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Sir Apropos of Nothing Mass Market Paperback – 1 Jul 2002
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About the Author
PETER DAVID is the author of more than one hundred books, almost all of them published. He has written such fantasies as Howling Mad and Knight Life as well as an assortment of bestselling Star Trek® novels including Imzadi and the popular New Frontier series (which he co-created with John Ordover). He also co-created the TV series Space Cases with Bill Mumy, and has written for Babylon 5 and Crusade. His comic-book career spans more than a decade and includes an award-winning run on The Incredible Hulk. Sir Apropos of Nothing is his longest single work, mostly due to the use of the word “the.” He lives in New York with his wife, Kathleen, and his four daughters, Shana, Gwen, Ariel and Caroline. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
Top customer reviews
This book starts with one of the greatest opening lines I've read in awhile. "As I stood there with the sword in my hand, the blade dripping blood on the floor, I couldn't help but wonder if the blood belonged to my father." Thus, Apropos is introduced, along with his tragic lineage. I know it seems strange to call a book with something as horrific as a gang-rape a "comedy," but David writes with such a deft touch that you will find yourself laughing at the appropriate times, and being horrified at the appropriate times. He's that good of a writer, as he's shown in his other books and the comics he writes. Apropos narrates the tale as if he's speaking to the reader, and when he's talking about both his being conceived and his childhood in general, he relates the tale in a very off-hand way, as if he's repressing his emotions about it a little bit. Because of that, you don't get just a narration of the events as they take place. Instead, you also get a bit of a psychological insight into him.
Apropos is not a very likable character. He's self-centered, looking after his own skin when the going gets tough. He gets involved in things because they will benefit him, not because it's "the right thing to do." A lot of times, he ends up doing the right thing anyway, or at the very least hiding the fact that he was looking after himself when he did it. When his boyhood friend Tacit jumps into a clearing to save a weaver (wizard) from being burned at the stake by 20 villagers, Apropos holds back because that's suicide. When Tacit is about to meet a heroic death, Apropos comes up with a plan that has as little risk to himself as possible. Yet he's deemed a hero when it works. If you're the type of reader who has to actually like the protagonist, then you may have to go elsewhere.
The other characters in the book are interesting as well. The most important ones are Entipy, the princess that Apropos must rescue, and Tacit, Apropos' boyhood friend who he drives away and then meets again later in his life. Tacit and Apropos' destinies are intertwined, and it's very interesting how Apropos deals with that. It also isn't very likable, so see the paragraph above if that bothers you. However, it's fitting, not only because of Apropos' personality, but also because it's about time a fantasy novel was written where the protagonist isn't all sweetness and light.
Entipy is a possibly psychotic arsonist who is suspected of burning down the convent where her parents had placed her. The relationship that develops between her and Apropos on their journey also bucks all fantasy conventions. Entipy is not a damsel in distress, but a very tough, but spoiled, young woman. She develops a love-hate relationship with Apropos: he thinks she's insane, she thinks he's an idiot and beneath her. Not to mention the fact that she's waiting for her place in destiny to fall into place. She doesn't realize that Apropos has hijacked it. It's entertaining to watch Apropos slowly fall in love with her, even though he can't tell her that it all shouldn't be happening as it is.
Since Apropos is narrating the book directly, it is filled with wry asides and observations on life, people and society. David is one of the best writers of this sort of thing. You may find yourself laughing hard and then find that you agree with what Apropos is saying. Or maybe you won't, but you'll still be laughing. There are a couple of atrocious puns to watch out for if you hate that sort of thing. Personally, I like them even when they're cringe worthy. There's a military general saying "You all know my motto: Live fast. Die young. And leave a good-looking corps." Fair warning to you pun-haters.
The other problem with the book, though, is something that David usually handles well. I say above that he handles the combination of horror and comedy very well. That is usually the case, but at times the juxtaposition is a little too jarring. It's a bit understandable when Apropos is discussing his childhood, because you can tell he's repressing a bit, but certain events later on are pretty horrific and they jar with the light tone of the novel. It's nothing really major and it doesn't ruin the enjoyment of the book, but it does make you stop for a few seconds before continuing.
For the most part, though, it is a wonderful book. It makes great summer reading, as it doesn't feel very deep (even though, when you look at it, it is). If you already like Peter David, you will love this. If this is your first introduction to him, I think you'll still love it. And it's a definite must-read for sword & sorcery fans everywhere.
It is a whole story. It has a definite end. But it can also be seen as the first chapter in a series of books. Peter David is considering writing a sequel. I am very much hoping he will do that.
The first part of the book is funny and pleasant, but the second half becomes... less surprising. You can see that Apropos will eventually become a hero, willing or not. The ending is not bad, instead, and sends off our little bastard for a trip around the world - a happy ending would have been insufferable.
Well, so far it's been a good read, if not great. I think I'll read the rest, and even the comic book mini-series while I'm at it.
There is some bad language and explicit stuff, so it's not really for kids, but anyone over 14 or so ought to be fine (whether they'd get all the jokes is another matter, but it certainly wouldn't hurt them).
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
It pokes fun at everything good about fantasy, presents it in a way that makes you say "...this might not be so bad" except then it IS.
I still loved it, and everyone I showed it to admitted that they couldn't put it down--including my one former friend who has a firm rule about reading unedifying material. It's damn catchy!
Sounds sappy? Well, it isn't. This is a masterfully told story with plenty of tongue-in-cheek humor. Told by Apropos himself we see learn his inner feeling and desires. The tale has you laughing one minute and rooting for Apropos the next. Almost all the other characters have something they are hiding and end the end the story comes full circle and leaves you with a sad, but...apropos...ending.
If by chance you avoided this novel because it was 'yet another fantasy story' (like I thought at one point) I think you'll be pleased upon reading it. I have ready plenty of stories that try to either be just like Tolkien or completely opposite, but always being compared in one way or another to those master tomes. Not this one, it is it's own creation and the author has full confidence in his own creation.
I whole-heatedly recommend this novel.
And yet ...
We can all relate to Apropos. I think most people wish, sometimes, that we could allow the bitterness of the past to rule our present actions, that we could use the excuse of "Well, other folks screwed me, so I'm gonna screw other folks first" to justify being right bastards to each other. If anyone has such an excuse, it's Apropos.
Therefore, that at times Apropos rises above his selfishness and self-serving ways to actually do good -- sometimes inadvertently, sometimes seized by a destructive fit of morality, sometimes because ... it's the right thing to do -- keeps this book from being a mere celebration of an anti-hero and gives us the same hope that we can rise above our own pettiness and greed, no matter how good the excuses for it are that we carry with us.
I'm not sure how soon I'll revisit Apropos. But I'll remember the final lessons he teaches.
I think Apropos is an attempt to say, "Be careful, this protagonist acts like you." Apropos, the real you, is not a high-minded, noble hero, but someone looking out for number one. You might accept his sort of world-weary character in a hard-boiled detective novel: a loser that "ain't taking no chances for nobody else," but saves the girl against his better judgment. Well, here he is in a fantasy setting. But his utter lack of virtue might put you off. "Of course I'd save the maiden," you say. But would you? Would you really? Or, "I'd never do anything like that to a friend!" Never? Not for anything?
Makes you wonder.