Thursday, 22 March 2012

Orange 2012: Song of Achilles (Madeleine Miller)

Song of Achilles was one of the Orange titles that I was dreading having to read most. The world of classical mythology is something that I have glimmers of knowledge about, but reading stories based on this world is something that doesn't really appeal. I'm not a great fan of historical fiction unless it's a period that I know reasonably well (i.e. twentieth century Britain), I think because I struggle to envisage the setting properly. But to my suprise, I coped with the setting of Song of Achilles and even found myself enjoying the book.

Set in Greece and following the epic Trojan War, it tells the story of two young boys as they grow into young men and go into battle together. Patroclus is an awkward young prince "I was not fast, I was not strong, I could not sing", a disappointment to his father, a king and "son of kings", and unlikely to follow in his father's footsteps. At the age of ten he is exiled to the court of King Peleus, where he meets Achilles, who seems to be everything that he is not. To Patroclus' surprise, Achilles befriends him - it seems that despite having everything going for him, he is lonely.

After the kidnap of Helen from Sparta, the Trojan War develops and Achilles is the one to lead the men of Greece in their battles and Patroclus has to follow.

If you like novels based on Greek mythology then you should certainly pick this one up. If you don't, or are undecided, I think it's still worth giving this one a go. Even if you don't know the story, that's not necessary to get something out of this novel that manages to evoke the period even for those with little knowledge of it.


  1. Haven't finished it yet, I don't have the super hero reading speed of Mrs W. :), but I am enjoying it.

  2. I don't remember much of the Greek myths from school, but I am halfway through this book and LOVE it! You're right - you don't have to know much about the story of Achilles to enjoy this novel. It is a great story and beautifully written - anyone would enjoy it.

  3. Two days on the trot with books that I think I'd enjoy. I studied Classical Civilisation for 'A' Level & keep meaning to re read The Iliad etc, I think I need an idyllic Greek Island holiday to do them justice, so in the mean time this will be a great alternative.

  4. Like you I wasn't sure what I was going to make of this book, but I'd heard such good things about it that I was really interested to find out what it was all about. And I really enjoyed it.

  5. I actually didn't know the story and I ended up loving this book. Just finished it now in fact. Loved the writing, the plot and the characters - it was a beautiful novel and it deserves to make the shortlist.


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