Review: The Song of Achilles, Madeline Miller

Rating: 3 out of 5

I really enjoyed some parts of this—especially the descriptions which linked to how Achilles fared after the death of Patrocles—while other parts I was not that happy with. Overall, Ms Miller captures the Greek setting a lot better in ‘Circe’.

The story of Achilles is probably familiar to most. In this version, the author approaches the hero from the view-point of his sidekick, Patrocles. Patrocles’ early years are described in detail to show how he meets Achilles, and how the bond between them is created. These actions inevitably lead towards the day where Odysseus comes to call Achilles to war—and war it is.

Though the build-up to the great war takes a while, I was actually expecting it to take a lot longer. Without an intimate knowledge of the myths, Achilles’ nature when he went into the Trojan War might be a bit of a surprise—but I’ll let the reader figure out if this applies to them or not. More importantly, however, Achilles’ actions in war and his relationship with Agamemnon are the most relevant part of the following chapters. Yet, though some scenes were thrilling, the action never captured me wholly.

I still think that Ms Miller has an exceptional simplicity in carving out the heart and mind of the people she is describing, but, for me, Circe’s story was just much more interesting.

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