A doomed lord, an emergent hero, and a dazzling array of bizarre creatures inhabit the magical world of the Gormenghast novels which, along with Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, reign as one of the undisputed fantasy classics of all time. At the center of it all is the seventy-seventh Earl, Titus Groan, who stands to inherit the miles of rambling stone and mortar that form Gormenghast Castle and its kingdom, unless the conniving Steerpike, who is determined to rise above his menial position and control the House of Groan, has his way.
First, this isn’t fantasy that you are used to. This is not Robert Jordan. This is not George R.R. Martin. This is not Steven Erikson. But yet, this is a novel deserves, no needs, to be read. It’s bizarre, haunting, joyless, gothic in the extreme and oh so rich in character and detail. The sheer sustained and imaginative power of this novel, the incredible attention to detail, and the stifling rigidity of the castle and cast of characters supersede pretty much every other work in the English language. Peake has been compared to Tolkien and even Charles Dickens – Gormenghast is literature in the purest sense but it’s also another side of the fantasy coin and deserving to be on the list as both one of the great works of the English language and a dizzyingly bizarre novel that refuses to be defined by any one genre. If you have a short attention span, having been weaned on the likes of magic rich, action heavy books like Feist and Jordan, you might not appreciate the richness of these novels. This description of the novel does seem ambiguous, but like the series itself, words cannot capture what it is. There are three novels in the series and the 3rd novel is disappointing, but the first two are like rich custard: delicious and sweet leaving you hungering for me. But if you value yourself as a true fan of the fantasy genre, the incredibly odd and totally endearing world of Gormenghast has to be experienced once. You will never, ever forget the characters. Read it and be changed forever.