I can’t help but think this heroic fantasy parody would be substantially better if it were a lot shorter.
It opens with a rather laborious description of personal combat ending with a gag death. The humor relies on the reader’s visualization, and I think it would have worked much better as a handful of pages in the other medium David writes in (comics).
After the fight scene, there’s 200-plus pages of flashback, with Apropos narrating his family/life history to date (he starts his story even before his conception). This is sadly pedestrian and predictable stuff — it’s only real hallmark is Apropos’ refusal to conform to the expectations of the fantasy hero — but I waded through enough of Stephen Donaldson’s “Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever” to know that’s really not so genre-defying after all. If I had been the editor, I would have suggested lopping out this third of the book entirely, and replacing it with a few dialogue asides to fill in the gaps: “Funny, my mother saw that omen the day I was born,” “Now I remember where I’ve seen you before!” and such.
Once the reader makes it back to the present day, there’s some mildly diverting Apropos-has-to-escort-the-princess-through-dangerous-lands-and-they-think-they-hate-each-other-but-are-inevitably-falling-in-love stuff. The mood is a bit like when the Dread Pirate Roberts has kidnapped Buttercup in William Goldman’s The Princess Bride (or, really, about a zillion other books of all genres). But David is much bawdier than Goldman (often in a nasty, not fun way, as when Apropos recounts his mother’s gang rape in excessive detail) and perpetrates a few puns that even Piers Anthony might have passed up.
Why did I bother to finish reading it? For a while I was on an airplane, and my other books were wedged deep under the seat in front of me. Then I kinda sorta wanted to see how David resolved his conflicting plot threads (answer: with a little more ick than I bargained on). The worst thing? Because I expected (based, as it turns out, on false information) to enjoy this novel, I already bought a copy of the sequel. Oops.
needs more demons? mostly just needs abridgment.