I’ve recently read Song of Achilles and let me tell you, it’s one of my favourite books! I absolutely loved The Iliad when I read it and I fell particularly in love with the relationship between Achilles and Patroclus so when I found out about this book, I got a little bit too excited.
The book starts at how Patroclus was exiled and sent to Achilles’ fathers (Peleus) city. And shortly, how Patroclus met Achilles and formed a bond – and then their lives afterwards.
Reading this is similar to reading Romeo and Juliet, we all know how their story would end and obviously, it would break our hearts regardless. I knew the ending before it happened, but the tears were as real as if I hadn’t.
Once Patroclus had been killed, I wondered how they were going to continue the narrative because it was purely in his point of view. But yet, they still did it. It is really clear now that it would have been easy to continue the story by Patroclus being killed but not being given the proper burial, so he was not sent to the underworld. Leaving, Patroclus watching Achilles’ every move and allowing the ending to be perfect.
“I have done it,” she says. At first I do not understand. But then I see the tomb, and the marks she has made on the stone. A C H I L L E S, it reads. And beside it, P A T R O C L U S.
“Go,” she says. “He waits for you.”
In the darkness, two shadows, reaching through the hopeless, heavy dusk. Their hands meet, and light spills in a flood like a hundred golden urns pouring out of the sun.”
I was angry when I heard Thetis was a complete bitch in this novel – mainly due to the fact I was in love with her in The Iliad and in this book, she was the complete opposite. Although, I do believe this was quite interesting as I had another take on Thetis.
When reading The Iliad, I always found Achilles to be an unsympathetic character – a big-headed individual who knows he’s the best Greek in town and throws a tantrum if he isn’t centre of attention. This book shows his unattractive qualities, but also shows that Achilles is human. He’s capable of love. He’s deeply conflicted. He has a sense of humor and a gentle side. We see him through Patroclus’s eyes, growing from a privileged child to a sensitive teen to a young man struggling to balance his personal feelings with the expectations of an entire country.
After reading the Song of Achilles, my opinion of every single character – apart from Patroclus – has changed. I didn’t really like Achilles in The Iliad, mainly because he was so ignorant to the damage he was doing to the Greek army by holding a grudge over the whole Agamemnon and Briseis situation. Alas, I really do think Achilles is such a gentle character. I will not be able to witness all these characters in the same way again and that’s a great thing in my eyes.
I would 100% recommend this book to anyone who is willing to cry and laugh and fall in love with Achilles and Patroclus alike. I strongly give this book a 5/5.