Thursday, February 3, 2011
CBRIII: Book#6: Fool by Christopher Moore
I must admit, it took me a while to really decide that I wanted to finish reading this book. I started reading it and then was unable to make myself pick it up for long periods of time. Then one day, it all clicked. I snuggled up in a blanket, bullied my family out of my face, and read a huge chunk of Moore's novel. It really is worth the time. And it is deliciously perverse, which I love when done correctly.
The titular Fool is Pocket of King Lear's court. Pocket was raised by nuns, sold to mummers (traveling performers), and then purchased into service for Lear's youngest daughter, Cordelia. Pocket dresses in all black and holds a special place in the King's heart. This keeps him from being killed for calling the bastard son of the Earl of Gloucester a bastard. It also keeps him from the wrath of the Duke of Cornwall and Duke of Albany. Some people just can't take a joke.
The book begins with the Prince of France and the Duke of Burgandy arriving. They each hope to leave the castle with Princess Cordelia's hand in marriage, though Pocket thinks them a pair of poofters. King Lear asks each of his daughters how much they love him and then divides his kingdom in accordance to their respective ass-kissing. Goneril and Regan, Duchess of Albany and Duchess of Cornwall respectively, lie and receive half of the kingdom. Cordelia is truthful and is banished for her troubles, leaving to become Princess of France. Soon Pocket is a key player in the machinations of the two selfish princesses and their desires to take over all of England for themselves.
The reason that it took me a bit to really enjoy the novel is the language. The saltiness of the language doesn't bother me, but I had to get used to the mix of Cockney, British slang, and Shakespearean lilt that some of the passages have. I also had to get used to the many characters and their status in the time period. I really enjoyed the Black Fool, Pocket, a character that gets to flaunt his wit while remaining in the dark. His motivations seem to change as the story progresses, save one. Moore pulls all of the threads together in the end, which was unexpected to me. At least, the way that the threads came together was surprising. Definitely worth a read.