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The story of the war at Troy was also a tale of love between men of the devotion of Achilles unrivaled hero terrible warrior and so it is said in legend the most beautiful man in the world to another great warrior the handsome Patroclus In the Iliad Homer also tantalizingly hints at another love story the love of Antilochus son of King Nestor and Prince of Pylos for Achilles P 4 of cover

10 thoughts on “Achilles

  1. says:

    This review was originally written for the Speak Its Name web siteThe Greek era has always been one of my favorites for historical romance Perhaps it’s because Mary Ranault’s Alexander books were the first historical novels with a gay bent I ever read or maybe it’s just because it was a time when love between men was not only accepted but almost expected So I had high perhaps unreasonable hopes when offered Achilles A Love StoryThis is the story of Homer’s Iliad re told from the point of view of Antilochus a prince the son and heir of King Nestor of Pylos The young prince has formed a sort of obsession with the already famous Achilles who is only two years older Antilochus comes off as a bit of a stalker at first determined that one day he will meet the object of his desire and they will instantly become loversThen comes news of the impending war Kind Agamemnon comes to Pylos to enlist King Nestor’s support in the war against Troy Nestor somewhat reluctantly agrees He and Odysseus then embark on a tour of the other Greek states to garner their support One of the stops is to be Pythia where the support of King Peleus and his son the mighty Achilles will be sought Antilochus naturally jumps at the chance to finally meet his lover to be and begs to go along Of course once the party lands in Pythia Antilochus is slapped with the cold hard reality of Patroclus Somehow the fact that Achilles already had a lover to whom he was practically joined at the hip had escaped the young princeAntilochus is crushed but he doesn’t give up the determination to one day make Achilles his First though there’s a war to fight Nestor Achilles and the rest of the Greeks take off to fight while Antilochus is deemed too young and left behind in the care of his mother The prince cools his heels in Pylos for eight long years His mother won’t let him leave to join the war without word from his father and Nestor never sends for his sonTired of waiting and anxious to partake of the glory of battle as well as win the heart of Achilles Antilochus arranges to make his way to Troy with the help of a sexy sea captain Arriving in Troy the prince faces the wrath of his father but Achilles intervenes and it’s agreed that Antilochus will serve as Achilles’ squire Actually he will serve both Achilles and Patroclus since they live together At first this seems like a boon but faced with the obvious love the two have for each other every day does drive home how impossible Antilochus’ hopes are although he never gives them upNot that Antilochus doesn’t get to experience what Achilles is like as a lover Achilles and Patroclus seem to have an ‘open relationship’ and Achilles takes Antilochus from time to time when Patroclus isn’t around and apparently Patroclus also beds the prince at least once Achilles does teach Antilochus the art of warfare and eventually the prince returns to his father’s service to lead his own battalion as captainAntilochus fights alongside Achilles on occasion and he is there to witness the capture of Chryseis a priestess of Apollo This is a pivotal event that sparks the tiff between Achilles and Agamemnon and ultimately leads to first the death of Patroclus and then Achilles If you know the Iliad even the Marvel Comics version then you know most of what happensThe author does a rather good job on the whole of capturing the epic style of the Homeric tales This is in spite of a huge number of typos and a few seeming anachronisms – would King Agamemnon really say we’re in a pretty pickle? However the authentic sound of the prose was not entirely a good thing I found that the formality of the style put a distance between the reader and the characters I never quite connected to Antilochus in the way I would have likedOf course a lot of this is because the author doesn’t really share much of what Antilochus is feeling He’s very good at bringing alive the blood lust and fog of battle with some rather eloquent prose but when it comes to love – what the book is supposed to be about – Antilochus gets very terse and even downright vague You would expect someone so besotted with a man that when he and Achilles do couple even if it’s not as lovers you would think he would go on and on about it But Antilochus gives us little than a sentence or two He has flings with others on occasion but says no about them and sometimes simply infers that he’s slept with a man without really coming out and saying itAs for Achilles he never really becomes a fully fleshed character He remains the mythical abstract object of Antilochus’ obsession rather than a real person or demi god While Achilles is the key character in the story he doesn’t actually appear in person that much We spend time getting to know Odysseus and King Agamemnon In many ways this book is about the folly of war and the greed of men than about love but then I don’t suppose many people would want to read a book titled Agamemnon A Drunken SodGiven the degree to which any discussion of love was avoided in the end I’m not sure what the Love Story of the title is alluding to even after reading the author’s afterword Is it Antilochus’ unrequited obsession for Achilles? That never seemed real to me and hardly qualifies as a love story No I have a hard time seeing this book as a love story or a romance of any kind It’s a capable though unexceptionable piece of classical literature with a slight homoerotic bent which is why I’ve given it three stars