I loved this story set in a fantasy world, almost like a prehistoric England trapped in a vast crumbling castle of nooks and crannies, where everyone has minor functions to serve the household of the vast Castle estate of Gormanghast.
We have Steerpike, our conniving and wretched youngster who learns how to immerse himself into the fabric of the castle's day to day running, gate crashing into the time held and futile traditions of the decadent society. Flay the head servant to the Earl and Countess of Groan, Swelter the repulsive bully and head cook of the castle.
Then there are the envious twins and Nanny Slag the devoted servant to the young infant and future Earl of Groan - not to mention Doctor Prunsqualer and his ropey old spinster sister, who is prone to all sorts of flattery from the scheming young Steerpike.
The climatic confrontation between Flay and Swelter is a fabulous duel with all the atmospheric trimmings. I loved every page of this story.
This is the first book of a trilogy and it is a glorious read. I would recommend this to anyone.