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Gormenghast (Book Two of the Gormenghast Trilogy) Paperback – October 30, 2007

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Gormenghast (Book Two of the Gormenghast Trilogy) + Titus Alone (Book three of Gormenghast Trilogy) + Titus Groan
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Mervyn Peake (1911-1968) wrote plays, painted, as well as being poet, illustrator, short-story writer, and designer of theatrical costumes, as well as a novelist. Among his many books are the Gormenghast novels, Titus Groan, Gormenghast, and Titus Alone.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: The Overlook Press (October 30, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1585679453
  • ISBN-13: 978-1585679454
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (190 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #328,763 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

220 of 232 people found the following review helpful By J. T. Nite on August 15, 2000
Format: Paperback
The first two Gormenghast novels are unlike any other books I've ever read. They seem to be fantasy, set in a huge crumbling castle and involving a huge, crumbling aristocratic family. But unlike most fantasy, there's no quest -- no saving the princess, no strange journey, not much of a plot to speak of.
It's less reading than pure immersion -- you sink into this castle and its characters, follow them about their daily lives, get to know them and the castle. Peake's prose is intensely visual; he's an eloquent tour guide, pointing out the strange sights and marvels around every corner.
There is a plot, of course, but it moves slowly across the two books, detailing a scheming kitchen boy's rise to power in the decaying monarchy. As I said before, the plot's not the point -- the characters, the atmosphere, the *experience* are what will keep you reading. I've never lived in a book like I did with these.
Unfortunately, the last (and shortest) of the trilogy takes a different tack with much less success. "Titus Alone" follows the heir to the Gormenghast throne as he leaves the castle and ventures into the world. Peake makes two major mistakes: he leaves behind the castle, which is the main character in the previous books, and he focuses on the picaresque plot instead of Titus' character. A little science fiction also creeps in, and seems wildly out of place. "Titus Alone" is just a series of sometimes amusing scenes. They don't develop Titus' character or introduce us to any memorable people -- a stark contrast to the first two novels, which are full of strange and wondrous folk.
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109 of 118 people found the following review helpful By Carl Miffleton on January 14, 2000
Format: Paperback
"Titus Groan" by Mervyn Peake is among the greatest works rendered in the English language. It is a work of fantasy, yet resembles nothing that came before it or since. Although this masterpiece is acknowledged by critics and a coterie of obsessed readers (such as myself), it is, sadly, almost unknown in the United States. It is,perhaps, too British or too eccentric. Gormenghast is an ancient castle, about the size of a city, which, as far as we know, is the only thing on the planet. Having no known point of reference to the world we know gives the novel its characteristic unreality-- its surreal atmosphere. The characters are uniformly grotesque: the taciturn, cadaver-like Mr. Flay, the vulgar and grossly obese Swelter, the slightly deformed yet brilliant villain Steerpike. Titus is the heir to Gormenghast-- the seventy-seventh earl of Groan-- and this is his story (although the first book of three ends with the hero only two years old). The focus is on the visual descriptions, and the world of Gormenghast is vividly shown through Peake's breathtaking command of the language. Peake was a graphic artist by profession and his skill with paint and pencil somehow translates into images that resonate in the reader's mind long after he or she has finished reading. Ultimately, it is impossible to shake the experience of visiting Peake's imaginary world. I read this book for the first time at age 17 (I'm now 42) and have been haunted by it since. Gormenghast is like a nightmare world and no sane person would ever want to live there; yet, how strangely beautiful and compelling it is! Gormenghast draws one back to it time and time again. It is what I call "the lure of Gormenghast.Read more ›
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66 of 71 people found the following review helpful By Christopher Grant on December 14, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I postponed buying this new hardcover illustrated edition of the Gormenghast Trilogy for several weeks, hoping that someone would post an Amazon review describing it physically, or that Amazon would allow us to look inside it, or that the publisher would be a little more descriptive on its website, but no one came through, so I took the plunge and bought it anyway, and I just unwrapped it. Here's a review telling you what I had hoped someone else would tell me:

1) The binding is (wine and white) paper over board.

2) Signatures are clearly visible, but I can't see any stitching.

3) In a few spots in my copy, the binding appears to be on the verge of breaking. I will be surprised if it survives unbroken through one reading. It's hard to glue together a book this thick and have it hold, I think.

4) The printing is crisp and clear, and the paper is acceptable: Probably a little below what you'd expect from Everyman's or the Library of America, but above the quality of the current Penguin's hardcover classics, for example. It's clearly superior to what's in Overlook's paperback edition.

5) The artwork is fairly sparse and idiosyncratic, but it's by the author, so what can you say?

I'm glad I went ahead and bought this edition.
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49 of 54 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 7, 1997
Format: Paperback
For sheer, sustained, imaginative power; an unfailing attention to character detail (Dickens' caricatures had none of this realism); a brooding, dark humour that goes deeper
than any other work I can think of against a backdrop of unimaginably stifling rigidity and routine, Gormenghast has not been bettered by anyone in any genre. Full-stop.
Titus Groan acts almost as an appetizer for the grandeur of the second in the trilogy. The immensity of the crumbling castle, it's labyrinthine corridors, rooms and even roofs is conveyed by Mervyn Peake with such believability that it's image never leaves you,
even years after it's read. Yet it is the goings-on within it's grey walls that leave the greatest impression. I can still see the scheming Steerpike, the sour Fuschia, Swelter the cook, the Prunesquallors and Titus 77th Earl of Groan as clearly as if I'd just met them.
One can almost feel the stifling grip the castle holds over Titus as he struggles to break free of the asphyxiating tradition of his home. To even try to convey what this trilogy is about would be
trite and pointless. The odd world of Gormenghast has to be experienced. Read them and be changed.
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