Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Gormenghast (Gormenghast 2)” as Want to Read:
Gormenghast (Gormenghast 2)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Gormenghast (Gormenghast #2)

3.99  ·  Rating Details ·  9,050 Ratings  ·  287 Reviews
Titus Groan is seven years old. Lord and heir to the crumbling castle Gormenghast. A 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 ...more
Mass Market, 511 pages
Published March 26th 1972 by Penguin Books Ltd (first published 1950)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Gormenghast, please sign up.

Popular Answered Questions

Catsmeat It depends on your reading level and if you enjoy relatively dark stories. I would compare Peake's writing level to Dickens in wordiness and the story…moreIt depends on your reading level and if you enjoy relatively dark stories. I would compare Peake's writing level to Dickens in wordiness and the story is a bit dark in that most characters are not people you would want to live with. Fantastic book, though, highly recommended!(less)
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Bill  Kerwin
Sep 07, 2016 Bill Kerwin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, gothic

I like Titus Groan very much, but I like Gormenghast more.

The visual set pieces are equally vivid, but the style seems less labored, more fluid--less like cubist painting and more like a movie photographed by a cinematographer with a unique and eccentric palette. At first I thought this was principally due to Peake's maturing style--and I still believe that this is an important factor--but I have also come to understand that the growing ease in style, the flow of the narrative, has changed beca
J.G. Keely
The Gormenghast books are considered to be the beginning of the 'mannerpunk' genre, and along with Tolkien, Moorecock, and Howard, Peake is one of the fathers of the modern Fantasy genre. Mannerpunk is a genre typified by complex psychology, plots driven by character interaction, and a strong sense of mood.

It is also notable for the characters rather than the world being fantastical. In this sense, mannerpunk, and certainly the Gormenghast books, work in the vein of surrealism (meaning not 'unr
The sequel to the wonderful Titus Groan. At his christening, Titus, heir to the earldom of Gormenghast (accidentally) ripped the ancient book of ritual and at his earling (aged 2) he blasphemed again by removing sacred objects and casting them into the lake. That congenital rebellion comes to fruition in this book.

It starts by summarising the ghostly demise of key characters from the first book and the mark they have left on Titus. Then it does a similar update of key characters who are still al
Paul Bryant
May 17, 2013 Paul Bryant rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
(Vaguely spoilerish remarks follow).

Stripped to the bone, Titus Groan and Gormenghast tell a simple story of pre-socialist revolution and why it will inevitably fail. Steerpike, the ostensible villain, the agent of historical transition, is the working class boy from the kitchens who fails to achieve full political consciousness, seeks no solidarity from his co-workers, and decides to infiltrate the system from within, working alone. The toadying middle-classes (Prunesquallor and his sister, al
Sep 11, 2013 midnightfaerie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
An excellent second book in a horrifically creepy trilogy. As the second book in the trilogy, Gormenghast doesn't disappoint with even more eccentric characters and mounting tension with our evil villain, Steerpike. Gormenghast feels as if it's still a part of the first book, it flows so well. In fact, by the way it ended, I almost could have seen the story ending there, and so I'm somewhat perplexed as to how the third book is going to go. For me, the main character out of the myriad of charact ...more
Dec 28, 2012 Kyle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
With Titus Groan, Peake awakened me to what is possible when writing pen and brilliant mind are in perfect harmony. He created a tapestry of humanity and community uniquely compendious, woven together with threads of absolutely breathtaking writing. Yet for all its magnificence, it's purpose was still largely to set the foundation for the second book, Gormenghast.

And such a second book it is. Gormenghast is Peake unleashed. In its pages he manages to pry humanity open, examine and play with all
Jan 17, 2016 fromcouchtomoon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Titus Groan is born into innocence and privilege, then loses it through resentment, suffering, loss, and disillusionment, all within the walls of Gormenghast. Is Gormenghast home or hell? Is it sacred or evil? And is his foster sister a magical dragon-bird-thing?

"And now began the threading of a maze so labyrinthine as to suggest that the builders of the sunless walls had been ordered to construct a maze for no other purpose than to torture the mind and freeze the memory."

" was only fear th
Jan 02, 2016 S. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Such drama and pageantry and characters. Peake writes so well. I wouldn't say it's a perfect book, but if you want excellent writing and vivid expression, colourful characters, settings and a plot with tension, I recommend this highly.
So lucky to have learned of this book on GoodReads. Thank you to my well-read friends.
Aug 22, 2016 Rory rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, in-omnibus

Titus Groan was one of the very best books I've ever read. It had a fantastic setting, captivating characters, and, most importantly, outstanding prose. It's sequel, Gormenghast, has all of these, and one more thing as well: a plot.
Whereas the plot of Titus Groan seemed to take a backseat to the other aspects of the book (not that I minded, I was lost in Peake's wonderful writing), the story in Gormenghast is driven forwards by Steerpike's continued machinations and becomes exciting to rea
Jul 27, 2015 Metaphorosis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed, 2013-rev
I think I'd only read Gormenghast (the book) once before, maybe twice, whereas I've read the first book, Titus Groan, multiple times. Unsurprisingly, I didn't remember this second book nearly as well as I did the first.

The second book is also simply not as strong a book as the first. Titus Groan is chock full of dark images and heavy symbolism seen through an obscuring cloud of gloom. In Gormenghast, in contrast, Peake literally comes straight out and tells the reader what the symbols are. This
Jun 18, 2012 Leah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
An extremely curious experience.

I had no idea what to expect, except that I was expecting a lot. This book is often mentioned in the same breath as that father of modern epic fantasy, The Lord of the Rings, and spoken of in hushed, reverent tones as a fantasy classic. I've put it on my fantasy shelf for want of a better place, but there is little of what you generally associate with that genre here. In fact, but for the immense size and vast proportions of Gormenghast, this story could be histor

(Update: After reading this book last year, I chose to give it 4 stars, my argument being that I was detracting one star for the slow pacing. Then at the beginning of 2010, I determined that Gormenghast was #2 on my "10 Goodest Reads From 2009" list. (China Mieville's The Scar came in #1.) So, umm, I'm retroactively giving this'n five stars, because I was clearly on crack when I didn't give it 5 before. Below is the review of the book, which hasn't been changed.)

At Gormenghast castle--a castle
Danie Ware
I know it's a classic, I know it's groundbreaking and a phenomenal creative achievement. I know his vision was superb, his plotting exact, his characters supremely well-observed - sympathetic and horrifying and humorous in equal measures, making the storyline more complex than a simple tale of betrayal and vengeance (inhale). I know his prose is spectacular...

...but bloody hellfire does there have to be so MUCH of it?

Dear Gods. I did get to the end this time (it's previously defeated me on a cou
Bronislava Sencakova
Pre mňa ešte lepší diel než prvý. Zaoberá sa udalosťami na Gormenghaste v čase Titovho dospievania (7 až cca. 19 rokov), pričom prvý diel opisoval prvé dva roky jeho života.

Príbeh je taký stredoveko-civilný a leží na hranici medzi realitou a fantáziou. Keby nemal arcizloduch Koncíř červené oči, tak pôsobí ako úplne bežný politik :) Lesné epizódy a celá línia s Tamtou mi atmosférou trochu pripomínali moju obľúbenú mytágovskú sériu.

Peake bol nielen spisovateľ, ale hlavne ilustrátor a v opisoch ľud
Jul 03, 2015 Sumant rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The best word to describe this book is rebellious. This the main theme of the book. Although a lot happens in last 100 pages of the book, but the first 400 pages are definitely a drag.

Some of the strong points of the book are

1.Getrude comes out of her slumber.
2.Titus rebellion is intriguing to read.
3.Steerpike climb through castle hierarchy.

Some of the weak points of the book are

1.Fuchsia is still a enigma.
2.Peake just keeps beating around the bush.

Let me expand on the above points

1.Getrude come
The Literary Chick
The Gormenghast Trilogy is amazing. I don't know whether it's because it was written by an artist, but it is without a doubt the most painterly novel I've ever read. Peake's use of language incredibly beautiful and visual. Steerpike becomes so malignantly evil in the book, at some points I could only read short bits at a time. And the operative word is "becomes". Peake draws Steerpike not merely as a one dimensional character, but allows you to see his mental and physical disintegration over tim ...more
Sep 12, 2013 Antonis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Gormenghast by Mervyn Peake is a unique book. It is an incomparable masterpiece by one of the most amazing and interesting authors I have ever had the chance to read. And I say “amazing” with the true meaning of the word as this is a book that will amaze you constantly while reading it. See, Peake’s writing is not like anything one might have read. I’m can safely say that Peake must have been a very bold and perceptive man. He sees things that are obvious but always stay out of sight, he explore ...more
William Herschel
Jun 03, 2010 William Herschel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to William Herschel by: 1001 books
If I could afford to judge people by their opinion of a book this one just might be it.

This was 10x better than Titus Groan. Or perhaps I was simply more adapted to the setting and writing style this time around. But this definitely had a better balance of description, characters, action, grimness, humour...

The first two books of the Gormenghast trilogy center around a vast castle governed by monarchy and strange, symbolic rituals (rituals in which even the inhabitants are unaware of the symboli
The Usual
Sep 16, 2016 The Usual rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Five stars; nine stars; a galaxy, a firmament, a jewelled vault of heaven! Take all the stars, oh noble writer, for I think I am in love!

Too much? Well, OK, but I’m just a little drunk on this book.

The fact is that I had forgotten quite how good Gormenghast is. I had forgotten (but how?) how much there is to laugh at in the comic sections, and how deep a contrast there is with the more dramatic parts…
And this is perhaps the thing. In some ways Gormenghast is a cruder experience than Titus Gro
Jan 18, 2010 g rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Moody, murky Gormenghast, with your echoing corridors and vivid inhabitants: you have haunted and taunted me for three (four?) years now. Forgive me if I strut and crow for a time over your at-long-last vanquished pages! I don't doubt but I shall succumb to your melancholy siren song again in years to come. Know that you have a fervent admirer in me, however erratic my attendance.
Oct 07, 2016 Campbell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was, not to put too fine a point on it, bloody marvellous. Within its overall marveltudinosity there was a passage of such sublime wonderment that, I think, it may just be my favourite passage ever. I was going to link to it but, I feel, you deserve to receive it in its entire resplendence here.

Indulge me, won't you, for it's rather a lengthy piece but it's for your own benefit and general betterment. Here it is, in full.


And the days move on and the names of the months change and the f
Aug 29, 2009 Rebecca rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Forensically described shadows.

Jun 09, 2010 Yngvild rated it it was amazing
Shelves: gothic
Gormenghast is the second of Mervyn Peake’s Titus Groan trilogy and by far the best. Where Titus Groan (#I) is quirkily clever but rather erratic, Gormenghast (#2) is beautifully written, has a real narrative, and finishes with several chapters of cliff-hanging suspense and a satisfying ending.

The pity is that Gormenghast is not a standalone book. All the characters are introduced in Titus Groan. If you begin the Titus Groan books with Gormenghast, it is just like starting a book in the middle.
T.J. Radcliffe

My initial thought is that Tim Burton should've made a movie out of this. A quick check of IMDB turns up this production instead, which looks brilliant:

Gormenghast isn't so much horror--although if you mediate for a few minutes on the lives these people are trapped in you'll find plenty of that--as it is a grotesque, the literary equivalent of an old-style circus freak-show, which it's characters all pushed to the far extremes of caricature. Peake manages for
Lauren O'Farrell
Gormenghast and Titus Groan are two of my favourite books in the world. To read them is to lose yourself in the dusty, crumbling and moss-grown shadows of a magnificently decaying grand world.
Mr Peake creates an aging castle so real you almost feel like blowing the dust from the pages before you read them.
The characters, with names that wrinkle the nose, furrow the brow or make you raise your chin when you say them out loud, are freakish, bizarre and eccentric but oddly lovable. Every voice i
Hone Haapu
Oct 15, 2016 Hone Haapu rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-fav-fantasy
Thank you Mr Peake for a rollicking good read. I can in good conscious upgrade your book 1, score of 3 stars to 5 for the second installment. I will even go as far as creating a "my-fav-fantasy" shelf especially for this book.

I found Titus Groan (the first book) to be very tedious and slow going at times, but I was able to adjust my pallette for this second book. I was rewarded for my patience by a very swift moving narrative in the opening chapters and then some edge of your seat tension in th
Kyle Muntz
Well this was surprising. I was a big fan of Titus Groan, the first of Mervyn Peake's Gormengast novels, but I really disliked this one. The prose is the first problem, but not the only one. I enjoyed the baroque maximalism of the first novel, but there it was much more rooted in scene and the characters' interiority; this time around, something like half of the space on every page is dedicated to extended descriptions of landscapes and places (as well, in general, to detail which is excruciatin ...more
Kobe Bryant
Apr 06, 2016 Kobe Bryant rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was rooting for Steerpike the whole time, especially when he started killing random people to satisfy his lust for murder
Jul 18, 2015 Kaycie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1001_read
I've never before experience such a disconnect between writing an a story. Peake's writing is absolutely incredible. Probably some of the best I've ever read...truly an artist.

The story though? I feel like I am reading a cartoon. Maybe its supposed to be like that, but its pretty serious for a cartoon. I don't know what it is, but I can't take these stories seriously, even though they are fairly serious and it seems like I am supposed to. People are being murdered and I'm chuckling at the really
The Gormenghast trilogy is in my all time favourites list. The writing is incredible. I read the three books straight through as one. The second, Gormenghast is the best. After this Gothic Fantasy, anything I read seemed flat and boring for a while.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
  • The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists
  • Gloriana
  • The High Place
  • Vicky Angel
  • Lud-in-the-Mist
  • Viriconium
  • The King of Elfland's Daughter
  • The Worm Ouroboros
  • A Vingança do Assassino (A Saga do Assassino #4)
  • Novelties and Souvenirs: Collected Short Fiction
  • The Swords of Lankhmar (Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, #5)
  • The Well of the Unicorn
  • Complete Ghost Stories
  • The Unlimited Dream Company
  • Latro in the Mist
  • The Crock of Gold (Revised Edtion)
  • The Eyes of the Overworld (The Dying Earth, #2)
  • O Cavaleiro de Westeros & Outras Histórias
Mervyn Laurence Peake was an English modernist writer, artist, poet and illustrator. He is best known for what are usually referred to as the Gormenghast books, though the Titus books would be more accurate: the three works that exist were the beginning of what Peake conceived as a lengthy cycle, following his protagonist Titus Groan from cradle to grave, but Peake's untimely death prevented compl ...more
More about Mervyn Peake...

Other Books in the Series

Gormenghast (5 books)
  • Titus Groan (Gormenghast, #1)
  • Boy in Darkness
  • Titus Alone (Gormenghast, #3)
  • Titus Awakes: The Lost Book of Gormenghast (Gormenghast, #4)

Share This Book

“He is climbing the spiral staircase of the soul of Gormenghast, bound for some pinnacle of the itching fancy - some wild, invulnerable eyrie best known to himself; where he can watch the world spread out below him, and shake exultantly his clotted wings.” 11 likes
“She had shown him by her independence how it was only fear that held people together. The fear of being alone and the fear of being different.” 11 likes
More quotes…