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Gormenghast (1950)

by Mervyn Peake

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Gormenghast (2)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
2,491445,143 (4.28)1 / 362
Titus Groan is seven years old. Lord and heir to the crumbling castle Gormenghast. Gothic labyrinth of roofs and turrets, cloisters and corridors, stairwells and dungeons, it is also the cobwebbed kingdom of Byzantine government and age-old rituals, a world primed to implode beneath the weight of centuries of intrigue, treachery, and death. Steerpike, who began his climb across the roofs when Titus was born, is now ascending the spiral stairacse to the heart of the castle, and in his wake lie imprisonment, manipulation, and murder. Gormenghast is the second volume in Mervyn Peake's widely acclaimed trilogy, but it is much more than a sequel to Titus Groan--it is an enrichment and deepening of that book. And back in single volumes for the first time in years, a new generation of fantasy fans will grow to love this tour de force that ranks as one of the twentieth century's most remarkable feats of imaginative writing.… (more)
Recently added byflashcurd, private library, locky_grant, manmtn, RemyMarathe1, kiwimac, GrettelTBR, saltmanz
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» See also 362 mentions

English (40)  Italian (2)  French (1)  All languages (43)
Showing 1-5 of 40 (next | show all)
Well i think the best word to describe this... at least the first 3/4s... is fragmentary. The author does a great job reintroducing everyone and recapping the first book. I mostly remember the plot of the Titus Groan but had forgotten Peakes' beautiful style.
However it does feel like there are too many time gaps between chapters and almost seems unfinished in places. I know it takes place over a much greater time period than the first book but its not the large time movements which are the problem, but rather the small incident to incident transitions. The last quarter however is much more solid than the rest.

The characters and scenes are so vivid and memorable, i would say its a lot funnier than the first book but the humour is almost entirely concentrated on the Professors and doesn't really spread elsewhere, which again adds to the fragmentary nature of the tale.

I'm now convinced that the Professors had a big influence on the Terry Pratchetts unseen university. Also speaking of influence at one point the red haired countess is described as having a head which seems too big for her body, and i suddenly realised that gormenghast had been heavily plundered by Tim Burton for his version of Alice in Wonderland.
The big headed queen of hearts, the really lanky guy, the bizarre mannerisms of the queen of diamonds, the twin sisters at the start... all gormenghast.

Anyway overall still really good, not a single character i don't like, looking forward to the finale and considering buying a copy.

Final note, the copy i borrowed was illustrated by Peake himself which sounds great, but there are very few drawings and those are really sketchy and incomplete, if getting an illustrated copy i'm definitely going to go for a proper illustrator, this version just isn't that good. ( )
  wreade1872 | Nov 28, 2021 |
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. ( )
1 vote 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. ( )
1 vote Eggpants | Jun 25, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 40 (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 (64 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
Reichlin, SaulNarratorsecondary 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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Titus Groan is seven years old. Lord and heir to the crumbling castle Gormenghast. Gothic labyrinth of roofs and turrets, cloisters and corridors, stairwells and dungeons, it is also the cobwebbed kingdom of Byzantine government and age-old rituals, a world primed to implode beneath the weight of centuries of intrigue, treachery, and death. Steerpike, who began his climb across the roofs when Titus was born, is now ascending the spiral stairacse to the heart of the castle, and in his wake lie imprisonment, manipulation, and murder. Gormenghast is the second volume in Mervyn Peake's widely acclaimed trilogy, but it is much more than a sequel to Titus Groan--it is an enrichment and deepening of that book. And back in single volumes for the first time in years, a new generation of fantasy fans will grow to love this tour de force that ranks as one of the twentieth century's most remarkable feats of imaginative writing.

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