The Song Of Achilles - Madeline Miller (2011)

Updated: Feb 1, 2021

The story is told from the perspective of Patroclus who, exiled by his father to live in the court of Peleus, soon falls in love with his host's son, the superhuman Achilles: from childhood, his demi-god status means he is swifter, more beautiful and more skilled than all his peers.

 

An ancient myth, gay lovers, and a bit of cross-dressing; not the most common combo However, a great one. The Song of Achilles is unsurprisingly based of the myth of Achilles, but with a twist. Now there were always rumours that Achilles and Patroclus his friend and servant were lovers, but no writer dared to do anything about it. Until Madeline Miller, she perfectly encapsulates desire, love, and heart break. All whilst writing a very compelling story about the Trojan War and life in Ancient Greece.

Firstly, let’s talk about the romance at the heart of it all. This is one of the best gay romances I have ever read. When you first start to read you do wonder if this is a bit of queer bating, but that is quickly disproven in just a few chapters. Considering the two lived in ancient Greece you would expect them to be ridiculed for their lifestyle, however they aren’t. The soldiers in the army play it off as boys being boys; which isn’t perfect but considering this is based thousands of years ago you would expect zero tolerance. After a bit of research I found that it was actually quite normal for men to be lovers in Ancient Greece and Rome. Even Caesar one of the most powerful and well known emperors in the Roman empire had a love affair with another man. It’s very odd that from this point we moved backwards for over 2000 years. Too now where it’s what it used to be like (I mean better, but still crazy).

My one small complaint about the book was the beginning, it did feel a little slow. Like I said you did wonder whether this was just a bit of queer bating. This is mainly because we spend a whole chapter focusing on Patroclus’s exile, and to be honest this kind of just feels like an excuse for him to go be with Achilles. But, I’m not complaining that much as it’s what happened in the myth. This trend of weird pacing appears a few times again in the book; all I can say is get through it. Because the end product if beautiful, heartfelt and honestly made me cry.

If you haven’t read the book don’t read this next bit, as it gives away the ending; I have to talk about this as it is so beautiful and definitely the best way Miller could have finished the book. So, if you haven’t read The Song Of Achilles, and you don’t want spoilers. Go read this very cute and heartfelt gay romance, and comeback to read the full review when you’re done.

After both of the boys die in the war we are left with a sorrowful ending. Achilles has passed on and Patroclus is stuck to haunt his grave. But, Achilles’ mother the women who has always stood in the way of their romance comes and allows them to be together. Then we get the beautiful ending image of the two holding each other and the light pouring out. Showing their true love for another. As I said I couldn’t think of a better ending to this book, it perfectly brought the whole story together. An absolutely amazing book, that represented a gay romance beautifully and peaked my interest for Greek mythology. Who knew one book could do both?


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