an homage to Peake but not in the same league,
This review is from: Gloriana, Or the Unfulfill'd Queen (Paperback)I read this specifically because of the links to Peake and Gormenghast. It starts off in the same vein, so much so, I wondered if Moorcock had a copy of Titus Groan open on his desk as he wrote.
But I found it lacking in the creation of its world. Perhaps fantasy readers are not that interested in the underpinnings of the worlds they read about, but I wanted to know more about why Albion was as old as it was but was for all intents and purposes stuck in the 17th century. Given the chief modes of transport were horse and sail, why was Arabia so powerful? In our world, its strength derives from its supplies of dinosaur juice. In a non-mechanised world, that doesn't work.
As an example, the first 3 Dune books do a credible job of creating a well-defined universe with believable political and economic themes. Gloriana misses this entirely.
But most disappointing of all was the rape motif at the end, including Gloriana's long-awaited fulfilment at the hands (?) of Quire. Quire was an interesting character, and perhaps the most self-aware of any, but it would have been more rewarding to see him transcend his past and his artistic desires for something larger than himself. And Gloriana's fulfilment seemed meaningless: was there some change or revelation that allowed her release? Or was it just Quire's urgency?
For a book where sex in all forms takes such a large role, it was of a pretty low standard. I don't need page after page of heavy breathing, but make it believable for people who've actually experienced the act.
The similarities to Gormenghast include a seething, ignored underworld of misfits and outcasts, but where Peake does some of his best work, Moorcock seems to be following his master's lead without any real intent. That was where the book started to weaken for me. Peake's underworld was more distinct in some ways than the daylit one: not so here.
I might recommend this to fans of Gormenghast who can't get enough, but I'm not sure anyone else would enjoy it.