Enter the world of Gormenghast - a vast, meandering city reminiscent of London or Byzantium. New to U.S. audiences, Peake's trilogy, aired on BBC Television in 2000, created a cult following in the UK. Rupert Degas acts out all the parts of this gothic novel with extreme characterizations, based on the BBC show, contrasted with lengthy spates of narrative. On the day Titus, 77th Earl of Gormenghast, is born, a young upstart named Steerpike escapes his hereditary kitchen job to change his life and fortunes. Steerpike encounters many characters, who get bold treatment from narrator Degas. The thick accents and dialogue take some getting used to, especially in the early scenes. Nonetheless, Gormenghast fans will love Degas's performance.
Deep in the labyrinthine corridors of Gormenghast Castle, a child is born. Titus, 77th Earl of Groan, is heir to arcane and all-embracing rituals that determine the activities of everyone from Lord Sepulchrave, his father, to the vast cook, Swelter, and the irrepressible Dr Prunesquallor. But not the steely and devious Steerpike, who will lie, cheat and even murder to get on.
One of the greatest feats of sustained imaginative writing, the world of Gormenghast Castle is brilliantly realised in this darkly fantastic novel. It's rich description and vivid characters make it one of the most enduringly popular works of the 20th century.
©1973 Mervyn Peake (P)2011 Naxos AudioBooks
I love this novel, and indeed all the trilogy, so I was looking forward to a new reading. I was soon disappointed however. Within minutes, the silly voices and over acting began. Sadly I wasted a credit. The lesson learned? Check out the samples more thoroughly before buying. This reader should stick to his day job.
I love this story and this narrator. but the pairing I hated. I felt like Rupert Degassing just had completely the wrong tone of the book, trivialising the characters. There is a crumbling solemn grace and heft to the characters as well as their very pronounced eccentricities.
Maybe others will like it. but it's just not my Gormenghast.
The story might be okay, many have said it is, but this narrator is dreadful.
I didn't get very far into the book before giving up on it so I can't fairly judge the story itself.
The narrator attempts to whisper when it says the character whispers, groan or screech or cackle when it says the character did so. The result is a wheezing, groaning , inaudible mess which would require sitting with your hand on the replay button to decipher. I got half way through and abandoned the attempt to finish this book, something I've rarely ever done. It's quite simply the worst narration I've ever come across.
"A Gothic Masterpiece!"
Titus Groan is the first part of Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast trilogy. It's regarded as one of the finest fantasy series of all time, and rightly so. It is filled with delightfully grotesque characters, from the skeletal Mr. Flay to the Machiavellian Steerpike, to the blubbery monstrosity that is Mr. Swelter. The characters are fascinating, appalling and oddly human in equal measure. The quality of the writing is first rate. Peake's remarkably evocative prose brings the strange little kingdom of Gormenghast to life beautifully.
Special praise must also go to Rupert Degas, who gives a string of remarkable (and brilliantly voiced) performances which taps into the essence of each character.
This is one of the best audio-books I've ever read and I'd recommend it to anyone.
"Expressive narration of a cult classic"
An excellent abridged version which manages to keep the best of the story - the wealth of gothic detail comes through in places, as does much of the humour. The abridgement means the narrative moves at quite a pace, and if you are familiar with the novel, as I am, this version is fine for a light listen. It might also be a good way of introducing yourself to Peake's marvellous world. The original book is quite heavy going, with an overabundance of description, grotesque characters and names that out-Dickens the master. Dr Prunesquallor is my favourite, and the characters with their wild idiosyncracies are a particular pleasure. I first read this as a teenager, and became very absorbed in the first two novels, which I have read many times. If you like gothic tales, fantasy and strangeness this will appeal. If you decide to treat yourself to a printed edition of the book, make sure you get a copy with Peake's own illustrations- he was also a very talented artist.
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