March 17, 2004

Sir Apropos of Nothing, by Peter David

I'm not sure what to say about this book. I've read and reviewed it before; you can go see what I thought about it then.

What it is, is a satirical heroic fantasy. Apropos of Nothing is a bastard child of some nameless knight who forced himself upon Apropos's tavern wench mother--nameless because, in fact, there were a crowd of them. He's clever, quick, and lame in one leg. He despises most people, including himself, and including especially the heroic Tacit, a stalwart fellow who befriends him one day when he's about to be beaten up by the local bullies. He's crude, nasty, dishonest, lewd, and nicer than he thinks he is.

He lives in a fairly typical heroic fantasy world--kings, knights, dragons, peasants, thieves, the whole nine yards. The kings are fools or villains, the knights are glory-loving scoundrels, and the peasants would steal your clothes or burn you for a witch as soon as look at you. This is because it's a satire, right?

The whole thing is full of goofy puns. Apropos is apprenticed to Sir Umbrage of the Flaming Nether Regions (an area of great volcanic activity) in the service of the king of Histeria; later he is chased by the Harpers Bizarre. He flies on a phoenix, is nearly killed by a stampede of unicorns, steals the story from the hero (!), rescues and beds the princess, and on and on.

It's crude, vile, funny, clever, and pessimistic by turns, which isn't the best combination; and the tone is patchy; the author seems unsure of whether he's trying to write a serious fantasy or a farce. Or, rather, he knows he's trying to write a farce, but he keeps getting too serious about it. It should be a souffl´, but it's more like a pound cake.

So, not a success...but not entirely a failure, either.

Posted by Will Duquette at March 17, 2004 07:39 PM