Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Falstaff's Big Gamble, Hank Quense

Publishers: Strange World Publishing

Pages: 215

Main Characters:

Hamlet, Othello, Falstaff

Falstaff’s Big Gamble follows the tale of three of Shakespeare’s most well-known characters; Hamlet, Othello and Sir John Falstaff. But what is unusual about Falstaff’s Big Gamble is that these characters are not based within the medieval world as Shakespeare originally intended, but in a world of fantasy where Dwarves, Trolls, Elves and Men all co-exist together!

Hamlet is the young Dwarvan Prince of Denmarko. The Kingdom is run by his Uncle Clodio and his mother Gertie. Hamlet was always suspicious that his mother re-married his Uncle only days after his father’s death but has had other concerns on his mind. The chief amongst these is whether he should start his own bee-keeping business and what to do with the honey the bees will produce.

One night, on a midnight stroll around the castle, Hamlet is approached by the ghost of his father. Well, not really his father, his father was a Dwarf and this ghost is an Elf?  The ghost of his father (who’s not really his father) explains that all is not as it seems in Denmarko and that Hamlet’s real father was murdered and demands that his one and only son avenges his murdered soul! Poor Hamlet is left with another conundrum, should he avenge the murdered soul of his father or should he look after his bee business or hire someone else to do it?

Othello is a Dark Elf who has just gained the position of Chief of Homeland Security in the free city of Dun Hythe. Othello was lucky to get such a prestigious job. After plumping his resume somewhat, Othello is looking forward to starting in his new role. That is until his duties are explained to him by the Major of Dun Hythe, Glyniss. Not only must Othello look after the Security of the City but he must also run the troublesome Troll Patrol, re-build the city’s wall, train the poorly equipped Militia, remove the threat of unemployed soldiers within the city AND destroy the pirate threat to Dun Hythe’s shipping! The task is more than Othello signed up for and things are going to get worse!

Othello’s wife Desdemona is a native to the city of Dun Hythe. Throughout their marriage Desdemona has referred to her mysterious Grandma who lives in the city. Othello later finds that Desdemona’s Grandma is the Godmother of the city and that Othello is in her debt, a place no one wants to be!

Sir John Falstaff is a chancer. Winning his knighthood in a rigged game of cards from a drunken noble, Falstaff uses his ‘skills’ to con the rich and wealthy in an attempt to get rich quick. After arriving in the city of Dun Hythe with his half-pint page Poulet, he hears a new Chief of Homeland Security has been anointed and comes up with a plan in which he can con the Chief and make a small fortune. Falstaff convinces Othello that he can solve the piracy issue by hiring some of the soldiers in the town to use as a pirate hunting force. Othello agrees and gives Falstaff the funds to hire the soldiers. But instead of catching pirates, Falstaff becomes one himself and preys on the ships of Dun Hythe! Is this the full-proof plan that Falstaff has been looking for or will he take a Big Gamble which could see him become richer than his wildest dreams?

Falstaff’s Big Gamble is an obvious spoof/parody of some of Shakespeare’s most famous works. I decided to read this book because it sounded like a fun book to read but I was worried that it might be abit cheesy.  To be honest, at the start of the book it was! The first chapter of Hamlet asking ‘to be or not to be' a bee-keeper really made me think ‘the book’s going to be like this all the way through, really cheesy’ and this was backed up by the ghost of Hamlet’s father, who wasn’t really his father. But to my delight, Quense does make a really good plot/story line in this book. The book is also funny without been cheesy. There are some real ‘gags’ in there but they are used at very precise times and are not bombarding you in every paragraph (which I thought they were in the first paragraph), which made this book really fun to read.

I think the thing I liked most about Falstaff’s Big Gamble was that Quense made these really famous and well known characters seem totally new and his own. I think this was helped by his world of Gundarland which I really enjoyed reading about. I will say that there were some points in the book where Quense seems to use quotes from Shakespeare’s plays and at times I don’t think they were integrated that well. They reminded me of reading history essays where students have use a direct quote to try and prove a point, they stand out as been written by a different author.

 Nevertheless, I still enjoyed this book. It reminded me of a mix between Shakespeare (obviously) and the Lord of the Rings! I think if you are a fan of either of these novels/authors you will enjoy this book. Although if you are a diehard Shakespeare fan, maybe take it with a pinch of salt! If you would like to purchase a copy of this novel it is available on and I’d also like to say thank you to Hank for supplying me with a copy of his novel.

For author’s official website please click here

P.S. Don’t forget to enter my Book of the Month Competition for your chance to win a SIGNED copy of Strategos, Born in the Borderlands by Gordon Doherty for absolutely FREE. To enter, just follow the instructions on the widget below and for more information click here.

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  1. It sounds really interesting, and I think I can live with a bit of cheese. I'll give it a go.

  2. Hey Adam

    Thanks for reviewing my book. As an author, it's always great to hear that someone enjoyed reading a story.


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