Archive for February 14th, 2018

February 14, 2018

Song Of Achilles — #Book #Review 📚

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Madeline Miller — #Achilles

Stanczyk has long been a classicist. Greek classics are an especial treat for me. I loved Greek Mythology as I learned it from my teacher, Claudia Nash. So I read the Iliad and devoured the Odyssey. Those books on my bookshelf impressed my Teréza who was smitten by my erudition.

So when I saw a book entitled CIRCE coming out this April 10th 2018. I knew I had to read it! But lo, she had previously penned Song Of Achilles. So I knew I had to “book up” and read that book before CIRCE came out. After all, the Trojan War before the Odyssey home. After all my dog Princess Java, an AKC pedigreed Lab whose 3rd name is Argus after Odysseus’s dog!

So I read Song of Achilles hoping to get a feel for the author (Madeline Miller / @MillerMadeline) and her writing style. I wanted Circe, but I admit I fell in love with the characters in Song Of Achilles. I was lured in by prose while Patroclus was just a boy. But I knew the author had an epic skill when I read her telling of Patroclus & Achilles meeting Chiron. Those chapters slew me and drew me in like no other author.

It was pure joy to read of Achilles and this telling of the Trojan War. It was easy to read a few chapters at a sitting. Hard to put down.

All along I knew how it was going to end. But that did not detract. I loved Odysseus’s cleverness at finding Achilles (after his god-mother, Thetis, not a god mother, a god for a mother hid her son). I too, like Patroclus and the other Greek kings/princes had a sense of dread whenever she appeared.

Patroclus was an artful narrator that set the tone and drew me in. His narration of Achilles’s rise from teen to hero and coverage of the Trojan War and its major combatants was thrilling. Patroclus was good, I forgot his narrative was Madeline’s narrative; That is the level of immersion she was able to acheive.

Alas I loved the book. I did not want it to end (especially two months before CIRCE arrives). I set it aside as Patroclus & Achilles set aside their child-selves. For 3-4 days I could not bear to pick it up and read. Finally, on Fat Tuesday I devoured the remainder of the book in a final three hour reading spree.

As I was reading I realized the narrator was going to die so my meta-reader-self was wondering who would narrate the ending when the narrator was dead. I will not tell you the spectacular brilliant choice she made for the final narrator of the final chapters. It is worth reading the book 📖 just to savor that transition alone.

So much pathos. So much love & hate and other emotions. Truly she captured the spirit of greek tragedy. Is this mythology or historical fiction? You decide the genre. Madeline you were so great I forgive you the detail of Achilles’s death. I accept your smart choices in retelling the Illiad. Somehow you enlarged the story. In fact it appears to cover at least 15 years of Achilles in a mere 369 pages.

I think Madeline was Odysseus. After all his/her words about the changing feelings mankind will have for the characters will change over the centuries. In truth, my feelings for the main characters swirled like Charybdis’s eddies.

Read this book. I think we are witnessing the development of an unparalleled author / story-teller. Please CIRCE come quickly!

Rage of Achilles

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