12book"The Song of Achilles" by Madeline MillerI finally made up my mind about bumping this one to the top of the TBR list after seeing it in countless best-of-the-year lists.

I don’t think it’ll be in mine, but it was still a very good read. Lots of other books and movies came to mind while reading it, from Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Firebrand (my favorite book about the Trojan War), to Brad Pitt’s Troy.

It’s very cleverly told: the paragraphs were short, the writing beautiful without being whimsical or overly poetic (always a risk in stories about myths). There weren’t lots of lengthy descriptions or endless impossible-to-memorize names, but it didn’t feel dumbed-down at all, on the contrary, it was accessible and engaging.

I was expecting that, as usual, the fact it was about a gay relationship would be the driver of the plot, so it was refreshing to see it practically as a non-issue and that the demi-God and human factor created much more emotional tension. I wonder if it felt like that because the story is told in the first person, turning a him + him and into a more “generic” me + him.

Lots of other thoughts and wonderings. The biggest was about whether Achilles really did love Patroclus, which may be blasphemy for those of you who cried buckets at the end.

Patroclus is the real hero of the story. Unlike Achilles, he feels fear, but still rescues Briseis and the other women, and goes into battle to save Achilles’ honor. Achilles is the strongest, no one can beat him, and he knows it. His only fear is to be forgotten. He prefers to go into a sure death and win Eternal Glory than have a safe, ordinary life with Patroclus. What if the Gods had told him: you’ll only be famous if you leave – or worst, kill – Patroclus? Agamemnon killed his own daughter – would Achilles do the same?

Odysseus was great. A smartass, but great. Good to see someone using wits over brutal force. In a book where loving relationships are so underrated, his passion for Penelope was really touching and human. Of course there’ll be a certain Calypso in his future, but who’s counting?

In the end, I didn’t cry like everyone else. It’s strange, because I’m usually a literary cry-baby and at the moment that’s exacerbated by crazy hormones. My questioning about Achilles’ real feelings probably distanced me from the expected tragedy. It was still a good read (a first novel –  respect!) with lots of food for thought, it just didn’t pull at my heart-strings as I was expecting.

Also, where’s the Horse?! I was looking forward to the Horse!


Other thoughts: Book Twirps, Fizzy Thoughts, Always Cooking Up Something, Rivers I Have Known, The Allure of BooksEve’s AlexandriaWhat She ReadLazy Gal Reads2606 BooksFleur Fisher, Novel Insights, Devourer of Books, Nomad Reader, Vulpes Libris, Savidge Reads, Iris on Books, chasing bawaFarm Lane Books (yours?)