As you can probably tell from the other reviews, people seem to love or hate this book and Peake's language style.
It is *VERY* wordy and long winded and barely makes any headway in plot. None of the characters are nice/friendly/happy and quite a few of them are nasty or vapid. Only the castle setting seems to place it in the fantasy genre, and it's a depressing setting filled with gloom and pointless ritual.
While I will not be purchasing any of the sequels, I can see how the wonderfully flowery language would be a plus for those who enjoy this kind of period piece. However, I found the constant repeated lines annoying, though I couldn't tell if they were part of the original text or merely a production problem.
In summary, I highly suggest potential listeners to read a few pages in a bookstore or library to determine if this literary style is for you. It's only similarity to Lord of the Rings is length.
There is not much plot plus slow repetitive, irritating language about as enjoyable as a fevered delirium.
The author obviously enjoys toying with the English language. He creates so many pictures with his words that any interest in the minimal plot is soon lost. Its like watching the late show where they keep playing the same commercials over and over again.
His presentation of the doctors laugh made if painful to listen to. I feel sorry for the performer because he had so little to work with in the text that he could not do much improvement without betraying the intent of the author.
Vocabulary was large.
This one is tricky. I like it, I do. I couldn't tell you what actually happens in the story because I am still not sure. The language is glorious. If you enjoyed the language for its own sake in Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, I bet you would like the language in this.
In a fit of enthusiasm for that very idea I tried listening to The Three Musketeers
and Ivanhoe. Not so much, the language in those didn't draw me in. It was too stiff and put me off.
The problem here, and it IS a problem for me... super lengthy descriptions of every little thing, every thought, every expression, every everything, goes on and on and on and on. You can listen for two hours and its still the same scene in which nothing of note has happened. The rub is, I keep thinking maybe something did happen and I missed it because I was happily lost in some enchanting phrase. It is DELIGHTFULLY irritating. So I will keep playing it over and over until I am sure I have it. Even if it turns out I hate the story I will have gotten more than my money's worth.
Simon Vance is always perfect. He is the only actor of many books who has never ever let me down.
There are two abridged versions of "Titus Groan," but get the unabridged --- because the words are the point, not the plot. There is a clear plot, and the action is also clear. But it's the dark, seductive, carefully mined and honed words that matter. Robert Whitfield is a brilliant reader, and like the best readers he plainly actually understands this book better than I did the first time I read it, and can communicate that understanding. "Titus Groan" is a parody, harsher than Dickens, perhaps Thackerian would be fair. The parody attacks useless, empty traditions of class-based aristocracy, and on its own terms, not the terms of any sort of from-below social revolution such as communism. The parody is funny, incredibly: wait for the climax at the end when the baby Titus goes through the ceremony of "earling" and casually disposes of all the elaborate symbols of his office.
The hero, Steerpike, is an anti-hero, even a villain. But that's nothing: all the characters, 100%, are anti-characters. There is not a straight type that we expect among them. The doctor may be the only one with a good character, and possibly Mrs. Slag and Fuchia the sister, but all of them are not merely eccentrics, they are grotesques. I don't see how anyone could have done Prunesquallor the doctor better than the reader Whitfield read him. That was a difficult challenge for an actor-reader, but he achieved it, delightfully.
The action and the plot are vivid and murderous and also grotesque. The famous setting, the many-storied stone castle that goes on for miles and miles and miles as its own self-contained world, is so original that it has been used by others: perhaps by C.S. Lewis in "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe," as the professor's house, and certainly by Tad Williams in his brilliant "Otherland." as one of the virtual sci-fi worlds the characters find themselves inside.
This book is worth reading before you hear it. Note the carefully ominous word choice: the words are invariably the ones that would unsettle us. On the next order of composition, the phrases are dire even when their individual words are blameless. I assume Peake was a fan of Lovecraft, but this is not an exercise in the supernatural or in horror from the outside. Gormenghast Castle is its own world and if there is horror, no one there notices, because that is how they expect to live. I highly recommend this brilliant book with Whitfield's illuminating reading.
Not Peake maybe Rob
He does very good voice working giving each character a vioce of his own.
I listen to the first 6 hours about 1/3 of the book and I have yet to understand anything in this word. I understand this is supose to be a character piece, but I don't understand any of the characters' motivations; none of them are likilbe as of 6 hours in. I can't even guess who is the protagaist and who is the antagist.
I know this was writen long ago when people had better antention spans. I wouldn't have even given this book a chance if Changling: The Lost did suggest it as a context to its world.
I fell for it once again, I only read the first 3 reviews and figured I would download this book. I made it to the fifth chapter and couldn't take any more of this babble. This is no LOTR!!!!!!!!
I first read this work by Mervyn Peake many years ago, and it (together with the other two volumes of the Gormenghast trilogy) made a lasting impression. The trilogy is strongly influenced by the darker elements of Dickens, Kafka, Lewis Carroll and the Brothers Grimm. It is tempting to mention Tolkien and C S Lewis as well, but the Lord of the Rings trilogy and the Narnia series both commenced publication a few years after Titus Groan, although the publication of volumes in the three series then overlapped. The period from 1946 to 1959 was certainly an extraordinarily productive period for the genre. The Gormenghast books are illustrated by the author. These drawings are unavoidably missing from the audio version, which is a pity, as they are superb and do much to establish the heavy atmosphere of the story. Robert Whitfield as narrator does a good job.
Early in my audible membership i bought this book (as well as Gormenghast and Titus Alone) and i was hooked. Mervyn Peake was an amazing writer and the details of the novels kept me attentive thru all 45 hours of them. Robert Whitfield is a great reader and i've since purchased other books from audible just because he was the reader.
If you know what you're getting into, this isn't that bad of a novel. It is paced EXTREMELY slowly - the language evokes a time that we have long rushed past. However, I just couldn't stand the shoddy production values. There are numerous 'flashbacks' where the reader/editor repeats the last sentence or paragraph. It almost seems like every break the reader took shows up in this doubling. This was very irksome. It throws off any sense of pace that you were developing while listening. I would only recommend this to fans of period-pieces or die-hard fantasy readers with an urge for something old-fashioned - die-hard enough to ignore the annoying editing.