I’m a greek mythology geek of old and as such was pretty excited to hear all the positive buzz surrounding this novel. Thankfully my built up hopes weren’t disappointed. This is a beautifully written love story that presents a more personal version of the battle of Troy while still capturing that essence of magic that make the greek myths so much fun.
Earlier this year I had picked up a recommendation for Mary Renault’s classic “The King Must Die”, which tells the story of Theseus from his own point of view. This is an astonishingly well-written book - I truly believed I was reading Theseus’ journals of his life story – but by page 100 I had not been engaged by the book and was feeling very disappointed. I realized it was mostly because I couldn’t warm up to the straight historical interpretation of the Theseus myth.
In A Song of Achilles, the relationship/characters at the heart of the book are utterly believable and authentic. But the story is still steeped in the myth; Achilles mom is a goddess, the gods still capriciously interfere in the Trojan War. It retains the magic, the fanciful nature of a myth, but digs deep to give that myth some heart. Patroclus, in his very human imperfection, is an incredibly effective surrogate for the reader to enter into the story. The narrative and characters are pretty close to perfect and the book is taken to an even higher level by the authors beautiful writing.
In the end this was an absorbing read that gave me many moments of emotional connection with the story and its characters. You can’t ask for too much more than that from a book.