Moore is one of the funniest and quirkiest writers ever to put fingers to keyboard. It may not be a laugh-a-minute but one comes away with a pretty permanent quirk upwards to one’s lips. In other words not slapstick but some seriously deep guffaws interspersed with sincere chuckles and the unfortunate snort from time to time.
This time out, Moore has put a target on Shakespeare using various tropes mercilessly. Our diminutive hero, Pocket the Fool, is just that: a jester to the court of King Lear. Pocket was part of a traveling troop when he was appropriated by King Lear to be companion to his youngest daughter, Cordelia. This turned out to be a blessing to Pocket; he now lived in a comfortable castle, entertained a little girl whom he loved, and gave him ample shagging time with her two older sisters. Many good years passed until the silly damn fool of a King decided to retire and parcel out his kingdom to his three daughters. He based his decision on how well each of his daughters kissed his royal arse. Cordelia, unfortunately, held a rather pragmatic view of her sire and tended to speak her mind…and the truth. This whole debacle could probably rest on the Fool’s head and his unnatural influence on the poor girl as she was growing up. In the end, the two older sisters ended up in a détente and Cordelia was married off to France to become a Queen. The silly King ended up homeless.
Pocket finds himself in the ridiculous position of trying to succor the old King and keep him from dying from the elements or being something’s dinner while desperately missing his beloved Cordelia. Pocket is also a bit put out by the two sisters’ treatment of both himself and their father not to mention the conniving of your standard villain, Edmund. With the help of three witches, and possibly a bloody ghost, Pocket decides to foment a civil war. Unbeknownst to him, Queen Cordelia has her own agenda and it involves conquering Europe a childhood whim turned reality.
While there is, as one might expect, the required comeuppance for the evil ones and a happy-ever-after for our favorite characters; the story is really all about the dialogue and the author’s opportunity to take a satirical swipe at the most revered literature of all time. But all in good fun and with proper reverence… Moore might be an acquired taste and certainly requires a reader with both proper intelligence and a sense of the irreverent to appreciate his work. I love how his mind works. ~~ Catherine Book
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