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    Review of TONG LASHING by Peter David (see his website)


    Pocket Books, August 2003

    Fleeing from his career as 'Peacelord,' Sir Apropos of Nothing takes a ship, leaving behind his long-time love interest Sharee. As typical for Apropos, the ship does not make a safe landing. Instead, after a terrible role-playing-game incident involving the gay mouser [sic], Doubting Tomas (the unbeliever playing with his white-gold ring), and Ronnell McDonnell [sic again], Apropos is cast ashore in a strange China/Japan land where his round eyes are thought of as strange and where his bad luck quickly follows. Following an excursion into the world of the Karate Kid, Apropos is faced with the new challenge of finding himself caring for others--and wondering how to take care of someone other than himself.

    Combining fantasy adventure with allusion to just about any fantasy you can think of (although Tolkien was pretty much taken care of in the earlier volume in the series), and an interesting if depressing cynicism, author Peter David (see more reviews of novels by David) offers a highly readable and compelling story. For most of the book, Apropos actually seems to be turning into a person, wondering how to balance his own needs with those of others, finding a true love, and learning to care about even the simple people of the world. The accidental creation of the great wall of China, multiple horrible puns (including the high-priced Ho of Apropos's infatuation), and the evil emperor's control of the force add to the appeal.

    Occasionally, David gets a little too clever, pulling the reader out of the story, and Apropos's long introspections could sometimes be cut to the good of the book, but these are minor quibbles. I did find the strong note of homophobia, however, to be unfortunate, and the ending, while certainly in keeping with the Apropos series, left me a little flat. Still, TONG LASHING is funny, readable, and an intriguingly different story.

    Three Stars

    Reviewed 9/04/03

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