Monday, June 25, 2012

Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

This was a no-brainer for me to read, considering I teach AP Literature, assign Edith Hamilton's Mythology to all my seniors for the summer, start the school year out with The Odyssey, and then constantly and annoyingly refer to Greek mythology all year long, ending the year with student satires of the different stories.  Duh...what's not to love in this book?!

However, even if you're not a lover of Greek mythology, this is a fantastic read and you'll finally learn about all the Greek references in our world today, which, if you love trivia, is pretty cool (think Fluffy in Harry Potter = Cerberus, three-headed dog who guards Hades).  The Song of Achilles takes the story of The Iliad, the prequel to Odysseus' adventure, and gives us a different point of view, that of Patroclus, Achille's best friend.  Now most of us have grown up hearing the name of Achilles, usually remembering two things - he's a hero and the ankle ligament was an issue, nothing more.  Madeline Miller, though, uses all of what's known in Greek mythology and then fills in what's not known.  For instance, Achilles and Patroclus' real relationship, the reasons for the underlying bitterness between Agamemnon and Achilles, and role of Thetis, Achille's creepy sea nymph mother, are all revealed.  The story unrolls like a great bard of ancient Greece is reading it and even though many may know how it all turns out (yep, wearing Achilles' armor not the best idea for Patroclus), the tension and drama Miller creates keeps one reading.  And for those of you unfamiliar with Greek mythology and all its heroes, it's a dramatic introduction to where all the great stories in our world originated.  Happy reading!

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