Happy first review of January 2021! I started this book on Boxing Day (26th December 2020) but couldn’t finish it in time for a December review so instead it’s pride of place as my first 2021 review.
Does anyone else like ancient history? I love it – my particular favourite is Ancient Egypt and Ancient Greek but I love any kind of history. Do you have any recommendations of historical books – fiction or non-fiction? As many of my longer term followers may have been aware, I read Time and Time Again a few years ago which was a historical fiction book about the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand to prevent the start of World War I. This is a historical fiction with a difference, it takes place in Ancient Greece, the age of heroes.
“…he had light enough to make heroes of them all.”
Patroclus is a young prince, a clumsy, young prince. After an incident occurs within the palace, his father sees no other option but to exile Patroclus to the court of King Peleus and his seemingly perfect son, Achilles.
“In grief, men must help each other, though they are enemies.”
Despite their differences, it doesn’t take them very long to be friends and they grow up together – from children to young men to adults going to war. This friendship blossoms…blossoms into something deeper and more passionate. This is all much to the displeasure of Achille’s mother, a sea-nymph goddess called Thetis.
Achilles and Patroclus go on many adventures and end up with a centaur, Chiron, to teach them to become skilled in the arts and of war and medicine.
“Do not let what you gained this day be so easily lost.”
When word comes that a war is coming, Achilles escapes but doesn’t remain hidden for long and soon him, Patroclus and many other great and grand warriors and princes head off for war.
“The never-ending ache of love and sorrow. Perhaps in some other life I could have refused…but not in this one.”
Which war is this? This is a battle of Troy – Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped and it’s up to them to save her. But war brings another danger, one which only Achilles can fulfil.
“Could a boy of seventeen really be our greatest warrior?”
This is a story which plays on parts of Achille’s story that we know about and emphasises certain parts and diminishes others. In Ancient Greek history, Achilles does befriend a young boy called Patroclus and become friends. There is a possibility that they did become lovers. In Homer’s Iliad, Achilles describes Patroclus as:
“the man I loved beyond all other comrades, loved as my own life.”
But the Ancient Greek language didn’t have words for ‘homosexual’ or ‘heterosexual’ so the truth behind Achille’s relationship with Patroclus is a mystery…well unless you believe this book. Another part of Achilles story in history is his death. When Achilles was born, his mother Thetis wished for him to become immortal and so dipped him into the River Styx (the river that runs through the underworld) whilst holding him by his heel. In mythology, this one part of the body becomes his ultimate weakness and a poisoned arrow to the heel is his demise, hence the term ‘Achilles heel.’ However in Homer’s Iliad, there is no such mention of the heel. I’ll leave you to read what Madeline Miller writes.
“Envious Death would drink his blood, and grow young again.”
This book was excellent. Much of what is written is exactly or near-exact to that of the Ancient Greek mythology and tales and I enjoy this likeness. It is an extraordinary book, written beautifully and descriptively but also heart breaking in other parts. We also see human traits we still see in ourselves today. We see how sometimes our stubbornness can push those around us away. We see how love conquers all, in life and in death. We also see how those that truly love us, who truly care about us, will do whatever they can for you and your prospects.
This book is full of love and sorrow, anger and death. It’s full of emotions and you experience them all through this rollercoaster of a book.
Find this book on Amazon now.
Until next time,