The Song of Achilles

  • by Madeline Miller
  • Narrated by Frazer Douglas
  • 11 hrs and 18 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

The legend begins...
Greece in the age of heroes. Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the kingdom of Phthia to be raised in the shadow of King Peleus and his golden son, Achilles. “The best of all the Greeks”—strong, beautiful, and the child of a goddess—Achilles is everything the shamed Patroclus is not. Yet despite their differences, the boys become steadfast companions. Their bond deepens as they grow into young men and become skilled in the arts of war and medicine—much to the displeasure and the fury of Achilles’ mother, Thetis, a cruel sea goddess with a hatred of mortals.
When word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, the men of Greece, bound by blood and oath, must lay siege to Troy in her name. Seduced by the promise of a glorious destiny, Achilles joins their cause, and torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus follows. Little do they know that the Fates will test them both as never before and demand a terrible sacrifice.
Built on the groundwork of the Iliad, Madeline Miller’s page-turning, profoundly moving, and blisteringly paced retelling of the epic Trojan War marks the launch of a dazzling career.


What the Critics Say

“[Miller] makes a persuasive argument for the timeliness of her subject. …Miller’s winning debut focuses on Patroclus, a young prince living in Achilles’ golden shadow. Miller also gives voice to many of the women who were also consigned to the shadows.” (Publishers Weekly, Spring 2012 Preview, Top 10 Literary Fiction)
“You don’t need to be familiar with Homer’s The Iliad (or Brad Pitt’s Troy, for that matter) to find Madeline Miller’s The Song of Achilles spellbinding....her explorations of ego, grief, and love’s many permutations are both familiar and new....[A] timeless love story.” (O magazine)
“A psychologically astute Iliad prelude featuring the heady, star-crossed adolescence of future heroes Patroclus and Achilles.” (Vogue)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Didn't Expect to Like It, but I Was Swept Away

I didn't expect to care much for this book as I'm not all that interested in Greek myths and heroes--but what an unexpected surprise! I am so glad that I listened to the recommendation of other LTers and decided to give The Song of Achilles a go. Once I started, it was impossible to put it aside--a rare enough occurence, but rarer still when you already know how the story will end. That can only be attirbuted to Madeline Miller's gift for storytelling. Gone are the sometimes stilted characterizations of the original (due in part, no doubt, to weak translations). While the heroes here remain monumental, they are also complex men whose thoughts and emotions are all too human. While Miller never lets us forget that Achilles himself is the son of a goddess, we also see within him the vulnerability of the human condition.

The familiar story is narrated by Patroclus, Achilles's best loved companion. The son of a king sent into exile for making a tragic but shameful mistake, Patroclus befreinds the admired Achilles at the age of twelve. Miller takes us through their upbringing at the court of Peleus and their training with the centaur Chieron and on through the Trojan War, where both eventually meet their final fates. She fleshes out not only the shadowy character of Patroclus but also Thetis, Achilles's goddess-mother, his father Peleus, Chieron, Odysseus, Menalaus, Briseis, and others; and she even manages to make the exhausting battle scenes thrilling.

Perhaps the best compliment I can give to The Song of Achilles is that it has made me want to reread The Iliad.
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- Cariola "malfi"

Meant to be heard

Like the epic poem it parallels, The Song of Achilles should be heard not just read. The book is filled with vivid word images; the rhythm and flow of the sentences add to the pleasure of the story. I often wished that my copy of the Iliad was closer so that I could
check Homer's version of some of the tale, especially the killing of Achilles. The best part of Miller's book is the maturing of Patroclus until he is clearly the "best" of the lot. Achilles is not the only one to benefit from the selfless love of Patroclus. I do wish the author had stopped before the final sentence. Then the book would have ended in a style appropriate to the tale and the two heroes. Frazer Douglas has the prefect voice for this book. He carefully differentiates between the characters.
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- Judy

Book Details

  • Release Date: 03-06-2012
  • Publisher: HarperAudio