Titus Groan, Paperback
3.5 out of 5 (2 ratings)


As the first novel opens, Titus, heir to Lord Sepulchrave, has just been born, he stands to inherit the miles of rambling stone and mortar that stand for Gormenghast Castle.

Inside, all events are predetermined by a complex ritual, lost in history, understood only by Sourdust, Lord of the Library.

There are tears and strange laughter; fierce births and deaths beneath umbrageous ceilings; dreams and violence and disenchantment contained within a labyrinth of stone.




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Showing 1 - 2 of 2 reviews.

Review by

The birth of a son to the house of Groan is a momentous event for Gormenghast, but from that day on things start to go badly wrong. Apparently Mervyn Peake based Gormenghast on the palaces of Chinese nobles, and I can see similarities (with "The Story of the Stone" for example). Gormenghast is an enclosed world, ruled by tradition and ritual but it is strangely isolated; there are no visitors and no castle guard is ever mentioned so presumably it has no enemies. The writing is very descriptive; you can see in your mind's eye exactly what everything looks like, but it does slow your reading down. and I found it quite heavy-going.

Review by
Gormenghast - actually a trilogy - is one of those stories that I have heard about but never wanted to try, until Susanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange novel gave me the taste for 'fantastical' (what I would consider not strictly 'fantasy') and Sebastian Faulks discussed the trilogy in his Faulks on Fiction essays. So I downloaded the first in the set, and gave Steerpike and the others a try.For the first half of the novel, I was enchanted, both with Peake's word building and world building. The characters are wonderfully eccentric - my favourites being Flay the butler and the Countess ('I would like to see the boy when he is six') - and the setting of Gormenghast Castle is staggering in its detail. But then, right around the point of uppity kitchen boy Steerpike's great scheme to destroy the old regime, something changed, perhaps in the style - and I lost interest. Getting through the rest was a struggle. Peake's Dickensian language turned purple, and the characters, especially Fuchsia the miserable daughter, had a sort of personality transplant. I'm sure that, after a break, I will go onto read the other two novels in the trilogy, but I can't say I enjoyed Titus Groan.

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