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Gormenghast (1950)

by Mervyn Peake

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Gormenghast (2)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
2,369414,805 (4.29)1 / 357
A doomed lord, an emergent hero, and an array of bizarre creatures haunt the world of the Gormenghast trilogy, which reigns as one of the undisputed fantasy classics of all time. At the center of it all is Titus Groan, the seventy-seventh Earl, who stands to inherit the miles of rambling stone and mortar that form Gormenghast Castle and its kingdom. In this second volume, Titus comes of age within the walls of Gormenghast Castle and discovers various family intrigues. Having been ?exiled? to grow up with the common children until the age of fifteen, Titus has discovered secret hiding places in the castle from where he can watch and learn unobserved. Disconnected from his future responsibilities, Titus drifts back and forth between the complicated social world he will grow up to govern and a world of fantasy and daydream.… (more)
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English (39)  Italian (1)  French (1)  All languages (41)
Showing 1-5 of 39 (next | show all)
My feelings on this book run so hot and cold! And I do not have time to do thousands of pages justice in this short review, so here is a smattering of random thoughts

The good:

There are shining bits of artist's prose that stay with you forever. The flight of herons, the forgotten halls under the castle, a shaft of sunlight on brickwork.

By the final fight between Titus and Steerpike, I couldn't put the book down.

There are characters I love in it. The mighty countess, fighting danger, saving Gormanghast from the flood. The kind Doctor. Fuchsia, oh Fuchsia, naive and romantic and passionate.

The bad:

If as a feminist you want to talk about how annoying it is when horrible things happen to women just because it's convenient for character growth in some male protagonist, this is an excellent book which will give you more examples than you ever really wanted.

The oscillation between the schoolroom farce and courtship of Irma and the main plot of dark murders and angst has some rapid lurches in tone.

Steerpike is clearly the Evil Villain, but also clearly the most interesting character in the book, far more so than Titus. When your reader's sympathies find themselves straying towards the youth who burns people alive and leaves elderly women starving to death you know you have a problem with likable characters. ( )
  atreic | Mar 18, 2021 |
Second book finds Titus rebelling against the castle. He finds Flay. He loses his sister. Listened to audio read by Simon Vance. Good job! Gormenghast is the name of the castle which is by its description, gothic and has a medieval feel to it. The castle is remote and surrounded by topography that protects it or holds the inhabitants from the outside world. It is surrounded by water; seas, rivers which makes it an island of stone amid water which plays a key role in the story. The impression is that Gormenghast is stagnant, insular and introspective. The inhabitants engage in pointless rituals that they have long forgotten the purpose. In the second book, Titus is a young He of 7 in the beginning of the second book and 17 at the end. Titus does not want to continue in the endless and pointless rituals. Steerpike is the other main character and is the second to Barquentine who is master of ritual. There is quite a bit murder and violence in the novel. British author, died before the completion of his series. The last book was completed by his wife. ( )
  Kristelh | Feb 1, 2021 |
A fantasy written for the complex minds of adults; what a concept!

The hormone levels in this novel are low enough to be fatal to any Sarah J Maas heroine; they'd just wither and crumble (((((((((((in an elegant, luxurious and opulent way, of course!))))))))). For some reason Peake forgot to add the token badass female character. Oddly enough, this book does not end with a group of amazing teenagers saving the world from ultimate evil.

That's right, in the past, authors were capable of writing books that weren't complete formulaic, egregious shit. Publishers actually paid professionals to edit the books for quality control and the best reading experience. Not that the publishing industry needs to worry, I stopped eating at McDonalds in 1985 and they're still in business. So continue to produce those fine, high quality McBooks to meet the demands of the masses for easy, nutrition-free, fast, fast, fast consumption!

I'll be fine. I have two shelves of books ready for me to read. Second-hand books purchased from small sellers who understand the obscure tastes of discriminating readers. I prefer to spend my big, fat, middle-aged discretionary income with those types of businesses. As a result, I get five to ten used books for the same price as a new book. The quality of the material I receive is far greater in proportion than the quantity.

Plus, I plan to re-read this book.........multiple times........because it's complex........and beautifully written..........full of bizarre and wonderful characters. I loved this book. ( )
  Equestrienne | Jan 5, 2021 |
Merciless scheming
all undone by one harsh word
dead in the water. ( )
  Eggpants | Jun 25, 2020 |
This classic fantasy still feels almost like allegory and real history wrapped around some of the most beautiful prose in literature.

Seriously. The prose is really fantastic. The names of things are both evocative and as predictive as shadows upon the wall: outlines and no substance.

The same is not true for the characters or the story itself. Titus has many mini-adventures from his childhood through his young adulthood, culminating in his ever-present desire to free himself of his home's odd traditions, the duties that will befall him, or even just the shadow of the antagonist that caused so much ruin in the first book. Titus grows up, and this novel is not just a simplified coming of age story. It's as complicated and real life, as full and ripe as all the greatest stories ever told, and it ends with great and satisfying heroism that is turned sour mainly because it only entrenches Titus in the very things he'd spent all his life trying to escape.

I feel for him. I really do.

There's so much tragedy in Gormenghast, and yet the whole land and the castle feels like a character unto itself, gloriously drawn and full of personality.

Anyone could read this without knowing anything about fantasy at all. It kinda transcends genres, turning into something closer to magical realism in traditional fiction despite the fact that it came out long before the term was even coined.

Truly, it isn't a book that should be missed if you're a fan of good literature. :) ( )
  bradleyhorner | Jun 1, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 39 (next | show all)
Reading this at the age of 13, I understood that fantasy, the place I was looking for, is not to be found in dragons, ghosts, or magic wands. It resides in language. Fantasy is death by owls. It’s mourning through gesture. It’s music, incantation in half-light. An inverted heart.

For years after reading Gormenghast, I didn’t read genre fantasy. Later, I came back to it. Now, I read eclectically and with confidence, because I know what I want.
added by elenchus | editlithub.com, Sofia Samatar (Mar 29, 2016)
 

» Add other authors (55 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Peake, Mervynprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Charpentier, AnnetteTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Harding, PeterCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lee, AlanCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ohlmarks, ÅkeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pepper, RobertCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Serrai, RobertoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Serrai, RobertoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Williams, TadIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Titus is seven. His confines, Gormenghast. Suckled on shadows; weaned, as it were, on webs of ritual: for his ears, echoes, for his eyes, a labyrinth of stone: and yet within his body something other -- other than this umbrageous legacy. For first and ever foremost he is child.
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A doomed lord, an emergent hero, and an array of bizarre creatures haunt the world of the Gormenghast trilogy, which reigns as one of the undisputed fantasy classics of all time. At the center of it all is Titus Groan, the seventy-seventh Earl, who stands to inherit the miles of rambling stone and mortar that form Gormenghast Castle and its kingdom. In this second volume, Titus comes of age within the walls of Gormenghast Castle and discovers various family intrigues. Having been ?exiled? to grow up with the common children until the age of fifteen, Titus has discovered secret hiding places in the castle from where he can watch and learn unobserved. Disconnected from his future responsibilities, Titus drifts back and forth between the complicated social world he will grow up to govern and a world of fantasy and daydream.

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