A word of warning: this is not a book for younger readers. I’m serious. There’s enough questionable subject matter here to compel me to remark on this. I was seriously considering starting a rating system for my reviews after reading this. For the time being, though, I’m going to stick with simple advisories like this one.
Okay. To the review: Sir Apropos of Nothing is not a story about a knight, although our protagonist is named Apropos, and he is a squire to a knight. But roughly half the story is his pre-squire days, and the other half…well, let’s just say it takes place free of any knights. Apropos is a son of a tavern wench, and is told constantly as he’s growing up that he has a Destiny. Not that his mother really has any grasp on what that might be; it’s just a strong belief, even though her son is half-lame and a decided scoundrel.
In the fullness of time (another way of saying I don’t want to spoil chunks of the book), Apropos goes to the court of the King Runcible, in the hopes of finding his father (not in a good way), getting “justice” for his mother, and get a lot of money in the meantime. Instead, he gets put under the tutelage of a senile knight, and sent out to escort the Princess Entipy from a convent back to her parents. In the process, unsurprisingly, things don’t go quite as expected.
I am careful not to refer to Apropos as the hero of this book; in fact, in spite of what some folks have said in reviews elsewhere on the net, I really don’t find him that likable a character. He’s only slightly better than some of the other folks in this book. Knights, and chivalry in general, really get dragged through the mud here; to be sure, that’s probably more historically accurate, but you’d think there’d be a few characters with redeemable qualities. (Actually, there is one character, but I’ll keep that to myself). Apropos himself is a liar, cheat, and selfish to the extreme. Peter David does a decent job in making the reader understand why he is the way he is, though; with enough backstory, it makes Apropos’s actions understandable, if not always admirable.
There’s other interesting characters in here as well. Besides some stereotypes, such as various tavern wenches and squires who only pretend to the honor that knights espouse, we have a king (not Runcible) whose kingdom exists wherever he travels; a warlord who’s over-the-top bad that you can almost hear a little voice screaming “Eeeeeeevviiiiiiill”. And Entipy is a twist on the stereotypical princess in a direction I haven’t seen before; I’m almost certain no other book has had a royal princess who may be a psychotic arsonist. Finally, there’s Tacit One-Eye, who certainly seems at the beginning to be that typical Hero of Destiny, who unfortunately gets sidetracked by encounters with Apropos.
While there’s a great deal of serious subject matter here, Peter David also laces the entire book with the humor that is so often displayed in his other works. If you hate puns, you’ll really groan at some of the ones that pop up in this book. There were several points where I could see the puns coming a mile away. People who have read other books by this author will undoubtedly feel right at home with this book. Sir Apropos of Nothing is a decent enough book, although a little darker than my usual fare. All the same, if you’re looking for a fantasy novel with a slightly darker edge, this one’s for you.