Novel Talk: The Song of Achilles

A romantic tragedy between two star crossed lovers

Madeline Millers spin on the classic Greek love story keeps readers on the edge of their seats.

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Madeline Miller’s spin on the classic Greek love story keeps readers on the edge of their seats.

Riley Regnier, Entertainment Editor

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller depicts a classic Greek romantic tragedy like never before. We follow the weak Patroclus as he goes about his young years being hated by his father. In a moment of anger, Patroclus pushes a boy down who then hits his head on a rock and dies. Because of this tragic push, Patroclus is exiled from his kingdom and banished to another.  

The kingdom he is sent to just so happens to be the kingdom where the beloved prince Achilles lives. Achilles is the son of King Peleus and the cruel sea nymph-goddess, Thetis, who has the ability to oversee what’s happening with her son and makes sure he does as he is destined.  

Patroclus watches the prince from afar, but they eventually become friends… and then they become more then friends.  However, Achilles’ mother Thetis begins to worry that Patroclus is a distraction to her son’s destiny. Achilles has a prophecy to be the greatest warrior that ever lived. To ensure her son’s greatness she sends him to work with Chiron, the centaur, who trained all the previous great Greek warriors. Patroclus, who feels he has nothing to live for without Achilles, follows him.  Their journey in love is so well written that it has the innate ability shake readers physically and emotionally. I applaud Miller for her skill to relay the mythology in a way that even if you know nothing about Greek mythology it is still very easy to follow the complex storyline.  

Throughout the book, they follow each other into tragic battles and expose themselves to the greatest dangers all in the name of love. The relationship between Achilles and Patroclus was so natural and true, and the dialogue was mesmerizing, never in the way of intimate moments or silence. I love how carefully written it was, how Madeline Miller did not rush the romanticism of the young boys. 

The pair have grown up together, and their relationship becomes very powerful. This story greatly shows the power of relationships and how far they were willing to go to save their relationship even if it meant the death of others. They go back and forth saving each other, risking it all just to be together. 

I recommend this book for anyone looking for an incredibly unique and compelling Greek mythology novel. However, I notion readers to be prepared for the classic Greek mythology tragic pieces intermixed.