The Serpent of Venice

The Serpent of Venice

4.1 31
by Christopher Moore

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Venice, a long time ago. Three prominent Venetians await their most loathsome and foul dinner guest, the erstwhile envoy from the Queen of Britain: the rascal-Fool Pocket.

This trio of cunning plotters—the merchant, Antonio; the senator, Montressor Brabantio; and the naval officer, Iago—have lured Pocket to a dark dungeon, promising an evening


Venice, a long time ago. Three prominent Venetians await their most loathsome and foul dinner guest, the erstwhile envoy from the Queen of Britain: the rascal-Fool Pocket.

This trio of cunning plotters—the merchant, Antonio; the senator, Montressor Brabantio; and the naval officer, Iago—have lured Pocket to a dark dungeon, promising an evening of sprits and debauchery with a rare Amontillado sherry and Brabantio's beautiful daughter, Portia.

But their invitation is, of course, bogus. The wine is drugged. The girl isn't even in the city limits. Desperate to rid themselves once and for all of the man who has consistently foiled their grand quest for power and wealth, they have lured him to his death. (How can such a small man, be such a huge obstacle?). But this Fool is no fool . . . and he's got more than a few tricks (and hand gestures) up his sleeve.

Greed, revenge, deception, lust, and a giant (but lovable) sea monster combine to create another hilarious and bawdy tale from modern comic genius, Christopher Moore.

Note: The book, too, is a veritable work of art. Rich creamy stock is enhanced by two-color printing, featuring part/chapter titles, running heads, and folios printed in red ink. The text block has blue-stained edges. The book opens to reveal two-page spread endpapers decorated with a sepia-toned antique map of Venice; an antique map of Italy graces the book’s front matter, printed in red. The jacket sports a matte finish with embossed author and title type; gold foil embellishes the title and illustration detail.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Moore’s mash-up of Othello and The Merchant of Venice with Poe’s “The Cask of Amontillado” is a standout sequel to Fool, his twisted retelling of King Lear from 2009. After a dastardly trio of Venetians (including Iago) plot to bury alive Pocket the fool for thwarting an attempt to cook up a new Crusade from which they’d hoped to profit, he is saved by what he believes is a seriously horny mermaid. He washes up in Venice’s Jewish ghetto and is rescued by Shylock’s lovably abrasive daughter, Jessica. She leaves with Pocket, hoping to elope with a Venetian gentile with whom she is in love, as he attempts to rescue his motley companions with his friend Othello’s help, and to warn the general that a plot’s afoot. Moore’s imaginative storytelling, bawdy prose, puns aplenty, as well as his creation of a violent sea creature intent on helping Fool’s cause, and Jessica’s “piratey” disguise, succeed in transforming two classical tragedies into outrageously farcical entertainment. In conjunction with the historical setting, the humor also allows Moore to skewer greed, hypocrisy, and racism—e.g., Middle Eastern wars for profit, segregation (in this instance, of the Jews)—all of which are still endemic in modern culture. (Apr.)
Kirkus Reviews
Iago from Shakespeare's Othello, Antonio, the titular merchant of Venice, and Monstressor Brabantio from Edgar Allan Poe's "The Cask of Amontillado" walk into a bar…. It's a joke but it's quite a complicated one in the latest historical farce from Moore (Sacre Bleu, 2012, etc.). In this follow-up to Fool (2009), Moore brings back Pocket of Dog Snogging, his prodigious companion, Drool, and pet monkey Jeff for another round of satirizing the Bard of Avon by way of the Marx Brothers. After trouncing King Lear, Moore has decided a mashup is in order, reconciling its multiple inspirations to a mythical Venice circa 1299. Pocket starts his new adventure poorly, having been walled into Poe's fictional prison by Brabantio, where he's reduced to talking to the Chorus (there's always a bloody chorus). "I am not bloody mad, you berk," he exclaims, to which the Chorus replies, "You're shouting at a disembodied voice in the dark." Bid by his queen, Cordelia, to travel to the sunken kingdom of Venice to help the Moor, Othello, and stop a conspiracy forged in greed from prosecuting a crusade, Pocket fumbles his way through a complicated adventure buoyed by Moore's half-cocked Shakespearean dialogue, puerile humor and ceaseless banter. The setting helps the author's cause, lending a rich historical backdrop that includes trade disputes, political intrigue and Shakespearean spectacle. Readers who are steeped in Shakespeare and aren't too sensitive will enjoy outrageous lines like, "Cry havoc, and let slip the trousers of most outrageous bonkilation!" Purists are better advised to stick with safer adaptations, where they're less likely to encounter Marco Polo lollygagging in a Venetian prison, the prodigious use of perennial Moore vulgarities ("Fuckstockings!") or our hero shagging a dragon. It is, as the author himself calls it, an abomination, but fans who enjoyed the rollicking play within a play of Fool or the historical whimsy of Sacre Bleu will find many of the same gifts here. Fool's gold, replete with junk jokes, from one of America's most original humorists.
Carl Hiaasen
“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.”
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)
Louisville Courier Journal 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.”
Dallas Morning News 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.
“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.
“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.”
Fort Worth Star-Telegram 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.” 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.”

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.30(d)

Meet the Author

Christopher Moore is the author of fourteen previous novels, including Lamb, The Stupidest Angel, Fool, Sacré Bleu, A Dirty Job, and The Serpent of Venice.

Brief Biography

Hawaii and San Francisco, California
Date of Birth:
August 5, 1958
Place of Birth:
Toledo, Ohio

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The Serpent of Venice: A Novel 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 31 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not up to his past books. I was expecting more!
StephWard More than 1 year ago
4.5 Stars 'The Serpent of Venice' is another literary masterpiece to add to the author's already substantial list. The author pays homage to both Shakespeare and Edgar Allan Poe in the book, injecting his usual quirky banter and unique twists. Being a huge fan of both Poe and Shakespeare, I found that the author did a great job mixing various aspects of both into the main plot of the book, as well as into the smaller details and characters. The nod to Poe comes with the three Venetian men conning the Fool - called Pocket - into the wine cellar of the senator's palazzo, so he can verify the authenticity and value of a cask of sherry that has been procured. This part of the book follows very closely the plot of Poe's short story, "The Cask of Amontillado," which happens to be one of my favorites. The majority of the book references Shakespeare's works and characters - down to the finest details, like character names such as Iago and Othello. Most readers are familiar with Poe and his works and almost all are well versed in most of Shakespeare's plays, even if only a bit of each one. The author uses these famous classic authors for their notoriety and then infuses his own unique blend of humor and wit into the story to create a genuinely authentic novel that will have readers laughing out loud at the foul-mouthed characters with their vulgar jokes, comical jabs at greed, and a narrative that bends the rules of society just enough to be on the edge of offensive or ludicrous - literally blurring the lines between them. This is the first book of the author's that I've read although I've been hearing nothing but great things about them for years. I was immediately hooked by the story - the mixture of Shakespeare and Poe - and when the mocking characters and narrative made their debut, I knew that I had come across a rare piece of literature that could get away with both paying homage to the great classics while making a farce out of society in general. The author's ability to do both of these things in one novel is genius and something you definitely don't come across very often. It's hard to describe the book - you have to experience it for yourself to really understand the author's immense talent and the ingenuity of the story. I can't find the right words to describe the novel and all of it's detailed aspects - nothing I could come up with would do the story or the author the justice they deserve and the sheer brilliance that radiates from it's pages. I'll only say that this book isn't going to be for everyone - some readers will be offended, others unaffected by the humor or for whatever reason, but those who take a true affinity for the writing style and the story itself will find themselves on a transformative journey through literature that will leave them changed forever. I personally am in the last of these categories and couldn't seem to get enough of the author's writing. Suffice it to say that I'm now a die hard fan and will be desperately seeking out and reading every single other book the author has written. I very highly recommend this novel to those who enjoy humor, satirical fiction, and those who are looking for something altogether unique to experience. Disclosure: I received a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
PenelopeSue More than 1 year ago
This follows Pocket, Drool, Jeff, and Jones from "Fool" onto medieval Venice. Moore then mashes up the characters and plots from "Othello", "The Merchant of Venice", some Edgar Allen Poe, Marco Polo, and a Serpent. Hijinx and hilarity ensue. Witty, snarky, and smart. Can't wait for more from Moore! And vacation to go with it...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Going from plot line to plot line, Christopher reimagines Shakespeare in Venice - with the Fool. Not as tight as "Fool," but still a great read!
techwrite More than 1 year ago
I'm a big fan of Christopher Moore. This is one of his best.  It mashes together The Merchant of Venice with Othello and a good deal of Moore's twisted genius. Of course, there's the requisite monster and throughout is Pocket's sarcasm to make it hilarious in a biting sort of way.
Drewano More than 1 year ago
At times I found “The Serpent of Venice” funny (especially Drool, that guy’s hilarious), but overall I found it too hard to keep track of everyone and what was going on which might be from the old English or the fact that he’s trying to cram 3 well know works of literature into one humorous story. Not bad but not great just middle of the road for me.
rjdrennen More than 1 year ago
Another Masterpiece This is the best book I have read some time, and I have read a lot of books this summer. Moore juggles multiple Shakespeare plays, on top of a Edgar Allan Poe short story masterfully. The jokes and insults had me laughing out loud, wishing people talked this way in every day life. The book is extremely well-written and well- paced. I could not put this down until I finished it. I liked this even better than "Fool", and I cannot wait until the next adventure of Pocket, Drool, and Jeff!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
D_K_M More than 1 year ago
I was laughing out loud and embarrassing myself in the break room because I found this so funny! What kind of reader would like this book = someone who also has an appreciation of a twisted sense of humor! I have read all of Christopher Moore's books and love them! Would you recommend this book for book club discussions? I don't think so...too much "shagging"!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
B-2 More than 1 year ago
Funny and Interesting.  Moore twists "Othello" and "Merchant of Venice" in a half-parody half-mystery, with added E.A.Poe and  Marco Polo for spice. I could it even better than "Fool" which the reader should probably read first to appreciate this book 100%.  Also, a caveat: the book is definitely R-rated, as many of others by this author. I grade books as Buy and Keep ( BK), Read a Library Copy (RLC) and Once-I-Put-It-Down-I-Couldn’t-Pick-It-Up (OIPD-ICPU).   If you haven't read Christopher Moore before, I strongly suggest to  RLC  his "Fool"  and the "Serpent" together.  If you have, either RLC or BK the "Serpent" - whatever you like to do with your favorite Moore's books. 
StymieStone More than 1 year ago
theh interlaceing of plots drive a person to want more and more of Moores books. I cann't say that they are all easy reading. One or two of his books have left me flat but the ones that I have enjoyed are some of my favorites.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Pocket, the fool from "Fool", returns in this mash-up of Shakespeare's Othello and The Merchant of Venice. It's a typical Christopher Moore book, which is to say highly entertaining, well-plotted, humorous but with moments of genuine pathos, all told in language both witty and profane. Good things happen to the good guys and bad things to the bad guys (eventually), there's a bantering Chorus and, of course, a ghost. Great fun and over all too quickly.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It's always fun reading Christopher Moore
Reader_Rick_in_Reno More than 1 year ago
This mashup of Shakespeare, mainly Merchant and Othello with a little Poe and others thrown in for good measure. Moore takes you on convoluted tale of intrigue and double dealing. Imagine Portia AND Desdemona in the same story. I promise you will laugh out loud and read snippets to the person who asks you: "What's so funny?" FOFLMAO just thinking about it!
TREBORNOSNHOJ More than 1 year ago
Once again Mr. Moore has craftily combined the Bard's works into a devious and entertaining experience. bob j
Sean_From_OHIO More than 1 year ago
I loved Fool and if you take the hilarity of Pocket, Drool, etc. and add a vicious serpent you get an awesomely funny adventure. Shakespeare can be funny by itself but Moore takes it to another level. I have often said that Moore's novels would make great HBO or Comedy Central animated series but the thought of seeing this on stage trumps that. I now look forward to a third, revenge-filled epic involving my favorite literary character, Pocket. Overall, a fantastically hilarious Venician romp!
dibbylodd More than 1 year ago
Christopher Moore is a mad man! Like reading Shakespeare, I found it took a little while before I got comfortable with the writing style and stopped noticing it. Then I was breezing along with a riotous tale. If you know any Shakespeare, you are likely to recognize some familiar people and events. If you don't know Shakespeare (and I hazard to guess he would disavow anything to do with this book) It matters not. A fine set up of politics and skulduggery with humor, lust, and knavery a plenty. (See that--He's corrupted my writing style!) Not for the faint of heart or those bothered by "questionably" language. You have been warned.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Pre-ordered the nook book and waited excitedly for it. Well worth the wait. His stories are so funny it you have the right or should I say a wry sense of humor. I'm happy that he has another loveable serpent like the love lust lizard. I have enjoyed every one of his books. He needs to hurry up and write another for me.
SuperstarMom More than 1 year ago
This is Christopher Moore at his finest. Fun characters, crazy plot line, and plenty of shagging. Any fan of Moore's work will love this one too.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago