My rating in stars: 5 stars
My rating in words: New all-time favorite
What it’s about:
Greece in the age of heroes. Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the court of King Peleus and his perfect son Achilles. Despite their difference, Achilles befriends the shamed prince, and as they grow into young men skilled in the arts of war and medicine, their bond blossoms into something deeper – despite the displeasure of Achilles’ mother Thetis, a cruel sea goddess.
But when word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, Achilles must go to war in distant Troy and fulfill his destiny. Torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus goes with him, little knowing that the years that follow will test everything they hold dear.
“We were like gods at the dawning of the world, & our joy was so bright we could see nothing else but the other.”
Well, this was quite amazing. A must-read for anyone who is even the slightest bit interested in Greek mythology, but also just simply interested in well-written characters with wonderful development, epic and poetic prose and a romance that is as pure and beautiful as it is tragic.
The Song of Achilles is a familiar story (at least I think we all more or less know the general gist of the story of Achilles), but the genius is in the different perspective. Told from the POV of Patroclus, Achilles’ best-friend-turned-lover, the familiar story gets so much richer. Even though you may know what’ll happen, you will still fall deeply in love with these characters. You will still go through an emotional rollercoaster. And you’ll wish desperately that the story could have ended differently.
As I said, the story follows Patroclus, who is exiled when he is just a young boy and ends up at the court of Achilles. They grow up together and quickly become inseparable, which is why Patroclus is such a perfect choice to tell the story of Achilles. Not only does he have a front row ticket to everything, he also humanizes the mighty Achilles so very much. We get to see the character, who could easily only come across as the stereotypical arrogant and proud hero, as an actual human being. Because while Patroclus is definitely deeply in love with Achilles, he still manages to see his flaws along with his perfections.
However, despite Achilles’ perfections, it is Patroclus that I personally fell in love with while reading their story. He is just the definition of a cinnamon roll. He is not destined to be a hero, but he still somehow manages to help, fight and inspire in his own way. His heart is his biggest strength and I really enjoyed seeing his character develop throughout the story and finding out about the effect he had on others, but most especially on Achilles himself.
The story is a beautiful character-driven story, with two very intriguing main characters but, while they each shine separately, it is when they are together that the story really stands out. The romance in this book is just one of the most gorgeous, moving and inspirational love stories I’ve ever read. Yes, this story still contains a lot of action and war and bloodshed – it takes place for a big part during the Trojan war after all – but it is first and foremost a story about these two characters and their love for eachother. Their love takes center stage throughout the entire story and it is guaranteed to bring out all your emotions. You will laugh, you will cry, you will swoon. They will put you through the emotional ringer, but it will be so worth it.
Overall, I can only say that I adored this story and that it is one of those stories that I would recommend to literally everybody. Read this if you love Greek mythology. Read this if you’d like a new and different perspective on the Trojan war and beloved characters such as Achilles, Odysseus, Chiron, Hector and more. Read this if you love wonderfully developed characters. Read this if you love a gorgeous (but also heartbreakingly tragic) LGBTQIA+ romance. Read this if you want a new take on a timeless story, something original, violent, romantic and heart-breaking all at once.
“I could recognize him by touch alone, by smell; I would know him blind, by the way his breaths came and his feet struck the earth. I would know him in death, at the end of the world.”
“Name one hero who was happy.”
I considered. Heracles went mad and killed his family; Theseus lost his bride and father; Jason’s children and new wife were murdered by his old; Bellerophon killed the Chimera but was crippled by the fall from Pegasus’ back.
“You can’t.” He was sitting up now, leaning forward.
“I know. They never let you be famous AND happy.” He lifted an eyebrow. “I’ll tell you a secret.”
“Tell me.” I loved it when he was like this.
“I’m going to be the first.” He took my palm and held it to his. “Swear it.”
“Because you’re the reason. Swear it.”
“I swear it,” I said, lost in the high color of his cheeks, the flame in his eyes.
“I swear it,” he echoed.
We sat like that a moment, hands touching. He grinned.
“I feel like I could eat the world raw.”
“And perhaps it is the greater grief, after all, to be left on earth when another is gone.”
“Chiron had said once that nations were the most foolish of mortal inventions. “No man is worth more than another, wherever he is from.”
“But what if he is your friend?” Achilles had asked him, feet kicked up on the wall of the rose-quartz cave. “Or your brother? Should you treat him the same as a stranger?”
“You ask a question that philosophers argue over,” Chiron had said. He is worth more to you, perhaps. But the stranger is someone else’s friend and brother. So which life is more important?”