I have boldly attempting a Jeffro Johnsonian feat of reviewing most or all of the authors in Lin Carter’s Ballatine Adult Fantasy series from the 1960’s.

Today’s offering is one of my least favorite books of all time: TITUS GROAN by Mervyn Peake. Although I try to be fair to it, alas, I fail.


The book describes the lives and foibles, follies and vices, crimes and deaths of the ugly dwellers in the monstrously oversized castle Gormenghast, a Gothic pile that is crumbling, ancient, dark and vast beyond all measure.

There is nothing, aside from the sheer astonishing size and age of the castle, which involves any element of the fantastic, otherworldly, or ultramundane. Everything else in terms of plot, character, setting, style and theme is mundane in each sense of the word, or less than mundane. Far less.

… characters include persons as charming as any to be found in an asylum for the criminally insane.