Never far away are the machinations of the gods, who set up Paris from the first with a beauty pageant where the handsome Trojan prince had to select from a line-up of goddesses. While the fickle hand of the gods steers the course of events, Miller’s novel brings Homer's characters to life, drawing out the reader’s sympathies for them.
She does this by choosing for her narrator, Patroclus, Achilles boyhood friend who later becomes his lover. Patroclus has had an unhappy childhood – a father who never thinks he’s good enough and a fey mother. When he is banished from his home to the island of Phthia, he thinks loneliness and disfavour to be his lot in life - until he meets Achilles.
The story of the boys’ friendship and their lessons with the centaur, Chiron, are enough to make an interesting novel. Throw in the politics of the Trojan War, the massing of armies, the fleets of ships and the assault on Troy and you have a terrific tale with a lot going on. But Miller makes the epic real and immediate, her writing is pitch-perfect and the intensity of her characters will stop your heart. The Song of Achilles is the first, I hope, of many such adaptations by this author.
Posted by JAM
Catalogue link: The Song of Achilles