Hey y’all today I wanted to do a review of two of Madeline Miller’s most popular books: The Song of Achilles and Circe. I recently read both of these and loved one and thoroughly enjoyed the other.
The legend begins…
Greece in the age of heroes. Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the kingdom of Phthia to be raised in the shadow of King Peleus and his golden son, Achilles. “The best of all the Greeks”—strong, beautiful, and the child of a goddess—Achilles is everything the shamed Patroclus is not. Yet despite their differences, the boys become steadfast companions. Their bond deepens as they grow into young men and become skilled in the arts of war and medicine—much to the displeasure and the fury of Achilles’ mother, Thetis, a cruel sea goddess with a hatred of mortals.
When word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, the men of Greece, bound by blood and oath, must lay siege to Troy in her name. Seduced by the promise of a glorious destiny, Achilles joins their cause, and torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus follows. Little do they know that the Fates will test them both as never before and demand a terrible sacrifice.
Built on the groundwork of the Iliad, Madeline Miller’s page-turning, profoundly moving, and blisteringly paced retelling of the epic Trojan War marks the launch of a dazzling career. (Goodreads synopsis)
The Song of Achilles is the story of Patroclus, who was the lover of the mighty Achilles. We follow Patroclus throughout his entire life and through his death. This book was fantastic. I listened to it on audiobook in a single day. I absolutely could not put this book down.
Miller was able to captivate me in a Greek mythology story, something I know very little about, and keep me wanting to know where the love story was going. Her writing is absolutely beautiful and immersive. I love between Patroclus and Achilles was so deep and I could actually feel it coming off of the page. I listened to this on audio and followed along on my kindle when I could and I think that was help me get even more wrapped up in the story. I never once felt like the book dragged or I was ready for the next part to come.
I highly recommend this book and it’s absolutely worth the hype in my opinion.
In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe is a strange child—not powerful, like her father, nor viciously alluring like her mother. Turning to the world of mortals for companionship, she discovers that she does possess power—the power of witchcraft, which can transform rivals into monsters and menace the gods themselves.
Threatened, Zeus banishes her to a deserted island, where she hones her occult craft, tames wild beasts and crosses paths with many of the most famous figures in all of mythology, including the Minotaur, Daedalus and his doomed son Icarus, the murderous Medea, and, of course, wily Odysseus.
But there is danger, too, for a woman who stands alone, and Circe unwittingly draws the wrath of both men and gods, ultimately finding herself pitted against one of the most terrifying and vengeful of the Olympians. To protect what she loves most, Circe must summon all her strength and choose, once and for all, whether she belongs with the gods she is born from, or the mortals she has come to love. (Goodreads synopsis)
Circe is a fictionalized account of Circe who is mentioned briefly in the Odyssey and is a witch. We follow her throughout her whole life, much of which is spent on an island she was exiled to by Zeus and her father, Helios.
I enjoyed Circe but I didn’t love it as much as I did Song of Achilles. The last quarter of the book dragged a little bit for me and I found that I was ready for the story to be over. Everything I said about Miller’s writing still stands, it’s still beautiful and engrossing, however I think this had to do with Circe herself and the setting. I know it’s a Greek mythology retelling so I can’t exactly fault the author for this.
I do recommend this book as well for the writing and the first 3-quarters of the book. I think I just wanted more though.
What were your thoughts on either of Miller’s books? Let’s chat in the comments.
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