“I found this very intriguing. I am not a big fan of Greek mythology, so I didn't think I would like it, but surprisingly I did. It really held my attention. I read it in all of 3 sittings. It moved really fast. It is about Patroclus, an exiled Greek prince, who becomes the companion of Achilles, son of the goddess Thetis. Patroclus and Achilles had a passionate committment to one another. Their steadfast friendship begins as they are children, and then grows into a deeper more meaningful love as they enter manhood together. Despite the fact their relationship is puzzling to some (people questioning why or how two men should be so intimate), and looked down upon by others (the son of a goddess should not be consorting with a mere mortal), they remain loyal to one another. They are seperated and reunited several times until their relationship suffers the ultimate test during the events of the Trojan war.
I think the book is probably more enjoyable if you have some prior knowledge of Greek myths, deities, or history, or have read Homer's "The Illiad," but do think it could stand on its own as a fantasy romance, sort of a "Percy Jackson" book for sophisticated adults.
Interestingly to me, reading this reminded me of several other books I've read recently: The first half is tinged with a bit of the will-they-won't-they/do-they-don't-they suspense of "Jack Holmes and His Friend." The historical-fact-meets-literary-fiction element hearkens me to "The Last Nude." It has the friendship-blossoming-into-love aspect of "Aristotle and Dante." And the lessons of "Straight: A Surprisingly Short History of Heterosexuality" are thrown in there for good measure, Greeks being such notorious fans of man love ;)
Concerns: It has epic theme, but not really epic scope. Sometimes I felt it got bogged down with unneccessary conflicts, just to add some action to the plot. Like someone would get kidnapped, or would have to wear a disguise, or what have you, and it'd end up being resolved fairly quickly. Those little diversions felt superflous, but maybe that's just my snobby opinion. Also Odysseus is a minor character in the story and is portrayed as a wise ass. I kind of loved him, and his smugness, and wished there'd been more scenes with him.
The ending, I think, makes a statement in favor of gay marriage, whether the author intended it or not. I don't want to ruin it, but the idea of whether Patroclus and Achilles deserve to be thought of as husbands, and not just chums, and whether they're entitled to certain benefits afforded legally married couples, is debated at length. One really can't deny after reading their story, that these two men loved each other as much as, if not more than, more "normal" "husband and wife" pairings, and deserve to be recognized for that. Again I don't know if the author meant for me to take it that way, but I did, and think this book is worthy of attention. Can't wait to hear what people think of it!”
Tess wrote this review Monday, July 9, 2012.