Greece in the age of heroes. Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the court of King Peleus and his perfect son Achilles. Despite their difference, Achilles befriends the shamed prince, and as they grow into young men skilled in the arts of war and medicine, their bond blossoms into something deeper – despite the displeasure of Achilles’ mother Thetis, a cruel sea goddess.
But when word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, Achilles must go to war in distant Troy and fulfill his destiny. Torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus goes with him, little knowing that the years that follow will test everything they hold dear.
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This is one of those books that snuck up on me. I had never really seen it around, or if I had, I had clearly ignored any mention of it, but suddenly something piqued my interest. I picked it up for Dewey’s 24 Hour Read-a-thon a few weeks ago, and that was that. I will say that I really enjoyed the story, but unlike a lot of others, I wasn’t sucked in by the relationship between Patroclus and Achilles.
Knowing the basic story going in was definitely beneficial. There were a bunch of names I didn’t recognise, but knowing the names I did kept things from becoming too confusing. (But let’s be real, the characters in Greek myths tend to have many similar sounding names even when they’re not masquerading as someone else.) As for the characters, I found them mostly hard to like, but in a good way. I feel like you’re not really supposed to like anyone when it comes to Greek myths, but I really disliked Patroclus. He was whiny and self interested, even as he was totally enamoured by Achilles. No idea what Achilles saw in him, to be honest, because he doesn’t seem to be particularly into the whole hero worship thing – at least not at the beginning – and I don’t see any real redeeming qualities in Patroclus outside of his interest in healing and his relationship with Briseis.
I loved reading about a world in which Gods and prophecies and sea-nymph-goddess mothers are all totally legitimate, and Achilles and Patroclus’ time spent with Chiron was a definite highlight. Also, any scene with Odysseus in it. I still don’t like first person, present tense as a narrative style, especially when the story spans several years as this one does, and I didn’t really like the ending, either. Long story short, I enjoyed the read and at the very least it does make me even more keen to pick up The Odyssey.