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Middle-Grade Reads: The Adventures of Achilles

We like to share booklists for young readers on this site, but we also want to encourage and inspire middle grade and advanced readers with unique titles we think will pique their interest.


One such book is The Adventures of Achilles by Hugh Lupton and Daniel Morden.



Here’s the scoop:


The Adventures of Achilles is about a time long ago when immortal, all-powerful Greek gods and goddesses roamed the earth.

One day, the king of all the Gods, Zeus, fell in love with a water nymph named Thetis. However, he heard a prophecy that her son would one day become greater than his father.



Of course, that would never do for the King of the skies. So he decided to find a mortal husband for her—Peleus, the great warrior king. Peleus instantly loved her beauty, and Zeus led him to her beach. When she arrived, riding a dolphin-like horse, he proposed, but she only consented to marriage if he could catch her. After many days of trying, he succeeded, and they were married immediately.


Thetis soon bore a son destined for greatness but also destined for a short life. She took Achilles as a boy and dipped his body in the river Styx so that he would be immortal, except for his heel, where she held him.


Achilles grew into a mighty and feared warrior who commanded greatness and would one day be needed for a great war.


Years later, Paris, a prince of Troy with a face like a god, was walking when Zeus saw him. Many years ago, the goddess Eris had thrown an apple of discord to choose who—Hera, Athena, or Aphrodite—was the most beautiful goddess. They were still arguing about it. Hermes brought the apple to Paris and gave him his mission.


Only after much consideration and after the goddess of love offered him the most beautiful woman in the world, did he choose Aphrodite. Soon after Paris was sent to the Greek palace of Menelaus, where in the night, he and Helen, Menelaus’s wife, snuck away.


Infuriated by this betrayal, Agamemnon went to his brother, Agamemnon—high king of the Greeks—and convinced him to rally an army against the Trojans. The young king Odysseus was sent to find Achilles since Agamemnon was told he would not win the war without him.


For years, the Greeks and Trojans fought, and whenever they saw Achilles fight, Trojans were struck with fear. But the Trojans still had Prince Hector, their equivalent to Achilles. Soon both sides grew weary of the war, and the Trojans planned to stay inside their fortified, strong city walls and wait until the Greeks gave up. This went on for many years, and Achilles was sent away to destroy the allies of Troy.



When he returned, he offered Agamemnon spoils, including the daughter of a priest from the temple of Apollo. Achilles kept a slave girl for himself.


However, Apollo was unhappy with this, so he sent a colony of infested rats into the Greek camp, which infected dogs, horses, and men. To get rid of the plague, Agamemnon was forced to release the priestess, and in exchange, he took Achilles’ slave girl. This infuriated the warrior; from then on, he vowed not to fight in the war.


Inspired by Zeus months later, Hector leaped from the bed and led his army against the Greeks; at this time, they gained a victory. However, Patroclus, Achilles’ closest friend, took Achilles’ armor to strike fear in Trojan hearts, but he was doomed to die. When he went up against Hector, he was dead in a matter of minutes. Achilles’ swore to avenge Patroclus’s death by killing Hector. He leaped onto his chariot, chased Hector to the walls of Troy, and killed him with the help of Athena.


After Patroclus’s body was burned on a funeral pyre, late that night, King Prium of Troy and his youngest daughter drove through the Greek camp to retrieve his son’s body. Achilles’ took pity on the old king, who reminded him of his father, whom he would never see again. He allowed them to take Hector’s body and promised that he would hold off the Greek army while they grieved. While this took place, Achilles fell in love with Prium’s daughter.


Once Hector’s funeral was over, the fighting resumed. During the day, Achilles would fight. At night, he would meet Priam’s daughter. One night, Apollo whispered in Paris’s ear about his sister’s relationship and to follow her with a bow and arrow. When Paris followed them, Achilles revealed that his only vulnerable spot was his heel. At that moment, Paris loosed his arrow, and Apollo stabbed it into Achilles heel. He died immediately.


With their best warrior dead, Odysseus built a great wooden horse where the Greeks hid and burned the Greek camp. The Trojans brought the horse into their city, and after they had all gone to bed, the Greek soldiers climbed out of the camp and burned the city of Troy to the ground.


Published by Barefoot Books,  The Adventures of Achilles tells the mythical story behind this amazing warrior’s history and of the fall of the great walled city of Troy. The story is told beautifully, but I do not recommend this for young children. Some battle parts might be a little hard to read for children under ten. However, this is a great book—your child will be highly prepared for high school English.


Carole Henaff’s illustrations are beautiful and truly represent Greek culture.


Happy Reading!