We return to the late 13th Century and to see how Pocket of Dog Snogging is getting on since the events of 2009’s Fool. And as much as that book was a skewering of Shakespeare’s King Lear, this one takes on both The Merchant of Venice and Othello by the legendary writer and adds a bit of Edgar Allen Poe’s short story The Cask of Amontillado.
I like Christopher Moore, but I kind of wish he not do sequels to his books. I mean, I loved his 1995 bestseller, Bloodsucking Fiends, but his 2007 follow-up You Suck and 2010 follow-up of that, Bite Me, never achieved the same sort of hilarity of the first. And while I kind of wish he do a follow up to 2006’s A Dirty Job, I’m now hoping he doesn’t -but I think he is. I saw him in 2012 for the tour of Sacré Bleu in Pasadena and he mentioned he was working on one.
Pocket has been sent to Venice by his queen, Cordelia, to stop a war, and he quickly finds himself caught in multiple revenge schemes. The cast of characters is drawn from both of these famous plays, but also adds a disappointingly brief cameo of Marco Polo (which made me pine once again for the long-lost Doctor Who serial of the same name). The problem here, Polo’s appearance seems wedged in just to move the plot along. It’s a bit contrived and to be honest, now reflecting on it hours after finishing the book, Polo would’ve made for a much more interesting story without all the theatrics of Shakespeare added in.
Yet, even a sub-par Christopher Moore book is still better than most. While this story is not fully narrated by Pocket (which it should’ve), Moore still shows why he’s a genius at what he does, as the book does some great and snappy dialogue with a lot of self-referential comments. The bawdy jokes remain as well (there is not a four-letter word Pocket cannot use), and Moore’s marvelous prose remains as his greatest trademark (the Pound-of-Flesh trial shines with his abundant wit and cleverness).
Not as astute or as amusing as Fool, but Moore’s The Serpent of Venice reads like an old friend you’ve out grown -it’s still nice to see them every once in a while.