Friday, 20 April 2018

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

The Song of AchillesThe Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I wanted to be able to listen, to digest the bloody images, to paint them flat and unremarkable on to the vase of posterity. To release him from it, and make him Achilles again.

So says Patroculus in Madeline Miller's magnificent debut novel. Make him Achilles again. Make the man a myth and legend, make the man-killing monster with a male lover, make the half-divine son of a goddess mother human again. That’s what this book does. And does well.

It also does something else well - it breaks all the rules. Mix past and present-tense? Why not? Kill the first-person narrator of the previous thirty chapters before the story finishes? Watch me! Perhaps only the audacity of a debut novelist can do this. Either that or some of the hero’s near-invincibility and unshakable confidence has rubbed off like gold leaf on the author.

Either way the book is little short of a masterpiece, bringing an ancient story to life, adding new and precious insights, deepening one's understanding and spinning the oldest and greatest of tales out of glistening new thread.

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