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Gormenghast (Gormenghast #2)

really liked it 4.0  ·  Rating Details ·  9,545 Ratings  ·  323 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 Paperback, 0 pages
Published June 12th 1978 by Ballantine Books (first published 1950)
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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)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Bill  Kerwin
May 04, 2012 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
The sequel to the wonderful Titus Groan (which I reviewed HERE). 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.

Peake's illustration of Irma Prunesquallor

The Dead

It starts by summarising the ghostly demise of key characters from the first book and the mark they have left
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
Nov 07, 2016 Brad rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, 2016-shelf
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 tr
Paul Bryant
Sep 27, 2007 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
Olivier Delaye
Feb 10, 2017 Olivier Delaye rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have a problem. I gave 5 stars to Titus Groan, book 1 in the Gormenghast trilogy, but I find the sequel to be even better. So,
hey Goodreads, if you guys could kindly change the rating system, I would very much like to give Gormenghast, book 2 in the Gormenghast trilogy, six or perhaps even seven stars. I'm just kidding... except that I'm not. This book was simply and utterly amazing. It is exactly what Titus Groan is, but on steroids! So if you're interested, go check my review of Titus Groan
Apr 18, 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
Nov 19, 2016 Amanda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This trilogy is amazing and this second book does not disappoint. Again I had a bit of trouble getting into it but once I did I absolutely couldn't put it down. We met a bunch of new characters in this one and some of them provided some much needed levity to a pretty creepy, bleak story. I think my favorite scene was the "party" I don't think I'll ever think about a hot water bottle quite the same. Watching Titus work through his "rebellion" was interesting too. I originally thought he was going ...more
Megan Baxter
Dec 06, 2011 Megan Baxter rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
How to rate this one? Three stars or four? Well, I'm unlikely to read this again, so I guess three. Or am I? Maybe I'll try it again some day. Four?

Note: The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement. You can read why I came to this decision here.

In the meantime, you can read the entire review at Smorgasbook
Dec 15, 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 02, 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
Aug 27, 2015 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.
Oh man, just as dark, exciting and heartbreaking as the first book. Those last 100 pages were a roller coaster of emotions.
Stevie Kincade
A kind of lull had settled upon the castle. It was not that events were lacking, but that even those of major importance had about them a sense of unreality. It was as though some strange wheel of destiny had brought the earth its pre-ordained lacuna

I reviewed Titus Groan earlier today and my main bone of contention is that "Gormenghast", the 2nd book should really be called "Titus Groan" and the first book should be called "Gormenghast". Titus is only an infant in "Titus Groan" but in "Gormengh
Jun 12, 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
Jul 09, 2013 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
Jul 05, 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
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
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
May 17, 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
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 16, 2011 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
Oct 07, 2016 Campbell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
March 2017 Edit: re-read for a book-club. Still astonishing.

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.


William Herschel
May 09, 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
Jun 22, 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
Aug 05, 2009 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.
Vit Babenco
Apr 10, 2013 Vit Babenco rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Generally speaking Gormenghast is about the nature of rebellion - when decayed traditions turn into a garrotte and become the personification of evil they must be annihilated.
Aug 22, 2009 Rebecca rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Forensically described shadows.

Jun 04, 2010 Yngvild rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
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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 (4 books)
  • Titus Groan (Gormenghast, #1)
  • Titus Alone (Gormenghast, #3)
  • Titus Awakes: The Lost Book of Gormenghast (Gormenghast, #4)

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“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
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