Last month I reviewed Circe by Madeline Miller and loved it so much that I immediately bought one of her other books, The Song of Achilles. Unfortunately, I didn’t like this book anywhere near as much as I did Circe. I’ll get into my thoughts after the synopsis. This review will have spoilers.
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. By all rights their paths should never cross, but Achilles takes the shamed prince as his friend, 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’ mother Thetis, a cruel sea goddess. But then word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped. Torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus journeys with Achilles to Troy, little knowing that the years that follow will test everything they hold dear.
I went into this book knowing nothing about it except that it was about Achilles and the Trojan War. I knew the bare bones mythology relating to Achilles but not much in depth. To be honest, almost everything I knew about Achilles and the Trojan War came from the movie Troy…
I used to be OBSESSED with that movie and I think that’s why I couldn’t fully enjoy this book. I already had a firm image in my mind about what Achilles should be like and how the war should play out. This book went in a totally different direction, which isn’t a bad thing, it just wasn’t something I enjoyed. My main complaint is that I was bored the entire time. The writing style for The Song of Achilles is the same as in Circe, so eloquent and atmospheric but slow paced. However, the reason I loved it in Circe but not in The Song of Achilles is because I couldn’t stand the characters in this book. It’s easy to tolerate a slow paced book when it’s about and told from a character’s point of view that you actually care about. This book is told from the point of view of Patroclus. Patroclus is Achilles’ best friend and lover. He’s also completely and totally dull. Patroclus literally only exists to worship Achilles. He has no real personality of his own. There is honestly nothing I liked about Patroclus so the entire story being told from his point of view made for a difficult read.
I really hated how “soft” Achilles was. There’s nothing wrong with gentle and quiet men but Achilles was supposed to be one of strongest warriors of all time. In my opinion, up until the last 25% of the book Achilles just seems boring and lackluster. Again, this could only bother me because I already have an image in my mind about what traits Achilles should have.
I really didn’t like the focus on romance in this book and no, I don’t mean because it’s a gay romance. I would have been annoyed if it was a straight romance because EVERYTHING in the story took a backseat to their love story. I mean, Patroclus mentioned multiple times how beautiful Achilles’ feet were… It was just honestly too much and I would have preferred less of that and more actual action.
Speaking of action, literally nothing happens until like the last 25% of the book and even then it’s the most boring bunch of battle scenes ever. This whole book built up to Achilles killing Hector and then that’s over in like two paragraphs.
I hate having to give such a popular book a completely negative review but there was nothing I liked about this story. I’m honestly surprised at how much I disliked it because I loved Circe so much. However, I am in the minority so you might love this book. If you’ve read this book I would love to know what you think about it! Thanks for reading and have a great day!