How did your reading go this month? Did you read something set in Ancient Greece that you enjoyed? Let us know in the comments!
I read our main title, The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller. This is a devastating book – beautifully written, heartbreaking, part love story, part cautionary tale on the perils of pride, this is a story that will stay with you long after finishing.
Patroclus is the son of a minor king in the Greek territories. He is a constant disappointment to his father. When he makes a fatal mistake he is exiled from his home and is sent to the kingdom of Phthia, ruled by the powerful King Peleus. There he meets the king’s son Achilles, “the best of all the Greeks”. That this golden boy and an outcast should become friends is unexpected, but soon they are inseparable. Patroclus blossoms in Achilles’ reflected glory and Achilles gains a true friend. When Achilles’ father sends him to study under Chiron, the wisest and most skilled of the centaurs, Patroclus follows. Together they learn many skills from Chiron, happy to be together and becoming more than friends.
Their idyll is ruined when word of the kidnapping of Helen reaches them. Achilles, hungry for fame and glory, joins the fight to retrieve her from Troy and Patroclus refuses to be left behind. What follows is the brutality of war, full of violence, cruelty and male egos. The fallout from Achilles pride is devastating and heart wrenching.
I was surprised at the violence of the scenes of the Trojan War and frustrated by Achilles and his refusal to compromise. In many ways Patroclus is the true hero, and a lesson to all. A fascinating look at the culture and customs of Ancient Greece as well as a story of love and sacrifice.