Saturday, March 21, 2009

A Fool and his humor are parted.

17. Fool, by Christopher Moore

The first thing that I must say to any Christopher Moore fan who picks up this book is to put aside your expectations. I had assumed that this would be, as are Moore's other books, hysterically funny. It's not. That is not to say it's a bad book. But it did take me a while to get into it simply because I kept thinking, "When does it get funny?"

The answer is that it doesn't. This retelling of the story of King Lear from the point of view of the fool is very dark indeed, though there are certainly humorous bits scattered about the book. (I particularly like the recurring appearance of a ghost, at which someone is always bound to exclaim, "There's always a bloody ghost!") Pocket has been Lear's fool, and mentor to a dull-witted apprentice, Drool, for years, having been brought to the castle to amuse the baby princess, Cordelia, and now follows him on his peregrinations through his former kingdom. This is about as far as Moore resembles Shakespeare. Moore's fool engages in political intrigues, dalliances with the princesses, and is generally responsible (indirectly, if not directly) for a variety of deaths, dismemberments and an ultimately "happy" ending.

Would I recommend this to a Christopher Moore fan? A qualified "yes". It's not his best, it's certainly not typical of his work, but if you go into it knowing that, you'll be satisified. But I definitely would not suggest this as an introduction to Moore's work.

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