Oh it’s a gay, action-packed, easy-to-read Iliad adventure! Told from the perspective of Patroclus, Achilles companion, we follow them from childhood to the end of the siege of Troy. You probably won’t like this book if you are a huge ancient Greek literature fan, but if you have only been thinking about reading the Iliad, and haven’t got further than half the introduction, then you will probably love it. Also, if you do really know the Iliad, stop reading now because my review is sure to be deeply offensive to serious Greek literature discussion, in many ways.
Patroclus is sent to live in the court of Peleus, after he accidentally kills a boy. Peleus’ son is the half-God Achilles. He’s a bit like a super hero David Beckham type. Everyone is in love with him because he is beautiful, and he has a charmed life and is also the greatest warrior who currently lives. Patroclus is a bit pathetic in comparison. He falls in love with Achilles, and is astounded to discover the feeling is mutual.
Of Achilles, Patroclus observes:
He said what he meant; he was puzzled if you did not. Some people might have mistaken this for simplicity. But is it not sort of genius to cut always to the heart?
Just putting it put there that me and Achilles might just have something in common.
The only real problem they constantly have is Achilles’ mum, Goddess sea nymph Thetis. She does not like Patroclus at all. She is there threatening him and interfering every step of the way. I really liked Thetis, she’s terrifying:
She was taller than I was, taller than any woman I had ever seen. Her black hair was loose down her back and her skin shone luminous and impossibly pale, as if it drank light from the moon. She was so close I could smell her, sea water laced with dark brown honey. I did not breathe. I did not dare. ‘You are Patroclus.’ I flinched at the sound of her voice, hoarse and rasping. I had expected chimes, not the grinding of rocks in the surf. ‘Yes, Lady.’ Distaste ran over her face. Her eyes were not like a human’s; they were black to their centre, and flecked with gold. I could not bring myself to meet them. ‘He will be a god,’ she said. I did not know what to say, so I said nothing. She leaned forward and I half-thought she might touch me. But of course she did not. ‘Do you understand?’ I could feel her breath on my cheek, not warm at all, but chilled like the depths of the sea. Do you understand? He had told me too that she hated to be kept waiting. ‘Yes.’ She leaned closer still, looming over me. Her mouth was a gash of red, like the torn-open stomach of a sacrifice, bloody and oracular. Behind it her teeth shone sharp and white as bone. ‘Good.’ Carelessly, as if to herself, she added, ‘You will be dead soon enough.’ She turned and dived into the sea, leaving no ripples behind her.
I may have mentioned that I haven’t read the Iliad, so I can’t make any comparison between the two. I’m quite sure the original doesn’t have the YA/Mills and Boon romance that The Song of Achilles has. I really liked this romance/action thriller cross over style that it has. It’s also really easy to read, and I didn’t want to put it down. I can’t give a book higher praise. Finally, it may also help me answer more quiz questions correctly, and this is the ultimate in extra brilliance of a book. Yey!
I have another of Millers’ books, Circe, lined up ready to be read and I’m sure it won’t take me long to get round to it. Another day to myself sat in the sun, and I’m sure I’ll pick it up.