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In Love with Ancient Myths: 20 Breathtaking Books Like “Song of Achilles”

Celebrate Legendary Heroism and Epic Love with these Captivating Reads Inspired by The Song of Achilles
by The Blinkist Team | Mar 5 2024

20 Captivating Books Like Song of Achilles

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller skillfully reimagines Homer’s “The Iliad”, painting an immersive picture of the legendary hero Achilles, his best friend Patroclus, and their profound bond. Set against the backdrop of the Trojan War, Miller infuses her narrative with emotions, fascinating characters, and gripping storytelling that leaves a lasting impression.

The book’s depiction of love, heroism, wars, and the cruel hand of fate has intrigued readers globally, leaving many yearning for more books like The Song of Achilles. If you’re one such reader, sit tight as we embark on an inspiring journey filled with 20 books that echo the sweeping epic sagas, profound relationships, and rich mythology akin to The Song of Achilles.

The 20 best books to read if you liked “Song of Achilles”


1. “Circe” by Madeline Miller.

Explore the life of Circe, the witch of Aeaea, as she evolves from an outcast into a powerful witch, crafting a narrative that mesmerizes with its depth and complexity.

Elements in common with The Song of Achilles:

  • A derivated work from ancient mythology, suffused with the human experience.
  • Deep character growth and exploration.
  • A narrative that examines the blurred lines between heroes and villains.


2. “The Penelopiad” by Margaret Atwood.

Atwood retells Homer’s “The Odyssey” from Penelope’s perspective, a hauntingly beautiful exploration of her experiences and relationships.

Elements in common with The Song of Achilles:

  • A unique retelling of a classic Greek myth.
  • Strong, resilient female characters.
  • A critical take on gender roles in ancient times.


3. “The Silence of the Girls” by Pat Barker.

This novel retells the events of The Iliad through the eyes of Briseis, Achilles’ war prize, offering an immersive perspective on women during the Trojan War.

Elements in common with The Song of Achilles:

  • Subverts a familiar tale by placing a marginalized character at its heart.
  • Chronicles the brutal realities of war.
  • A moving depiction of enforced love in tumultuous times.


4. “A Thousand Ships” by Natalie Haynes.

This epic retelling of the Trojan War and its aftermath centers on the women impacted by the war, weaving a rich tapestry of their stories.

Elements in common with The Song of Achilles:

  • Unveils untold stories within a famous myth.
  • Strong emphasis on female characters.
  • Tackles themes of war, fate, and the human experience.


5. “House of Names” by Colm Tóibín.

A fresh take on the tragic house of Atreus, Tóibín explores the characters of Clytemnestra, her daughter Electra, and her son Orestes in a riveting manner.

Elements in common with The Song of Achilles:

  • A reinterpretation of a tragic Greek myth.
  • Focuses on familial relationships and the tragic consequences of family betrayal.
  • A heartrending tale of rage, revenge, and longing for redemption.


6. “The King Must Die” by Mary Renault. 

This novel reimagines the myth of Theseus, king of Athens, into a compelling tale of adventure, heroism, and the power of fate.

Elements in common with The Song of Achilles:

  • The life journey of a legendary hero.
  • Vivid mythology integrated into the narrative.
  • Themes of destiny, heroism, and the harsh realities of power.


7. “Medea” by Christa Wolf.

Wolf brings to life Medea, one of Greek mythology’s most controversial figures, portraying her wisdom, strength, and the injustice she faces.

Elements in common with The Song of Achilles:

  • A critical perspective on a famed mythological figure.
  • Unearths the clever female force behind an infamous reputation.
  • Challenging societal norms and power dynamics in ancient times.


8. “The Lost Books of the Odyssey” by Zachary Mason.

This imagines alternative outcomes and parallel realities within Homer’s Odyssey, providing a myriad of perspectives on the classic tale.

Elements in common with The Song of Achilles:

  • Creative reimagining of a legendary epic.
  • Deep character exploration and their relationship with fate.
  • Themes of heroism, adventure, and consequences.


9. “The Children of Jocasta” by Natalie Haynes.

Haynes retells the Oedipus and Antigone stories from Jocasta and Ismene’s perspectives, exploring motherhood, power, and the weight of fate.

Elements in common with The Song of Achilles:

  • Refreshing take on Greek tragedies.
  • Struggles and power of women in myth.
  • Intensive narrative focused on undeserved fates and cruel destiny.


10. “Ilium” by Dan Simmons.

This science fiction twist on The Iliad brings ancient Troy to life on Mars, blending Homer’s epic with futuristic elements.

Elements in common with The Song of Achilles:

  • Reinvention of The Iliad in a creative setting.
  • Vivid, complex characters drawn from both mythology and original creation.
  • Grand narratives with a sweeping sense of history.


11. “Till We Have Faces” by C.S. Lewis.

This novel revisits the myth of Cupid and Psyche, retold from the perspective of Psyche’s sister, Orual. It contemplates love, faith, and human nature in an ancient setting.

Elements in common with The Song of Achilles:

  • A thoughtful retelling of a Greco-Roman myth.
  • Profound explorations of love, betrayal, and human nature.
  • Themes of destiny, divine intervention, and resilience.


12. “Fire From Heaven” by Mary Renault.

The book delves into the life of the legendary Alexander the Great – from his royal birth to his initiation as a soldier, vividly portraying the making of a hero.

Elements in common with The Song of Achilles:

  • An epic saga of a legendary hero.
  • Relationships that shape the character’s life and destiny.
  • A richly painted ancient setting.


13. “The Song of Troy” by Colleen McCullough.

This book recounts the dramatic story of the Trojan War, showcasing the famous legends from both Greek and Trojan perspectives.

Elements in common with The Song of Achilles:

  • A retelling of the pivotal moments of the Trojan War.
  • Vivid characterization, including heroes, villains, and gods.
  • Themes of love, destiny, and the ravages of war.


14. “Black Ships” by Jo Graham.

Follow the journey of Gull, the Pythia or priestess, at the fall of Troy as she guides a band of refugees to their new destiny.

Elements in common with The Song of Achilles:

  • Pivotal historic events seen from an intriguing perspective.
  • Focus on divine intervention and characters’ relationship with gods.
  • Profound friendships and their intimate evolution.


15. “The Last of the Wine” by Mary Renault.

In the turmoil of the Peloponnesian War, two Athenian youths, Alexias and Lysis, navigate friendship, love, and the hardships of war.

Elements in common with The Song of Achilles:

  • Historic setting entwined with LGBT romance.
  • Harsh realities of war and its effects on individuals and relationships.
  • Focus on heroism, honour, and societal expectations.


16. “Weight” by Jeanette Winterson.

This rendition of the myth of Atlas and Heracles questions the nature of choice, offering a fresh take on the age-old tale.

Elements in common with The Song of Achilles:

  • Creative retelling of a classic myth.
  • Exploration of burden, betrayal, and the human capacity for endurance.
  • Engaging narrative that makes ancient myths resonate with contemporary issues.


17. “An Arrow’s Flight” by Mark Merlis.

In a world combining ancient myth and modern realities, Pyrrhus, Achilles’ son, struggles with his destiny amidst love and war.

Elements in common with The Song of Achilles:

  • An exploration of a legend’s legacy through his descendent.
  • Themes of destiny, identity, and societal pressure.
  • A fusion of the ancient and modern world bringing fresh context to a legendary tale.


18. “Lavinia” by Ursula K. Le Guin.

Lavinia, the legendary Latin princess, comes to life in this retelling, delving deep into her life, dreams, and destiny.

Elements in common with The Song of Achilles:

  • An overlooked character coming to life.
  • An intricately woven narrative charged with emotions.
  • Love, war, and the influence of gods on human destinies.


19. “Bright Air Black” by David Vann.

Reimagining the myth of Medea, this novel draws a compelling portrait of a powerful woman caught between vengeance and love.

Elements in common with The Song of Achilles:

  • A fresh perspective on a controversial mythological figure.
  • Themes of forbidden love, betrayal, and revenge.
  • Raw, emotional narrative that paints ancient events in new light.


20. “The Hidden Prince” by J. Tuttle.

In this reimagined story, Patroclus and Achilles share a profound bond, unbeknownst to Patroclus that his mother hid him away to escape his fate.

Elements in common with The Song of Achilles:

  • Revels in the profound relationship between Achilles and Patroclus.
  • A heartrending tale of love, fate, and prophecy.
  • Characters enduring personal struggles in a world dictated by gods. 

In conclusion, the emotions, intensity, and substance sewn into Madeline Miller’s “The Song of Achilles” have inspired a myriad of books that pay homage to-and transcend beyond-ancient myths and tales. This list of 20 engrossing books captures the essence of Miller’s masterpiece, creating a chain of narratives filled with sweeping epic sagas, profound relationships, love that defies boundaries, and the cruel hand of fate.

Regardless of which book you pick, you’re guaranteed an emotional, enriching narrative journey. Welcome aboard this mythical adventure and happy reading!


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