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Titus Alone (Gormenghast #3)

3.44  ·  Rating Details  ·  3,087 Ratings  ·  156 Reviews
In this final part of the trilogy, we follow Titus, now almost twenty, as he escapes from the Castle, flees its oppressive Ritual, and becomes lost in a sandstorm. Helped by the owner of a travelling zoo, Muzzlehatch, and his ex-lover Juno, Titus ends up stranded in a big, bustling city. No one there having heard of Gormenghast, the general consensus is that the boy is der ...more
Paperback, 252 pages
Published February 5th 1998 by Vintage Books (first published 1959)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Kyle
Mar 06, 2013 Kyle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
-I'm going to just come right out and say it:

Mervyn Peake is the greatest writer of the English language the world has ever known. There. I said it, and I can't take it back. It's out there now, floating on the interwebs, for the world to disagree with. But at this point, I don't care if the world disagrees with me; I'm tuning the naysayers out with my rightness. Obviously I haven't read every writer of the English language, so there is the possibility that I'm wrong; but, even if I am wrong, I
...more
Bill  Kerwin
Jan 10, 2016 Bill Kerwin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy

"Titus Alone" has the charms and eccentricities, the verbal and visual beauties of its two formidable predecessors, but it is only about half as long as they are, with extremely short chapters, and it lacks their concentrated richness, their depth and perspective.

Is it a radical departure, a sleeker, more streamlined work, its short chapters and overall length appropriate to its more modern setting? Or is it a diseased creation, the production of an artistically disappointed man who had suffere
...more
J.G. Keely
Mervyn Peake was, by all accounts, a powerful presence, an electric character, and a singular creative force. While Tolkien's poetry is the part everyone skips, Peake's invigorates his books. His voice and tone are unique in the English language, and his characterization is delightfully, grotesquely vivid. As an illustrator, he was perhaps somewhat less precise than Dore, but more evocative than Beardsley.

His life and his vision were singular, from his birth in China to his years on the channel
...more
Cecily
Titus Groan and Gormenghast are two of my ten favourite books (reviewed on my Favourites shelf), but despite some wonderful language, I cannot love this one, intriguing as it is. China Miéville argued (in a lecture at the British Library 11th June 2011) that this volume recasts the previous two and because I had just finished reading Maeve Gilmore's Titus Awakes, I was able to see his point.

In this, Titus, seventy-seventh earl of Gormenghast is 22 and wandering unknown lands. He is invariably be
...more
Paul Bryant
Sep 11, 2011 Paul Bryant rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
Mervyn Peake was the Buddy Holly of literature - there was absolutely no doubt that he would have written a great third volume of the Gormenghast saga, but he fell victim to early onset dementia, and all we have are the scraps of notes from this last unhappy period; just as we know full well that the void between 1960 and the rise of the Beatles in 63 would have been filled magnificently by Buddy Holly, whose musical imagination had already at age 22 impressed all with his huge potential. But we ...more
fromcouchtomoon
Jan 24, 2016 fromcouchtomoon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Like a child's toy viewfinder, the short chapters glimpse into a different kind of reality, away from Gormenghast, where kings and dungeons exist alongside skyscrapers and sports stadiums. Gormenghast doesn't seem so weird anymore. And is that a drone Peake is imagining in 1959?

The vast difference in quality between Gormenghast and Titus Alone is due to Peake's battle with dementia toward the end of his life. It's a sad impact to the quality of his work, but an excellent study in the difference
...more
Jordan West
Feb 27, 2015 Jordan West rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well, it has only taken me fourteen years, but I have finished the trilogy at last; I read the first volume back in 2001 as a high school sophomore, and enjoyed it, but at the time I was being carried along by a seemingly endless wave of writers to discover and rediscover that I didn't fully appreciate it at the time. However, better late than never, and while, as others have noted, Peake's illness left this feeling rather like a condensed version of a larger book (and as much as I miss my favor ...more
Metaphorosis
Titus Groan (the first book) is always the one that has stuck in my mind. I recall that on seeing the BBC DVD (based on books I and II), I was surprised by some of what it contained, and only on my recent re-read of Gormenghast (the second book) did its contents slowly come back to me. I was unable to recall any of Titus Alone, and I now think it was for the simple reason that I never actually got around to it (though I thought I had read the entire trilogy).

It's also possible that I just don't
...more
midnightfaerie
Dec 10, 2013 midnightfaerie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
"I am tired of your words," said Titus.
"I use them as a kind of lattice-work," said Muzzlehatch. "They hide me away from me...let alone from you. Words can be tiresome as a swarm of insects. They can prick and buzz! Words can be no more than a series of farts; or on the other hand they can be adamantine, obdurate, inviolable, stone upon stone. Rather like your 'so-called Gormenghast' (you notice that I use the same phrase again. The phrase that makes you cross?) For although you have learned, it
...more
Michael
Although the three Gormenghast novels are now thought of as a trilogy, I wonder how appropriate this designation is. Peake's intention with the series was to tell the entire life story of the character Titus Groan, and he was working on the fourth book in this series at the time of his death. He planned to write five volumes in the series, the fourth and fifth being "Titus Awakens" and "Gormenghast Revisited." Clearly Peake didn't think of this book as the conclusion to a trilogy, but a middle-s ...more
Wyatt Spear
Apr 23, 2015 Wyatt Spear rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book achieves the rare feat of making the other books in the series feel worse on reflection. Titus, it turns out, is an utterly unlikable pill of a human being who, despite his lack of redeeming qualities and a general attitude of entitled unpleasantness, finds a number of people more than willing to risk life, limb and livelihood to befriend, love and help him for no discernible reason. These encounters are monotonous in their unbelievable convenience for our despicable protagonist. Such ...more
Yngvild
Jun 10, 2010 Yngvild rated it liked it
Shelves: gothic
Titus Alone is an odd duck, not really one of the Gormenghast novels. Although the main character is supposed to be Titus Groan, it could be any homeless youth for most of the book. Even the writing style and chronology are wrong. Whereas the Gormenghast novels were classically gothic with gloomy castles and ragged peasants, Titus Alone involves cocktail parties and sports cars. Titus left Gormenghast in the previous volume on horseback; here he returns by aircraft.

There is also a long section
...more
William Herschel
I met this with mixed feelings and finished it with not much of a resolution in that regard. :/

This is the third book completed by Mervyn Peake, centering around the character Titus Groan, Seventy-Seventh Earl of Gormenghast. Peake was struggling with a degenerative disease and this book was apparently compiled together from various manuscripts... it shows.

First, you have Titus Groan. Throughout the first book he is but an infant, and in the second still remains rather elusive and dull compared
...more
Carlos
Jul 07, 2011 Carlos rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2011
I was already aware of the consensus that "Titus Alone" was widely considered a severe let-down after the first two Gormenghast books, so my expectations were low to begin with. However, despite the obvious shift from those earlier works, Peake's talent, his love of language, his creativity and his knack for unique characters still shine through, so that while a little tricky at first, I soon found myself enraptured in the story just as I had with the previous novels.

It is hard to leave Gormengh
...more
Ratiocination
Aug 25, 2008 Ratiocination rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Getting through this one was work. I doubt I would have finished it if I hadn't enjoyed the first two so much. Peake made some weird choices in terms of setting a Gormenghast book completely outside of Gormenghast, and giving a previously timeless series clear twentieth-century markers. Basically the only thing that carries forward from the first two is the title character, who was a small child until midway through the second book. That would be fine if the new material were interesting in its ...more
Tim
Jan 14, 2014 Tim rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
There must be people, in this takes-all-kinds world, who like "Titus Alone" better than the two Gormenghast novels that preceded it. But I can't imagine who they are. Not that the third novel is bad — it isn't; it's decent — but people who liked the first two enough to read the third are likely to be a bit stunned by what they encounter, for "Titus Alone" bears little resemblance to its predecessors.

A novel that probably should come with a warning label (and, by the way, this review is going to
...more
Greg
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.
Vit Babenco
Jan 30, 2014 Vit Babenco rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
At last Titus is at large and free to choose whatever he wishes but instead of happiness he feels himself like an uprooted tree. Titus Alone is the most psychedelic part of the trilogy.
Johan Haneveld
Mar 25, 2015 Johan Haneveld rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A different beast than the first two books of this trilogy. Not an easy read - and complicated by my tiredness of these past few days. Hard to appreciate all the beautiful descriptions when you have a hard time concentrating. What I did get from this were human characters - again: described from the outside, but because of that even more human in their uniqueness, and the complicatedness of their actions. Even the inner motivation of the story (what did happen at the factory) is not made explici ...more
Antonis
Nov 18, 2013 Antonis rated it it was amazing
5 / 5

And thus, having turned the final page of Mervyn Peake’s masterpiece, a journey is ended. A journey magical, unique, wonderful and amazing, through lands and characters and thoughts and symbolism, born on the wings of Peake’s unrivalled and incomparable prose. But what is Titus Alone and why is it so good, I hear you asking! Let me start from the beginning!
Titus Alone, by Mervyn Peake, is the final book of the Gormenghast trilogy. It is the final book not because Peake intended so (on the c
...more
Lisa (Harmonybites)
Feb 06, 2012 Lisa (Harmonybites) rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Gormenghast Completists
Recommended to Lisa (Harmonybites) by: A Reader's Guide to Fantasy: Seven-League Shelf
My first impression of Titus Groan, the first part of the Gormenghast Trilogy, was that it was a deeply weird book. I was warned that Titus Alone, the third and last part, "gets even... weirder," and I'd say that's the case, and it feels very different than the other two. The first two books establish the strange world of Gormenghast Castle, a crumbling edifice that seemed timeless and hermetically sealed, a world unto itself and one that was hard to place but seemed pre-Industrial and bound by ...more
Audrey
Jan 05, 2012 Audrey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Audrey by: Grandma
Even though I felt like a lot was missing from this story, I still gave it five stars. There's just something about Peake--again, even feeling a difference in his writing in this novel--that is so engrossing. His stories and characters, once you delve in, are almost irresistible. I missed so many of the characters from the first two books, but their presence was still felt at times, and even felt very strongly, because of Titus's longing for home and to figure out just who he is as a part of and ...more
Bryan
Oct 12, 2013 Bryan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love this trilogy, and I'll debate with anyone who says that this book is a letdown. True, it is quite different from Titus Groan and Gormenghast, but Peake was, I think, attempting to portray a different atmosphere - a different world, even - than the world of Gormenghast. The titular castle was its own creature, with its own rules, its own political system, and even its own ecology. In fleeing his former home, Titus leaves behind his former life and soon realizes that life outside of Gormeng ...more
A.E. Shaw
Mar 19, 2013 A.E. Shaw rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to A.E. by: Peggy
Shelves: 2013

I read the the first two novels in the trilogy about fifteen years ago, and liked them very much indeed, but didn't quite feel the love that I might, I suspect, if I read them now. Which I will. The greyness and misery and unpleasantry of them was its own kind of joy, but not something I fell for. So I read this novel in isolation now, knowing that it's a different beast to its predecessors, and, whilst in part I suspect some of my love comes from the fact that every time one comes back to readi
...more
Jim
Mar 08, 2011 Jim rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, my-book, re-read
This is my least favorite of the three Titus books. Although the prose is similar, the story is just not the same. Where the other two books are set in the forbidding setting of Gormenghast, Titus Alone seems disconnected, which is maybe what the author was intending, but the story seems as though it takes place nowhere, it is not grounded and has a very ethereal quality.

As always, Peake comes up with the cleverest names ever. Mundane articles turn into people and take on those characteristics.
...more
Kobe Bryant
Too weird and I don't need all the girls to fall madly in love with Titus
Tim
Dec 22, 2014 Tim rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf, spooky-creepy
Alas, the saga begins to sag. In the last book of the trilogy, Peake seems to be running out of inspiration to some degree, although there are still many interesting moments and examples of his impressive descriptive skills. In this, young Titus has abandoned his home and fled to a land beyond the borders of Gormenghast. However this country (or community, or whatever you want to call it) is not nearly so well defined as Gormenghast was. There is virtually no explanation of the organization and ...more
Lizzie
This is what I think I'd call an "accomplishment read." On its own, Titus Alone doesn't work at all. I read it, though, as a completist, so that I could know about it for myself. However, the book's fate is made even sadder by the fact this third book in the Gormenghast trilogy doesn't work as part of its series, either.

This is pretty well-covered knowledge: Book One and Book Two take place in the same setting, with the same rules and people and purpose. At the end of Book Two, our hero Titus ta
...more
Ezra
Apr 13, 2016 Ezra rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Every great book is a journey; an exploration of ideas, the mind, and the human soul. now, while the reader and the author are both wandering in the desert, the reader doesn't have a choice but to search for answers- he must be only a traveler. the author, however, can be a mentor, a guide who had wandered down the road already, and presents his companion with answers to their mutual quest. a humble author may admit he doesn't have all the answers-- or maybe he just doesn't like to get preachy-- ...more
Sam Wescott
Ok, so think of what it was in the first two books that really captured your attention and love. Was it the overwhelming sense of place that made Gormenghast so rich with details? Was it the style of language that was so absurd and macabre that it made you giggle? Was it the rich, ridiculous characters, with their farcical speaking patterns and personalities? Was it the surreal plot? The richly painted setting? The cunning of the villain? Well, if any of these things were intrinsic to your enjoy ...more
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22018
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)
  • Gormenghast (Gormenghast, #2)
  • Boy in Darkness
  • Titus Awakes: The Lost Book of Gormenghast (Gormenghast, #4)

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“But there were also times when she cried out in the darkness biting her lips - cried out against the substance of her age: for it was now that she should be young; now above all other times, with the wisdom in her, the wisdom that was frittered away in her 'teens', set aside in her twenties, now, lying there, palpable and with forty summers gone. She clenched her hands together. What good was wisdom; what good was anything when the fawn is fled from the grove?” 7 likes
“The sun sank with a sob and darkness waded in from all horizons so that the sky contracted and there was no more light left in the world, when, at this very moment of annihilation, the moon, as though she had been waiting for her cue, sailed up the night.” 6 likes
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