When you loathe a character, you need to stop and ask yourself why: because author wrote them so bad? Or is it because they wrote them so good, that you’d wish to strangle the fictional person? I had this problem, and need of constant reminder with “The Song of Achilles” By Madeline Miller (ISBN 1408816032; 352p.; Goodreads). The book is well written, but Achilles was driving me nuts.
Achilles is a half-god. His mother is a sea nymph. His father – a powerful king. He himself is a warrior with no equal, and without his aid, the war against Troy has no chance. Patroclus is almost a complete opposite. His father is a mediocre unknown king, his mother is weak of mind, he’s barely a decent soldier himself. And when he was exiled from his father’s court for accidentally killing a guest for trying to take something away from him – he didn’t expect anything good. Instead, he found an instant friend in Achilles, who not only didn’t judge him, or mock him, but respected him, and treated him fairly. And very soon he found himself in love, hoping beyond hope…
His mother wasn’t too happy about this friendship, and lingering feeling of love underneath. But to kill Patroclus, would be to tear her son’s heart out. Instead, thus, she sends him away. To study first, just to find Patroclus there, risking it all just to find Achilles again. Then further away, into hiding, where Patroclus again shows cunning beyond his seeming capabilities. And then at war for beautiful Helena, war against Troy, where Patroclus can barely keep his own weight, but still hardly ever leaves her son’s side. And Patroclus knows this well, her resentment to him. It frightens the young man, this anger of a goddess. Who does one invoke, who does one pray to, when a god is angry at them?
The story is pretty good. Fantasy elements were in place, and there weren’t too much of them either. Love story is pretty good too, felt fair, and natural. But. Achilles got on my nerves a lot. His pride kept getting hurt in that damn war, and I kept waiting for him to hold his breath and threaten to not breathe until he’s apologized for. Patroclus, on the other hand, got wiser as time went, and they both filled each other out very well, one being a master of this, and other – of that. So I can give this book a 4 out of 5.
Diversity: M/M romance, well written, with little non-graphic sex. They were fair to each other, and cared for each other.