Greek Mythology is something that is surrounded in mystery – where did the stories come from and why are they still fascinating to people today?
Judging by Madeline Miller’s excellent and poetic novel based on Homer’s The Iliad, there is plenty of drama and variety of characters to draw upon for a novel based on myths to work well for a more modern audience.
Miller’s novel focuses on Achilles and the fall of Troy. But the novel also gives a beautiful insight into the relationship between Achilles and Patroclus – which is beautifully tender in the way in which it develops – even with the bitter sweet ending.
The Song of Achilles remains faithful to the original myth but puts a contemporary spin on it that makes it fascinating to read. It is extremely vivid in its descriptions and the words flow easily to create clear images for the reader to follow the story.
It does however, take some time for the story to fully develop and for the reader to get a sense of what the characters are really like – particularly Patroclus (who can come across as a bit of weak and feeble personality until he starts growing in confidence) and Achilles who is at the heart of proceedings.
But the book’s main strength is in the way everything flows easily from scene to scene, everything is written intelligently and with purpose that it isn’t difficult to read it in one sitting. It never comes across as pretentious or highbrow and would go down well with anyone who wants to understand (even if it is slightly different take on it) The Iliad a little bit better or look at it in a different way.
A truly lovely tale that is filled with sincerity and understanding but also about human folly, bravery and protecting the ones that you love at any cost.