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The Gormenghast Novels (Titus Groan / Gormenghast / Titus Alone) Paperback – December 1, 1995
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The Gormenghast royal family, the castle's decidedly eccentric staff, and the peasant artisans living around the dreary, crumbling structure make up the cast of characters in these engrossing stories. Peake's command of language and unique style set the tone and shape of an intricate, slow-moving world of ritual and stasis:
"The walls of the vast room which were streaming with calid moisture, were built with gray slabs of stone and were the personal concern of a company of eighteen men known as the 'Grey Scrubbers'.... On every day of the year from three hours before daybreak until about eleven o'clock, when the scaffolding and ladders became a hindrance to the cooks, the Grey Scrubbers fulfilled their hereditary calling."
Peake has been compared to Dickens, Tolkien, and Peacock, but the Gormenghast trilogy is truly unique. Unforgettable characters with names like Steerpike and Prunesquallor make their way through an architecturally stifling world, with lots of dark corners around to dampen any whimsy that might arise. This true classic is a feast of words unlike anything else in the world of fantasy. Those who explore Gormenghast castle will be richly rewarded. --Therese Littleton
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is one of my all time favorite books. Rather than try to explain in a few words the nature of the story, the writing style, etc I would simply suggest that you download the... Read morePublished 2 days ago by Frederick C. Wilt
I have been looking for this book for forever! I loved the first two, but was not impresses with Titus Groans although I think that was published posthumously and he was already in... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Jenny
I feel in good company 68% give it 5 stars. A book worth reading aloud.Published 3 months ago by John
OUTSTANDING. Just beautifully written, and as three dimensional as the best shakespearean play. Every character has a plot. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
Read this quite a while ago, keep it in my library and will pick up now and again just to enjoy.Published 7 months ago by Andie
I love fantasy but couldn't get beyond the first 100 pages. Boring book with no attractive characters. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Wasafan
Perhaps the most intricately drawn and mesmerizing gothic fantasy ever written, set in a Middle Ages of the mind, and left tantalizingly unfinished.Published 9 months ago by Murrayhill