Song of Achilles, Madeline Miller’s acclaimed debut novel, takes the epic divine clashes of The Iliad in a deeply human and intimate direction. Told from the perspective of Patroclus, companion of the titular demigod hero Achilles, the book follows the twos budding friendship and eventual blossoming romance while the threat of war looms overseas.
The book’s central relationship is depicted in florid, soul-lifting prose, with a lyrical writing style that both evokes the epic storytelling of the Greek myth while presenting a introspective and deeply relatable view of queer romance. The ancient Greece depicted in Song of Achilles is as seeped in monsters and myth as it in patriarchal tradition, with kings and gods bound to a masculine ideal. Through this lens of tradition, Achilles is depicted not just as a tragic hero but as a challenge to established norms. For how can one truly be considered “Aristos Achaion” Greatest of Greeks, if he loves another man.
Both readers familiar with the source material and those new to Greek Mythology are equally accounted for. The dramatic central tension is presented with both a level of tragic irony, and plenty of original unique elements, that the story remains deeply compelling even for those familiar with its inevitable conclusion.