Tong Lashing, by Peter David

tonglashingComforting to know that, no matter how far I go in my life, I always seem to wind up exactly in the same place as before.  Why is that, Mordant?  Why do people take an instant dislike to me?
It saves time.
-Apropos and Mordant the drabit

Well, Peter David’s Apropos has been in the traditional fantasy adventure, and in a barbarian horde kind of adventure.  Now, Apropos goes into the cheesy Asian fantasy adventure (you may have seen some movies that qualify) in Tong Lashing.  At this point, if you are still reading this, you’ve most likely read the previous two books and decided already if you like the general tone of this series of books (and if not-stop reading this!!  Read the first two books, or at least the above reviews-then come back).  All warnings that applied to the last two books still apply to this one.  With that out of the way….

After the conclusion of his last adventure, Apropos wants nothing more than to get out of the area of Wuin without somebody recognizing him and introducing him to the pointy end of the sword.  He’s accompanied (temporarily) by the weaver Sharee and a creature named Mordant.  However, the two of them want nothing more than to go on a quest of noble note-and Apropos, being somewhat more interested in staying in one piece, doesn’t.  So he parts ways with them and travels away from Wuin by boat.  Given his luck, it should come as no surprise that Apropos ends up in a shipwreck, and eventually comes to rest in a land known as Chinpan.

It is here where he begins to find himself at peace with himself, living as a farmer in the village where he washed ashore.  He even meets a master of the ancient arts of Zennihilation whom he hopes will teach him how to live with himself, because he can’t get rid of the nagging feeling that something bad is about to happen.  Which goes to show that Apropos has a great future in store for him as a fortune teller.

And then, things get interesting.

Once again, David puts together a book that looks at the other side of heroic adventures-specifically, the side that doesn’t want to be involved with them and gets sucked into them anyway.  Apropos goes up and down society’s ladder in this book once again; although not quite as lofty in status as a Peacelord, and certainly not nearly as secure.  We get a load of puns in this book as well, from the names that Apropos bestows upon the villagers (Kit Chin, Double Chin), to the Anaiïs Ninjas (and once you meet them, you’ll get the joke) to the leader of the Forked Tong (a pun in itself), which really isn’t something I plan to reveal on a kind-of-all-ages web page.  But as often the case with David’s books, the humor is laced in with a deadly seriousness that gives the reader insight on Apropos’s mental state-in spite of the ridiculousness, he himself is not a funny person, and is getting very tired of the way his life is turning out.

Now, what about the story itself?  Well, it flows pretty nicely.  There’s a few subplots of interest, such as how Apropos got shipwrecked to begin with (and longtime fantasy readers will easily spot which fantasy characters are getting skewered on board), the building of the Imperior’s house at the outer provinces (and how it turns out), the true secrets behind Zennihilation, and most terrifyingly of all-meeting Apropos’s true love…and as many know, the course of true love never did run smooth.  Apropos shows a surprising sense of purpose throughout much of this book; one could even say he’s driven by a sense of-dare I say it?-conscience.

The grand finale of the book is everything you’d expect from Apropos, given how the last two books ended up; and while it may seem as if this is the end of the Apropos series, there’s plenty of room for at least another book here.  Tong Lashing doesn’t have anything unexpectedly new, but neither does it feel stale.  In spite of what the character himself may think at times, there’s still plenty of life in Apropos.

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