Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Revenge (aka The Stars’ Tennis Balls)” as Want to Read:
Revenge (aka The Stars’ Tennis Balls)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Revenge (aka The Stars’ Tennis Balls)

3.80  ·  Rating details ·  4,907 ratings  ·  391 reviews
"We are merely the stars' tennis balls, struck and --bandied/Which way please them." ----The Duchess of Malfi --by John Webster

Everything about Stephen Fry's new novel, including the title, will be a surprise, perhaps even a shock. The only thing that can be guaranteed is that it will be his next earth-movingly funny bestseller. And we are still pretty confidently saying i
Paperback, 320 pages
Published May 13th 2003 by Random House Trade Paperbacks (first published October 31st 2000)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Revenge, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Revenge

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.80  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,907 ratings  ·  391 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Revenge (aka The Stars’ Tennis Balls)
Nandakishore Varma
At the outset: this is late twentieth century rendering of The Count of Monte Cristo. If you don't know that story, please don't read on any further - it will be spoiler-ridden (and maybe, you are from another planet).

We all know what happens in The Count of Monte Cristo: Edmond Dantès, first mate of the ship Pharaon, who has recently been granted the succession of his captain Leclère, is trapped in a false intrigue by a group of people jealous of him for various reasons. The deputy crown prosec
Dec 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing
My students seem at times to be wholly obsessed with “getting back” at people who have done them wrong. I try to calm them down, to refocus them on positive things, but the truth is: when you want to get revenge you are completely and absolutely immersed in that feeling. You can’t help but fixate on those who have wronged you and those who must now pay the price. It is an obsession, a complete fixation that overwhelms mind, body and soul. That heightened emotional state breeds a greater emotiona ...more
Jul 27, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novel
Ooo this had so much promise at the beginning. I got so excited when I saw it at the library and got it home. I've enjoyed Fry's other novels so much, and this one started so interesting between the diary and the love letter and then fell into this straight narrative style that not only was conventional, but it seemed that Fry stopped trying. The first two thirds were not bad, but that last act was just awful. I didn't like the protagonist. Never saw any real fire or passion for his revenge, and ...more
Neal Sanders
Jul 22, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When Alexandre Dumas wrote The Count of Monte Cristo in 1844, he almost certainly did not have thirteen-year-old American boys in mind as his prime audience. But when I first read the classic in the summer of 1963, I knew for certain that I, too, was living the horror of Edmond Dantes life. Dantes, a good and innocent man, was cruelly implicated in treason by three friends who envied Dantes’ pending ship captaincy and marriage to the beautiful Mercedes. Dantes is sent to the notorious Chateau d’ ...more
Mar 11, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Stephen Fry's book Stars Tennis Balls (a.k.a "Revenge") was possibly one of the best books i have ever read.
The story's incorporation of a similar plot to The Count of Monte Cristo, with its wicked, sophisticated and disturbing themes, made the novel work on an entirely different level.
Stephen Fry's ability is unbelievable and after reading this i was taken a peg down. He has this uncanny nack to- through his writing- make you take a look at the characters and their devilish deeds, and say: "Yea
Jan 13, 2009 rated it liked it
Revenge is a modern re-telling of The Count of Monte Cristo. It is very well done, because Fry manages to take the elements of Dumas’ novel that take the most suspension of disbelief and make them believable in a modern setting. It’s a clever twist on an old story – with updated methods of revenge, and a clever twist on the old characters (With puns! The character of the Count’s finance is changed from Mercedes to Portia – hee!). It’s suspenseful as well, a major feat considering that I not only ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 26, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: british
since the beginning of this project I have projected Stephen Fry as my choice of english author.

ah, this book reminded me why I don't read blurbs. I did not realize until 200 pages into the book that I was reading a retelling of the count of monte cristo, yes I realize I should have realized sooner, but I saw the movie once in a theater almost 8 years ago, and the book is very different from the movie (a lot of which I know of and was excited to see which Fry chose to follow). Now that I have r
Jun 29, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of Jacobean tragedy
I need to catch up on my Stephen Fry, I mean aside from my marathon sessions of watching "QI" episodes on youtube (a shout out here to "Nickfromfulham" for posting them all). I read The Liar and The Hippopotamus many years ago, and found them both to be brilliant; I read his memoir, Moab is My Washpot, and was less favorably impressed. This reworked Count of Monte Cristo story falls somewhere in between. Of course the writing is excellent, the erudition is breathtaking, and the humor is insidiou ...more
Jun 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
It took me quite a while to get into the story, but having gotten past the first part which reads like an excerpt from Moab, I could not put it down. I had - on purpose - not read any reviews for this book, and am now glad about that as most reviews only make the comparison to The Count of Monte Christo.

What about the resonances of other works, though? I couldn't help but also be reminded of Zweig's Chess Story, Duerrenmatt's Physicists, The Bourne Identity, and Pulp Fiction. All in all I was re
Jun 19, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If we needed a new Count of Monte Cristo, I'm glad it was Stephen Fry who provided it. It's hard to imagine a better re-imagining.
Nicolas Chinardet
May 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: signed-copy
This turned out to be quite a journey - an unexpected one, at that.

Misled by my smutty interpretation of the title (in fact part of a quotation about fate from the Duchess of Malfi), and vague memories of previous efforts by Fry, I was expecting something light and silly, when in fact I found myself confronted with a modern retelling of that tale of ruthless revenge: Le Comte de Monte-Cristo.

As you could expect from Fry, the book is clever, witty and very well written. Not for a minute was I b
Sep 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
A ripping yarn based on the Count of Monte Cristo.

As with all Stephen Fry works, it is handy to have a thesaurus to hand as I am sure it is damn near impossible to keep up with the lexicon of language at Fry's disposal.

The tale, as hinted by in the title, hinges around the scheme of revenge for the main protagonist. It is a bit of a slow starter, but when it kicks in it is hard to put down as Fry has set you up with cliffhanger after cliffhanger forcing you to turn that page and start the next c
Nov 13, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I didn't really like The Count of Monte Cristo. It's the plot, the characters, the whole situation - I just don't like it. I liked it a little better when Stephen Fry was writing it, but if Alexandre Dumas couldn't make it work for me, I'm afraid it was a bit of a losing battle. The turn of phrase was excellent, because it always is when Stephen Fry writes, but sorry, Stephen, I didn't really enjoy it all that much.
Aug 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brilliant! Totally unpredictable storyline which twists and turns and keeps you hooked!
Amber Scaife
Apr 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Fry's modern-day version of The Count of Monte Cristo, with a young Oxford student in the part of Edmund Dantes (now Ned Maddstone).

I read The Count of Monte Cristo for the first time last year. Going into it (I have to be honest here), I thought I was likely in for a bit of a slog, but boy, was I wrong. I LOVED it, and as long as it is, I was still sad when it was over. I'm also a long-time and devoted fan of Stephen Fry's work, and I picked this one up without knowing anything about it, not ne
Jan 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It took me a while to get into this book, but once I did I thoroughly enjoyed it. It's a page-turner for sure; very well written. I liked seeing all the bits and pieces come together one by one.
If it has a message, it might be that revenge is hollow and does not make you truly happy in the end.

Be warned: there's a fair bit of violence.
Marlie Verheggen
Jul 27, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: english
4,5 I had no idea what to expect from this writer, or book, as it was my first book by Fry and I forgot to look up what genre it is. Total surprise! It is funny, exciting, a real page turner and somehow I also got the feeling he must have really enjoyed himself writing it.
Sam (she_who_reads_)
3.5 stars
Cynthia Parkhill
Jan 02, 2018 rated it liked it
What intrigued me about this book is that it was a modern retelling of Alexandre Dumas' "The Count of Monte Cristo." Well, it was that, but the entire point of the original is Edmund Dantes' machinations of revenge against the people who destroyed his life -- and so it was that Ned Maddstone obtained revenge on his persecutors, who essentially through their own weaknesses and frailties provided him with the fodder through which he carried about their destruction. Altogether, a very well-written ...more
Jan 21, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: english
This is a crazy romp of a story. It is Stephen Fry’s rewritten version of The Count of Monte Cristo – plot-wise at least, for which reason it is also published under the title Revenge (in the US), rather less subtle and completely lacking the reference to the line in John Webster’s play The Duchess of Malfi which reads: ‘We are merely the stars’ tennis balls, struck and bandied which way please them’.

Fry has admitted that the story is a ‘straight steal, virtually identical in all but period and
Jan 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 21, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Fair, competent, clever, moderately enjoyable, at some points something of a page-turner, but with a good many distracting implausibilities. Yes, it's a radical revision of the Monte Cristo storyline, so we must grant the novel some latitude in the way of believability, but that does not ameliorate its clunking, forced, improbable plot machinations. As one other reviewer carped, How did he get those removed nails to sink back into their holes -- while he was hidden inside the coffin? And how abo ...more
Apr 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing
With its storyline liberally lifted from “The Count of Monte Cristo”, Mr. Fry was astonished that no one picked up on his blatant plagiarism. But he doesn’t merely steal the plotline by Alexandre Dumas pére. He expands on it and gives it a contemporary feel that never detracts from the relentless engine of the plot. With a protagonist who becomes tempered and hardened by his stint in prison, as well as multilingual, rich and mysterious, the stage is set for some twisted payback.

In spite of its i
Oct 11, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: all literate human beings
This served as yet another novel to prove that Stephen Fry is magnificent in many a media form. This time, he (at first unwittingly, according to the afterword) modernizes "The Count of Monte Cristo", and succeeds in creating a fantastic story. As I've yet to read the original Dumas, I cannot attest to any accuracy of the plot, but the afterword minimally informs the reader of the history of the legend about which Dumas was writing; so, at least a few parts are similar.
If you read this- and have
i had absolutely no idea what to expect from this book from the title and the blurb...all i knew was that it was written by stephen fry, and i quite like him. and it's a good thing i do. this book was pure fry: the style, the wit, the language. it did start off a bit slow, but it drew you in and really turned into quite a nice little revenge story. i've read a couple of fry's books, and will be on the lookout for more. most will enjoy his books (most certainly anyone who has enjoyed his tv and f ...more
Sep 16, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found so many allusions and homages to great works of literature in this book (Brideshead Revisited, The Great Gatsby, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest & some Shakespeare) but I missed the major one from never having read the book. Apparently it was a modern re-telling of The Count of Monte Christo.

I've not read anything else by Fry so wasn't sure what to expect. I didn't feel his persona especially stamped on the novel as I had expected to.

I enjoyed the story and the change in style and tone
Jan 30, 2015 rated it it was ok
The first third is great - the characters are so carefully drawn, sympathetic and interesting at the same time they are loathsome. The second third is OK, although I felt like it skipped a couple of steps on the main characters journey. But the last third was pretty disappointing. It felt rushed, it felt too easy. The characters who were complicated and conflicted as young people were simple and single-noted as adults. It almost seemed like the author go bored with them and just wanted to get th ...more
Feb 23, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Even when I don't like him, I like him. Stephen Fry, that is. The protagonist in this contemporary version of The Count of Monte Cristo, however, starts out an extremely appealing character then sort of falls apart. But I gather (never having read Dumas) that's a big part of the point. No one could go through what he did and not change for the worse. Fry's prose, though, is such a thrill, I don't mind implausibility (how DOES he get those nails back in the coffin?) or occasional what some might ...more
Oct 10, 2010 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
wrong publication date 1 6 Jan 28, 2015 09:47AM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Mrs Fry's Diary
  • Monsignor Quixote
  • Inconceivable
  • Small World
  • Popcorn
  • Briefgeheim
  • Exit Ghost
  • Winterlicht: een vergeetboek
  • I'm the King of the Castle
  • In the Heart of the Country
  • Kwaadschiks (De tandeloze tijd, deel 6)
  • Onder het plaveisel het moeras (De tandeloze tijd, deel 3)
  • Asbestemming
  • Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit, Jeanette Winterson: Note
  • Огледалото на съдията (Father Brown, #2-5)
  • The Cage (Shepherd #0.5)
  • The Snapper (The Barrytown Trilogy, #2)
  • Marcel
See similar books…
Stephen John Fry is an English comedian, writer, actor, humourist, novelist, poet, columnist, filmmaker, television personality and technophile. As one half of the Fry and Laurie double act with his comedy partner, Hugh Laurie, he has appeared in A Bit of Fry and Laurie and Jeeves and Wooster. He is also famous for his roles in Blackadder and Wilde, and as the host of QI. In addition to writing fo ...more

Related Articles

Girls who save the world, sweeping dystopias, contemporary love stories, and high fantasy are all staples of the current young adult book landsca...
26 likes · 9 comments
“There were people who believed their opportunities to live a fulfilled life were hampered by the number of Asians in England, by the existance of a royal family, by the volume of traffic that passed by their house, by the malice of trade unions, by the power of callous employers, by the refusal of the health service to take their condition seriously, by communism, by capitalism, by atheism, by anything, in fact, but their own futile, weak-minded failure to get a fucking grip.” 136 likes
“You think I have more than most people dream of? What other people dream of doesn't matter. I always had less than I ever dreamt of. All I ever dreamt of was family. A father and a mother. Most people don't even need to dream of such luxuries, they take them for granted. That is what I used to dwell on, alone in my bedroom. I dwelt as all children do, on the injustice. Injustice is the most terrible thing in the world, Oliver. Everything that is evil springs from it and only a cheap soul can abide it without anger.” 15 likes
More quotes…