I'd give this book three and a half stars if I could, but I can't quite justify a fourth star. It was very good in parts, and the idea of making a hero of the wry comic relief stock character was a good concept. But the book suffers from a bit of a cumbersome back story and a tendency to overstate the obvious. I did like the book, but I wouldn't follow this character's adventures through more than a couple books. If this is an open-ended series, I wouldn't pick up the next book. As of this review, there are three books in the series. If it's going to stop at 3, I might finish them. Time will tell.
It starts out with a genuinely funny situation in which Apropos is holding the sword that is protruding from the chest of a knight. Unfortunately, once out of that situation, the author launches into the origin story of how Apropos arrived in that situation - which lasts over 200 dull and somewhat depressing pages. If you can persevere past page 300, you might find the story entertaining after all. If the story were about 250 pages shorter, it would be a lot better, and a lot of that extra bulk could be taken out of this origin story.
The story is told from the perspective of Apropos, who is the product of the gang-rape of a tavern wench by a group of visiting knights. After the rape, she feels she has nothing left to lose and so continues to support herself by becoming a prostitute at that tavern. After Apropos is forced to leave home (is it a spoiler to tell something that has happened before page 1, but isn't told until page 200?) he goes to the court of King Runcible of Isteria to right some wrongs that were done to him, and instead becomes a squire to the doddering old Sir Umbrage. After he is sent on a mission to retrieve the Princess, who has spent the last several years being schooled in a far-off convent, his adventure truly begins. In his origin and early adventures, Apropos is a thoroughly contemptible character, very self-centered and cowardly. However many of the things he does out of greed or cowardice end up working out better than the heroic options might have. Later on in the story, he grows a little bit, which in a way spoils his appeal. His unheroic methods defined the character, and to see the resolution of the book hinge on his learned selflessness is a bit of a disappointment.
The main problem with this book is the same as with most of the fantasy I've seen labeled as comical satire or humor. With very few exceptions, the genre fails on the same point - it just isn't that funny all the way through. And given the comical nature of the title, along with the description on the back of the book, a lot of the book is far too serious. There are long stretches where it reads just like any other adventure novel. There are numerous puns populating the world of Apropos. Some of the puns are passable, but some are heavily strained, like the 3-page back-story to arrive at the pun-based name of the group of male harpies - the Harpers Bizarre. There are a number of very funny parts of this book, but they're rather scattered.
The writing itself is not as good as it could be. While parts of the dialogue are brilliant, there is a tendency to overstate a point in narration, needlessly complicating the prose. Almost every page for the first 400, I found a paragraph that, were I Peter David's editor, would have picked apart as shamelessly overwritten. David also has a tendency to overuse certain words. I counted about a dozen too many uses of the word "formidable" in various contexts in the first chapter alone. Almost as many "endeavor" abuses in later chapters.
So, other than the fact that it's too long, this is not a bad book. Not a must-read by any means, but not without its merits. It sets up the history and adventures of Sir Apropos of Nothing, with just enough comedy to keep it from turning into a serious attempt at heroic fantasy. The next books probably wouldn't be encumbered by the need to take 12 chapters out of the narration to set up the characters. Most of where it falls down is in the writing, with the writer taking three sentences to say what the reader already knows from one. It could have gone through a couple more re-writes before seeing print.