The best selling author of Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal, has done it again with Fool. The tawdry tale of King Lear and his empire…a comedy? At the very beginning of the book, Moore warns us:
“This is a bawdy tale. Herein you will find gratuitous shagging, murder, spanking, maiming, treason, and heretofore unexplored heights of vulgarity and profanity, as well as nontraditional grammar, split infinitives, and the odd wank . . . If that’s the sort of thing you think you might enjoy, then you have happened upon the perfect story!”
I don’t even think I can paint a better picture of this book than Harper Collins already has:
“A man of infinite jest, Pocket has been Lear’s cherished fool for years, from the time the king’s grown daughters—selfish, scheming Goneril, sadistic (but erotic-fantasy-grade-hot) Regan, and sweet, loyal Cordelia—were mere girls. So naturally Pocket is at his brainless, elderly liege’s side when Lear—at the insidious urging of Edmund, the bastard (in every way imaginable) son of the Earl of Gloucester—demands that his kids swear their undying love and devotion before a collection of assembled guests. Of course Goneril and Regan are only too happy to brownnose Dad. But Cordelia believes that her father’s request is kind of . . . well . . . stupid, and her blunt honesty ends up costing her her rightful share of the kingdom and earns her a banishment to boot.
Well, now the bangers and mash have really hit the fan. The whole damn country’s about to go to hell in a handbasket because of a stubborn old fart’s wounded pride. And the only person who can possibly make things right . . . is Pocket, a small and slight clown with a biting sense of humor. He’s already managed to sidestep catastrophe (and the vengeful blades of many an offended nobleman) on numerous occasions, using his razor-sharp mind, rapier wit . . . and the equally well-honed daggers he keeps conveniently hidden behind his back. Now he’s going to have to do some very fancy maneuvering—cast some spells, incite a few assassinations, start a war or two (the usual stuff)—to get Cordelia back into Daddy Lear’s good graces, to derail the fiendish power plays of Cordelia’s twisted sisters, to rescue his gigantic, gigantically dim, and always randy friend and apprentice fool, Drool, from repeated beatings . . . and to shag every lusciously shaggable wench who’s amenable to shagging along the way.
Pocket may be a fool . . . but he’s definitely not an idiot. ”
This book isn’t all King Lear, however. Moore himself explains that this book is a bubbling brew of Shakespearean tales including a rhyme spinning ghost a la Hamlet (because there’s always a bloody ghost!), and the three haggard witches, Parsley, Sage, and Rosemary from Macbeth.
This book is a deliciously wicked take on the Shakespearean tragedy, filled with blasphemy, war, betrayal, revenge, bonking, drool, boobs, codpieces, puppets, and more hilarious vulgarity than I have ever seen out of Moore. I’ve been a long time fan of Moore’s and this one is every bit as good as Lamb. While taking a multitude of liberties with the general story of Lear, Moore does keep parts intact, almost quoting from the original. Within all the mayhem, silliness, and wild bonking, there’s a fondness for the original that Moore exudes. He laughs with Shakespeare, not at him.
In the afterward, Moore concedes that people who have now read Fool, will be tempted to read (or reread) the original. Herein lies the path to madness, states Moore. I can see why. They’re two genuinely distinctive stories, they just happen to have the same characters. As in the Harper Collins description, the lead of Moore’s story is not Lear, but his loyal jester and black fool, the randy little Pocket who’ll stick it to anything lukewarm (princesses, kitchen staff, anchoresses…). But there wouldn’t be a tale here if all of Pocket’s deviously designed plans didn’t go recklessly awry.
I don’t want to give away too many of the good parts, but this book is truly laugh-out-loud funny and I highly recommend it!