I generally avoid making many reading recommendations as people’s tastes and interests are so varied. However, in these strange days with some much time on our hands, many folks are clamoring for book suggestions. Fortuitously, I stumbled on an endorsement for a weird and wonderful trilogy that I first read decades ago at the insistence of my old friend Robb Huxley.
Mervyn Peake’s masterful Gormenghast books are a rollicking blend of Dickensian characters and George R.R. Martin plots. They are worth reading simply for Peake’s love of the English language. Packed with wit and intrigue, the trilogy will transport into a realm surreal, but coherent in its inventiveness.
The first book, Titus Groan is a bizarre but fun romp inspirited by the Machiavellian villain Steerpike, It can be read as a philosophical critique of the hierarchy and ritual, or read just for the sheer love of language.
In book two, Gormenghast, we get to really know poor Titus, who is just a babe in the first installment and join him in his struggles with Steerpike and the system. The volume is a surprising blend of fantasy, psychological drama, and surrealism.
Titus Alone completes the trilogy with our hero escaping the confines of his life for adventure and new challenges. I won’t spoil your chance to explore with Titus a whole world beyond Gormenghast.