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Song of Achilles

The Song of Achilles - Madeline Miller Written with the vividly poetic language used in this time period, the retelling of the story of Achilles literally flies off the pages. The Greek mythology comes to life with the pen of this gifted author. Although it is 1200 BC, the characters become real in the world of today as their conflicts and fears are easily visualized and their way of life becomes more than a mythical concept for the reader.
Achilles is half human and half god, son of the goddess Thetis and mortal Peleus. Patroclus is the son of a king but is exiled to the kingdom of Peleus because he accidentally killed another boy. A friendship between the two boys develops, is highlighted throughout the story and moves it along as they grow to manhood. The relationship between the ex-prince and demi-god deepens into one of deep love and devotion. Their sexual preference is frowned upon by Achilles’ mother, and she often tries to manipulate events to separate them. Although her efforts are thwarted, often there are consequences. The predictions she informs them of, about the future of their lives, will shape the pattern of their behavior and lead to their self fulfillment.
Achilles can live a long life as a mere mortal or gain fame by becoming the greatest warrior, which will shorten his days. His friend Patroclus’ lifespan will also be affected by his choice. The mortals and gods interact and often there is great rivalry between the gods and the kings. When Helen, wife of Menelaus, leaves Sparta and runs off to Troy with Paris, an oath made by all the kings when Helen was betrothed, becomes effective and they must defend the honor of Menelaus and help him recapture his wife. So begins the Trojan War, ultimately forcing Achilles into making a decision whether or not to remain ordinary and live or die a hero’s death.
The story is told so skillfully, it would be hard not to enjoy it. Hearing it on an audio was especially rewarding since the reader spoke beautifully and handled all the voices well. The author has brought the tale into the modern day and made it quite relevant regarding current issues in society.