Greece in the age of Heroes. Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the kingdom of Phthia. Here he is nobody, just another unwanted boy living in the shadow of King Peleus and his golden son, Achilles.
Achilles, ‘best of all the Greeks’, is everything Patroclus is not — strong, beautiful, the child of a goddess — and by all rights their paths should never cross. Yet one day, Achilles takes the shamed prince under his wing and soon their tentative companionship gives way to a steadfast friendship. As they grow into young men skilled in the arts of war and medicine, their bond blossoms into something far deeper — despite the displeasure of Achilles’s mother Thetis, a cruel and deathly pale sea goddess with a hatred of mortals.
Fate is never far from the heels of Achilles. When word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, the men of Greece are called upon to lay siege to Troy in her name. Seduced by the promise of a glorious destiny, Achilles joins their cause. Torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus follows Achilles into war, little knowing that the years that follow will test everything they have learned, everything they hold dear. And that, before he is ready, he will be forced to surrender his friend to the hands of Fate.
Profoundly moving and breathtakingly original, this rendering of the epic Trojan War is a dazzling feat of the imagination, a devastating love story, and an almighty battle between gods and kings, peace and glory, immortal fame and the human heart.
Beautiful and sad and fairly bloody. The tale of Achilles and the fall of Troy is perhaps one of the most well known Greek tales, and this story of gods, power, love and war was a well-written love exploration of the growing relationship between the famous Achilles and the lesser known Patroclus.
The sexual violence in some parts or threats thereof was unpleasant but never overt, and again made me appreciate living in this era. Yeah, we’ve still got so far to go, but at least I’m not a piece of chattel to be claimed in war. (Although sadly this happens all too often in some parts of the world, and makes me think we haven’t actually gotten very far at all.)
I adored the depiction of the relationship between the two boys – Patroclus knows he’s not fated to be a renowned warrior, but his own inner strength, quite determination and dedication are what make him the best of the Greeks after all. And I love how Achilles never shamed him for not being a fighter, in a masculine culture that prized violence above all else. They were perfect foils for each other, and I enjoyed nothing better than reading about the carefree time they got to spend together before things went to hell in a handbasket. Or to war in a boat as it were.
While some of the language was a bit flowery, it didn’t distract from my reading experience. Furthermore, although we all know how the story ends, i.e. DEAD (that ain’t even a spoiler, friends), there is a glimpse of a happy ending that eased my aching heart.