A wickedly funny retelling of King Lear and his court in a make-believe England.
King Lear is one of literature’s most famous tragedies. Author Christopher Moore doesn’t do tragedies. His work tends to be more, well ... silly. Goofball. Zany. The antithesis of all that is heavy and deep. He’s written 11 books, and although they’ve covered a wide spectrum of subjects – vampires, angels, whales, death, demons, Jesus, and even a sequined nun – there is a common thread running through all of them: They’re funny.
So funny that if you’re reading one on the bus and let out a great noisy honk of laughter, you don’t even care that all the other passengers stare at you.. (Not that this has ever happened to me, of course.)
So Shakespeare purists may be leery of Fool, Moore’s latest novel, which is a retelling of the King Lear story. And to them, I say: You should be. You may well dislike this book. But then you will be out of step with almost everyone else.
After all, it’s hard to resist so gleeful a tale of murder, witchcraft, treason, maiming, and spanking. Oh, and there’s a ghost, too.
The fool in question is Pocket, a bite-sized jester in the court of Lear, the aged king of a mythical 13th-century Britain. Pocket is a favorite of Lear, and also of Lear’s three beautiful and cunning daughters, the princesses Goneril, Regan, and Cordelia.
Treachery is afoot in Lear’s castle when the old man decides to divide his kingdom among his daughters and their husbands. When Cordelia refuses to flatter her father with false praise, as do her sisters, Lear becomes outraged and disowns her. In the ensuing melee, he also banishes his oldest and truest friend, the Earl of Kent.
Pocket and his apprentice fool, Drool, get swept up in the chaos as the king descends into impotent madness and the kingdom into war. With Pocket’s help, Kent hides in Lear’s train in disguise; while Edmund, bastard son of the Duke of Gloucester, plots to usurp the position of his elder brother Edgar, the Duke’s legitimate son. At the same time, Goneril and Regan scheme to get rid of their father – and each other – once and for all.