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Gormenghast

(Gormenghast #2)

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  12,015 ratings  ·  501 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
Paperback, 505 pages
Published February 5th 1998 by Vintage Classics (first published 1950)
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Paul I'd recommend starting at the beginning. 'Titus Groan' provides a good foundation towards understanding the story's characters and setting, and 'Gorme…moreI'd recommend starting at the beginning. 'Titus Groan' provides a good foundation towards understanding the story's characters and setting, and 'Gormenghast' relies a good bit on that knowledge. I also feel it takes some time to get used to Peakes' weighty style. He is not like our modern writers; He is a poet and an artist. His pages are long and deep and thick with detail. But oh is it worth it! (less)
This question contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
Eladir
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Average rating 4.03  · 
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Bill Kerwin
May 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Vit Babenco
Apr 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Gormenghast is a tale of mysteries… Gormenghast is a story of magic…
Gormenghast is written with the mysterious and magical language…
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.
A ritual, more compelling than ever man devised, is fighting anchored darkness. A ritual of
...more
Cecily
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
...more
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
...more
Bradley
Nov 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Paul Bryant
Sep 27, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Olivier Delaye
Feb 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Paul Sánchez Keighley
Well, I got myself in a good pickle rating Titus Groan 5 stars because this book is by every measurable and conceivable standard better than the first. This gets all the stars.

Gormenghast is a book you have to Set Time Aside For, and I'm genuinely afraid this will scare off modern readers, what with our diminishing attention spans and insatiable lust for instant gratification. It’s not a book you can pick up while on the intercity bus because you’d end up spending three consecutive bus rides
...more
midnightfaerie
Apr 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Olivia
Feb 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
The vivid descriptions are a treat, but mostly I enjoyed the surreal characters and the way Peake portrayed them. I chuckled many, many times.

This work is unique, and I dare say you haven't read anything like it before, and you possibly never will again.

If you liked Titus Groan you should not hesitate to read Gormenghast.

Any writer should give this a try, if only to find out: nothing is too bizarre. You can make it work. All of it. Yes, even that.

I wrote this article about the Gormenghast novels
...more
Amanda
Nov 19, 2016 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
Tim
Jul 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Wonderfully funny, brilliantly written and sometimes very exciting. Steerpike's devilry went up several notches. Finished part two and now onto part three. I've got a strong hunch JK Rowlings owes a debt to Mervyn Peake.
Kyle
Dec 15, 2012 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
...more
Megan Baxter
Dec 06, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
...more
Linda
Nov 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Oh man, just as dark, exciting and heartbreaking as the first book. Those last 100 pages were a roller coaster of emotions.
Stevie Kincade
Feb 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Danie Ware
Jan 01, 2013 rated it liked it
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
...more
Sarah
Aug 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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.
Rory
Jul 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy, in-omnibus
10/10

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
...more
fromcouchtomoon
Jan 02, 2016 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."

"...it was only fear th
...more
S
Oct 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites
Has all the good stuff - a cool setting, dense and oppressive atmosphere, eccentric characters, decent character development, humor, tragedy and excellent prose. A very unique reading experience.
Metaphorosis
Jul 09, 2013 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
...more
Arukiyomi
Jun 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 1001-books
...the best way to approach it all is to lie back and drift in the stream

As I watched the protagonist ride off into the sunset at the close of the second part of Peake’s vastly underrated trilogy, I couldn’t help but think that he’d mixed up the titles of the first two installments. This novel, not the first, is about Titus Groan whereas the first novel, not this one, is about Gormenghast.

But that is a negligible criticism for two works of writing which have been all but forgotten in the hal
...more
Antonis
Jul 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
5 / 5

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 ex
...more
Leah
Jun 12, 2012 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
...more
Michael

(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
...more
Kim
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aiden Heavilin
Jun 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
To write a review of "Gormenghast" is as futile an endeavor as writing a review of a game of chess between two masters. For, in the end, that is what the book comes down to, a contest between one player, wise and battle-hardened, and another, youthful yet fierce. The game is between the old and the new. Peake coordinated the match, provided the pieces (his characters, each intricately detailed with unique functions), and provided the board (his castle, 'Gormenghast', that stony monster). This bo ...more
The Literary Chick
Nov 25, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: dark, gothic, literature
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
Greg
Aug 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The stage is built, my blueprint (which I often draw of literary villages/castles, etc., having been inspired to do so by Mark Bennett and his fabulous/fantasy work entitled "TV Sets: Fantasy Blueprints of Classic TV Homes"- yes, exactly, you might think, that's where Ginger and Mary Anne must have sun bathed!) is drawn, I'm ready for another visit to Gormenghast. From a literary point of view, "Titus Groan" is complete, in and of itself: that's why we really can't call Gormenghast part of a tri ...more
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837 followers
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

Other books in the series

Gormenghast (3 books)
  • Titus Groan (Gormenghast, #1)
  • Titus Alone (Gormenghast, #3)

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