The Song of Achilles is one of those books I’ve had on my shelf for a while, and hadn’t yet picked up, mostly because I was afraid it wouldn’t live up to the hype. But when two people in two weeks told me I should read it, I decided it was time to finally pick it up. And it only took about twenty pages for me to start cursing myself for not reading this book sooner.
Exiled from his own kingdom, the young prince Patroclus is sent to live in the household of Kind Peleus. There, he meets the son of Peleus and the sea goddess Thetis: Achilles. The two form an unlikely friendship, and when Achilles is sent to train with the centaur Chiron, Patroclus follows. Together, Achilles and Patroclus grow into adulthood. When word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, her husband Menelaus calls upon the heroes of Greece to fight. Despite knowing the prophecy concerning his fate, Achilles joins the cause, if only for the glory that will come along with it. Patroclus, torn between love and fear, follows. Neither of them knows just how cruel the Fates will be, or exactly what their destinies hold.
The Song of Achilles was everything I was hoping for and more. It had some of the best characters I’ve encountered in a while. I adore the fact that the story was told from Patroclus’s point of view, I think it added a lot to the story, and showed Achilles in a new light. It was nice to read about an Achilles that was embodied the traditional, arrogant Achilles character, but also had a softer side. I really enjoyed how Patroclus and Achilles balanced each other. The secondary characters were dimensional and interesting as well. I particularly liked Thetis, who was a brilliantly ambiguous character. I spent most of the book trying to decide if I liked her or not, and I loved it.
[Warning: there is a (minor) spoiler in this paragraph. Read at your own risk.] I did enjoy the historical aspects of this book – it made me want to read more Greek history, specifically The Illiad – but what made this book for me is the relationship between Achilles and Patroclus. I don’t even know how to describe it. It is easily one of my all-time favorite love stories. Blew Romeo & Juliet right out of the water. It – for lack of a better phrase – made me feel all the things.
I knew the ending of this book going in – it’s a classic story in Greek mythology – but I still couldn’t put it down! It was a completely amazing read that was both incredibly well-written and really inspiring.
Anyone who told me to read this book: thank you! If you’ve read it, let me know your thoughts in the comments!