Over the past few years the number of books that I have read has become quite a large one. Thankfully, I usually remember the overall and basic plot of every book that I have ever read but sometimes a “basic plot” is just not enough. If I want to go back and remember exactly what happened in the novel, I almost always seem to forget some key elements. Looking for a quick summary online is also rarely successful since I am usually directed to the book blurb or a spoiler-free book review. But that’s the thing! I don’t want it to be spoiler free! I want to be able to recall each and ever aspect of the book and its plot so that I can have a heated discussion with another book-lover and win the argument of which character is the best one by providing concrete evidence! Most importantly, authors have the most cruel habit of ending books belonging to a series with fatal (for readers, of course) cliffhangers. Unfortunately, by the time the next book comes out I rarely remember each and every detail of the previous book and sometimes don’t want to read the same book again – no matter how brilliant. Additionally, sometimes I just want to be reminded of all the many reasons I fell completely in love with a book or the book’s author to begin with.
As a result of this, I think I’m going to take matters into my own hand. I’m sure I can’t be the only one who feels this way. This is what I am going to try and now hereon forth. I am going to write a short but detailed summary of each book as I finish them. This way, I won’t ever forget what happened in the book and will be ready to read the next book in the series without having to worry about rereading a book. I know this will help me tremendously and I hope this helps other book lovers out there too!
As is evident by the title of this post, the book I am going to talk about today is The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller. I had heard such amazing reviews and thoughts about this book that I knew I just had to get my hands on a copy and tear through it. Boy, was I in for a surprise. This book left me ugly-crying in bed at 4 AM. I’d be lying if I said that I won’t be rereading this novel soon. As a Greek mythology fan (aren’t we all thanks to Uncle Rick?) this fueled my curiosity and I found myself feeling proud of me for remembering all the stories and myths linked to each character of the novel – YAY ME! My advice? If you haven’t read this book already, please read it – it will crush your soul. On the other hand, if you’ve already read this book, please tell me how I should move on from this beautiful story. I’m currently a mushy puddle of mixed feelings.
Patroclus has never been the quickest, smartest, or strongest person in the room and his father, the king of their land, despises him for being so simple. At the age of seven Patroclus’s father tells him to try and win Helen for marriage but he does not succeed. Instead, he has to promise to fight for Helen’s wellbeing in case anything happens to her after marriage. A few years later he is exiled to the court of King Peleus because he accidentally kills another child while defending himself. Here, he meets Achilles – the son of mortal King Peleus and immoral goddess Thetis, a demigod who is prophesied to be the best Greek warrior – and soon becomes his best companion. Their feelings for each other grow and they become lovers. Thetis does not think Patroclus is worthy of Achilles and is not subtle in showing her hatred towards him. During Patroclus and Achilles’s education under Chiron the centaur, news is received that Helen has been stolen from her husband is being kept in Troy. The Greeks are now looking up to Achilles to lead them into battle and help bring back Helen. However, a prophecy from the gods says that Achilles will not return alive if he fights this war. Thus, Achilles initially refuses to go to war and Thetis secretly marries him to the princess Deidameia, a princess, with whom he is instructed to stay hidden in exchange for telling Patroclus his location. This marriage results in pregnancy and Achilles’s son Pyrrhus is born. Though Patroclus finds Achilles, so do the Greek commanders and they blackmail him to fight for the Greeks and rescue Helen. Patroclus never leaves Achilles side as they make their journey. As the war begins, Patroclus’s love for Achilles never falters – only grows – but he observes his lover change over the course of the decade long Trojan War. Near the end, he sees how pride has blinded Achilles and how he must take matters into his own hands to save Achilles reputation as well as pride and honor. Achilles allows Patroclus to join the battlefield dressed as him so that his soldiers fight with all their might. As a result of this, Patroclus is killed by Hector, The Trojan Prince. Achilles never forgives himself and finally kills Hector is combat shortly after. After having taken revenge for the death of his lover, Achilles dies since he does not even attempt to save himself from attack. As per his orders, Achilles’s and his lover’s charred ashes are mixed together before being buried. However, young 12-year old Pyrrhus makes an appearance and does not allow Patroclus’s name to be carved on the tombstone, thus denying him peace after death and calling him a slave. Thus, Patroclus is left to haunt the soldiers on the island and tries multiple times to find peace. After Pyrrhus leads the Greeks to victory, as mentioned by the prophecies, the Greeks leave Troy and make their way back home. Years pass and Patroclus is left all alone. Thetis begins visiting her son Achilles’s grave and Patroclus finds out that Pyrrhus has also died due to his foolishness and pride. As Thetis and Patroclus talk to each other about the boy that they both loved in their own different ways, Thetis finally understands the love that the two men felt for each other and carved out Patroclus’s name right next to Achilles’s on the tombstone so that he too may be able to find peace and meet his beloved. With this, the novel ends.
Say it with me – “This novel is breathtakingly beautiful and it deserves the world and more.”
Now that I’m done with this book, do you have any book suggestions? Look out for other such posts of mine!
— Just Another Magical Soul