Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Serpent of Venice by Christopher Moore

The Serpent of Venice: A NovelThe Serpent of Venice: A Novel by Christopher Moore
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Gondola knifes through vasty night
Past dying stars of lantern light
And distant cries of tart’s delight
Ride drunken songs to bawdy heights.
Beneath a bridge doth stand the fool,
Crafting plans to free young Drool.
By stealth or guile or cutting throats,
No plots commence without a boat.

We find Pocket at the beginning of this novel in a bit of a pickle. He is shackled and chained in a room that is so close to the sea that when the tide comes in water rises to his armpits. His enemies have left him there to die much the same way enemies always seem to leave James Bond in a precarious situation, but never stick around to actually see the hero eviscerated, drowned, crushed, impaled or sliced by a laser.

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If Pocket were a foot taller and not so much the fool he’d be Bond, James Bond.

Do you expect me to talk Brabantio?
NO, Mr. Pocket, I expect you to die.

Before Pocket can manufacture his magnificent escape he has a wee bit of problem with a sea creature, a serpent, a black dragon in fact, who has a powerful lust for Pocket’s knob. Pocket is potentially one of the horniest fools in existence, but even he finds the claws and the rough foreplay exhausting. It goes on for night after night. It will turn out to be the least he can do because this black serpent turns out to be the instrument of his revenge on those that are trying to kill him. He also has an issue in true Shakespearean style with a less than helpful chorus who is filling his ears with doom and gloom.

And so, chained in the dark, naked and bedeviled by a hellish creature unknown, after five changings of the tides, the fool went mad.

I am not mad!

Fear did twist the jester’s tiny mind--stretch it past the limits of sanity until it snapped--and shivering and pale, he went mad.

I am not mad!

Stark, raving mad. Bonkers. Drooling, frothing, barking mad.

I am not bloody mad, you berk!

You’re shouting at a disembodied voice in the dark.

Oh fuckstockings. Good point. Well, a bit knackered, perhaps, but not bloody mad.

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The Bloody Chorus is trying to drive poor Pocket MAD!!!

Did I mention that Pocket is a FOOL? Not a fool in the same sense as most people you may know, but really truly a King’s fool. He is temporarily out of work, but then it seems everyone has a job for him. All he wants to do is mourn the loss of the great love of his life Cordelia, maybe shag something other than a sea serpent, drink copious amounts of alcohol, and stuff his gullet with a buffet of rich foods.

First he has to liberate his friend Drool, a mountain of a man, from captivity. Pocket meets a pretty Jewish girl who has exactly what he needs, or rather her father Shylock has exactly what he needs...a big bag of gold. Now Drool is a special case who asks every woman he meets if he can see her tits and is constantly needed to relieve the strain that his breeches can barely contain. He does have some strange skills more in line with Rainman.

”It’s a gift, nature’s way of compensating him for being an enormous, beef-brained child. He can remember whole conversations, hours long, and recite them back word for word, in the voice from which they sprouted, and not have a fluttering notion of what he’s been saying.”

To make the duo a trio there is also a monkey named Jeff who has a special predilection for humping headwear. It is very disconcerting for the person wearing a hat. As an afterthought Pocket liberates a young man by the name of Marco Polo.

There are also plenty of women populating this novel who are performing the world’s oldest profession.

”Shag a virgin, five shillings. Sail you off the edge of the world* for six,” she called by routine, bored.

*It’s AD 1299. “Around the World” hasn’t been invented yet.

Pocket doesn’t usually hang out with the best class of citizen, but as dangerous as that might seem it isn’t half as dangerous when he becomes caught up in the schemes surrounding Othello and the wicked man named Iago whispering in his ear. It wasn’t Pocket’s idea, but the bloody ghost finally showed up, and she happened to be his lost love Cordelia who knows perfectly well the right sentiments to motivate Pocket into being helpful. As usual Pocket, through the dint of his unusual skills (pissing everyone off), will have to figure out a way to save the world once again and more importantly keep himself alive in the process.

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Christopher Moore attired properly to tell this tale.

Christopher Moore has taken the plays The Merchant of Venice and Othello added a dash of The Cask of Amontillado by Edgar Allan Poe and produced another adventure for the most unlikely of heroes The Fool Pocket. As Carl Hiaasen says on the front cover: ”Shakespeare and Poe might be rolling in their graves, but they’re rolling with laughter. Moore is one of the cleverest, naughtiest writers alive.” I enjoyed this book, but it suffered in comparison to the first book with Pocket titled Fool. I certainly caught myself chuckling reading this one, but when I was reading Fool I would occasionally have put the book down because I was laughing too hard to hold it. Certainly read Fool first and if you enjoy that one you won’t be able to resist this one.

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