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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.
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on 12 June 2013
You might think that this book, like the fourth volume of he Hitch-hiker's Guide to the Galaxy, redefines the word "trilogy"; it does not. It is the sequel to Titus alone which is itself so different to the first two Gormenghast books that it is better to see the whole work as a pair of two-part novels.
Peake set himself a problem when he killed off all his most interesting characters by the end of the second book. Without Steerpike, Barquentine, Fuscia and Flay it must have been hard to see how the Castle could sustain another book so the only option was for Titus to leave and find more characters in the world outside to carry the story that his own somewhat un-likeable character was hardly up to. Muzzlehatch filled the bill admirably and I hoped Ruth would do the same in the fourth book. Everything looked hopeful that another great Peake character was about to develop then Titus wandered off again and she was out of the story. The same thing happened to all the characters, even the dog, and one soon realised that these were people that Peake had sketched with no hint of how they would develop, leaving Maeve Gilmore with the choice of trying to guess her husband's intentions (a tall order, to say the least) or simply move Titus on. Her choice of the latter course leaves the reader with a rather unsatisfying sequence of episodes but at least we have a glimpse of some new Peake characters.
I suspect that I am not alone in wishing that Titus had returned to Gormenghast (as the opening fragment suggested he might) to explore the tensions that his experiences in the wide world would undoubtedly generate with the surviving inhabitants.
Buy the book (it is cheap), read it and dream of what might have been!
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on 21 June 2012
I have finished reading Titus Awakes just now.

I'm glad to receive some closure as to his future wellbeing but remain desperately dissapointed that he never again saw Gormenghast or his dear ones.

The peace and order of that place, purged of Steerpike would have returned the reader to a more fitting conclusion: returning Titus to a life of purpose and fulfilling his mother's prophecy that he would tread a circle.

The ubiquity of coincidental encounters with helpful characters immediately addressing Titus's physical needs (food, shelter, transport, employment, solace etc) became somewhat tedious and undermines the authenticity of his wanderings.

Maeve gave me a welcome closure however and I thank Peake's estate for giving this to us.

Farewell Titus.
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on 7 July 2011
This is a brave courageous and loving epitaph by Maeve Gilmore to her clever tortured husband Mervyn Peake. With only a few pages of completed material and some chapter headings to work with she has finished what Peake might have done if his brains had not deserted him. It is episodic as life is but imaginative, if not as forbiddingly gloomy as Gormenghast. Without revealing the details the end is apt and sensitively handled and full of hope for Titus' future. I like to think Maeve Gilmore has freed her husband's spirit which he was tragically unable to do for himself.
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on 13 September 2013
To any true fan of Peake's work picking up this tome was obviously going to result in mixed feelings. However I am delighted to say they need not worry; the heart and core of the former book's remains intact and this was a joy from beginning to end.
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on 3 March 2016
I was always wary of the idea of a sequel to some of my all-time favourite books, written by another writer, even if based on notes by the original author. And it turns out I was right. Titus Awakes continues the wanderings abroad started in Titus Alone, but whereas in the previous book Titus' discovery of the outside world was invigorating and involving, here it's tedious and astonishingly repetitive. Titus happens to meet someone who takes pity on him and offers him shelter, food, love, work or whatever. He stays for a day or two and then leaves, as he doesn't want to be tied down. Titus himself comes across as passive, affectless, ungrateful, self-involved and frankly boring.
I struggled through 260 pages until the vaguely mystical, decontructionist ending which I won't spoil here, but which I only understood having read the book's introduction.
I'll be reading Gormenghast again, but this one was a waste of time.
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on 21 October 2012
I read the original three books and found the ending disappointing. The start of this, obviously written by Peake, briefly returns to Gormenghast but turns away again to follow Titus in the wider world.

Titus as an adult away from the castle is,I found,an unpleasant, egotistical character and I had trouble understanding why characters were so eager to help him or, at times even be around him. This is only reinforced by the abandonment of his child and it's mother. However in his wandering Gilmore provides him with a means to achieve at least a measure of redemption. It's known that Peake had a nervous breakdown while serving in the army during WW2, at about the same time he was writing Gormenghast and later had electro convulsive shock treatment in later life to try to relieve Parkinsons. Gilmore has written these incidents into the book, along with herself and their family, and brought Peake and Titus together. From this point onward Titus has a purpose, to find the patient he cared for, and the it becomes apparent that Titius Awakes is the story of how writing Gormenghast in some way saved Peake ad gave him (and Titus) a purpose in life at a point where he could have given up and faded away. The ending (I doubt this would be a spoiler) where Titus and the patient are reunited at the harbour of the island (Sark?) is truly moving
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on 10 August 2014
This is the fourth in the Gormenghast series of novels but this one was written by Mervyn Peake's widow from scraps and notes her husband left, following his untimely death.

It is a brave attempt but there is always the nagging feeling that this is NOT the real thing.

If you are a Gormenghast fan then I suppose this short novel is grist to your mill.

Me, I was disappointed and feel even now that it should not have been attempted in the first place, seeing that there was so little original material left by Peake himself for the writer to build upon.
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on 29 May 2014
I know this was an unfinished work that was completed by his widow but If you were expecting Mervyn Peake's voice to somehow come through then, like me, you'll be disappointed. This story just meanders aimlessly all over the place, the characters aren't developed properly, it's just plain - well - unfinished! It's a pity it didn't remain lost.

Don't waste your money or your time and that's all I have to say on the matter.
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on 22 December 2015
You know when your favourite writer just makes 1 more book? And you know that its going to inevitably be the worst in the series. Well, this is pretty much a classic case.

There are some interesting elements here, but even the parts written by Mervyn pale in comparison to the earlier books.

I want to love it, I want to recommend it. But I cannot really.
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