A stand-alone historical fantasy book which follows Achilles from the perspective of Patroclus.

Publication year: 2011
Format: print
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Publication year of the Finnish translation: 2013
Translator: Laura Lahdensuu
Publisher of the translation: Basam books
Page count: 454

This is a love story from the point-of-view of Patroclus. His childhood is unhappy because he’s an ugly and clumsy boy who is a constant disappointment to his father. When he accidentally kills another boy, he’s sent into exile and to the court of King Peleus. There Patroclus meets Peleus’ beautiful, shining son, Achilles.

This is an excellent retelling, focusing on the love story of Patroclus and Achilles which was officially forbidden during the times but clearly tolerated. It’s not focused on fighting, except when the Trojan war gets really going, but even then Patroclus isn’t a soldier and we don’t really get to see much of the war at all, except the most famous and climatic scenes. Instead, it’s focused on people and humanizing the characters from legends. The gods are very much alive, real, and active. Achilles’ mother Thetis is a nereid and she hates all humans, including Patroclus. She has definite plans for her son. For most of the book, a doom is hovering over Achilles as is quite appropriate for Greek epic. As soon as Achilles and Patroclus hear about the Trojan war, they also hear about a prophesy that Achilles will die there.

Achilles seems quite a different person than in Homer’s epic. He’s not really interested in fighting until he gets to Troy. He’s calm and gentle man before it and it seems that the violence in the war really changes him. Patroclus is more a healer than a soldier in this tale. They both seem rather different from the majority of men in their time who tend to be warriors grasping for fame and fortune. And, of course, the women of the time aren’t treated as human; they’re property to be kept or given away, spoils of war in the war camp. Except for immortal women who have their own agendas and favorites.

“He is a weapon, a killer. Do not forget it. You can use a spear as a walking stick, but that will not change its nature.”

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