Title – The Serpent of Venice
Author – Christopher Moore
Source – Scottsdale City Library
Venice, a long time ago, three prominent men lure their dinner guest, the diminutive Fool Pocket, an ambassador sent from England, to a dungeon with the promise of wine and loose women. It is a trap of course and the Fool dwarf is locked away to die slowly.
The three men have a plot to send Venice into another Holy War, but Pocket with the great Othello has already thwarted that plan. So they plan again. To capture Pocket. To murder his love Queen Cordelia. To discredit the Moor Othello and his love Desdemona. To replace the Doge of Venice and in doing so become insanely rich and famous. These three, the merchant Antonio, Montressor Brabantio and the Officer Iago have planned on everything. That is except the horny murderous sea dragon that frees Pocket from their trap, after giving him a good shag or two.
But this is Pocket, no ordinary Fool and when he escapes he unleashes a plan of vengeance so full of hate and misery and more than a little ridiculous fun. Loose, with the help of the Jewess pirate Jessica, his oversized and simple friend Drool, his pet monkey Jeff among others, Pocket sets himself to take revenge on the trio and save Venice from a War it cannot win or afford.
With a cast of characters borrowed and stolen from several Shakespearian plays, the plot folds and unfolds and then folds again. There is betrayal, there is innuendo, there is lying and plotting and of course there is a ghost. Because there always is a bloody ghost.
Christopher writes ridiculous fun books. His characters are unreal and in their own sad ways rather pathetic. But they still rise above the challenges and in some way find a path to win out. Or to at least piss a good lot of folks off along the way. People we ourselves wouldn’t mind pissing off if we didn’t have good manners.
Pocket first came to being in the book Fool. A humorous adaption of the play King Lear by Shakespeare and I loved it. I loved it so much I told my oldest daughter about it and how funny King Lear was. Being the aristocratic and stuffy Shakespearian lover she is, she was offended which of course, just made it all the more fun for me.
“…Moi?” said I, in perfect fucking French.
“Toi, mon amour,” said she, in the teasing tongue of the frog. She kissed me lightly on the eyebrow and danced across our bedchamber to a heavy table where lay paper, ink, and quill.
“The kingdom is going to shit. I need my loyal knights here as a show of strength against those who would usurp me. You need to make it clear to the Venetians that I have no intention of joining yet another holy Crusade, nor will anyone from any of my lands, or, if I can manage it, our allies. And I want you to wear your motley. I want message to come from a fool.”
“But I am your king.”
“No you’re not.”
“The royal consort?” I ventured.
“I have, in my weaker moments, shagged a fool,” said she, her head bowed in shame.
“And married the same,” said I.
“I don’t think we should dwell on that, love. Go to them. Speak my mind. Dwell in their palaces, drink their wine, learn their secrets, and leave them flustered, frustrated, and insulted, as I know only you can do.”
“But, lamb, sending a fool to the pope-”
“Oh, bugger the pope!”
“I think he already has someone to do that…”
See, irreverent. Offensive and is so rare in today’s literature. Just damn funny.
“…So,” said I. “Just chopping random bits off a bloke, something you Jews do a lot then…”
This is Othello/The Merchant of Venice after a really fun bender. Shakespeare on crack if you will. Without the paranoia. But there is a ghost. There is always a ghost. And of course the Fucking French.