Falstaff’s Big Gamble
By Hank Quense
Publisher: Strange Worlds Publishing
Genre: Fantasy, Satire
Formats Available For Review: epub, mobi, pdf
This fantasy adventure is Shakespeare’s Worst Nightmare.
It takes two of the Bard’s most famous plays and recasts them with fantasy characters.
You don’t have to know anything about Shakespeare to enjoy this fantasy comedy. Hamlet is now a dwarf, Othello is a dark elf and Falstaff is a human. If that isn’t bad enough, these two tragedies are now comedies with Falstaff, Shakespeare’s most popular rogue, thrown in as a bonus. Both Hamlet and Othello are plagued by the scheming Falstaff, a human.
Hamlet is the Prince of Denmarko and is striving to start a private business — bee-keeping — to demonstrate his competence and independence from the court. He is shocked to learn, from a ghost, that his uncle Clodio murdered his father. Indecisive, he tries to balance his love of bees with his mother’s demands to help Clodio and the ghost’s insistence that he avenge his father’s murder.
Othello, using a tarted-up resume, is named to the post of Minister of Homeland Security in the city of Dun Hythe. Once he assumes the post he realizes his responsibilities are much greater than he imagined they would be. He soon discovers his appointment was engineered by his wife’s grandmother who heads the local crime syndicate and demands that Othello illegally award her the contracts to rebuild the Dun Hythe’s walls.
Falstaff is a life-long schemer and scam artist. He calls himself Sir John Falstaff since he won the title ‘Sir’ in a card game with the knight. A deserter from the army, he travels around the country with his batman, Poulet, searching for opportunities. During the story Falstaff sees Hamlet and Othello as easy marks and gulls both of them.
Falstaff, claiming he and Othello once fought in the same battle, accepts money from Othello to recruit a force to put down the piracy that plagues Dun Hythe’s port. Instead, he steals two ships and goes into the piracy business on his own.
Later on, Falstaff decides to give up piracy as it is getting too dangerous. He saves Hamlet’s life after Clodio tries to assassinate the prince. Falstaff helps Hamlet avenge his father’s murder, then accumulates vast power by persuading Hamlet, now king, to let him take over the burden of ruling. Falstaff convinces Hamlet that Dun Hythe and Othello will invade Denmarko shortly and their only hope is to attack first. Falstaff recruits an army and leads it , along with Hamlet, to attack Dun Hythe where Falstaff plans to make himself king over the richest city in Gundarland.
Othello, incapable of leading the defense of Dun Hythe, turns over the responsibility to his subordinates and they prepare the city for an attack. Falstaff’s arrives and, expecting to attack an undefended city, sees the now formidable defenses. His army falls apart without striking a blow and Falstaff scampers off to seek new prospects. Hamlet and Othello agree to end the attack and declare peace.
In the end, Hamlet becomes comfortable with ruling Denmarko, Othello is considered a hero and a success for the first time in his life and Falstaff continues a life of running scams.
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