Monday, 1 April 2013

Fool - Christopher Moore

A man of infinite jest, Pocket has been Lear's cherished fool for years, from the time the king's grown daughters--selfish, scheming Goneril, sadistic (but erotic-fantasy-grade-hot) Regan, and sweet, loyal Cordelia--were mere girls. So naturally Pocket is at his brainless, elderly liege's side when Lear--at the insidious urging of Edmund, the bastard (in every way imaginable) son of the Earl of Gloucester--demands that his kids swear their undying love and devotion before a collection of assembled guests. Of course Goneril and Regan are only too happy to brownnose Dad. But Cordelia believes that her father's request is kind of . . . well . . . stupid, and her blunt honesty ends up costing her her rightful share of the kingdom and earns her a banishment to boot.

Well, now the bangers and mash have really hit the fan. The whole damn country's about to go to hell in a handbasket because of a stubborn old fart's wounded pride. And the only person who can possibly make things right . . . is Pocket, a small and slight clown with a biting sense of humor. He's already managed to sidestep catastrophe (and the vengeful blades of many an offended nobleman) on numerous occasions, using his razor-sharp mind, rapier wit . . . and the equally well-honed daggers he keeps conveniently hidden behind his back. Now he's going to have to do some very fancy maneuvering--cast some spells, incite a few assassinations, start a war or two (the usual stuff)--to get Cordelia back into Daddy Lear's good graces, to derail the fiendish power plays of Cordelia's twisted sisters, to rescue his gigantic, gigantically dim, and always randy friend and apprentice fool, Drool, from repeated beatings . . . and to shag every lusciously shaggable wench who's amenable to shagging along the way.

Pocket may be a fool . . . but he's definitely not an idiot.

This book should be right up my alley and somehow I'd never heard of it until my friend Colin handed it to me one day and told me I had to read it. After reading the book jacket, I agreed. A book about Lear's Fool? By Christopher Moore? Having a Masters in Shakespeare, I always think that I need to read anything remotely related to him just to make all my ridiculous knowledge worth it. But a book by a proven author I was always down for.

Christopher Moore definitely has fun with language and that was obvious in Fool. He enjoys mixing words from the early modern period with references to Weetabix and Mazdas. There are paraphrases of lines from all sorts of Shakespeare plays and it's obvious that he did at least a good deal of research, even if it does seem like he threw a considerable chunk of it out the window. Once you realize you're in an anachronism, it's all fine and fun.

Pocket, our hero, is really well drawn. I was a bit worried going in since I like reading my Lear with the duel Fool/Cordelia theory in mind. I really like that reading of the play and so not only seeing Pocket and Cordelia as separate characters but as love interests weirded me out a bit. Pocket is a pretty lovable hero, though. Even though he makes some mistakes, it's easy to root for him and he definitely seems like the only person with half a brain in the entire story. The tragedy is played as a tragicomedy (more comedy than tragedy, if we're being honest) and anyone who has seen enough King Lears can understand the idea.

I think I had a bit of trouble relaxing and just reading which is unfortunate because this really is a well-written book. I had a bit of trouble with some of the backstory Moore gave to all the characters. It felt a bit much and unneeded. Moore seems to have a real beef with Lear for some reason and his character was really degraded. I didn't particularly like that.

Overall, however, the book is enjoyable. Pretty clever, very silly and fun.

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