Review: Gormenghast

Gormenghast
Gormenghast by Mervyn Peake
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Gormenghast is the sequel to Mervyn Peake’s Titus Groan. Titus Groan is the 77th Earl of Gormenghast. In Gormenghast, we follow Titus’ upbringing starting from the age of seven. Titus was age two at the end of Titus Groan; thus, some time has elapsed between novels. Gormenghast starts out by accounting for those who died in the previous novel and those who are still living. At this point, everyone in the novel is still unaware as to who the mastermind is behind the tragedies in the previous novel. Life continues on in Gormenghast, but with this eerie feeling that something tragic might happen again.

I read Titus Groan back in 2008. I started Gormenghast afterwards simply because I was curious about what would happen to Titus Groan. It took me quite a while to finish Gormenghast simply because I kept getting bored early on. Even after finishing the novel, I’m still not entirely sure how important some of the passages were. Indeed, some of the characters aren’t even integral to the conclusion of the story. Yet despite this criticism, there’s something to be said for Peake’s writing. It’s brilliant. When you’re not bored by wondering why you’re reading about this character and what’s his importance, you can get quite lost in Peake’s writing. Obviously, it’s easier to do when you’re reading about a character you’re interested in (i.e., Titus Groan) or when reading about the main plot (“got to catch that villain”). As I wrote previously, “I think I am still wrapping my head around the gothic eeriness of Mervyn Peake’s story.” (See “Book Nook”) Towards the end of the novel, you get a good sense of Titus Groan. He is a tragic character in a way. Although he’s lived through tragedies, it’s clear they have an impact on him emotionally.

The final novel in this trilogy is Titus Alone. At first I thought I would read the whole trilogy, but I’m not sure about the final novel. Gormenghast did seem to drag a little in some places, and that makes me hesitant to read the third novel. I think it will just depend on how much I want to find out what happens next to Titus Groan.

For my review of Titus Groan, see “Recently Read and Currently Reading”.

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