Friday, January 16, 2015

The Man Behind The Warrior

"We were like gods at the dawning of the world, & 
our joy was so bright we could see nothing else but the other."
--Madeline Miller, The Song of Achilles


Genre: Adult Greek Mythology, Re-Telling
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Pages: 384
Publication Date: September 20th, 2011
Source: Borrowed from Library
Previous Books in Series: Standalone
Goodreads Description

Greece in the age of Heroes. Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the kingdom of Phthia. Here he is nobody, just another unwanted boy living in the shadow of King Peleus and his golden son, Achilles.

Achilles, 'best of all the Greeks', is everything Patroclus is not — strong, beautiful, the child of a goddess — and by all rights their paths should never cross. Yet one day, Achilles takes the shamed prince under his wing and soon their tentative companionship gives way to a steadfast friendship. As they grow into young men skilled in the arts of war and medicine, their bond blossoms into something far deeper — despite the displeasure of Achilles's mother Thetis, a cruel and deathly pale sea goddess with a hatred of mortals.

Fate is never far from the heels of Achilles. When word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, the men of Greece are called upon to lay siege to Troy in her name. Seduced by the promise of a glorious destiny, Achilles joins their cause. Torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus follows Achilles into war, little knowing that the years that follow will test everything they have learned, everything they hold dear. And that, before he is ready, he will be forced to surrender his friend to the hands of Fate.

Profoundly moving and breathtakingly original, this rendering of the epic Trojan War is a dazzling feat of the imagination, a devastating love story, and an almighty battle between gods and kings, peace and glory, immortal fame and the human heart.

I was rec'd this book during the #IShall and I was super excited. The summary sounded awesome with words like epic and breathtaking and original, I was all, SWEET! I'm gonna read a new take on the age old Trojan War, let's do this!....and then it just didn't turn out like I thought it would...read on, reader.

The Romance

Let's start with the positive. I did thoroughly enjoy the romance between Achilles and Patroclus. While it was not shocking or anything new I learned, and I'll talk about that more below, I thought their love was true and deep and very emotional. I never once doubted their love for one another which is hard to do in a book when conflict and other people become involved. The ending especially was extremely poignant and I was in tears, I'm a sap, tell me something I don't know. I knew what was going to happen but I never imagined Achilles reaction to it the way it was portrayed. It broke my heart and while I have issues with a lot of the other parts of the story, this is what the main core of the book was about. The love between these two men and their journey to do whatever it takes to be together.


The "Breathtakingly Original" Look

I'm quoting that from the summary, by the way. So, I'm no Greek historian by any means but I do love my Greek mythology books, re-telling, Googling about it, you name it. Whatever. Troy is one of my favorite movies and before it even came out, I google'd the tale of Achilles and the Trojan War and the first thing, and the only story I know of Achilles and Patroclus, is that they were lovers. So, imagine my giggling to myself when I see Troy and their interpretation is to try and pass them off as cousins...alright. Whatever works. So, maybe it's just me but when I hear Achilles my mind goes to 'heel' and 'loved Patroclus' so this whole original idea this book is putting down...I'm not picking up. This story wasn't new, it wasn't original, it was the same damn story of the Trojan War in the big picture that I've always known. SPOILER ALERT IF YOU DON'T KNOW GREEK MYTHOLOGY. Are we supposed to enlightened or surprised when Achilles snaps and finally goes after Hector because of Patroclus' death? I have no idea. I don't know other people's knowledge going into this book or what WAS supposed to be original but it isn't this. Again, maybe it's just me.

The Fillers

So according to Greek lore, Achilles has a son with princess Deidamia on this island. Achilles is there because his mother tries to hide him from the war. How does she do this? Well, she has him put on a dress and try and pass himself off as a lady of the court...back the train up. Up to this point, mind you, Achilles is described as beautiful in the face with feminine features HOWEVER he is also described as being taller than most other men...how the actual fuck you think he can pass for a woman if he's taller than most men? C'mon man, the readers are smarter than this. I know this is also part of Greek mythology but let's make it believable at least. Tell us his mother weaved some goddess magic and made him look like a chick. Tell me she turned him into a female, I'll even believe that, it's the gods they can do whatever they want. Just tell me something as to why everyone in the court would believe this huge human is a woman. I don't know, this just bothered me.

The Writing

I'm a fan of poignant writing and it definitely worked at the end but throughout the entire book up until that point I couldn't really feel connected to the story. I felt more like an outsider watching the story then really immersed and invested in the characters. The writing while trying to be philosophical and profound also felt jilted and superficial. I can't describe it any other way except it felt like it was trying too hard.


Standing in Line Outside
I love Greek Mythology but this one just didn't work for me. I felt like I was reading the same story I already knew but if you know nothing about Greek Mythology or are interested in it, this might work for you.

3 comments:

  1. You always post such interesting book recommendations!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Oh dear, it's unfortunate that The Song of Achilles did not turn out to be as great a read as you were hoping it would be! Boo. I was actually curious about it before, but I've been wary - and it looks like it's for good reason.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I don't really want to read this book (as you know), but I just had to comment because I've been looking forward to your review. I knew how you felt about this one while you were reading, and I was curious what you'd end up saying about it. ;)

    ReplyDelete

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