The Song of Achilles

The Song of Achilles

by Madeline Miller


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“At once a scholar’s homage to The Iliad and startlingly original work of art by an incredibly talented new novelist….A book I could not put down.”
—Ann Patchett

“Mary Renault lives again!” declares Emma Donoghue, author of Room, referring to The Song of Achilles, Madeline Miller’s thrilling, profoundly moving, and utterly unique retelling of the legend of Achilles and the Trojan War. A tale of gods, kings, immortal fame, and the human heart, The Song of Achilles is a dazzling literary feat that brilliantly reimagines Homer’s enduring masterwork, The Iliad. An action-packed adventure, an epic love story, a marvelously conceived and executed page-turner, Miller’s monumental debut novel has already earned resounding acclaim from some of contemporary fiction’s brightest lights—and fans of Mary Renault, Bernard Cornwell, Steven Pressfield, and Colleen McCullough’s Masters of Rome series will delight in this unforgettable journey back to ancient Greece in the Age of Heroes.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062060624
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 08/28/2012
Series: P.S.
Pages: 416
Sales rank: 1,178
Product dimensions: 5.38(w) x 7.82(h) x 0.96(d)

About the Author

Madeline Miller grew up in Philadelphia, has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Latin and Ancient Greek from Brown University, and has been teaching both languages for the past nine years. She has also studied at the Yale School of Drama, specializing in adapting classical tales for a modern audience. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The Song of Achilles is her first novel.

What People are Saying About This

Helen Simonson

“I loved this book. The language was timeless, the historical details were slipped in perfectly. I hope SONG OF ACHILLES becomes part of the high school summer reading lists alongside PENELOPIAD.”

Zachary Mason

“THE ILIAD turns on Achilles’ pride and his relationship with Patroclus, but Homer is sparing with the personal—so much so that, though we believe in their friendship, we do not understand it. THE SONG OF ACHILLES brings light to their love. This is a beautiful book.”

Emma Donoghue

“Mary Renault lives again! A ravishingly vivid and convincing version of one of the most legendary of love stories.”

Catherine Conybeare

“Although the details of the story are Miller’s own, the world is one that all who love the Iliad and its epigones will recognize. Reading this book recalled me to the breathless sense of the ancient-yet-present that I felt when I first fell in love with the classics.”

J.K. Rowling

“I loved it.”

Ann Patchett

“At once a scholar’s homage to THE ILIAD and a startlingly original work of art by an incredibly talented new novelist. Madeline Miller has given us her own fresh take on the Trojan war and its heroes. The result is a book I could not put down.”

Donna Tartt

“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.”

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The Song of Achilles 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 174 reviews.
dearreaderCT More than 1 year ago
This was a wonderful book.. It was impossible to put down. Homer's epic is vividly retold, full of drama, gods and men, triumph and in the end pity and tragedy. For anyone interested in the Classics this is essential reading. It is one of the finest novels I have ever read.
Sain More than 1 year ago
To simply put, it is a great book for a fan of Greek mythology. A nice retelling of the Iliad. Rarely do I re-read books or chapters within books, but this novel is an exception.
LeahPetersen More than 1 year ago
If I could give this an extra star past "I love it!" I would, because it accomplished something that I hardly ever find. It made me cry. Sobbed through the last five pages, could barely see to read the words. It's even more amazing to me that I cried at the ending of a story that I "knew" the ending of before I started it. But even if you know the Iliad, you don't really know this ending, because this book wasn't about the long war, or the heroes who fought in it, or the trials and adventures they faced. This book was about Achilles and Patroclus. Yes, all of the above served as the supporting cast and framework in which their story took place, but this is a love story. On top of that, it's told by the character we never really knew, Patroclus. His view of the war and how it plays out is nothing like those who fought in it for glory or honor or to serve the gods' ends. You get to see the human side of the story. And it's amazingly done. I've seen some say it's slow, and as an action-filled story of a great war and the acts of great heroes, sure, it would be. That's not the kind of book it is, though, and as a love story it is paced beautifully. The author's ability to evoke setting and atmosphere and pure, mercilessly intense emotion is the wonder of this book. I will admit, the seemingly random flipping back and forth from present tense to past tense for no reason I could ever figure out, was a distraction, but aside from making me pause and adjust from time to time, it was nothing compared to the power of the story. Yes, you know what's going to happen and how it's going to end. But you have no idea.
RBJ1 More than 1 year ago
Miller’s ‘The Song of Achilles’: A review Human Emotions ‘The song of Achilles’ is the story of the mythical Greek hero by Margaret Miller. Based on the ancient classic Iliad by Homer, the author has brought to life the myth of Achilles. It is written from the point of view of Patroclus , a minor figure in the epic, and has a very humanistic approach to the story. It explores the relationship between the two men with the background of popular myth. It tells a dramatic tale of emotions from love, sacrifice, jealousy, hatred and anger which are easy for anyone to identify with. The author depicts the two men as very different people who are drawn to each other. As the narrator, Patroclus describes himself as an awkward lonely young man who is not remarkable in any way. He is not loved by his parents. His father rejects him emotionally for his physical drawbacks and his mother is shown to be mentally unstable. Patroclus grows up unloved and unwanted. When he is nine he accidently kills another boy and is banished from his home to the court of Peleus, King of Phthia. Here he meets Achilles the golden boy. Achilles is everything Patroclus is not. Son of a human and a god he is perfect in every way. Called ‘The best of Greeks’ he is described as a perfect warrior and is destined to be a hero. Achilles singles out Patroclus and despite the differences they develop a strong friendship. Achilles is shown to be very protective of his friend who in turn worships him. As time goes on this friendship becomes stronger and they fall in love. Achilles mother, Thetis who is a goddess of the sea does not approve of this and tries to separate them. Against all odds the two remain committed to each other and overcome all the obstacles. Their love is strong, pure and withstands the tests of time. Meanwhile Helen the queen of Sparta is kidnapped by Trojan prince Paris setting into motion the famous Trojan war. This war is tied to Achilles’s destiny to become a hero. Reluctant at first he finally gives support to Menelus, Helen’s husband, and Agememnon . Patroclus follows him to the battlefield. Not having the disposition of a soldier he uses his knowledge of healing and medicine to tend to the wounded. As the war wears on Achilles becomes disillusioned and refuses to fight. Patroclus is worried as this may reflect badly on Achilles and might tarnish his legacy. Pretending to be Achilles he wears his armor he goes into the battlefield. He gives the ultimate sacrifice, his life, for his love. On hearing this news Achilles flies into a rage and kills Hector fulfilling his destiny. In the end the ashes of the two are intermingled giving them an eternity of togetherness. This story is ultimately of unconditional love and sacrifice. It is simply told but affects the reader in a very deep way. With its mythical background it shows that human emotions have not changed since time immemorial and that love is a very powerful force. It can change destinies.
CaryMorganFrates More than 1 year ago
5+Stars! This is a magnificent book! The Song of Achilles, at its very core, is a huge homage to the mastery and beauty that was, and is Homer’s work. Ms. Miller begins her novel on one basic premise – Homer wrote the truth, and life as he described it was real and without exaggeration, including each of the gods, demi-gods, heroes, villains and all those who fell somewhere in-between. As a writer, I’ve followed many a lead in order to trace a mystery upriver to its logical headwaters. And, as in this case, the conclusions at which I arrived, the answers that best fit all of the questions, may not please everyone, but they certainly hold their own in believability. Lyrically written, faithful in all its details, this book left me soaring, crying, understanding and accepting all at once. This is a book that shall remain on my shelves, to remind me forever what mastery is all about. Exceptionally well done. I purchased this book online and have given this review freely and without compensation of any kind.
The_hibernators More than 1 year ago
A touching love story with adventure On the outside, this book is a retelling of Achilles' actions in Troy; however, Miller has incorporated deeper elements to the well-known story. The Song of Achilles is a celebration of Achilles' humanity, rather than of his God-like martial skills. It is a touching love story between Achilles and his companion Patroclus. It is a story of forgiveness for human flaws. And it shows the reader that sometimes the best part of the story is forgotten in legends. Above all, it's one of those books that sucks you right in...and then leaves you breathless when it's over. Although Song of Achilles is technically fantasy, it is also a book that can be enjoyed by literary snobs and by people who don't know much about Greek mythology. I loved it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Song of Achilles is one of the most beautiful books that I have ever read. Narrated by Patroclus, a side character in the traditional Iliad, The Song of Achilles is the heart-wrenching story of two young men trying to live their lives as they want, despite the fact that both are destined to play a major role in the upcoming Trojan War. As their lives, and the story, evolves, Madeline Miller takes each moment and inortalizes it in words, perfectly capturing the feelings of that moment. The story starts when the boys are eleven, just approaching man-hood. Patroclus is a former prince, extiled to Pythia because he killed the eldest son of a noble family, never to see his home or father again. Achilles is the prince of Pythia, son of the sea goddess Thetis, and he is destined to be the greatest warrior of his age. Soon after they meet, Achilles chooses Patroclus as his companion, man at arms, and friend. The two forge an irevocable bond, becoming so close that only death can keep them apart. The Song of Achilles is the moving retelling of the life of one of the most famed heroes of all time. Unlike in the Iliad, Achilles and Patroclus take center stage, with the Trojan War as the background. Many of the characters are familiar, but the author portrays them with a sense of who they were, enhansing their personalitys, and balancing them against each other. The book is rich in emotion but tastfully done. Nothing is overdone, and the book has a sense of truth, it almost appears like the book is not a book at all, instead it is a window into the lives of two famous heroes for whom war, although it was their life, and the reason for their fame, was never something that they truly desired. Madeline Miller has truly created a masterpiece.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great version of story from Patroclus' view.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Read this straight through. It's a gripping spin on a classic tale.
emmi331 More than 1 year ago
It's said that Alexander the Great took the story of Achilles and Patroclus as the model for his lifelong love affair with Heraklion. Reading of the combination of intense friendship and erotic love as detailed in this book, it is easy to understand why. Ms. Miller's skill in introducing supernatural characters (a centaur, a sea goddess) and making them seem perfectly acceptable is testimony to her ability to recreate a world that easily accomodates both fantasy and reality. I absolutely could not put this book down, the story was so well told. Filled with action, suspense, and great tenderness, it draws the reader into an ancient world in which close friendship is a treasure not to be taken lightly. The fact that there is a sexual element only adds to the intimacy and loving sense of the relationship between the two young men. And as in so much of mythology, there is the lesson to be learned of the tragic consequences pride can bring, and the futility of human ambition. Highly recommended.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The story took hold of me in the first pages and did not let go. Fabulously written and full of wonderful prose.
bbb57 More than 1 year ago
An incredible surprise, as I only had a generic sense of what the book was going for. I knew about the story of Troy, Achilles, and Hector, but this took a whole different theme. It is by far the most intense love story I have ever read. I physically experienced the intensity of the emotions in each and every line. I will be following this author from now on.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Beautifully written. Highly recommended for everyone. I cried at the end.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have read countless Trojan War books and this is by far my favorite.  Absolutely beautiful writing.  I have reread this book more times than I could tell you and I still cry every single time.  It really goes past the legend of Achilles and lets the reader see the tender, human side of him from Patroclus' pov.   Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful.  I wish I could give it more than just 5 stars.  
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book took me so deep into the lives and emotions of its characters. All I can say is "wow"
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of the best love stories I've ever read. I finished the book then turned right around and started to re-read it. It's that good. The story is beautifully written and reminds us of just how powerful love is.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Beautiful story,beautifully written. Read this book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The best book I have ever read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
By far my favorite.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Interesting take on a classic tale. Vivid detail, character development, and realustic emotions make thids novel a must-read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I knew it was going to happen and I cried anyway.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well written and intense. This a real page-turner. It is also much easier to get into than wading into the classic translations of Homer, etc.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The lovely prose that retells this epic tale guides the reader effortlessly through the emotional aspects of loving and hateful relationships. I must read her next novel.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is perhaps the best book written in the last twenty years. It's certainly the best book I've read in the last twenty years. Vivid and lovely, it sucks you right in. I couldn't put it down! I bought two physical copies and one ebook and every one of my friends has a copy now also.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have never before in my life read anything so heartfelt and meaningful. Loved the perspective of this book. 10 out of 10 would love to read again.