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The Serpent of Venice: A Novel Hardcover – April 22, 2014

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow; First Edition edition (April 22, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061779768
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061779763
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (352 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #88,970 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* What do you get when you stitch Othello, The Merchant of Venice, and “The Cask of Amontillado” together? Well, you get this rollickin’ adventure in which Pocket, the royal fool introduced in Moore’s Fool (2009), is lured to Venice, where he thinks he’ll be having a fun time with the beautiful Portia, but where three men (including a fella named Iago) are actually planning to murder him. To some, the idea of combining two Shakespeare plays and an Edgar Allan Poe short story might be vaguely chilling. To begin with, Moore, author of such delights as Sacre Blue (2012) and The Stupidest Angel (2004), has to move the events of the plays from the late sixteenth century to the thirteenth to keep the chronology in line with the events recounted in Fool, which means “Amontillado” is moved roughly 500 years back in time. And let’s not forget that the plays are tragedies, whereas this book, which also interpolates elements of King Lear, from which Fool was derived, is a farce. The upshot is, if you’re the kind of reader who insists Shakespeare is untouchable, then this novel will probably annoy you on general principles. On the other hand, if you’re a fan of Moore’s brand of history-mangling humor, you’ll dive right in with a big grin on your face. The grins win in the end. --David Pitt


“Shakespeare and Poe might be rolling in their graves, but they’re rolling with laughter. Christopher Moore is one of the cleverest, naughtiest writers alive.” (Carl Hiaasen, New York Times bestselling author of a whole bunch of excellent books, including Bad Monkey, Nature Girl, and Sick Puppy on THE SERPENT OF VENICE)

“Fans who enjoyed the rollicking play within a play of Fool or the historical whimsy of Sacré Bleu will find many of the same gifts here . . . from one of America’s most original humorists.” (Kirkus Reviews on THE SERPENT OF VENICE)

“Fans of Fool will be overjoyed to rejoin Pocket and company . . . for their latest adventure, and newcomers will find that Shakespeare isn’t nearly as dry and dusty as they thought, at least not when Moore is at the helm. (Library Journal (starred review) on THE SERPENT OF VENICE)

“Moore’s imaginative storytelling, bawdy prose, puns aplenty . . . succeed in transforming two classical tragedies into outrageously farcical entertainment.” (Publishers Weekly on THE SERPENT OF VENICE)

Moore’s greatest asset is his skill with language. Readers with a certain Monty Python nerdiness will rejoice in its hundreds of insults . . . and jokes. . . . [W]itty and wise . . . Serpent is a bright, quick novel.” (3 out of 4 stars) (USA Today on THE SERPENT OF VENICE)

“The dialogue is extremely witty, and . . . you will laugh hard and find yourself hurling bawdy insults throughout the day, even if you don’t say them out lout.” (Louisville Courier Journal on THE SERPENT OF VENICE)

“Moore . . . is an excellent writer, and there are passages of prose—Pocket’s defense of Othello and the entire Pound-of-Flesh trial—that sparkle with Moore’s trademark wit and intelligence. Moore’s strength is his ability to appropriate supporting characters and make them wholly his own creations. (Dallas Morning News on THE SERPENT OF VENICE)

“To get a sense of the tone, imagine the merry pranksters of Monty Python in their heyday taking off on Shakespeare while simultaneously trying to break the record for F-bombs currently held by The Wolf of Wall Street.” (Tampa Bay Times on THE SERPENT OF VENICE)

“A gleeful and wonderfully strange mash-up. Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, and Othello are its chief ingredients, with Edgar Allan Poe’s short story ‘The Cask of Amontillado’ thrown in. The result? An imaginative, wildly inspired satire.” (Seattle Times on THE SERPENT OF VENICE)

“[Moore] brings back one of his favorite characters, Pocket from 2009’s Fool. . . . Add a weirdly satisfying combo of literary in-jokes and low sex gags to the mix and what comes out of the Christopher Moore meat grinder is unique and sublime.” (Fort Worth Star-Telegram on THE SERPENT OF VENICE)

The Serpent of Venice is a remarkable reimagining of classic literature, churned through historical backgrounds and research and set to a different drum. Tragedy becomes comedy in this side-splitting, hair-raising adventure. . . . A piece of literary gold.” ( on THE SERPENT OF VENICE)

Customer Reviews

Christopher Moore is witty, funny and very creative with his characters.
Tracey M.
The fool, his serpent & the cast of characters a great read with a combination of Merchant of Venice and Othello .
Just Jennifer a bookworm
If you haven't read any of Christopher Moore's books, you are missing some great fun !

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Jan Heart on March 19, 2015
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
There is a small handful of modern writers I count as the best in black humor today: Carl Plumer, author of ZOMBIE EVER AFTER, A. Lee Martinez, and (of course) Christopher Moore, who ticks all the right boxes for me.
Each author has his own special traits, but they all share a great individual insight laced with wicked humor.

The Serpent of Venice from Chris Moore has become my favorite book from this author to date. The mix of Shakespeare and Edgar Allan Poe, whose novels my parents forced me to read (yes, I'm finally grateful they did this) works so well with Moore's clever yet slightly bawdy humor. Unlike popular comic writers of today who seem to focus on what is trendy and topical, Moore goes his own way, using his own unique style and humor to pave his way to yet another winner. A big cheer for Mr. Moore - he's pulled out another gem of a novel from his rich repertoire.
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Stacia R. Roesler VINE VOICE on November 12, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I read absolutely everything that Christopher Moore writes---my favorite of his books is LAMB, although I really really like nearly all of his early ones. Of his last three, I thought Fool was pretty darned good, but I gave Sacre Bleu a three. This one falls in between them, so it gets a four.

The Fool character is terrific, as are his sidekicks, and I'm glad he's reappeared in this book. The dialogue is wonderful and witty. The Othello character is terrific and really comes to life. I found the melding of three Shakespeare plays interesting (if sometimes a bit hard to follow) but the complicated construct of the serpent just really pushes belief and makes the story a bit foolish. (Not that island ghosts and space whales didn't push belief in earlier books....)

In short, a solid effort, but not as thought-provoking as some of his other books. More like an enjoyable larkish romp, and so (for me) in the bottom 25% of his body of work. Which still gains it a four, because he's a great writer and pretty much all of his books are well worth reading (i.e. better by far than most of the tripe available these days). Worth your time to read, but believe those other reviewers when they say this sequel isn't as enjoyable as the first Fool.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
There is an undeniable and irresistible lunacy to the literary worlds created by author Christopher Moore. I have read every book he's ever released, so I guess you could call me a rather large fan. As much as I love his kooky portraits of a San Francisco populated by vampires and other supernatural or exotically strange entities, I really enjoy when he steps away to something altogether different. To date, my favorite Moore books have been "Lamb" (an unlikely tale about Jesus) and "Fool" (a rollicking take on the King Lear story). Having skewered Shakespeare quite effectively once, Moore is back with "The Serpents of Venice." Not necessarily a sequel as much as a companion piece, "The Serpents of Venice" reunites Pocket, Drool, and Jeff the Monkey for another adventure. Drool and Jeff don't play much of a role until late in the story, but Pocket is front and center for a tale that combines elements of Edgar Allen Poe's ""The Cask of Amontillado" with characters and plot points of both "The Merchant of Venice" (which you might have guessed from the title) and "Othello." Not a small task, to be sure, but one that Moore executes with much humor.

As the story unfolds, Pocket is still grieving the death of his beloved Queen. As an emissary in Venice, he has befriended the Doge but alienated almost everyone else. If you recall, Pocket is a boisterous little imp filled with profane thoughts and a universally biting commentary who presents his most cutting barbs through the pronouncements of a puppet. A wealthy merchant and his cohorts want to put an end to our good Pocket, and they enact a plot to make him disappear. Without spoiling anything, let's just say that his demise is forestalled when an unlikely ally comes to his rescue.
Read more ›
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Mandy Payne TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 22, 2014
Format: Hardcover
As only Christopher Moore can, I was pulled in completely by another of his cleverly done meaningless stories. This book is pure entertainment and side splitting laugh out loud moments.

If you're already a Moore fan then, as long as you don't come into this one expecting another Lamb, you won't be disappointed. I would say this book is on par with some of his other better stories. Pocket, much like Mint E Fresh, is a character I am happy to see come back. This was definitely a fun, worthwhile read.

As you may have gathered from the product description, this book is a loosely woven tale of a couple of Shakespeare comedies and our old friend Pocket the fool. If you're at least vaguely familiar with Shakespeare, you'll greatly enjoy this book and, much like Sacre Bleu, you'll see the genius in the writing. If you're not, you don't need to take a college course on it -- you will still enjoy this book.

Maybe read the Cliff Notes on the Shakespeare works if you really don't want to feel like you're missing out.

I don't like reviews that read like book reports, so I won't tell you the story. That's for you to read and discover. Suffice it to say that, as far as Moore books go, I would rank this in the 80th percentile.
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More About the Author

Christopher Moore is the author of eleven previous novels: Practical Demonkeeping, Coyote Blue, Bloodsucking Fiends, Island of the Sequined Love Nun, The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove, Lamb, Fluke, The Stupidest Angel, A Dirty Job, You Suck, and Fool. He lives in San Francisco.

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The Serpent of Venice: A Novel
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