Pocket returns in this follow up to Fool written by Christopher Moore. Fresh from being an ambassador from a kingdom that no longer exists, a former slave to the king of Britain and a royal consort to his daughter, this self-proclaimed troubadour now travels towards a new adventure with a jingle in his step from his hat bells. Left to die in a dungeon by Barbantio, the senator of Venice, and his cronies, Pocket makes a miraculous escape and chances upon Shylock the money lender. This begins the comical adventures of one of the most unusual cast of characters ever formed. Gobbo, a blind beggar with bizarre presumptions; Drool, Pocket's old friend, born with a hidden talent of remembering whole conversations then reciting them back word for word, yet unfortunately is cursed with a mimicking problem; and of course Jeff, the monkey. Undercover as Signor Lancelot Gobbo, Pocket embarks on a quest to rescue his old comrades, yet stumbles upon an outlandish contest scam which involves sealed caskets and a bid for the lovely maiden Portia's hand in marriage. As the connections fall into place and the mystery begins to unravel, the real jesting begins as a discovery of a serpent-like creature is made within the canal waters that is genetically beautiful yet dangerous and carries an abnormal affection for our hero.
Christopher Moore's setting of Venice in the mythical late thirteenth century has all the ingredients for a successful follow up novel. The trademark buffoonery that is well known among his books is very much present here and will surely please loyal fans as well as newcomers. With a heavy dose of comedic oddballs, the reader will enjoy not only the return of thief, rascal, and fool, Pocket, but will also meet famed explorer Marco Polo, the whimsical Drool, Jeff the monkey, and the mysterious water dwelling spirit creature that is often called by the Venetians as Blackfish or Dragon. An extra added treat comes in the form of an articulating chorus throughout the book, and with its accompanied narrative communication and guided dialog, the reader will be constantly entertained entering each chapter. With his inspiration from The Cask of Amontillado, The Merchant of Venice, and Othello, Christopher Moore is able to combine these classic tales along with his brand of humor resulting in a mirthful tale entitled The Serpent of Venice.
“Moore has always been a fantastic comic writer, with a fierce intelligence behind his relentlessly entertaining books. Most recently, he's been giving that intelligence free rein, taking art, history, and Shakespeare into unexpected and humorous new realms, and The Serpent of Venice is his most delightful book yet. This novel continues the adventures of Pocket, the titular jester of Fool, as he befriends Shylock's daughter, tries to straighten things out for Othello and Desdemona, and gets mixed up in Venetian politics, some of which bear a disturbing similarity to current events. And did I mention the sea serpent? Hilarious, thought-provoking, and thoroughly enjoyable!”
— Carol Schneck Varner, Schuler Books & Music, Okemos, MI
Venice, a long time ago. Three prominent Venetians await their most loathsome and foul dinner guest, the erstwhile envoy from the Queen of Britain: the rascal-Fool Pocket.
This trio of cunning plotters—the merchant, Antonio; the senator, Montressor Brabantio; and the naval officer, Iago—have lured Pocket to a dark dungeon, promising an evening of sprits and debauchery with a rare Amontillado sherry and Brabantio's beautiful daughter, Portia.
But their invitation is, of course, bogus. The wine is drugged. The girl isn't even in the city limits. Desperate to rid themselves once and for all of the man who has consistently foiled their grand quest for power and wealth, they have lured him to his death. (How can such a small man, be such a huge obstacle?). But this Fool is no fool . . . and he's got more than a few tricks (and hand gestures) up his sleeve.
Greed, revenge, deception, lust, and a giant (but lovable) sea monster combine to create another hilarious and bawdy tale from modern comic genius, Christopher Moore.
Note: The book, too, is a veritable work of art. Rich creamy stock is enhanced by two-color printing, featuring part/chapter titles, running heads, and folios printed in red ink. The text block has blue-stained edges. The book opens to reveal two-page spread endpapers decorated with a sepia-toned antique map of Venice; an antique map of Italy graces the book’s front matter, printed in red. The jacket sports a matte finish with embossed author and title type; gold foil embellishes the title and illustration detail.
Christopher Moore is the author of the novels Secondhand Souls, Sacré Bleu, A Dirty Job, and Lamb. He lives in San Francisco, California.