A fantasy novel set in a land where they know they are living in a fairy tale. Unlike those lands that are merely actual. . . . Where everything that is very old is bound to be true. Where every tale that is told is bound to have happened.
Prince Amatus drinks the Wine of the Gods while only a little child, and "A child who tastes the Wine of the Gods too early is only half a person afterwards." The right half as it turns out. And King Boniface hands out prompt justice to the Prince's Personal Maid, the Alchemist, the Witch, and the Captain of the Guard who were to blame. (He was, after all, high, low, and middle justice to the land, which has a fairy tale court except where having a more realistic element works better. 0:)
A year and a day later, four mysterious people arrive to take these positions. And Prince Amatus grows up, and through adventures: underground where the goblins and the Riddling Beast live; in the face of a terrible plague in his own city; in an invasion from the usurped kingdom of Overhill.
"This is not the way that things end when they get to be tales," Amatus said, "but since ours is not told yet, we cannot count on it. There were a hundred dead princes on the thorns outside Sleeping Beauty's castle, and I'm sure many of them were splendid fellows."
And the word play. I've never seen anything like it. For one thing, it would work only a work like this one, which isn't common. But he malaprops through the entire world. They fire pismires and fight with escrees. And it really has to be read to see how it works.