If you like that, try these … The Song of Achilles

Hi all!

Welcome to another post of If you like that, try these …, my weekly post series where I share book (and sometimes movie or TV show) recommendations based on a book I’ve read. A new post comes out every Thursday!

Apologies that I didn’t post last week! Work and life got in the way! But I’m back properly now!

Today’s pick is …

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“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.”


9781408891384What’s it about?

Patroclus, a young, awkward prince who has been exiled to the court of King Peleus, meets, befriends and grows to love Peleus’ son, Prince Achilles. Soon, Patroclus and Achilles’ bond grows into a deep love, despite Achilles’ mother, the goddess Thetis, trying to keep them apart. Then, Helen of Sparta is kidnapped by the Trojan Prince, Paris, and Patroclus has been called to go to war and bring her back. And Achilles goes with him, igniting the beginning of their famous destiny.

What are the themes/elements?

Ancient Greek myth and history, background character made protagonist, destiny, fate, the glory of war, historical, honour, hubris, m/m romance, mythology, retelling, violence, war.

So …

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What’s it about?

One of the earliest known epics of recorded history, The Iliad follows the Greek army, lead by King Agamemnon and his brother King Menelaus, after Menelaus’ wife, Helen, is taken by the Trojan Prince, Paris, as the Greek army goes to war to retrieve her.

Why did I choose it?

Pretty obvious why I chose The Iliad, but for those who are unaware, The Song of Achilles is a retelling of The Iliad: it features the same characters, the same story and plot, but the novel is set from the perspective of Patroclus and features Achilles and Patroclus as lovers, which many historians and scholars debate over the true nature of their relationship (I, for one, believe they were lovers). So The Iliad features all the same themes and elements too: honour, glory of war, hubris, etc.


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What’s it about?

The Gospel of Loki follows the rise and fall of the Norse gods, retold from the perspective of the trickster god, Loki. The book follows Loki’s life from his recruitment from Chaos, to his adventures on behalf of Odin, to his betrayal of the gods, and to the fall of Asgard.

Why did I choose it?

The Gospel of Loki is a retelling of mythology and history like The Song of Achilles, except it focuses of Norse mythology instead of Greek. The book is also set from the perspective of a background character: Loki, much like The Song of Achilles is narrated by a background character, Patroclus. The Gospel of Loki also covers a long period of time: thousands of years, like The Song of Achilles covers the ten year Trojan War, and Patroclus and Achilles’ childhoods.


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What’s it about?

Following Alexander the Great from childhood to adulthood, Fire From Heaven is about how Alexander became a king: from his days in the palace watching his parents fight for his loyalty; to learning philosophy, history and The Iliad from Aristotle; to meeting his best friend and lover Hephaestion; to become a warrior and commander of the Macedon army; to becoming a king.

Why did I choose it?

Alexander the Great was actually known to be obsessed with The Iliad, particularly the love between Achilles and Patroclus — and Fire From Heaven definitely discusses that. The book also follows a character from childhood to a world of war, like The Song of Achilles does with Patroclus and Achilles. Like The Song of Achilles, it’s also a retelling of sorts.


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What’s it about?

The first book in the Percy Jackson series follows a boy named Percy who discovers he is the son of the Greek god Poseidon, and is whisked off to a camp for kids like him after his mother is kidnapped by Hades, the god of the Underworld.

Why did I choose it?

I chose The Lightning Thief, and I also suggest the other books in the Percy Jackson series too, because it’s about Greek myth and history, and the themes – although simplistic – of hubris and honour. The books also lead up to a war and feature romances, albeit between teenagers as the characters grow and age with each book.


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What’s it about?

A contemporary retelling of The Odyssey set from the perspective of Odysseus’ wife, Penelope, The Penelopiad follows Penelope as she’s left alone for twenty years while her husband is trying to get home, and what happens when he returns, kills the suitors vying for her hand, and, curiously, her twelve maids, finally answering the two questions we’ve always wanted to know: “What was Penelope really up to, and why did Odysseus kill her maids?”

Why did I choose it?

The Penelopiad has a lot in common with The Song of Achilles: it’s a retelling, set from the perspective of a famously background character, people many historians and scholars tend to ignore: Penelope and Patroclus. Both books made previously bland characters complex, giving them powerful personalities and thoughts. While The Song of Achilles’ unique take is an m/m romance, The Penelopiad‘s unique take is that it’s a feminist tale.


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f6ae83c7e7b7d7cec3cc076eb94d91a6What’s it about?

The TV show, inspired by the historical figure of Spartacus, follows the Thracian gladiator – who was kidnapped from his country and forced into slavery by the Romans – who eventually lead a massive slave uprising against the Roman Republic from 73 to 71 BCE.

Why did I choose it?

Although Spartacus is about Roman history, it’s also about warhonour, hubris and the idea of destiny. The show also has a few romances, including an m/m relationship, but mainly it shows what happens if you decide to go to war against a powerful country – the slaves in this remind me a lot of the Trojans in The Song of Achilles and The Iliad. 


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morehappyWhat’s it about?

After his father commits suicide, Aaron struggles to find happiness in life: not his mother, brother or girlfriend can help him. But when he befriends the new boy, Thomas, Aaron finally starts to open up. As they get closer, Aaron starts to discover things about himself and his past that threaten to shatter his newfound happiness.

Why did I choose it?

Many readers might be surprised that I chose this book, but I did so because Aaron and Patroclus feel very similar to me: they both love wholeheartedly, both feel awkward in their bodies and unloved (especially at the start for both books), but they soon grow and realise they’re worthy. But, both of their stories are tragic.

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Do you know of any other similar books or shows/movies that I didn’t mention? What books would you like to see me discuss next time? Let me know!

14 thoughts on “If you like that, try these … The Song of Achilles

  1. Izzi @ Izzi Reads says:

    I was a bit disappointed by Fire From Heaven 😔 It spends so much time on war and politics, and while I enjoyed the way it explores relationships, there wasn’t enough of that for me. It makes sense to include it in this list tho – I originally picked it up because I wanted something like The Song of Achilles x

    Liked by 1 person

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