The Song of Achilles, by Madeline Miller


In a truly beautiful narrative, Miller adds a precious humanity to a tale preserved only in the golden glory of myth. The Song of Achilles is a tragic tale known by all, following the legend of the Ancient Greek demigod Achilles, from his early childhood through to the great siege of Troy. In a refreshing re-imaging, Miller has created a touching romance that drives straight to the heart of its characters.

Written through the eyes of Patroclus, a young prince exiled from his home, The Song of Achilles witnesses two boys become inseparable as they grow into men. Though this gradual progression through the character’s adolescence did at times feel more like teenage romantic fiction, the stunning backdrop of the Aegean, alongside a steady flow of classic Greek mythology, certainly drew out a beauty in this. Famed in myth for his legendary skill in warfare, Achilles is here wonderfully juxtaposed by the kind nature of the novel’s protagonist.


Whilst some authors of historical fiction, clearly enthralled by their topics, can unfortunately be almost too factual, this is certainly not the case with Miller. Gods and men intermingle as naturally as if sung by Homer himself. Exacting her studies in classical civilisation to the full, Miller has perfectly captured life in Ancient Greece, on a personal level. Sacrifice, honour and glory. The Song of Achilles envisages the men who lived by these creeds, exploring their lives and characters in a truly intimate way. In this world, bloodshed is transformed into an art, to which Achilles shines through as a true picasso.


The Song of Achilles enchants, entertains and evokes an empathy for this tragic hero, and the lives and loves lost in his wake.

Length: 352 (Bloomsbury)

Overall Rating: 4 stars

Like the sound of it? Purchase it through Amazon here


Author: Jack Jakins

A recent graduate of history, now an aspiring writer and general cynicist

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