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Titus Groan (Gormenghast Trilogy Book 1) by [Peake, Mervyn]
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Titus Groan (Gormenghast Trilogy Book 1) Kindle Edition

4.4 out of 5 stars 77 customer reviews

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Length: 382 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
Page Flip: Enabled

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Review

"Mr Peake's first novel holds one with its glittering eye - It has a genuine plot in the strictest sense, and it persuades you to read on simply in order to know what will happen - its gallery of characters is wonderful" (Nation)

"A gorgeous volcanic eruption... A work of extraordinary imagination" (New Yorker)

"The Gormenghast Trilogy is one of the most important works of the imagination to come out of [this] age" (Anthony Burgess Spectator)

Book Description

A brilliantly sustained flight of gothic imagination; the first of the bestselling Gormenghast trilogy.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1247 KB
  • Print Length: 382 pages
  • Publisher: Cornerstone Digital; New Ed edition (12 Aug. 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005C4AI10
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars 77 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #40,005 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I first read this when I was 14 whilst recovering from a chill, and I devoured it in a couple of days. I have read it, and its companions, 'Gormenghast' and 'Titus Alone', five or six times since, and hope and expect to read them a few more times yet.

You read these books for their extraordinary prose, which has a flavour somewhere in the region between Dickens and Dali. While the plot is huge, intricate and subtle, plot remains secondary. The reader must allow the dense, intricate prose to paint its vivid pictures in the mind, as strange and idiosyncratic as the illustrations and paintings for which Peake is also famous. As a celebration of the English language he is there alongside the best of writers. Those in search of a good yarn may find such writing tedious, but for those who like to savour language this is a feast.

The books are frequently described as fantasy, but they are fantasy in a sense entirely distinct from the heroic fantasy tradition resurrected from the Norse, by Tolkien, Lewis and their like. In the world of Gormenghast what heroism there is, is bent and twisted and always ultimately futile. There is little space for moral manoeuvre where the roles of most characters are prescribed to a minute degree by an immutable ancient tradition. The world of Gormenghast is a vast crumbling castle, that has stood for time immemorial, isolated from the world outside. It could be anywhere or anytime. It is populated by a cast of characters made exquisitely eccentric by the castle and the entrenched, stifling tradition it represents. The wonderful characters whom we come to love and loathe include;

Dr Prunesquallor, obliged by his position to behave as a buffoon, but the one source of sanity throughout the insane unfolding of events.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats o'er vales and hills,
When I saw a crowd,
A host of daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath trees,
Fluttering in the breeze.

Wordsworth and Mervyn Peake had a way with words. I first read the Gormenghast trilogy many many years ago; to this day I consider it to be my favourite book. Whoever converted Titus Groan to Kindle format seems to have felt that it was perfectly acceptable to drop or change a word here or there.

For God's sake, don't buy this awful transition; buy, beg, borrow or even steal the original (unedited) paper copy.
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Format: Paperback
This is a simply beautiful, wonderful book. It affected me deeply when I read it.

It's also a unique book, in my experience, in that this is a fantastical, farcical and impossible world (Gormenghast Castle is seemingly as big as a small city; the existance of a 77th Lord Groan would be a near impossibility in our unstable world), yet there is (almost) nothing supernatural here. Our own physical laws apply. This is actually part of our world. At one point a character opens a bottle of French wine. This is not a different reality.

The writing is rich and overblown, like a massive fruitcake. Somehow this works superbly well; normally I would dislike such books, but here the complexity of the writing builds up a claustrophobic, frightening atmosphere of horror and absurdity. One slip, and it would collapse into twee Tolkeinesque or bloat into swords-and-sorcery; Peake never slips.

One thing I loved about this book is that most of the characters seem hard to like at first, but as they become more distinct, you start to see the subtle, loving relationships between some of them - mostly around Fuschia, daughter of Lord Groan.

The names of the characters are wonderful - the cook Swelter, the bone-thin dried-up old servant, Flay, Nanny Slagg, Doctor Prunesquallor (my personal favourite). Scenes from the book, with their mad vividity, linger in your mind. The Hall of Bright Carvings, which opens the book, with wooden carvings each representing the creative pinnacle of a peasant's life, forgotten under layers of dust in the Groan's castle. The fight to the death between Swelter and Flay; the meeting between Steerpike and Fuschia; the absurdity of Lord Groan being obliged by tradition to eat his dinner while a dwarf capers on the table in front of him.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
i first read this book 13 years ago and it still exercises a hold over me. the beauty of the prose is similar in many respects to Dickens but Peake has taken the victorian style and mutated it into something fragile. the book is set in a crumbling castle whose inhabitants lives are shored up by an empty series of fantastic rituals, echoing a long lost splendour from which they derived their meaning. the force of change arrives in the shape of the diabolic kitchen boy, Steerpike and the young inheritor of the castle is sucked in by him, as are all the other odd characters that populate the castle. it's like 'name of the rose' meets 'bleak house'. a compelling and beautifully poetic read that will lead you to the other two books (not as good as Peake was to soon die of sleeping sickness - the third book is reconstructed from his notes). after all this time, i still am in love with book and remain convinced that Peake is an unique and under-studied genius
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