Winner of the 2012 Orange Prize for Fiction
Gaining a different perspective on an old story by placing a minor character in the narrator's seat is not a new technique, but it's one that Madeline Miller uses superbly in her debut novel, The Song of Achilles. Throughout the book she outlines the mythological life of the half-god Achilles and skillfully weaves his fabled companion Patroclus into each important event of the hero's life. It is through Patroclus's eyes that the reader witnesses legendary scenes such as Achilles' training with the centaur Chiron and his conquests on the battlefield. However, the narration reflects more on Patroclus than its subject, and surprisingly it is Patroclus that we come to know and admire, not Achilles; the former becomes the hero of the tale.
Miller's storyline relies primarily on her narrator's richly detailed observations, and although the ...
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