The Woad to Wuin, by Peter David

woadNo, I’m not so ambitious as to endeavor to take on the entirety of the Steppes in one grand orgy of violence.  Rather, I was thinking of attacking a dozen at a time and achieving my goal that way.
So you would embark on a twelve Steppe program, then.  A canny choice…
-Peacelord Apropos and Suliman the Magnificent (of Steppe Thirty-Nine)


Sometimes, you can’t even get away from it all in peace.  Sometimes, you just get to set out on The Woad to Wuin.  Wait, that’s not quite right, is it…?

Apropos has gone into hiding with the spell weaver Sharee after the events in Sir Apropos of Nothing; however, due to events only somewhat beyond his control (and a part of the most twisted parody of Lord of the Rings that it’s been my pleasure to read), he parts company with her and sets up shop in a tavern.  Strangely enough, he seems to enjoy it (well, as much as Apropos enjoys anything; readers of the last book will remember that his attitude towards life can’t be considered “sunny”).  Things start going south on him, though, when a Visionary stops by at his tavern.  This Visionary is one of a unique bunch of people; one of the fellows who writes those powerful prophecies that always seem to come true, even though they’re horribly obscure.  This fellow, though, is unusual because he’s a bit more literal.  Against his better judgment, and perhaps not completely seriously, Apropos gets a reading.

That’s when things start happening with appalling swiftness.  Before he knows it, he’s fleeing for his life, reunited with Sharee, and pursued by Lord Beliquose-a man who speaks in only one volume, LOUD-and his…well, something called Bicce.  Near dying, he falls unconscious in a wasteland…and wakes up to what must be a dream.  A dream in which he is a warlord (well, Peacelord; there’s a good reason for that title).  A dream in which he is grinding the land of Wuin under his heel.  But it’s apparent quickly that it is real, and he has no idea how that happened, or what to do about it.  Well, not right away, anyway.

The character of Apropos hasn’t changed too much; he’s not fond of the concept of Destiny, and is caught up in events that he really doesn’t have a stake in…unless, of course, you count getting killed.  The opening of the book is somewhat bent, but I’ve been known to have a twisted sense of humor too, and the Lord of the Rings riff qualified perfectly.  I was waiting for something really painful to happen to Apropos at the end of that sequence (I am NOT going into detail here; use your imagination, but remember that my warnings concerning Sir Apropos of Nothing hold true here, if not moreso).

The parts of this book that really stand out for me is after Apropos awakens to what appears to be a very different reality.  The character undergoes a startling transformation in personality from Apropos, the loser, to Apropos, the Peacelord of Wuin-to something else, due to discoveries made in the process.  I found it entirely believable given what we already knew of Apropos, and (perhaps) it wouldn’t be hard to believe that the same transformation could occur to anybody.

We also get to meet a couple of characters from the last book as well.  While Entipy doesn’t make a personal appearance, we do get to see a kind-of avatar of her (I’m being kind).  Sharee, of course, is back, and pops in and out of the general plot, and generally trying to make Apropos think about things he’d rather not.  And a certain wandering king pops up, who represents the big red flag to our protagonist.

The finale comes with a number of unexpected twists (well, some of them; I only could guess at one of them), and hints at more “adventures” to follow-much to the dismay, undoubtedly, of Apropos. The Woad to Wuin was a fun read, and I think I enjoyed it a bit more than the last book-probably because it didn’t have to cover all the same ground on who Apropos is.  This one took us into the plot pretty quickly; and when you add David’s skill at mixing humor and seriousness into a story, you come up with a pretty good book.  If you like Sir Apropos of Nothing-or even felt kind of neutral for it-you may want to give Apropos a second chance.  If for no other reason than to watch the character squirm at finding himself a conqueror.  It’s good fun.

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