Titus Groan by Mervyn Peake
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
As I was reading this, I kept thinking of all the great and richly-detailed fantasies I've ever read, from Tad Williams to Robin Hobb, and then I just had to look up when this book had come out.
You see, I have this thing. I like to read a book, or at least books that are considered classics or the best of their genre, with a clear and un-jaundiced eye. So sometimes I don't even read the blurb or the date of publication. Actually, I rarely look at the date. I can usually figure it out by the style.
On the other hand, this one had me stumped. I got through nearly 3/4 of the novel before I broke down and found out that this was published in '46. I was shocked. The level of detail, the creepy magical realism, the ritual-building, the clever descriptions, and especially the the plot just screamed out, maybe, late seventies with a reliance on fully traditional fantasy with an evil minister-type bringing down a kingdom. But 1946?
I have to readjust everything.
Sure, this has a lot of great gothic elements and a heavy reliance on Dickens, feeling more like a timeless and isolated castle full of a loving people (at first) only to have it fall to the whiles of a lying snake.
And then I slowly realized just how much of an influence Titus Groan had upon so much modern fantasy. You know those authors I mentioned? Yeah, I'd eat my boots if they weren't heavily influenced by Peake. It's that clear. :)
But how did I like this novel? I loved it. What it didn't have in dastardly wars, it did have in masterful prose, sneaky action, creepy and delightful and complex characters, and truly brilliant descriptions.
I'm really looking forward to reading the next one. :)
View all my reviews