Narrator: Frazer Douglas
Published by: Bloomsbury Publishing
Genre: Historical fiction, fantasy/mythology, romance
Reviewed by: Alisa
What to Expect: An epic love story with Greek mythology and a famous war as the background.
Plot: 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.
Audio review: I don’t think I can adequately explain how much I loved this book. It’s a re-imagining of Homer’s Iliad and the story of Achilles and Patroclus. The author took the facts told in the Iliad and wove a deep and complicated background for these two characters. A background that give us an alternative way of looking at the original story. I imagine most people are familiar with the basic story of Achilles and his role in the battle against Troy. This book tells us the story of the man he really is and of the man who loves him more than anything else in the world.
The book is told from Patroclus’ point of view. It begins when he is six years old and he first sees Achilles who is just a few months older. Circumstances bring the two boys together at the age of ten and the story then follows their friendship as they grow up and fall in love with each other. Patroclus is a great narrator. We watch as he goes from scared child to a man who is amazingly strong. He’s Achilles’ touchstone. We watch as Achilles struggles with all of the things expected of him, of the prophecies he knows he must fulfill whether he wants to or not and his internal battle not to let his god side take away his humanity. Patroclus’ love saves Achilles again and again.
In the original story Achilles seems selfish and unkind but this shows us his reasoning for doing the things he does and it makes sense. That’s not to say he doesn’t make mistakes because he does. Mistakes he pays for dearly. There is not one minute of the story though where you ever doubt Achilles love for Patroclus. He defies the men of their army, his mother and the gods to have Patoclus with him. Patroclus loves Achilles just as much. He gives Achilles everything and he sacrifices a lot for him but it never feels one sided. It never feels like Achilles is selfish. It feels as if they are two halves of a whole and they are destined to always be together.
I loved the author’s writing style. I thought it was beautiful and it moved me so. There’s this bit of melancholy throughout the book because while our heroes don’t know how things are going to end, we as readers do. So we’re watching this beautiful love story with a background of sadness. There are so many quotes I want to include. I really don’t even know where to start.
Here are just a couple:
“I could recognize him by touch alone, by smell; I would know him blind, by the way his breaths came and his feet struck the earth. I would know him in death, at the end of the world.”
“Name one hero who was happy. You can’t”
“I know. They never let you be famous and happy. I’ll tell you a secret.”
“I’m going to be the first. Swear it.”
“Because you’re the reason. Swear it.”
‘Will you come with me?” he asked. The never-ending ache of love and sorrow. Perhaps in some other life I could have refused, could have torn my hair and screamed, and made him face his choice alone. But not in this one. He would sail to Troy and I would follow, even into death. “Yes”, I whispered. “Yes.” Relief broke over his face, and he reached for me. I let him hold me, let him press us length to length so close that nothing might fit between us. Tears came, and fell. Above us the constellations spun and the moon paced her weary course. We lay stricken and sleepless as the hours passed.”
I could go on and on about how much I loved this book and much this story moved me. Yes, you’re probably going to cry but the beauty of their love outweighs the sorrow. This story is worth every minute of the time you spend with Patroclus and Achilles.
I listened to this on audio and it was really well done. I highly recommend it. The narrator was excellent and did a very good job on all of the many voices in this story. He made Patroclus come alive. I am going to buy the print book in addition though because there are so many parts I’m sure I will read over and over again.
What you may not like: This stays true to the period time and women are treated very poorly. They are captured as the spoils of war. There are no on page rapes or abuse but they are referenced a few times. Neither of the MC’s have anything to do with this though.
What you will love: This is one of those epic love stories that stay with you long after you finish the book.
Alisa runs the audio review column, Alisa Listens, at Binge on Books. She loves getting stuff done while she reads which makes audio perfect for her!
You can connect with Alisa on Twitter: @bookgirl0702