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Registered: 01-2008
Location: Finland
Posts: 833
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Gormenghast/Titus trilogy

Gormenghast series aka Titus trilogy is the most famous work of author, poet and artist Mervyn Peake.
The first two books, Titus Groan and Gormenghast, were adapted to a wonderful 4-part series by BBC, which is to this day my favorite TV/movie piece of fantasy.

As you should know, English is not my native language. But I am fluent enough to have read dozens of books in English, including some very difficult ones: Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Lord of the Rings, I once even read Milton's Paradise Lost.
Gormenghast was harder to understand than any of those. But that complicated eloquence fits well to the dream-like scenery.

The two first books - which really should've been named other way round, as in Titus Groan the titular character is just a baby and in Gormenghast he is main character - are practically one book in two parts.
It is a tale of fantasy (though without anything per se supernatural) about a forgotten realm that is far from rest of world, ignored by and ignoring it. Gormenghast castle and Gormenghast mountain, that is all the people of the earldom know. And ritual... customs as old as the very stones of the castle. There a talented young man rises from low servitude to near the very top of social order, shaking the whole realm as his ambitions grow.

The third book Titus Alone (which I've just read) is very different. It moves from fantasy to steam-punk and even science fiction and that's only one of the major differences: first two followed a multitude of characters, third centers on Titus, giving little time for others. The whole atmosphere is different: while all of the series is melancholy and end of second book gets rather manic, the third is frenzied fever dream.
Titus Alone was finished and published after death of the author, meaning much of it was written in his last times and this results to less eloquent language and less coherent storytelling.

I am usually completionist about all sorts of series. I want to see, read and play even the worst parts and I rarely recommend anyone to do otherwise. But of Gormenghast I must say that after enjoying the main body of the work, you should consider very carefully whether to read the third book. It is confusing, presenting the previously unknown world as so different from Gormenghast itself. It is a brutal, sad and depressing read - definitely not for anyone with mental health problems or hard time of life. It doesn't add anything necessary to story, it's merely a sequel where some more things happen.
That is not to say Titus Alone is a bad book, far from it, despite all its faults. But as I said, you should think carefully if it is a book you want to read.

Titus Groan and Gormenghast are much easier to recommend to anyone, not to mention the TV mini series if you can find that.


12/24/2017, 12:22 pm Link to this post Send Email to Kaunisto   Send PM to Kaunisto
Susa Profile
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Registered: 07-2006
Location: Oχάιο
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Kaunisto, I only found Titus Groan on Amazon as a paperback. Apparently the hardback is unavailable. It seems to be hard to get. I did find Gormenghast as a hardback. (I have trouble seeing paperbacks.)

I did find the entire trilogy in hardback! =tmm_hrd_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1514142429&sr=1-11]HERE

I don't know if I am ready to buy this yet, but for some reason I recognize Gormenghast. Maybe my brother talked about him. He used to tell me huge portions of books. Therefore, this piques my interest.


12/24/2017, 3:24 pm Link to this post Send PM to Susa Blog

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