Saturday, June 2, 2012

The Song of Achilles-Madeline Miller

The Song of Achilles

Madeline Miller

Ecco, Mar 6 2012, $25.99

ISBN: 9780062060617

Prince Patroclus’ father King Menoitius is unhappy with his simple wife and disappointed with his only offspring. The lad cannot compete in anything even against younger children. When he is nine years old his father takes him to court Helen the daughter of King Tyndarus of Sparta. Other royals also arrive while King Odysseus of Ithaca suggests Helens elect her mate so war can be averted. Helen selects Menelaus. Back home Clysonymus tries to bully Patroclus who pushes back killing the lad. Menoitius exiles Patrochlus to King Peleus of Phthia where he meets Prince Achilles.

They become best buddies, which angers Achilles’ mother Thetis the sea nymph. When Agamemnon calls for supporters to recapture Helen from Troy, Patroclus and Achilles join the siege. However, Achilles knows his destiny will soon begin to become the greatest warrior ever; as predicted by his mother and affirmed in a warning by his instructor Master Chiron the centaur. Patroclus plans to accompany Achilles when they begin the latter’s Odyssey.

This is not a direct rewrite of Homer's Iliad at least not until the second half of the plot. Instead the engaging storyline fills in the blanks with the focus predominantly on Achilles and Patroclus (which is not a shocker since the latter tells the tale) though all of Homer’s players are involved. In many ways Troy takes a backseat to the loving relationship of the two BFFs while clever Odysseus steals the show. He sums up love and war in ancient mythological Greece with his saying he has a wife that he has not seen in a decade and whom may be dead but if nothing else he prays he spends eternity with her in the Underworld.

Harriet Klausner

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