Historical Fiction Review: The Song of Achilles

Are you looking for a great literary historical read this summer? Here’s my review of The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller for The Copperfield Review

By the way, we’re looking for readers who love to review historical fiction (you know who you are). If you’re a fan of historical fiction, check out Copperfield’s Submission Guidelines for how to submit your historical novel reviews. We’ll even pay you a bit (yes, it’s a little bit but it’s still a bit) for your trouble.

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Written by Madeline Miller

Published by HarperCollins Publishers

Review by Meredith Allard

 

This is simply an outstanding piece of literature. Miller’s simple yet lyrical style pulls you effortlessly into the poetry of the Iliad. Here we focus on Achilles through the eyes of Patroclus, the young prince who is banished from his land for accidentally killing another boy and he is taken as a companion for Achilles. Patroclus and Achilles become partners in every way, and The Song of Achilles is really a love song between the two men. This isn’t simply an attraction between Patroclus and Achilles. This is a deep, abiding love that transcends death.

If you’re familiar with The Iliad (which you do not need to be to enjoy this book), then there are few surprises here except perhaps for the scope of the relationship between Achilles and Patroclus. There is no twist-filled ending: the fate of the two men has been sung about throughout the centuries. Still, Miller ends this tale in a way that is perfectly heartbreaking, bittersweet, and right. Despite war, broken promises, and the loss of all one holds most dear, there can still be peace in the end.

This is not a retelling of the entire story of The Iliad. This is one version of one story as told through the eyes of the man who knew Achilles best. I’m looking forward to reading more from Madeline Miller.

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