Sourdust’s skin

Sourdust’s skin

Sourdust is the aged, dusty, crumbling Master of Ceremonies and custodian of endless ritual, rites and rules in the world of Gormenghast castle, having digested a thousand tomes of protocol.  He shuffles and coughs his way in reminding the Earl, Countess and their...
Prunesquallor’s voice

Prunesquallor’s voice

The physician of Gormenghast is one of the most likeable, humane and sane of the colourful characters that people the story; while being every bit as idiosyncratic as the rest of them. His strange voice is complemented by a slightly grating, nervous-sounding laugh. ...
A rolling boulder

A rolling boulder

Nanny Slagg meets an old man of the Dwellers, the humble people who live limpet-like on the outer walls of Gormenghast castle.  Here he greets the castle’s envoy with the deference expected.  The description of his voice suggests a low-frequency booming. ...
Newly born, oldly wise

Newly born, oldly wise

A lilting double simile here, each with a timeless simplicity.  Let’s add them to the common stock and start to describe things as being ‘old as the world’, or ‘wise as the roots of trees’.  Or you could shorten the last one to...
Rich with rust

Rich with rust

An unusual simile for rust, though of course, once seen, it seems natural. A beech hedge in winter has an intense and often uniform rust colour.  ‘… and the corners were stacked with old weapons that were as rich with rust as a hedge of winter...
Ignoring your foes

Ignoring your foes

You can see Mr Flay side-stepping the presence of his mortal foe, Swelter, as one side-steps other unpleasantness in one’s path. Perhaps he could delicately pinch his fingers to his nose to preserve himself from any sweltering smells. ‘It had therefore...
Foxy fickle

Foxy fickle

Foxes have had a bad press due to their apparent wiliness.  Whether justified or not, this alliterative allusion deserves to enter common usage. Please, next time you refer to someone as fickle, use this vulpine simile.  ‘… as fickle as a fox.’  See...
Beware the bureau mind

Beware the bureau mind

Steerpike is icily calculating and glacially manipulative.  He doesn’t have a warm emotion to his name beyond the impulse to self-advancement by any means and the satisfaction of seeing human puppets dance to his tunes.  An extreme version of a common enough...
How the other half lives

How the other half lives

Gormenghast has two populations segregated by the walls of the rambling castle. The people outside are treated as lower order beings, but some individuals among them are portrayed with sympathy and admiration, throwing their humble nobility into sharp relief against...

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