Top critical review
27 people found this helpful
Puts to rest what Titus Alone began
on 18 January 2012
Although Titus Groan, Gormenghast and Titus Alone are conventionally referred to as 'the Gormenghast Trilogy', really it's only the first two which deal with the castle of Gormenghast and its inhabitants; the third installment - which seems to have always inspired mixed feelings amongst readers - has only Titus himself in common with the previous two books, and narrates a series of encounters in a surreal and incongruous world.
Titus Awakes is a sequel to Titus Alone - and just as little of a true Gormenghast story. For those therefore who disliked Titus Alone for whatever reason, there is little point in reading Gilmore's continuation.
Personally, having left Gormenghast with Titus at the end of book two and finding enough in Titus Alone to keep me reading until the end, I did desire closure to what for me is both a fairly large undertaking (considering both the series's length, and Peake's dense, treacle-speed narration), and one of the greatest literary works I've read. Since Titus Awakes was released a few months after my beginning Titus Groan, I resolved to read it as a finale.
Inevitably Gilmore's style is more straightforward, less visually vivid, and - it's fair to say - of a lesser quality than Peake's legendary writing, but after slogging through the original 'trilogy' its drifting flow was something of a relief to me. Titus wanders aimlessly again through as many encounters and environments as he did in Alone, but the surreal and dreamlike elements are diminished - almost as if his wanderings are gradually bringing him into the real world we all inhabit. By the end of the book, he truly has bridged the gap; Gilmore blends the end of Titus's narrative with the end of Peake's life (at least as a writer), which I found effective and touching.
Titus Awakes is of course not a true Gormenghast story - one cannot bring dead authors back to life - but it is a funeral for the saga of Gormenghast and Titus. No man can conduct their own funeral, and Gilmore does the service better than anyone else could. I at least feel that the proper rites have now been observed, and the series which was tragically cut short can rest in peace.