Sword & Laser August Book Club: Assassin's Apprentice Wrap-Up & Your Feedback

Uploaded by geekandsundry on Aug 31, 2012


TOM MERRITT: Coming up, we wrap up Robin Hobb's
Assassin's Apprentice with a clear mind after standing on
one foot on the roof all day.
VERONICA BELMONT: Yeah, that was only him.
And good news for fans of Wheel of
Time and Brandon Sanderson.
You do not want to miss this.
It's the Sword and Laser book club.

VERONICA BELMONT: Hey, everyone, welcome to the Sword
and Laser book club show.
I'm Veronica Belmont.
TOM MERRITT: And I'm Tom Merritt.
This time we're wrapping up Assassin's
Apprentice by Robin Hobb.
VERONICA BELMONT: Yes, and if you're wondering what's coming
next in the book club picks, wonder no more, because we
have everything up for you right on the
calendar on our website.
TOM MERRITT: Yes, go to
swordandlaser.com, click on calendar.
It's pretty easy.
And you'll find not only upcoming book releases, but
also when our shows post and what books we're
scheduled to read.
VERONICA BELMONT: It's kind of like real-life spoilers.
TOM MERRITT: It's kind of like a real-life calendar.
TOM MERRITT: With dates.
But let's not get too ahead of ourselves.
We have an Assassin's Apprentice to wrap up.
I've used a Skill to find out what you all
thought about the book.
TOM MERRITT: By Skill, I assume you mean
you read the forums?
Less questions, more wrapping things up.
So tell me, what did you think of Assassin's Apprentice?
TOM MERRITT: I loved it.
When I started reading it, I liked it.
I never had a point where I was bored or
I thought it dragged.
But from the point in the town where he is recalled to Lady
Time from the castle, everything just rolled for me.
And I dug every second of it.
And, you know, the other thing I like about it, even though
this is part of a series, I felt like I didn't have to
read the rest, which may be not a good
thing for Robin Hobb.
I wanted to read more, but it wasn't the kind of series
where you're left with a cliffhanger, and you're like,
oh my gosh, I have to read to find out what happens next.
It's more like, OK, you're loving this
atmosphere so much.
If you want more of it, there's a ton more.
But the story does wrap up.
VERONICA BELMONT: That's funny you say that because I felt--
and I've read the book before, I've read the
whole series before--
that I immediately had to start reading the second book,
even though I've already read it before.
TOM MERRITT: Well, because you know what's
going to come next.
TOM MERRITT: You're thinking like--
VERONICA BELMONT: I don't really remember.
TOM MERRITT: I mean yeah, I want to know
more about the Raiders.
And I want to know more about the history.
VERONICA BELMONT: Where the Red Ships come from.
TOM MERRITT: But all the main threads do get resolved.
I'm not left like, oh, well what's going to happen?
I find it a good balance, where it definitely made me
want to read more.
VERONICA BELMONT: It's no Hyperion.
TOM MERRITT: Or even like Song of Ice and Fire, it just
dangles you in the wind.
But I'm in the middle!
Where's Daenerys going?
What's happening?
VERONICA BELMONT: Yeah, so obviously
spoilers in this episode.
Are you feeling better about things?
I know you were a little bit upset with me over the fate of
Nosy, who was Fitz's first Wit-bonded creature.
TOM MERRITT: I was not happy with Burrich and what I
thought he had done to Nosy, what Fitz had thought he'd
done to Nosy.
When Nosy comes back at the end--
VERONICA BELMONT: No, we told them there
were going to be spoilers.
You can say that now.
TOM MERRITT: I was extremely pleased.
But at the same time, Smithy.
TOM MERRITT: I was like, is that going to turn?
No, that doesn't turn out to be a fake out.
All right, let's read some user
feedback, or reader feedback.
User feedback?
What am I testing?
Is this an iOS to app that I'm testing?
TOM MERRITT: What did you think of the
beta of this book?
VERONICA BELMONT: Valerie says, "My favorite character
by the end was Verity, which was not what I expected
throughout the first half of the book.
He started off as a filler character for me.
He was nice to Fitz, but not much else seemed to be there.
Perhaps it was Fitz's limited interactions with him that led
me to finding him shallow at first.
But after his dealings with the Raiders in the whole
wedding fiasco, he gained new depth." And of all the
characters, he was the one that she
actually wanted to meet.
TOM MERRITT: Well, he showed strength at the end.
And we all knew he was strong, but there was that whole part
where they described him as the second son, right?
TOM MERRITT: And he's a good lieutenant
for the king in waiting.
But when he becomes the king in waiting, can he handle it?
And so that sets you up very nicely for when he does arise
to the occasion at the very end.
You're cheering for him.
You're like, yes, breakthrough.
Become the king in waiting.
VERONICA BELMONT: And what's difficult too is that you get
the sense that the whole kingdom has no idea really the
sacrifices that he's making.
They don't know about his use of the Skill.
I don't know how much the rest of the kingdom knows about the
coteries and the people who are being trained to use the
Skill to help prevent the Red Ship attacks.
So I don't really know how little they knew or
what they did now.
But yeah, Verity definitely steps up in the end.
I would love to see how Chivalry would have handled
the same situation, because he's like the perfect son, the
one that everyone thinks is oh, Chivalry can do no wrong.
But I think Verity makes some pretty good choices.
I just wish that I had seen more of his interactions with
Kettricken towards the end.
TOM MERRITT: We don't get more on them later?
VERONICA BELMONT: We probably do.
I honestly don't remember.
I read these books, it feels like
decades ago at this point.
It may very well have been two decades ago.
TOM MERRITT: All the cells in your body have been replaced
since then.
VERONICA BELMONT: That's kind of creepy, in a way.
TOM MERRITT: Not really.
VERONICA BELMONT: So you're saying like I'm a totally
different person?
TOM MERRITT: You're a clone.
TOM MERRITT: Where's the real Veronica?

VERONICA BELMONT: Now I don't remember what
I was talking about.
TOM MERRITT: You were talking wanting Verity and Kittricken,
to see more about their relationship.
VERONICA BELMONT: Yeah, because in the beginning, Fitz
is like, Verity needs a strong wife.
He needs someone that can go out with him and be supportive
and not just some flimsy will-of-the-wisp type court
woman, court princess, that's going to be there and
just be like, ohh!
TOM MERRITT: I'm a delicate flower.
That's what they sound like in my mind, apparently.
TOM MERRITT: Yeah, usually.
In mine too.
VERONICA BELMONT: But at the same time,
she's got that strength.
She's got that personality that seems very
well suited for him.
But at the same time, we don't get to know much about their
relationship and how that's actually going.
He doesn't get to spend a lot of time with her, because of
the whole, Raiders thing.
TOM MERRITT: Well, yeah, war does that.
It'll do that to a relationship.
TOM MERRITT: I liked the use of magic.
That's always one thing in fantasy is to evaluate how
they treat magic, what the lore is.
I really like what Patrick Rothfuss does in setting up
his magical world.
I liked what Robin Hobb does with magic.
And David, particularly talking about the Skill, says,
"I like the seamless shifting between thoughts when Fitz is
For example, in the beginning, before we are introduced to
the Wit, Fitz experiences heightened animal senses which
go unexplained until some paragraphs later.
Or he appears to be asking or answering his own questions
before we are aware, or as we become aware, that he is
VERONICA BELMONT: You know, we talk a lot
about unreliable narrators.
And in this case, we're getting
an almost too reliable--
TOM MERRITT: Super reliable narrator
VERONICA BELMONT: --that doesn't even know when things
are happening to him, because he's just living his life.
We are just literally getting the stream of consciousness
and the stream of emotions from this character.
And so we can't really tell what's being
affected by his abilities.
It's very interesting.
Julia said, "OK, I had a big problem with the relationship
So, OK, in my head I always said Burrick.
But you listened to the audio book, and so you say--
TOM MERRITT: They say Burrich--
TOM MERRITT: --in the audio book, yeah.
VERONICA BELMONT: So I'm having a hard time saying it
out loud now, because I've said it--
TOM MERRITT: Just say the stable master.
VERONICA BELMONT: --for many, many years.
OK, so Julia had a big problem with the relationship between
Burrich and Fitz through the entire book, "especially after
Burrich discovers that Fitz had the old Wit.
He treats him horribly, because he's found that the
child he is raising is not the perfect in his eyes child he
thought he was.
To my mind, this is very similar to what happens
sometimes when someone comes out to their
parents or is found out.
They love him, but they're unable to accept him for who
they are instead of trying to change them totally.
This thing that is natural to you is wrong and repugnant and
I will shame you into obeying my view
of the world." Thoughts?
TOM MERRITT: Even though I'm the same.
TOM MERRITT: I definitely picked up on that parallel of
not just coming out, but also any kind of difference.
Like, I want to be a stage actor, and they're like, no,
you're going to be a doctor.
TOM MERRITT: Anything like that where the parents have an
expectation, you are going to be one way, and the person
says, no I'm just not.
VERONICA BELMONT: In my mind, and then this is what made me
feel a little more sympathetic towards Burrich, is that he is
He's 100% projecting.
He never wanted Chivalry to find out
that he had the ability.
And so he kept it very buried.
TOM MERRITT: He was embarrassed about it himself.
VERONICA BELMONT: He thought it was just reprehensible.
And that had always been pounded in.
TOM MERRITT: So he repressed it.
VERONICA BELMONT: So he repressed it.
And then when he discovered that Fitz had that same
ability, he was like, this is my worst nightmare.
Not only is this kid going through the same thing that
I'm going through, but now I have to live in the memory of
Chivalry and protect this guy from this world of turning
into almost an animal.
So we don't really know what exactly happens when people
fully give themselves into the Wit--
TOM MERRITT: Werewolf.
VERONICA BELMONT: --at this point.
So it's interesting to think well, would it really be that
bad or would it be OK?
Would Fitz be able to control it?
We can see later down the line when he does meet the wolf cub
that it does get very overwhelming, and it does
become more ingrained in his personality the longer that
connection is held.
TOM MERRITT: And I feel like there's a hint when they talk
about the dangers of using the Skill and getting sucked into
the sort of attractive feeling you get.
TOM MERRITT: There may be a similar thing with using the
Wit is that you get sucked into the fun of being the bear
cub or the dog or whatever it is.
And that actually reminds me again of Song of Ice
and Fire and Bran.
VERONICA BELMONT: There are a few good parallels.
And maybe we should save a more thorough discussion,
because we could talk about this for a long time.
We'll talk more about it on the audio show at some point.
TOM MERRITT: Yeah, definitely.
VERONICA BELMONT: But I did have some questions for the
YouTube commenters and for the people in our forums that I
thought might be fun, if people want to give the
answers too.
TOM MERRITT: Good, I love this.
VERONICA BELMONT: So who has better psychic battles--
Tigana or Assassin's Apprentice?
TOM MERRITT: You know, Tigana's are more grand, but I
like the Assassin's Apprentice ones better.
TOM MERRITT: They're more tactical.
VERONICA BELMONT: More tactical, OK.
So you guys, let us know what you think in the comments.
And also, the Wit versus the Skill, which would you rather
have and why?
TOM MERRITT: I'm not sure which one I'd rather have.
VERONICA BELMONT: I would want to have the Wit.
TOM MERRITT: I definitely would want to have the Wit for
my dogs, just so I could know what they're talking about.
VERONICA BELMONT: Well, I think we'll get to more of
that discussion when we get to some of the feedback stuff
later in the episode.
TOM MERRITT: All right, that wraps it up for Assassin's
Next time, we'll kick off our September book, Foundation,
Volume I by Isaac Assimov.
Before we go though, let's see what else folks are saying in
email and on Goodreads.
VERONICA BELMONT: Yes, regarding Assassin's
Apprentice, Catfish writes, "Do you read the maps which
come with many fantasy books, or do you simply ignore them
and read the story?
Myself, I only look at the map at the end of the book.
I think it kills the flow otherwise.
How about you guys?"
TOM MERRITT: I absolutely want to rely on the map.
When I read a printed book, I'm always referring back to
it to see like OK, where is this?
Where am I?
With ebooks, what I found is even if they include the map
in an ebook, I never go back to it.
It's too clumsy in an ebook.
What I'll do is I'll open the map in a browser so that I can
do a task switch really quickly.
But I still consult the map all the time.
VERONICA BELMONT: You know, I find if I see the map first
I'll definitely keep the layout of the geographical
regions in my mind during the story.
And that is fun and also helps.
But if I don't notice the map, I almost never think about it.
If it comes up a later, I'm like, oh that's interesting.
Oh yeah, I didn't realize that thing was right next to that
thing, or that strait looks longer than I expected it to.
TOM MERRITT: Oh, in audio books, yeah, I just give up.
Forget it.
TOM MERRITT: Unless, you know what?
I think this is a product somebody could make.
If I'm listening to an audio book and I'm not driving or
vacuuming or something, I will have my iPad open and I'll
look for images related to the book I'm reading just--
TOM MERRITT: --to kind of give me something to look at while
I'm listening.
VERONICA BELMONT: Wow, you're a much more in-depth listener
guy than I am.
I just listen, read, in my brain.
TOM MERRITT: Bailen posts on our forums, "After reading
about Fitz and the people that possess the Wit, I wondered
how it would be if any of us could really have an animal
companion." So we're just talking about this.
"If you could choose only one beast for bonding with, which
would it be?
I would find it interesting to share minds with a panther,
because my pet is a black kitty."
VERONICA BELMONT: Not really the same thing, maybe.
TOM MERRITT: Who's to say?
I'm thinking of a wilder and meaner version--
TOM MERRITT: --of my cat.
VERONICA BELMONT: Gosh, it's making me think of my first
World of Warcraft pet was a black panther.
And I can't remember her name now.
But I used to pretend that I could talk to her.
But anyway, I digress.
I would say I would want to talk to my cats at home, much
like Bailen.
Because I just want to know what they're thinking.
I don't if it's much, but I just want to know.
TOM MERRITT: I'd probably be shocked.
I think I know now like, oh, you're thinking about food.
You're thinking about going outside.
Find out that they're thinking about complex physics or the
Mars Curiosity rover.
VERONICA BELMONT: I don't think I would want to be
bonded with a totally wild animal, because it might be
too strange or too alien for me.
But yeah, one of the dogs I take care of or my cats.
TOM MERRITT: Bonded with an alien.
VERONICA BELMONT: How would you even do that?
TOM MERRITT: You wouldn't be able to understand.
VERONICA BELMONT: You wouldn't be able to understand.
It would drive you crazy.
TOM MERRITT: Unless the Skill translates.
VERONICA BELMONT: That's a book idea.
That's a NaNoWriMo idea right there.
There you go.
TOM MERRITT: Take that one for free.
VERONICA BELMONT: Alden O'Neill points out that
Brandon Sanderson has finished A Wheel of Light.
TOM MERRITT: Congratulations, Brandon Sanderson.
VERONICA BELMONT: Yes, the last of the
Wheel of Time series.
Alden writes, "I'm halfway through Towers of Midnight and
looking forward to the coda.
I picked up the first half of the first book as a free
sample from Borders over a decade ago.
After three false starts, I've been making my way through the
series since, enjoying plenty but struggling often.
I know that feel, bro.
"Sanderson's done a great job picking up
the pace at the end.
Here's to a satisfying conclusion
and no to be continued.
That wheel's got to stop turning at
some point," he says.
TOM MERRITT: All right, Alden, you've inspired me.
I got distracted from book two.
I'm going to make another run at it, because so many people
love this series.
VERONICA BELMONT: So you got to book two?
VERONICA BELMONT: I got to book four.
TOM MERRITT: And then I just got distracted.
I had too much going on.
VERONICA BELMONT: I mean, literally now I've got
hundreds of books between here and at home that are on the
shelf waiting to be read.
TOM MERRITT: This is worth it.
VERONICA BELMONT: Yeah, I know it is.
It probably is.
The YouTube commenters got really upset at me when I said
in like the first or second episode that I never finished.
TOM MERRITT: It's not that we don't like it.
Kdog91 wants to know if you've ever
wanted to lem a character.
That means give up on a book.
He writes, "Maybe my way of using the term
is a bit of a stretch.
I just finished Talulla Rising by Glen Duncan.
You guys ever read a book and hated the main character so
badly you wanted to drop the book?" He says, "I like the
book but that main character, ugh!"
VERONICA BELMONT: I can't think of anyone.
I can probably guess what a few of you out in the audience
are saying from our recent selections.
Maybe Quentin from The Magicians.
Some people really did not like poor Quentin.
VERONICA BELMONT: They did not enjoy Quentin.
TOM MERRITT: I liked Quentin just fine.
VERONICA BELMONT: I liked him fine.
I thought he was great.
TOM MERRITT: No, I've had some characters I hate, but that
usually increases my enjoyment of the book.
TOM MERRITT: If you're meant to hate them, I guess.
I try to be nice to the characters.
They have a hard life.
VERONICA BELMONT: Oh, I have another question for the
YouTube commenters.
Who would you rather cage match fight to death with--
Regal or Joffrey?
TOM MERRITT: Ooh, I'd have--
VERONICA BELMONT: Or who's worse?
TOM MERRITT: I'd have to say Joffrey.
VERONICA BELMONT: You think Joffrey's worse?
TOM MERRITT: Although, from a certain prospective, Joffrey's
still young, so maybe you can excuse some of his awful
behavior because he's immature.
TOM MERRITT: Regal doesn't get that excuse.
VERONICA BELMONT: Regal doesn't seem much more mature.
TOM MERRITT: No, but he should be, because he's older.
VERONICA BELMONT: Because he's older.
TOM MERRITT: Yeah, so maybe Regal is worse, I don't know.
VERONICA BELMONT: Regal versus Joffrey.
TOM MERRITT: I kind of hate Joffrey through
and through, though.
All right.
Well, that about does it for us today.
But don't forget the main Sword and Laser show, where we
interview the best authors in the biz and submit your
questions to them.
In our latest episode, we talked with Adam Christopher,
author of Empire State and Seven Wonders.
TOM MERRITT: You do not want to miss that.
So do the following things for me--
check the batteries in your smoke alarms, create a 72-hour
disaster pack, and subscribe to our YouTube channel.
If you those three things, you will live.
VERONICA BELMONT: And don't forget your online backups.
VERONICA BELMONT: You want to make sure you have an online
backup cloud running.
Make sure if you're doing local backups, have them
stored in separate places in case of natural disaster.
You don't want to lose your important files.
TOM MERRITT: Back up in three places.
VERONICA BELMONT: Yes, of course.
TOM MERRITT: The subscribing part's the easiest part.
It's the green button up there in the corner at
You can send us email feedback at swordandlaser.com.
And join in the fun at our Goodreads forum and discuss
these books at goodreads.com.
Thanks, everybody.
VERONICA BELMONT: Yay, and thanks to Craig for my
beautiful Neverending Story iPad case.
TOM MERRITT: It really is the Neverending Story.
We'll see you guys next time.