Gormenghast (Book Two of the Gormenghast Trilogy)
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Titus Groan is seven years old. Lord and heir to the crumbling castle Gormenghast.
Gothic labyrinth of roofs and turrets, cloisters and corridors, stairwells and dungeons, it is also the cobwebbed kingdom of Byzantine government and age-old rituals, a world primed to implode beneath the weight of centuries of intrigue, treachery, and death. Steerpike, who began his climb across the roofs when Titus was born, is now ascending the spiral stairacse to the heart of the castle, and in his wake lie imprisonment, manipulation, and murder. Gormenghast is the second volume in Mervyn Peake's widely acclaimed trilogy, but it is much more than a sequel to Titus Groan--it is an enrichment and deepening of that book. And back in single volumes for the first time in years, a new generation of fantasy fans will grow to love this tour de force that ranks as one of the twentieth century's most remarkable feats of imaginative writing.
was conscripted in the Second World War, was in London a great deal during the Blitz, and was the first War Artist in Belsen, producing studies that are remarkable for their humanity and sympathy, experiences he used in Titus Alone. He, like most of us, somehow stayed roughly sane, if a little overwrought, throughout the war. His practical jokes, often concocted with Graham Greene, were elaborate and subtle. I knew Mervyn as inspiring, joyful company whose tragedy was not in his life or work but
deeply involved that to argue each problem as it posed itself, to study each move would get him nowhere. Had he behaved in a rational way he would never have left the woods, and he would not now be lying upon his stomach, staring at a man leaning innocently against a tree. That the figure’s profile against the saffron dawn was sharp and cruel was no proof of anything. No. It was for him to obey the impulse of the moment and to have the courage to risk the future. This was no time for anything
face. He had not heard her speak. But that which over the years had become a fantasy, a fantasy of dreaming trees and moss, of golden acorns and a sprig in flight, was fantasy no longer. It was here. It was now. He was running through heat and darkness towards it; to the verity of it all. But his body was profoundly tired. The sickening heat was something to be fought against and at last when within a mile of the foothills he fell to his knees and then onto his side, where he lay soaked in
there a savant could be seen lying stretched at full length along one of the steps or shelves of the stone stairs. Here and there a group would be squatting like aboriginals upon their haunches, their gowns gathered about them. Some were in shadow, and very dark they looked – like bandits in a bad light; some were silhouetted against the hazy, golden swathes of the sun shafts; and some stood transfixed in the last rays as they streamed through the honeycombed roof. A small muscular gentleman
glass in his hands peered amusedly at the terminal reflection and saw in miniature the crimson rags of the dwarfish pedant as he raised the boulder in his hands and flung it through the ring. If Barquentine rose early from his hideous couch, Steerpike in a secret room of his own choosing, a room as spotless and bright as a new pin, arose earlier. This was not a habit with him. He had no habits in that sort of way. He did what he wanted to do. He did what furthered his plans. If getting up at