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Now instead of buying the Gormenghast books separately in Individual slices, I picked up the black, heavy tome, that was the Gormenghast trilogy. So I'd like to voice an opinion on the first book Titus Groan, basically because that is as far as I got when trying to read it. I was really excited when I bought the book, it seemed from the cover and the back that it was something I could get straight into. How wrong I was, to say nothing happened would not be true, but to say that what happened was indeed exciting or in anyway beneficial to the reader would be closer to the mark.
To sum it up in the best possible way, its BORING! stagnated, fossilized, long and very Self indulgent. I just didn't like what Mervyn Peake was telling me. So what happens ( very little if you ask me ) but here is a brief plot summary. Gormenghast is a vast and old castle to which the Groan family claim dominance over, there are some surrounding features but the castle seems to be the extent of Peake's location. The current earl of Groan is one Sepulchrave, to whom he would pass down the title and estate of Gormenghast to his son Titus. This is the basic premise of the book, I'll give a brief description of the characters first to show basically Peakes main strength, which is I believe that he has the remarkable ability to meld his characters to the surroundings. I found this the most absorbing part of the book, the way in which the members of the Groan family and there servants, are perfectly suited to the Gloomy castle of Gormenghast.
Take for example, Mr Flay ( I love this name! ), a old servant with bent, cracking knees. He really is a seeming extension of the old gnarled walls around him. Dr ( Hahaha ) Prunesquallor, this is the family doctor, a very strange man, who annoyingly gives silly little 'Hahaha's' in every sentence he voices. Fuschia the daughter of Selpulchrave, a very wild child seems at the end of the book very taken with Steerpike the Villain of the first book, Gertrude, the wife of the Earl has a really weird fixation with white cats. Selpulcharve a book loving man, with little time for anything else, also a very, VERY depressed man. Steerpike, the evil villain, very good at talking himself out of sticky situations. That being the main cast of characters, Mervyn has established a very good set of characters, to envelop the reader in.
The Gothic Castle of Gormenghast is the culmination of Peakes writing. The actual castle itself is a magnificent portrayal of what a gothic labyrinth of turrets, corridors, dusty old rooms and haunting architecture can do the people around it. Gormenghast really is a feast for the eyes, I loved conjuring up images of black, dusty corridors, from which crawled all manner of vile creatures, usually this being Mr Flay. So with a strong cast of characters, and a wonderful setting, so what could go wrong?
Now the odd thing, is how much of the book is took up by nothing really exciting happening. They talked too much, in my opinion, the characters ramble on about what they were going to do to each other, with not much happening in-between to satisfy the reader. I didn't feel as if I was getting a good enough experience to validate my feelings for the characters, all well and good that the actual characters were well laid out, but in the end I just didn't care.
Now I know that Titus is not the only book, and I have heard that the other two are meant to be much better than the first, but I was really put off by what I read. Titus Groan is a world with intensely detailed characters, a very gloomy and depressing setting, but with very little excitement happening in the first 369 pages. I can only say that I am a fast reader usually plowing through 600 + pages in a week or more, to that extent, I took a great deal of time reading it, I should estimate that I trudged through Titus Groan for about 4 weeks. I found myself repeatedly rereading bits of the book, as my eyes were constantly slipping as my attention wavered.
It is difficult for me to recommend this, having not read the last two I can only say that Tiptoes Groan is not for the light hearted. I will however go back and read the last two someday, but for now I'm reading something which makes me want to turn the next page with a bit move fervor.
It was the twins I liked best! I have to agree with you though, all that effort to read all those pages and it terms of stuff happening it's a bit then on the ground, needless to say that I haven't yet made it on to part 2! Cheers, Ewan.