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Literature / Sir Apropos of Nothing

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Every heroic fantasy has its hero - the dashing, handsome, fearless warrior who will rush into battle, slaughter the forces of evil, secure in the knowledge that he will save the day and win the favor of the (always beautiful and virginal) princess of the land, and live happily ever after.

This series is not about that guy.

This is about the sidekick.

Apropos is the son of a prostitute, born of a gang-rape by a bunch of drunk knights, and his mother is convinced that the universe has Great Things planned for him. Apropos is sick of hearing the word "destiny" being bandied about, and he would rather save his own skin than the world. It's a comedy.

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There are currently four books in the Sir Apropos of Nothing series by Peter David.

  • Sir Apropos of Nothing
  • The Woad to Wuin
  • Tong Lashing
  • Pyramid Schemes

There is also a five-issue comics miniseries published by IDW, called "Gypsies, Vamps, and Thieves", which picks up the story after Tong Lashing, and a short story, "Sir Apropos of Nothing and the Adventure of the Receding Heir," taking place years after the rest of the series.


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This series provides examples of:

General
  • Anti-Hero: Apropos.
  • Bifurcated Weapon: Apropos' staff can split into two batons, amongst other tricks.
  • Born Lucky: Used straight and inverted.
  • Byronic Hero: Apropos.
  • Butt-Monkey: Apropos again. Many of the horrors and indignities he is subjected to are the result of Laser-Guided Karma; everybody else got away with something, but the one time he cheated, he got caught and got screwed. Many more are completely out of the blue.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Now, we can't keep seeing the same hands every time...
  • Deconstruction: Exploring the role of the hero from the point of view of someone who's not a hero. That and slapping several high fantasy tropes in the face.
  • Deconstructive Parody: Some parts.
  • Destructive Savior: Mainly in the second and third books.
  • Dirty Coward
  • Distant Finale: Implied; Apropos comments in one book that he is writing this in his old age.
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  • First-Person Smartass
  • Foregone Conclusion: Well, he survives to old age... he's just not sure how.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • At the end of the first book, Apropos receives a tapestry made by a "farweaver" (think "oracle"), of himself, much older, with part of his ear slashed off. We find out how his ear was slashed off at the end of Tong Lashing: A parting gift from the spirit of the sword...
    • There are more subtle examples, as well. In the first book, Apropos recalls the story of King Arthur siring his future nemesis with his half-sister and wonders if his own situation will develop similarly. And in The Woad to Wuin, there are a couple instances where his narration references his future time in Chinpan.
  • Hero of Another Story: He meets a lot of these, but cuts them off before they regale him of their adventures...because he hates those stories. As time goes on, he becomes a bit more receptive, either because they contain important information or, in one case, because he was the incitement for it, and he was only uninterested before since such stories don't involve him.
  • Hurricane of Puns: Look closely at the maps...
    • He spends a full two pages detailing just how a race of bird-men came to be, and how they got their name...the punchline being that they're called the Harpers Bizarre.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Apropos knows this is not supposed to be his story. He doesn't care anymore. He'll steal it.
  • Missed the Call: A lot, which pissed Apropos off to no end.
  • Mood Whiplash
  • Precision F-Strike: One in every book. The first one is done by nuns, no less.
  • Punny Name: Just about everyone of note. Start with the narrator and walk in a random direction.
  • Refusal of the Call
  • Screw Destiny
  • Shout Out Literature: All over the place.
  • Signature Style: Peter David loves his puns. And characters who are nattily dressed.

Sir Apropos of Nothing

  • Axe-Crazy: Entipy, who may have burned down a convent.
  • Child by Rape: Apropos. His lame leg is a key to figuring out that The King's jester is his father.
  • Death Seeker: Sir Umbrage. After he is heartbroken by the death of his wife, an oracle tells him he'll die in a great battle. He seeks out every fight he can, but when he doesn't actually die in any of them, and as time lessens his grief, he eventually begins avoiding battles at any cost to delay the prophecy.
  • Heel Realization: It starts with his epiphany that he's a side character in someone else-story, and kind of goes to hell from there.
  • How We Got Here: The first chapter of the first book starts at about the middle of the story. They then start at the beginning. The very beginning.
  • It Will Never Catch On: At one point Entipy eats ham between two slices of bread. Apropos's reaction is almost verbatim the name of this trope.
  • Knight in Shining Armor: Tacit, the hero to whom Apropos is a sidekick.
    • Played with; in the story's universe, actual knights in shining armor exist and are forces to be reckoned with like medieval Europe, and Tacit isn't one of them. He's more a Robin Hood figure. That makes him disreputable in the story's universe, but the Designated Hero in the story.
  • Multiple-Choice Past: Meander tells Apropos and Company the story of "Old King Cold", who went insane after being forced to cannibalize his wife in order to survive in a frozen cave long enough to be rescued. He strongly implies that he himself was the "King Cold" in the story, but expresses polite surprise when the others assume this to be the case. Entipy complains that, if he's not the king in the story, then it doesn't make any sense for him to tell it.
    Meander: That, child, is one of the glorious advantages to being a madman. I don't have to make sense. It's very liberating. You should try it sometime.
    • Seeing a set of old scars on King Meander's face, Apropos asks how he got them, suspecting that Meander killed his mother, who clawed the face of her attacker as she died. Meander replies, with apparent sincerity, that he honestly doesn't remember. Yet another advantage of being a madman.
  • No Party Like a Donner Party: May or may not be the backstory of the mad king in the first book.
  • Paranoia Gambit: Apropos' plan for diverting King Meander's army away from the castle.
  • Pet the Dog: The legendary manner in which King Meander "conquered" a regiment of crack troops sent against him by one of his rival kings, without losing a single one of his own men: he simply invited them to a feast, with fresh game and quality drink, the sort of fare that other kings would never dream of sharing with the commoners, even their own soldiers. The entire regiment defected to Meander's army without hesitation.
  • The Resenter: Apropos, towards Tacit. Big time.
  • Standard Hero Reward: This almost ends very badly.
  • Surprise Incest: Again, see above. Though it does solve the question of who Apropos' father is...
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: He doesn't realize he's the actual protagonist of the story until some time after he chucks a rock at the default hero's head and takes the hero role by force.
  • When All You Have is a Hammer…: In the opening prologue, Apropos is cuckolding one of the King's knights, who has been sent to negotiate with a village protesting some of the King's taxes. Apropos reflects that the King made the mistake of thinking that his "best" knight, who excels at carving up enemies on the battlefield, might lack some of the necessary skills to be a diplomat.

The Woad to Wuin

  • A Man Is Always Eager: Played with a bit at the beginning of the One Thing story in the second book, lampshaded a bit by Apropos himself:
    ... It was the ring. The damn thing was enchanted somehow. Sharee was, to put it bluntly, not in her right mind. Under the circumstances, I would have been a cad, a bounder, and an utter rotter to take advantage of the situation. And if you think I failed to do so, then you have clearly not been paying attention.
  • Bread and Circuses: When preparing for a day of public executions, Apropos give a decent summary of the trope- "It doesn't matter if the economy is deteriorating, or if the streets are lined with horse manure, or if the nation is in a state of war that is draining both their resources and the lives of their young men. As long as the people are distracted by entertainment, they can forgive just about anything."
  • Cursed with Awesome: A main plot point of the second book.
  • Double Standard Rape: Female on Male: Thanks to the One Thing.
  • Groin Attack: The One Thing to Rule Them All doesn't go on your finger...
  • Historical In-Joke: After inheriting a tavern by framing its owner as cheating in a game of cards, Apropos appeases the murderous mob who wants to kill the owner for cheating them by letting them drink at the tavern for half price for an hour every night. This made them very...happy...indeed.
  • Love Is in the Air: Every woman Apropos comes in contact with while the One Thing to Rule Them All is attached to his member jumps his bones. At one point they actually tie him down so that every woman within a 20-mile radius can have a turn.
  • No Indoor Voice: LORD BELICOSE IN THE SECOND BOOK, BY CRUMM! YES, BRIAN BLESSED IS MY FIRST CHOICE TO PLAY HIM IN THE MOVIE, TOO!!!
  • Villain Protagonist: Apropos becomes one for the second half of the second book.
  • We Named the Monkey "Jack":
    • Entipy, the girl... and the horse.
    • The source of more than a bit of fridge Squick (hardly the only example related to her, of course, but still) when you remember their connection.

Tong Lashing

  • Despair Event Horizon: Several moments throughout the trilogy could qualify, but it's particularly thoroughly spelled out in the third book, after Apropos returns to Hosbiyu, only to find everyone dead.
  • Heroic BSoD: As a result of the Unsettling Gender-Reveal. It results in the Hiroshima-like destruction of a city.
  • Killer Game-Master: Ronnel McDonnel, in the third book. Literally.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: The spirit of the sword in Tong Lashing. The trigger to unleash him is to say, "I don't care". When Apropos finds out Veruh Wang Ho is a man, he says the phrase over and over...cue Chinpan-shattering kaboom. To drive home the symbolism, after that he gives the sword away to a fat man carrying a little boy.
  • Sequel Hook: At the end of "Tong Lashing", Apropos hints that he's borne a son that he was not aware of at the time (likely from one of the many, many women who serviced him while he was wearing the One Thing).
  • Unsettling Gender-Reveal: Verah Wang Ho.
  • Who's on First?: in the third book. Played with at the end: "My lousy luck that in Chinpanese the word for "who" was the same as in my language."

Gypsies, Vamps, and Thieves

Pyramid Schemes

  • Rejected Apology: Entipy appears to be willing to reconcile with Apropos, but it turns out to be a trick to settle an old score with him.
    Dear Moron: Of course I have not forgiven you.


Alternative Title(s): The Woad To Wuin, Tong Lashing

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