A highly recommended read