First Impression Friday will be a meme where you talk about a book that you JUST STARTED! Maybe you’re only a chapter or two in, maybe a little farther. Based on this sampling of your current read, give a few impressions and predict what you’ll think by the end.
Achilles, “the best of all the Greeks,” son of the cruel sea goddess Thetis and the legendary King Peleus, is strong, swift, and beautiful – irresistible to all who meet him. Patroclus is an awkward young prince, exiled form his homeland after an act of shocking violence. Brought together by chance, they forge an inseparable bond, despite risking the god’s wrath.
They are trained by the centaur Chiron in the arts of war and medicine, but when word comes that Heelen of Sparta has been kidnapped, all the heroes of Greece are called upon to lay siege to Toy 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 cruet Fates will test them both as never before and demand a terrible sacrifice.
Time does fly. As if in a rush, we are already midweek through the first month of the year. As it is Friday, it is time for a First Impression Friday update. Currently, I am reading my second Madeline Miller novel, her debut novel, which, I have just learned right now, was published nearly a decade ago, late in 2011. I had the notion that it was relatively newer, say 2015 or 2016. Haha! Gee, that surprised me a lot. I guess this came as a surprise because I only encountered the book in 2016 or 2017.
So, back to when I first encountered the book. I was initially reluctant about reading it. I had no interest in picking it up even though I knew it was about Greek mythology (judging from the title alone!). I love mythology but I have been ambivalent about the convergence of modern literature and mythology. Things changed because of another Miller novel, Circe. Part of my 2018 Top 10 Books I Look Forward To, it made me see that the modern text can immerse in mythology seamlessly. I was impressed by Circe so I next resolved to read The Song of Achilles.
In the opening pages of The Song of Achilles, I thought that the narrator was Achilles because the book was about him. But something did feel a little out-of-place and, soon enough, my mistake was pointed out when Patroclus was called out by his father. (Kicking myself). The first few chapters are a little slow because Patroclus is still narrating how he found himself in Achilles’ company. Patroclus is a prince himself, but of a minor kingdom. He was adopted by King Peleus because he was chastised after an unfortunate event. In the company of fellow outcasts, Patroclus soon became acquainted with the reclusive Achilles, King Peleus’ son.
I am pretty sure that everyone is familiar with who Achilles is and his fate in the Trojan War. He was part of the one thousand ships who launched because of Helen. Helen was famously captured by Paris, the wayward son of King Priam and Queen Hecuba of Priam. The Trojan War was primarily narrated in Homer’s Iliad and has become the source of several idiomatic expressions such as “the face that launched a thousand ships”, “Trojan Horse”, and, of course, “Achilles Heel”.
However, if there is something that many Greek tales share is that readers hear very little about the minor characters, or even the villains. For instance, Patroclus always played second fiddle to Achilles. Circe, on the hand, is always vilified because she turned sailors into pigs or animals. It was because of this that I Miller’s works fascinating. Her works explore the story of the “second leads” or the “villains”. In Circe, I loved that the story revolved around a mother’s love. In The Song of Achilles, I am getting to learn more about Patroclus and his friendship with Achilles.
Indeed, there is so much that I look forward to in The Song of Achilles. I already have an inkling on how it will end but I want to witness how Achilles and Patroclus’ friendship develops and how both characters grow and mature. I am hoping to finish the book, my fourth for the year, over the weekend. I am also waiting to be enchanted yet again by Miller. How about you fellow reader, what book are you going to read this weekend? I hope it is a book that you’ve been looking forward to and I hope you enjoy it. Keep safe, and happy weekend!