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Tong Lashing: Sir Apropos of Nothing Book 3 Mass Market Paperback – 20 Jun 2005

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Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Downtown Press; Reprint edition (20 Jun. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743449134
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743449137
  • Product Dimensions: 17.2 x 10.7 x 2.9 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,741,891 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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"David mixes ghastliness and giggles deftly and with the near absence of lapsed taste that continues to distinguish the saga as a major feat of contemporary humorous fantasy."-- "Booklist"

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First Sentence
Totally soaked and certain I would die as I desperately clung to a piece of driftwood, alone in a raging sea while the vessel I'd booked passage on slid to a watery grave, I couldn't help but consider that there was very little upside in playing games of chance with creatures of pure, unremitting evil. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 25 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
The End, For Now 4 May 2006
By Rodney Meek - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
"Tong Lashing" is the third book to feature the anti-hero Apropos of Nothing, along with roughly 115% more puns than is really necessary for anyone's sanity. (David is well-known for deploying both off-the-cuff standard low-brow eye-rolling puns and much more elaborate ones that take half a book to set up.) This current volume takes place in a Davidian emulation of ancient China/Japan (aptly named Chinpan), and Apropos runs afoul of the Forked Tong, the Skang Kei crime family, and the dreaded Anais Ninja clan (headed by the inscrutable Veruh Wang Ho).

David can truly break your heart, though, when he feels like it, which is once per book. And which happens here. The writing is effective, but the books have become very formulaic: pun, pun, snarky observations, Apropos runs away, everyone wants to kill Apropos, Apropos questions whether anti-heroism is an effective philosophy, he tries half-heartedly to do something good and is horrendously punished for it, a villain reveals an unexpected and poignant side, then the big heartbreak scene, and...END.

The page count could've been trimmed easily by dropping a good deal of the relentless internal monologuing over "Am I a good person or not, and is there such a thing as a good person, and why would anyone WANT to be a good person?" and so on.

The author definitely has skills and is not a little daring. I mean, in a single scene featuring three characters (immediately after a climax that some may find borders on troubling territory), he manages to allude to the Christian Holy Trinity, the atomic bombs Fat Man and Little Boy, AND the cult duo of Lone Wolf and Cub. But he needs to shake things up a bit. Every novel he writes, no matter the setting or cast, is largely the same novel. I want to see something different from him for once.

Future adventures of Apropos may not be forthcoming for awhile. David has noted that Pocket Books is not publishing new fantasy novels, but since they have the rights to the existing trilogy, he would have a hard time shopping a fourth book to another publisher. In the meantime, he intends to write some Apropos short stories, but whether those will ever see the light of day is unclear.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
An ending from the land of Kopout 9 Sept. 2003
By Myron Hirsch - Published on
Format: Hardcover
For almost every page, this book delivers. Fans of the first two books will be giddy with joy, for this book has the same goofy puns, the same sardonic narration, and the same ridiculous names a the first two books. Almost every page is full of all the cynical wit that the first two Apropos books delivered. The story builds wonderfully, and then at the very end of the book there are two . . . plot twists. The first might not be as shocking as Apropos finds it, but the second is way over the top. Together, they forge a conclusion so harsh and sudden, it feels as if the author just gave up. It is as if your favorite football team is winning the Super Bowl, and then they suddenly forfeit and leave .
Other readers may find the ending of "Tong Lashing" rather, well, apropos; but Apropos - and the reader- deserved something better.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
a more introspective Apropos 17 Jan. 2005
By Gypsi Phillips Bates - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Thanks to angering a powerful supernatural being (so what's new?), Apropos is shipwrecked and washes up in the alien country of Chinpan. Everything about Chinpan is different from what Apropos is accustomed to, from their looks to their odd over-developed sense of honor. He stumbles upon a small farming village, made up mainly of the Chin family, and to his surprise, makes himself at home with them as a simple farmer. He is encouraged to study with the village's revered teacher, Chinpan Ali, who begins to teach Po how to empty himself and find peace. Apropos finds himself in the unusual position of being happy-and he waits for the axe to drop. Which, naturally, it does.

Chinpan Ali is murdered and Po seeks vengeance-biting off way more than he can chew. Again, what's new?! He angers the Hamunri Clan, the criminal organization the Forked Tong, the Tong's Skang Ke family, the Anais Ninjas, and pretty much everyone else he encounters. The Imperior, the head of the Skang Ke family (Skang Kei Ho), an annoying person named Mitsu, and a former acquaintance also make Po's revenge-and life-more difficult and he goes from one bizarre situation to the next.

Like the first two Apropos books, Tong Lashing is filled with that bizarre humor that makes a Peter David book so darn good. Puns, the outrageous, satire, sarcasm and the just plain funny run rampant, making the reader groan and laugh at the same time.

Unlike the others, Tong Lashing is rather introspective. (Consider the dedication: "to all those who had the chance and passed".) Po begins to change, sometimes subtly, sometimes obviously, and to rethink his prior way of living. Whereas it used to be every man for himself and Po first, others start taking a more important role in his life.

While still enjoyable, and still a four-star book, I want to warn the reader that it IS different from the previous books. Not different in a bad way, but definitely different. There is a more serious tone to this book, with humor taking a back seat to Po's development, with an ending that leaves one confused and thinking, just like Po. If you've read the first two, you need to read this third-and possibly final-volume of Apropos' life.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
The end to a wonderful trilogy 23 Jun. 2004
By Angel - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Although the second of this three books series is my favorite Tong Lashing was a wonderful read. After getting to know Apropos from the first two the third brings in more conflicts that he must face. Twists and turns in the story kept me wanting to read the book the entire day. David's brilliant sense of humor I commend once again; he is always leaving me laughing and has the creativity to bring in drama as well, I applaud. When you thought Apropos has been through just about everything David swings a few more curve balls to boggle the mind and say "What the?!..." This is a book I'm sure you won't be able to put down.
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
You'll never look at Asia the same way again. 10 Jan. 2004
By David Roy - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I'm a big fan of puns. The more I groan, the better I like them. Peter David must feel the same way, because he's been responsible for a great many of the best groaners around. In fact, I haven't seen anybody make a pun like he has, because he not only makes the joke, but then he makes something useful out of it. It's a rare talent, and one that really makes his books worth reading.
Which brings us to Tong Lashing (see what I mean?), which is the third book in the Sir Apropos of Nothing series. The first book, also called Sir Apropos of Nothing, introduces us to the wonderful but extremely self-centered Apropos, a man who won't stick his neck out for anybody. David then gives us The Woad to Wuin, which brings Apropos to the land of Wuin, where he learns that he can sink to even further depths. David says in the acknowledgements that Apropos's future is up in the air. If that's so, it makes me sad, because he unfortunately didn't end it on a great note. Tong Lashing is still a very good book, but the tone is wildly variable, ultimately making for a disappointing finish.
I find myself with completely mixed feelings about this book, and I'm not sure if it's just me not getting the ending or what. The book is wonderful, with colorful characters, wonderful dialogue and witty asides (the book is told in first person, so the asides are written by Apropos). It's everything I loved about the first two books, and the jokes are even better then those. Up until the last 100 pages, I was going to call this the best of the three. Everything was just clicking, and I couldn't stop laughing, but yet being touched as Apropos learns even more about himself. He's always been unlikable, mainly because he is the complete anti-hero. In Tong Lashing, however, he starts moving beyond that, and showing that he can actually care for somebody.
But then the climax starts, the book all of a sudden turns very dark. This is a pivotal moment in Apropos's life, and it's very well done. He's brought down to the very bottom, the ultimate level of self-loathing as he realizes that he brought all of this death and destruction down on his friends. He's determined to avenge them, and he hatches a plan to bring down everybody in Chinpan. This is fine by itself. While the tone is dark (there are no real jokes by this point), it is very effective. However, then things go even worse, with a literally explosive climax that completely ruins the mood and tone of the book. I think David went way too far in this one, and if he's trying to make some point, it went completely over my head. This change in tone almost made my teeth clap together it was so sudden.
I can't say enough about how wonderful the rest of the book is, though. Apropos is his normal self, but he has grown and the change is welcome to see. He is still cynical, knowing that every time he is happy something's going to happen to bring it down. Mitsu is the daughter of the Imperior, impulsive and headstrong in a society where women are not even second-class citizens. She is a product of her upbringing though, and one of the sticking points between Apropos and Mitsu is her willingness to sacrifice her handmaidens when she is being punished. We find out the secret of Mordant, and how he is able to talk. The Imperior is suitably insane, and just when you think he's being stereotypically dumb, David pulls a twist out of his hat and shows us a villain who's both insane and kind of smart too.
And then, of course, there are the jokes and puns. You've seen a couple of them in this review, and I don't really want to reveal any more. Probably the best one is a take-off on the Ninjas of old Japan (if you have no plans to read this book, email me and I'll tell you what it is). Peter David has a wildly humorous way of writing, though he is definitely somebody you'll either love or hate. Basically, I can say that if you like puns, you will love his writing. The jokes come fast and furious, and I loved reading about Apropos's feelings on life in general. He talks directly to the reader, writing this in his old age (so yes, it's obvious that he survives everything). Apropos often expresses his amazement that he still has readers, which can be a dangerous thing for an author to do. But David handles it with aplomb, knowing that he's got his reader hooked.
The best part about his puns is that they are more than just puns. He makes the Forked Tong a legitimate (and dangerous) criminal organization. The Ninjas could have been used for a joke and then discarded, but they become an integral part of the plot, and characters in their own right. Minor characters, to be sure, but still at least with two-dimensional. The joke becomes part of the plot, rather than just a rim-shot. Even the mad Scotsman Ronnell McDonnell actually gets a mention after he has strutted across the stage. In fact, any gamer will love the sequence with McDonnell and the magical role-playing game.
Still, we have to get to the end, and I felt very unsatisfied. It hit me like a two by four to the head, but not in a good way. David had better write another Apropos book to wash the taste of it out of my mouth. It is effective in one way, however. Apropos ends the book truly as Sir Apropos of Nothing. And he's finally satisfied with that.
I'm not, however.
David Roy
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