Titus Groan : Gormenghast

  • by Mervyn Peake
  • Narrated by Simon Vance
  • Series: Gormenghast
  • 17 hrs and 32 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

In Volume 1 of the classic Gormenghast Trilogy, a doomed lord, an emergent hero, and an array of bizarre creatures haunt the world of Gormenghast Castle. This trilogy, along with Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, reigns as one of the undisputed fantasy classics of all time. At the center of everything is the 77th Earl, Titus Groan, who stands to inherit the miles of rambling stone and mortar that form Gormenghast Castle and its kingdom.In this first volume, the Gormenghast Castle, and the noble family who inhabits it, are introduced, along with the infant firstborn son of the Lord and Countess. Titus Groan is sent away to be raised by a wet nurse, with only a gold ring from his mother, and ordered to not be brought back until the age of six. By his christening, he learns from his much older sisters that epileptic fits are "common at his age." He also learns that they don't like his mother. And then, he is crowned, and called, "Child-inheritor of the rivers, of the Tower of Flints and the dark recesses beneath cold stairways and the sunny summer lawns. Child-inheritor of the spring breeze that blow in from the jarl forests and of the autumn misery in petal, scale, and wing. Winter's white brilliance on a thousand turrets and summer's torpor among walls that crumble..."In these extraordinary novels, Peake has created a world where all is like a dream - lush, fantastical, vivid; a symbol of dark struggle.

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What the Critics Say

"[Peake's books] are actual additions to life; they give, like certain rare dreams, sensations we never had before, and enlarge our conception of the range of possible experience." (C.S. Lewis)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

A great book ,no cliches, worth the effort

I completely understand why a lot of readers would give this book a low rating. Many readers, and especially readers of fantasy, get very comfortable with the presence of cliches, and this book just doesn't give them any. Titus Groan doesn't have a grand good vs evil narrative, there is no sword play, nor wizards, nor damsels in distress, nor teenager-saves-the-world narrative. You get none of the usual formulas. The action is sparse, the language is thick, and the world is just sort of weird. It's not something that an average teenage fantasy fan will enjoy.

With that said, Titus Groan is a fantasy masterpiece. In its weird way, it's every bit as rich as Tolkien or Rowling. The characters are bizarrely entertaining, and the challenges they face are, if not quite the all-encompassing fight for civilization, nonetheless poignant and intriguing. As strange as the novel is, it feels more real than most fantasy.

Titus Groan is a novel without a contrived road-map, and it is as much high literature as it is fantasy. Good literature is challenging: it forces you to think, and if you engage in it, it is far more rewarding than a thousand sword and sorcerer novels. Readers who think in cliches will either fail to understand the novel or will grow frustrated at the meandering plot. But for those who like a challenge, who enjoy reading about a fantastical world for its own sake, and who have an attention span that hasn't been crippled by frenetic, pop-culture oriented fantasies, this book is well worth it. It's strange and rich and utterly unlike anything you're ever going to see again. It's beautiful.
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- Zachariah

Not your average novel

Titus Groan is unlike most novels that rush to get to the end. Peake treats his story like life, that it is not so much getting to the destination that's the real goal, but the journey itself that's the real fun of it all. And what a journey it is! He writes in silvery images on moonlight that creats a portrait of fine art, not just a story.

The Gormenghast trilogy is (like Carroll's Alice in Wonderland) a satire on British society which is both funny and tragic. It explores a marvelous wonderland of its own behind the endless sprawling walls of the Groan's castle and puts the reader inside the workings of a stuffy upperclass and into the shoes of the working class peasants, all the while making us laugh at ourselves.

The Gormeghast books are a masterpiece of 20th century literature. The environment Peake creats IS the point of the story, a world that can immerse the reader and make you hope that you don't get to the end too quickly or you might miss the roses growing along the way.
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- John D. Grote

Book Details

  • Release Date: 10-11-2001
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.