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Home » Books » Fiction & Literature » History

The Song of Achilles

By Madeline Miller

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Format: Paperback, 368 pages
Published In: United Kingdom, 01 April 2012
Greece in the age of heroes. Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the court of King Peleus and his perfect son Achilles. Despite their differences, Achilles befriends the shamed prince, and as they grow into young men skilled in the arts of war and medicine, their bond blossoms into something deeper - despite the displeasure of Achilles's mother Thetis, a cruel sea goddess. But when word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, Achilles must go to war in distant Troy and fulfill his destiny. Torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus goes with him, little knowing that the years that follow will test everything they hold dear.

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A breathtakingly original rendering of the Trojan War Winner of the Orange Prize for Fiction 2012

About the Author

Madeline Miller has a BA and MA from Brown University in Latin and Ancient Greek, and has taught both for over a decade. She has also studied at the Yale School of Drama, specialising in adapting classical tales to a modern audience. The Song of Achilles, her first novel, was awarded the 2012 Orange Prize for Fiction and was a New York Times Bestseller. It has been translated into twenty-three languages including Dutch, Mandarin, Japanese, Turkish, Arabic and Greek. Madeline was also shortlisted for the 2012 Stonewall Writer of the Year, and her essays have appeared in a number of publications including the Guardian and Wall Street Journal. She currently lives in Narberth, MA, where she is working on her second novel.

Reviews

A captivating retelling of the Iliad and events leading up to it through the point of view of Patroclus: it's a hard book to put down, and any classicist will be enthralled by her characterisation of the goddess Thetis, which carries the true savagery and chill of antiquity -- Donna Tartt * The Times Christmas Books * I loved it * J.K. Rowling * Mary Renault lives again! A ravishingly vivid and convincing version of one of the most legendary of love stories * Emma Donoghue, author of number one bestseller, Room * Original, clever, and in a class of its own ... an incredibly compelling and seductive read * Independent on Sunday * A remarkably fresh take on one of the most familiar narratives in western literature * The Times * Extraordinary ... Beautifully descriptive and heart-achingly lyrical, this is a love story as sensitive and intuitive as any you will find * Daily Mail * Sexy, dangerous, mystical * Bettany Hughes * If I were to give a prize for the best work of fiction I've read this year, this would be the runaway winner. As a first novel, it heralds the arrival of a major new talent * A.N. Wilson, Reader's Digest * Inventive, passionate, uplifting and different. It will appeal to all ages. It's a book which despite some of the stiffest competition in the modern world is a truly worthy winner * Joanna Trollope, chair of the judges for the Orange Prize for Fiction 2012 *

Following in Mary Renault's footsteps and adding some surefooted steps of her own, Miller debuts with a novel that combines the poetic drama of The Iliad with a 21st-century understanding of war, sex, sexual politics, and Trojan War heroism. Miller's tale begins with Patroclus' unhappy childhood as the disappointing son of an ambitious king. Exiled to Phthia, the 10-year-old is befriended by confident Prince Achilles. Over time their friendship blooms into love, while Achilles' mother, the sea nymph Thetis, grows jealously resentful. Patroclus and Achilles follow Agamemnon to recapture Helen from Troy, but the siege wears heavily on Achilles, who awaits the destiny his mother has foretold and his mentor, the centaur Master Chiron, has forewarned: to become the greatest of Greek warriors. In addition to the central story of Achilles and Patroclus, Miller offers a complex study of Briseis, the trophy beauty who inspires a rift between Achilles and Agamemnon; evokes Iphigenia's sacrifice at Aulis in one quick, brutal image; and probes relationships Homer only hinted at. With language both evocative of her predecessors and fresh, and through familiar scenes that explore new territory, this first-time novelist masterfully brings to life an imaginative yet informed vision of ancient Greece featuring divinely human gods and larger-than-life mortals. She breaks new ground retelling one of the world's oldest stories about men in love and war, but it is the extraordinary women-Iphigenia, Briseis, and Thetis-who promise readers remarkable things to come as Miller carves out a custom-made niche in historical fiction. Agent: Barer Literary. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Patroclus, exiled prince of ancient Greece and lover of the famous warrior Achilles, is at the center of this romantic tale, Miller's first novel, which also features many other mythical heroes, both human and divine, with the Trojan War as a backdrop. VERDICT The interference of the Greek deities in mortals' daily lives makes for a stunning mix of larger-than-life action and authentically human emotions, while stellar writing and sympathetic portrayals of complex characters breathe new life into an ancient story. (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

EAN: 9781408821985
ISBN: 1408821982
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Dimensions: 19.8 x 12.9 x 2.2 centimetres (0.34 kg)
Age Range: 15+ years
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