Gormenghast represents Gothic fantasy castles at their peak creative usage. This fictional castle forms the backdrop for the popular novel series of the same name. Mervyn Peake, the author, combined architecture of medieval castles and rich mansions of Prince Regent’s period into one glorious structure.
Besides all special features, this fantasy castle’s uniqueness lies in it being a small city in itself. The castle governs itself as a full-fledged state with Byzantine laws and customs. Gormenghast meets its own needs and has a rigid hierarchy of people and practices.
The fantasy castle’s ownership lies with the House of Groan. They have ruled the place with great consistency or monotony for hundreds of years.
Gormenghast itself is a strange creation. It is not a single, giant mass of rock like fantasy castles or big mansions. Instead, the castle appears like a city within a huge compound with extremely low population. Ivy plant covers its shape and much of the inside is covered in thick greenery.
The Tower of Flints is the highest of all the towers in Gormenghast. It has a ghastly aura and appears as a badly bruised pillar. Only a bird’s eye view of the fantasy castle’s roof gives a feeling that its boundaries are limited. From one of its roofs it appears to be a never ending sequence of high and low dilapidated structures.
It is estimated from several parts of the story that the fantasy castle’s ends stretch several miles. In the second of the three novels there is a mention of the floods which drowned the southern part of Gormenghast. But the higher northern part was enough for all the residents from the south who took refuge there. In fact there was still ample place left in the northern wing.
This speaks volumes about the fantasy castle’s grand stretch.
From a closer reading and a big extension of imagination one can create a mental image of Gormenghast. It appears to be roughly rectangular in shape according to the outer wall’s description. The fantasy castle’s interior also encloses large open spaces.
The exact layout of the fantasy castle’s design is not shared with the reader. This leaves each one’s imagination alone to figure out the grandness and the relevance of the castle.
Gormenghast is a swirling maze with courtyards and interconnected buildings. To add to this complexity, the fantasy castle’s underground is another jigsaw puzzle of corridors and rooms.
No wonder the magical aura of Gormenghast served as the main setting for the first two of the three novels. Such fantasy castles are the dream of many imaginations. Therefore, every reader should do justice to his or her own mind by reading about Gormenghast.