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The Gormenghast Novels (original 1967; edition 1995)
by Mervyn Peake
Best Fantasy Novels (33)
Best of Brit Lit (79)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0879516283, Paperback)Mervyn Peake's gothic masterpiece, the Gormenghast trilogy, begins with the superlative Titus Groan, a darkly humorous, stunningly complex tale of the first two years in the life of the heir to an ancient, rambling castle. The trilogy continues with the novels Gormenghast and Titus Alone, and all three books are bound together in this single-volume edition.
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
(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:24:36 -0400)
"Enter the world of Gormenghast: a vast, crumbling castle of labyrinthine corridors and cloisters, turrets and dungeons. At the center is the seventy-seventh Earl, Titus Groan, Lord and heir to all. Titus is expected to rule this extraordinary kingdom and his eccentric and wayward subjects, but he longs for a life beyond the castle walls. With the arrival of an ambitious kitchen boy, Steerpike, the established order is thrown into disarray. Things are changing and Titus must contend with a kingdom about to implode beneath the weight of centuries of intrigue, treachery, manipulation, and murder."--Dust jacket.
(summary from another edition)
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