Becoming Achilles’ companion means that he has to be at his side at all times. This even means that Patroclus must follow Achilles into his training with the centaur Chiron. Here in the mountains Achilles and Patroclus discover that their feelings for each other are more than that of friends. Their life is ideal together in the mountains, living and hunting with Chiron. But that ideal changes when a messenger from Achilles’ father summons them back to Phthia for war!
I decided to read this book because I read a very good review of it from another Blog. It is also one of the six nominees for the Orange Book Prize for Fiction, so I thought with a great review and a prestigious nomination this book would be an excellent read. And to be fair it was, I really enjoyed this book. I liked the fact that Miller did not make it a historical novel but stuck to the myth of Achilles by making him a demi-God and introducing mythical creatures such as centaurs. I think it added an extra dimension to the book, whereas if Miller had made it into a more realistic story, it would not have been as entertaining.
However there were some things I didn’t like in this book. Unlike some other reviews I have read, I preferred the first half of book more than the second half. I thought the story of Patroclus’ exile and his relationship with Achilles made the first half of the book really interesting and fast paced. However, I thought the next about 30% of the book was far too slow! It really stopped the pace that had picked up leading to the war with Troy from the first part of the book. I think Miller missed an opportunity to make this part of the book a lot more exciting by not really describing the battles that took place and how Achilles fought in them. I know the book was about Patroclus and not Achilles, but I would have preferred to read about Achilles’s battles and not about Patroclus sitting in an olive orchard contemplating how much he loves Achilles…again! Luckily the last 20% of the book was brilliant and picked up the pace again, ending with an epic battle and Patroclus becoming the Hero I think he should have become much earlier in the book.
Like I said I did really enjoy this book, I just wish the second half was as good as the first! I would suggest it to anyone who has read David Gemmell’s Troy series. It is interesting to see how these two authors both portray the same event in two completely different ways.
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