Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Serpent of Venice by Christopher Moore

Pocket the Fool is back, and he's seeking revenge on the bastards who killed his Queen Cordelia ... (if you thought these characters from Moore's earlier novel "Fool" would have a happy ending, you haven't read much Shakespeare).

In his second Shakespeare-inspired black comedy mash-up, Christopher Moore combines elements of "Othello" and "The Merchant of Venice," then stirs in a little Edgar Allan Poe and a variety of other recognizable references, characters, and quotes.

It's a twisty tale of intrigue - Iago's out to become a councilman if he has to kill everybody he knows to get there, Pocket's in town under false pretenses. There's a lot of cross-dressing, a court scene where everybody's out to win over the doge, and secret casks that can only be opened by solving a riddle. Plus a big git that's only interested in sex, Marco Polo, and a monkey. You know, typical Christopher Moore.

I loved this book, but it's at times hard to follow: there are a lot of characters, tons of back-stabbing and lying, and way too many things going on at once (you know: exactly like the Shakespeare source material). The more Shakespeare you know, the funnier the book will be. Also, I think a second reading may be beneficial for deeper understanding - which is fine, because these are characters I've enjoyed revisiting and will again.

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