This is the first book of the Gormenghast trilogy (before Gormenghast andTitus Alone). The castle of Gormenghast is a huge, maze-like fortress built on the sideof a mountain. It's surrounded by a tall wall, that helps keep the noble"Castle" people and their menials inside, and the "Bright Carvers", atribal people who live in mud dwellings, outside on the arid plain. In this first volume, we're introduced to the castle's inhabitants, amidstthe bustle of Titus the seventy-seventh Earl's birth, and a few dayslater, of his christening. There's the melancholic Lord Sepulchrave, theseventy-sixth and current Earl of Groan, his enormous wife Gertrude andher white cats, and their teenage daughter Fuchsia. And there is Mrs.Slagg, the frail old Nanny who's always complaning about her poor heart,and Mr. Flay, the Earl's tall first servant with the clicking knees. Andalso Mr. Rottcodd, curator of the Hall of Bright Carvings, and Sourdustthe Librarian, guardian of the Protocol. Doctor Prunesquallor with hisnervous laughter, and his spinsterly sister Irma, as well as Swelter thetyrannic cook and his kitchen boys, among which the young Steerpike. Thencome Cora and Clarice, the Earl's asinine twin sisters, envious of his andGertrude's power... and a few others. As the story flows, we watch these numerous protagonists interact, asSteerpike slowly works his way up the ranks of the castle. Charminghigh-born ladies, plotting arson, nothing daunts him. And what was a sowell-greased, fine-tuned machine of minutiae and protocol, the veryessence of Gormenghast, is starting to crumble slowly and inexorably. It's very hard to summarize Titus Groan in a couple of paragraphs. It's sobrimming with court intrigue and mischief, interspaced with lushdescriptions of this amazingly intricate fortress where I wanted to escapeto, or play hide and seek in. As a whole, all I can say it that it was anenormous pleasure to read and that I can't wait to read the next book.
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