The Song of Achilles, By Madeline Miller


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Others before Miller have written imaginative riffs on Homer's epics, not least Margaret Atwood in her witty and wise The Penelopiad. Yet Miller's fantastic first novel – shortlisted for the Orange Prize this week – seems singular in its scope and scholarship.

This is a retelling of the Illiad from the point of view of a young prince called Patroclus, exiled for accidentally killing a man, who falls head-over-heels in love with the brave Achilles.

Miller, an American classics expert, has combined scholarship with imagination to turn the most familiar of war epics into a fresh, emotionally riveting and sexy page-turner.

Patroclus follows Achilles into war, but it is their magnificent and very modern love story that makes this an epic.