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Fantasy novel by Peter David. * * 1/2

Our youthful hero Apropos, conceived when several knights of Isteria gang-raped his mother (a tavern wench) lives because his mother is convinced her son has a great destiny. He is cast into the world one day when she is robbed and murdered by a customer. Embittered because of the stigma of his origin, his crippled right leg, he resolves to care only for number one, as soon as his mother's murderer is punished. He rejects his only friend, the sickeningly honorable, cloyingly wonderful Tacit and goes to the capital of Isteria to petition king Runcible for justice.

To everyone's amazement, Runcible instead decides to make Apropos squire...to... a certain "Sir Umbrage of the Flaming Nether Regions". Apropos is hardly more accepted by the burly young scions of nobility than he was by the wives of his mothers' customers, and life gets more and more unbearale. Then Runcible sends Apropos to escort his hellion daughter back from the nunnery they had shunted her off to. Encounters with all sorts of fantastic beasts and very nasty people ensue. Of course, Apropos saves the kingdom and gets the girl in the end. Or does he?

Peter David turns every cliche of fantasy on its ear. Destiny is a curse word. Chivalry is not only dead, it has swollen with putrefaction and burst, and maggots are feeding on it. The novel would have been far more effective had Peter David been able to decide between the novel's being a silly parody or a serious one. Much of the story is a serious satire, bitterly deriding the misplaced values and bad lessons taught by bad fantasy, Unfortunately, the text is also peppered with bad puns, only funny meaningful because they make reference to modern popular culture. There are a lot of good ideas in here; they're simply woven together poorly. The overall effect is one of incoherence.

Reading this novel reminded me of

I think Peter David was striving for Cugel the Clever but didn't quite get there. Oh well, you'll probably enjoy reading it between winces. I will be sure to purchase and read the sequel, The Woad to Wuin, and let you know how it goes, dear reader.

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